Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 197 - 13 December 2010

Monday 13 December 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Private renting and the Energy Bill 2010: last week the Coalition Government introduced the Energy Bill in the UK Parliament. Among other matters it addresses energy efficiency (or the lack of it) in private rented housing. The residential private rented sector has the largest proportion of lowest-rated (EPC band G) properties of all tenures (6.2% compared with 3.4% in owner-occupier). The Bill will give ministers power to make regulations imposing energy efficiency obligations on landlords and tenants. For a factsheet describing the proposals, click here. For the Energy Bill itself and related materials, click here.

More about the new Affordable Rent Tenancy: this new form of housing association tenancy will be introduced in England by the Localism Bill (expected to be published this week). On 9 December 2010, the Housing Minister made a written statement outlining the key features of the new tenancy. For those details, click here.

Homelessness figures: on 9 December 2010 the latest national statistics on the handling of homelessness applications by English local housing authorities were published. They indicate that 600 more households are in B&B accommodation than at the same time last year and that the number of homelessness applicants accepted as owed the main housing duty has increased by between 12 and 14 per cent. For the full details, click here.

Human Rights and possession - guidance for social landlords: the National Housing Federation has produced useful guidance for its member housing associations on the implications of the Pinnock judgment. The guidance states that it is "important for landlords to be able to demonstrate why they are seeking possession and that it is a proportionate and appropriate response to the situation. This will mean clear records regarding the conduct of the tenancy and the landlord's decision-taking process. Inevitably the process of seeking possession will become more bureaucratic and demanding, and where possession is actively challenged by the tenant, there will be the additional costs and delays always associated with a contested court hearing." For a copy of the guidance note, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association v Vertigan [2010] EWCA Civ, noted on LAWTEL, 9 December 2010
On the trial of a claim for possession, the judge found that the tenant had committed serious breaches of his tenancy agreement and that it was reasonable to make a possession order. She decided that, given the history of the tenant's attitude to compliance with his tenancy terms, the order should not be suspended. On appeal, the tenant said that he would be prepared to give undertakings to comply with the tenancy in future and that the order should therefore be suspended. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. If the undertakings were sincere, the place and time for them to have been offered would have been at or before the original trial.

Ismayilova v Azerbaijan [2010] ECHR 1982, 9 December 2010
The applicant was allocated a flat by the municipal authorities. She could not occupy it because it was already occupied by a family displaced by civil conflict which had nowhere else to live. She sought and obtained a possession order but it was not enforced for over a decade because there was no alternative accommodation for the occupying family. On her complaint of interference with her right to enjoy her possessions, the European Court of Human Rights held that it had not been established either in the domestic proceedings or before the Court that any specific measures had been taken by the domestic authorities in order to comply with their duty of balancing the applicant's right to peaceful enjoyment of her possessions protected under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 against the occupiers' right to be provided with accommodation. In such circumstances, the failure to ensure the execution of the judgment resulted in a situation where the applicant was forced to bear an excessive individual burden. The Court considered that, in the absence of any compensation for this, the authorities failed to strike the requisite fair balance between the general interest of the community in providing the occupiers with temporary housing and the protection of the applicant's right to peaceful enjoyment of her possessions. It awarded each applicant 4,800 euros compensation. For the judgment, click here.

R (AH) v Cornwall Council [2010] EWHC 3192 (Admin), 3 December 2010
The claimant had been 17 when he left home and moved to a specialist supported accommodation centre for young people for a fixed six month period. While there, he was assessed by social services and when his six month period concluded he applied to the council for housing assistance as a homeless person. The claimant sought a judicial review contending that the council had wrongly failed to secure accommodation for him under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or as a person with priority need under Housing Act 1996 Part 7. The High Court granted permission to apply for judicial review but dismissed the claim. The council had not acted unlawfully in dealing with either of his potential entitlements to accommodation.

Nagi v Birmingham CC [2010] EWCA 1391, 17 October 2010
The applicant sought homelessness assistance on the basis that the medical condition of his wife made their accommodation no longer reasonable to continue to occupy and that he was therefore "homeless". She had epilepsy and a mobility problem due to a bad leg and back. The accommodation had to be accessed by a steep slope and had internal stairs. The council took advice from a Dr Keen who indicated that the accommodation was not unsuitable. A reviewing officer decided that the applicant was not homeless. The county court dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal refused permission to bring a second appeal as the case raised no important point of practice or principle.

Housing Law Articles

Self Service
(the new rules on housing association service charges)
T. Miles
[2010] Inside Housing 3 December
To read the article, click here.

Update: housing
V. Pogge von Strandmann
[2010] 154 Solicitors Journal No 46 p24
To read the article, click here.

Trouble at Mill
(commentary on the Pinnock decision)
J. Holbrook
[2010] 160 New Law Journal 3 December
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Books

Defending Possession Proceedings
The new (seventh) edition of Defending Possession Proceedings by Jan Luba QC, John Gallagher, Derek McConnell and Nic Madge runs to over 1000 pages and was published last month. Price: £55.00. For full details, click here.
To watch an independent review, click here.

Housing Allocation and Homelessness
The new (second) edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies has been published. Price: £50.00.
For full details, click here.
To read an independent review, click here.

Repairs: tenants' rights
The new (fourth) edition of Repairs: tenants' rights by Jan Luba QC, Deirdre Forster and Beatrice Prevatt has been published. Price: £45.00. For full details, click here.
To watch an independent review, click here.
To read an independent review, click here.

Housing Law Handbook - 10% off
The Housing Law Handbook, edited by Stephen Cottle and written by other members of the Garden Court Housing Team, covers possession proceedings, homelessness rights, the allocation of social housing, and other routes into housing. To claim your 10% discount, order online and quote promotion code GCTHLH when prompted.
To read an independent review, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

15 December 2010
HLPA Annual Conference
A London Conference
For the details, click here.

Next year

11 February 2011
Public Sector Housing Law Conference 2011
A Jordan Publishing conference in London
For the details, click here.

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