Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 204 - 7 February 2011

Monday 7 February 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Reforming Social Housing: on 31 January 2011 the UK Government published the impact assessments for the homelessness, allocation, security of tenure, social housing regulation and housing ombudsman aspects of the Localism Bill. For copies, click here. For an account of UK Government policies on Social Housing developed since the last general election, click here.

Anti-social behaviour: on 31 January 2011 the new powers for police and local authorities to obtain county court injunctions to restrain the behaviour of gang members came into force. For the Home Office's statutory guidance on these injunctions, click here. An announcement on the outcome of the Home Office's review of measures to contain anti-social behaviour is due to be made today (7 February).

Choice based letting: on 1 February 2011 the UK Government published three independent research reports on this topic commissioned by the previous administration. They are:

(1) Choice-based lettings, potentially disadvantaged groups and accessible housing registers: A guide to positive practice. The Guide provides advice on how to set up and operate choice-based letting schemes to ensure that social housing applicants are not disadvantaged by the proactive nature of CBL. For a copy, click here.

(2) Choice-based lettings, potentially disadvantaged groups and accessible housing registers: A summary guide to positive practice. This report is a shorter, standalone summary of the above report. This summary contains all the key messages of the longer report. For a copy, click here.

(3) Costs and effectiveness of accessible housing registers in a choice-based lettings context. This report examines the cost and effectiveness of accessible housing registers in a CBL context. For a copy, click here.

Conditions in the private rented sector: the quality of housing is poorest in the private rented sector. A new briefing from the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology looks at the impact of poor housing on health and examines the implications for housing policy. For a copy, click here. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has launched a new database designed to give environmental health practitioners access to an unparalleled number of resources on private sector housing. For a description of the resources now available to CIEH members, click here.

Financing Council Housing: in a Parliamentary statement on 1 February 2011 the Housing Minister set out details of the housing finance reforms which will enable councils keep their own rents and spend them on their own housing. The material issued with the statement includes a detailed description as to how each council's opening financial position will be determined and the process for implementing the reforms in April 2012. For the statement, click here. For further details of the new financial deal for council housing, click here. For a copy of Implementing self-financing for council housing, click here.

Housing statistics: the February 2011 issue of the UK Government's quick reference leaflet Housing and Planning Key Facts is now available. It is published quarterly and contains a snapshot of the main housing and planning data. For the latest issue, click here.

Enforcing Building Standards: at present, the sanction for non-compliance with the Building Regulations, when constructing new homes, is criminal prosecution. A new research report suggests that local authority inspectors would find new civil enforcement sanctions welcome. For a copy of the report, The use of civil sanctions to enforce building regulations: final report, click here.

Housing benefit changes: on 2 February 2011 the UK Government announced the first distribution to local authorities of the £130 million transitional fund set up to help those affected by the HB changes. For the details, click here. More information on implementing the changes and on other aspects of HB administration is contained in the February 2011 edition of Housing Benefit Direct. For a copy, click here. During February and March 2011, the National Homelessness Advice Service is running a series of free one-day seminars across the country for local authorities and housing advisers designed to help them manage the impact of the proposed changes to HB and to promote an HB toolkit. For more details of venues and dates call 0844 209 2570 or send an email to book@nhas-seminars.co.uk.

Housing Law Reform: on 24 January 2011 the Ministry of Justice published its Report on the implementation of Law Commission proposals which explains why many of the Commission's main proposals on housing law reform are not being taken forward by the UK Government. The Commission's major report, Renting Homes, is dismissed in a footnote. For a copy of the new report, click here.

Residential Accommodation Charges: on 28 January 2011 the UK Government issued Local Authority Circular (DH) 2011/1 giving guidance on charges and means-testing for residential accommodation provided by councils under National Assistance Act 1948 Part 3. For a copy of the circular, click here.

Security of tenure for Gypsies & Travellers: section 318 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 amends section 5 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 so as to bring local authority caravan sites providing accommodation for gypsies and travellers within the definition of 'protected sites' for the purposes of the 1983 Act. A new draft Order proposes amendments to the 1983 Act which are consequential on the coming into force of section 318 of the 2008 Act and the making of related transitional provisions made under section 322 of that Act. For the draft order, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

R (FZ) v Croydon LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 59
1 February 2011

The claimant was an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child. The council accepted that it had a duty to accommodate him under Children Act 1989 section 20 but it decided he was 17 rather than his claimed age of 15. That decision was upheld on review. The claimant applied for a judicial review but the High Court refused permission to bring the claim. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal and granted permission to seek judicial review. Its judgment sets out the proper approach to be taken: (1) by councils, when conducting age assessments; and (2) by courts, in deciding applications for permission to seek judicial review. For the judgment, click here.

R v Barclay [2011] EWCA Crim 32
1 February 2011

Four young men were convicted of offences of drug dealing on the streets of Bristol. Each was given a custodial sentence. The local police submitted an application that the sentencing court should impose ASBOs to restrain their activities on release. Four ASBOs were made restricting the defendants from entering particular geographical areas or associating with other named individuals. All appealed against the ASBOs. The Court of Appeal confirmed the orders (with modifications) and emphasised the importance of ASBOs containing explicit expiry dates and clear prohibitions tailored to the specific defendant. For the judgment, click here.

Daejan Investments Ltd v Benson [2011] EWCA Civ 38
28 January 2011
The freeholders of a block of flats commissioned maintenance works and sought to recover a share of the costs from five leaseholders through service charges. It failed to comply strictly with consultation requirements. The result was that a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) held that it could recover only nominal sums of £250 per leaseholders instead of the £270,000 it claimed. That decision was upheld by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal by the landlords. The judgment deals with compliance with consultation requirements and factors relevant to whether non-compliance may be waived. It also considers the role of the Court of Appeal on an appeal from the Lands Chamber. For the judgment, click here.

Ahmed v National Westminster Bank [2011] EWCA Civ 51
18 January 2011

A bank granted a mortgage to two men to acquire premises from which to operate a restaurant business. On default, it called in the loan and sought possession. A third man claimed to be the tenant of the premises and asserted that his tenancy bound the bank. The judge rejected his claim that there had been a tenancy and made a possession order. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. On the evidence, the judge had been entitled to make a finding that there had been no tenancy. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Turning down the trouble
(possession for anti-social behaviour)
J. Mack
[2011] 4 February Inside Housing 30
To read the article, click here

Suspend or postpone?
(possession orders)
C. Waterworth
[2011] 161 New Law Journal pp161-162

Double Jeopardy
(possession for anti-social behaviour)
J. Murray
[2011] 4 February Inside Housing 30
To read the article, click here

Hitting Home
(regulation of private sector tenancies)
A. Lugger
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal Issue 4 p18
To read the article, click here

Housing Law Events

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.

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 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.

 

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