Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 202 - 24 January 2011

Monday 24 January 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Reforming Social Housing: the Localism Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons last week. For the Hansard report of the debate on 17 January 2011, click here and scroll down. The Bill will now be given detailed consideration by a Commons' Public Bill Committee. The Committee has issued a call for evidence on the Bill's provisions. Those with an interest in Housing may well want to submit evidence on the Housing provisions in Part 6 of the Bill. For the details on how to submit evidence, click here.

Under-occupied council housing: on 20 January 2011 the Housing Minister announced that the 50 councils managing the largest number of social rented homes will each get a share of a new £13m fund to make it easier for those tenants wanting to move from larger family homes to smaller, more manageable, homes to do so. The money can be used to fund, for example: (1) a dedicated officer to help find residents a suitable new home; (2) a moving service to help tenants with moving, from joining them on viewings to organising packing and removal services; or (3) handymen to decorate and make repairs to the new home, including putting up shelves and installing white goods. The funding is to be backed by a dedicated new national action team based at the Chartered Institute of Housing, available to offer practical support and advice to those councils looking to help tenants wanting to move. For the announcement, which includes the list of the 50 councils, click here.

New Homes Bonus: on 17 January 2011 the Housing Minister confirmed in Parliament that the Government's New Homes Bonus scheme will commence in April 2011 and will match fund for local authorities the council tax raised for every new home that is built or brought back into use. It will continue for six years. For a statement, and the debate which followed the announcement, click here.

Tied accommodation: the rules about the national minimum wage (NMW) allow employers who provide accommodation to count it as a benefit in kind towards payment of the NMW, up to a specified limit. Some Higher Education Institutions and Further Education Colleges provide accommodation to students and also employ them part-time. On 18 January 2011 the Government launched a consultation on whether, and if so how and in what circumstances, such bodies should be excluded from the accommodation offset rules. For the consultation paper, click here. The deadline for responses is 12 April 2011.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Hackney LBC v Findlay [2011] EWCA Civ 8
20 January 2011

The council claimed possession for rent arrears. The secure tenant, Mr Findlay, did not attend the hearing in May 2009. He said that he had not received the court papers. The judge made an outright possession order on the basis of over £1200 arrears. On 6 July 2009 Mr Findlay was evicted. On 21 July 2009 he applied to set aside the original order. That application was granted on the assumption that the judge making the order had not been told that housing benefit (HB) had been reinstated. The council's appeal was dismissed but the Court of Appeal allowed a second appeal. A transcript of the initial hearing showed that the judge had known of the HB position. The Court of Appeal therefore had to consider afresh whether the original order should be set aside. It held that although the three criteria in CPR 39.5 did not strictly apply in such cases (as a result of its earlier decision in Forcelux Ltd v Binnie they were nevertheless important in deciding how to exercise the court's general discretion. It remitted the set aside application for reconsideration in light of the guidance given in its judgment. For the judgment, click here.

Amberley (UK) Ltd v West Sussex County Council[2011] EWCA Civ 11
20 January 2011

The council was liable to meet the accommodation costs of 12 elderly residents in a care home. The contracts of each resident stipulated the weekly fee payable at the time of admission to the home and additionally provided that "The level of fees is subject to review as costs increase". The company running the home claimed that it had conducted annual reviews and the council was obliged to pay the increased fees it claimed. The council was only prepared to pay fixed rates. The Court of Appeal held that the terms of the contracts did not allow the company to unilaterally increase the charges or cast a liability to pay those increases onto the residents or the council. For the judgment, click here.

Robinson v PE Jones (Contractors) Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 9
18 January 2011

The claimant agreed to buy a house that the defendant was constructing. Their written contract matched the builder's liability to the terms of the normal National House Building Council (NHBC) Agreement and expressly excluded any liability beyond the NHBC Agreement. Some 12 years after completion, a gas safety check revealed that the chimney flues had been incorrectly constructed and would require £35,000 remedial work. A claim in contract was out of time so the claimant sued in tort, alleging negligent construction. The Court of Appeal held that a builder's liability for a defect in a building causing economic loss was confined to a contractual liability only. Even if there had been some greater liability in tort, the exclusion of that liability had been reasonable for the purposes of sections 2 and 3 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Under the spotlight
(decision making by housing associations)
S. Gregson and A. Oldfield
[2011] 21 January Inside Housing p32
For a copy of the article, click here.

Human rights and possession claims: keeping the gateways shut
J. Holbrook
An SHLA seminar paper
For a copy, click here.

Residential Tenancy Update 2010
D. Dovar
An SHLA seminar paper
For a copy, 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 - which runs to over 1000 pages - has been published. Price: £55.00. For full details, click here.
To read an independent review, 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 a review by Robert Latham, click here.
To read another independant 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

28 January 2011
What difference does Pinnock make
A Shelter training seminar in London
For the details, click here.

Later this Spring

10 February 2011
DIY Possession Claims post-Pinnock
An SHLA seminar in London
For the details, click here.

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

10 March 2011
The Mental Capacity Act 2005: Where are we now?
A Garden Court Chambers half-day seminar
For the details, click here.

28 March 2011
Housing Benefit, Rent Arrears and Possession Proceedings
A LAG training day in London
For the details, click here.

1 April 2011
Housing & Support for Migrants
A LAG training day in London
For the details, click here.

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