Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 206 - 21 February 2011

Monday 21 February 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

STOP PRESS: this Wednesday (23 February 2011) the Supreme Court will deliver its judgments on the first three post-Pinnock appeals - Birmingham City Council v Frisby, Leeds City Council v Hall and London Borough of Hounslow v Powell. The judgments will be available by 10.30am on the Supreme Court website, here.

Problems with Mortgages: earlier this month the Mortgage Rescue Team at the Department for Communities and Local Government announced changes to the Mortgage Rescue Scheme for England to take effect from next month (March 2011). The primary change is that those helped under the scheme to avoid repossession of their homes will be offered a maximum of 90% of open market value instead of the present 97%. Meanwhile, on 15 February 2011 the coalition government organised an industry summit designed to improve mortgage lending to first time buyers. For more details, click here.

Housing Conditions: on 17 February 2011 the coalition government announced the outcome of the bid-round for further funding to help councils achieve their Decent Homes targets. £1.6bn spread over 4 years is to be divided among about 50 local authorities and ALMOs to enable them to bring a further 150,000 homes up to the Decent Homes standard. Another 28 stock transfer organisations (mainly housing associations) will also receive £500m of gap funding over the same period, to contribute towards the cost of bringing poor value housing transferred from local authorities up to the Decent Homes standard. For the announcement, click here. For the lists of the successful bidders, click here.

Housing Cases: this month a new Case Law Digest subscription service has been launched - enabling summaries of housing law decisions from the courts to be searched on-line by subject, title or even by a single word, and with links to full case reports. Five separate modules have been established covering: Allocations, Anti-social Behaviour, Homelessness, Private Sector tenancies and Social Housing tenancies. For more details, click here.

Street Homelessness: on 17 February 2011 the coalition government published the latest statistics on rough sleeping, indicating that over 1700 people were sleeping on the streets in England alone. To access the statistics, click here. The government also announced that it would fund £18.5m of grants to the main national homelessness advice services and charities helping rough sleepers. For that announcement, on voluntary sector funding, click here. Those grants are additional to the £85m in Homelessness Grant that is to be distributed to local authorities each year. For an announcement covering the total package, click here.

New Homes and Empty Homes: on 17 February 2011 the coalition government released the operational details of the "New Homes Bonus" designed to stimulate local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and to secure the building of new affordable homes in their areas. For the announcement of the first tranche of £200m worth of bonuses, click here. For the ministerial statement, click here. For the individual local authority allocations and the letters written to local authority leaders and chief executives, click here. For a summary of the nearly 500 responses received to the Bonus scheme proposals, click here. For the detailed final scheme design for New Homes Bonus (including worked examples), click here.

Affordable Rented Housing: the coalition government's broader Affordable Homes Programme 2011-2015 was launched on 14 February 2011. For the ministerial statement, click here. For the Affordable Homes Programme Framework document itself, published jointly by the government and the Homes & Communities Agency, click here. The principal element of the Programme is the new Affordable Rent model for social housing provision. To facilitate that model, the government has launched a consultation on a technical revision to Annex B of Planning Policy Statement 3 to make clear that Affordable Rent falls within the definition of affordable housing for planning purposes. For the consultation document, click here. The Housing Minister called on housing associations, house-builders and developers to take advantage of this new scheme to build more affordable homes. For his statement, click here. In a separate statement, the Minister said that the new arrangements would give "landlords the freedom they need to offer a range of solutions to people's housing needs, while being able to raise extra rents to invest in house-building." For that statement, click here.

Housing benefit: Local Housing Allowance (LHA) arrangements were first introduced nationally on 7 April 2008 to pay Housing Benefit (HB) to people who rent from private landlords. The DWP last week published the results of a two year review of the LHA arrangements to assess its impact on tenants, landlords and other external organisations. For a copy of the report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

R(Hertfordshire CC) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 77
15 February 2011

This dispute between two local authorities concerned the question of which of them was required to provide services (including accommodation) to a person who had been earlier detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. The claimant council argued that "resident" in section 117(3) of the 1983 Act meant "ordinarily resident" (the term used in the National Assistance Act 1948). The Court of Appeal rejected that argument. The scheme of the 1983 Act was a freestanding one. The term 'resident' must have been deliberately used. For the judgment, click here.

Complaint against Richmond upon Thames LBC, Local Government Ombudsman , Complaint No 10009069
10 February 2011

The complainant ('Miss Browning') was a single pregnant woman who had been excluded from the parental home. On seeking housing assistance from Richmond council, she was told by a Housing Options officer to apply to a different council (Wandsworth). The council accepted that such advice should never have been given. The Ombudsman said: ""The Council should clearly have accepted that this visit triggered its duty to take a homelessness application and make enquiries, rather than turning Miss Browning away. It was wrong for the Council to evade its duty by telling her to apply to Wandsworth instead. Because no application was taken, no enquiries were made and no interim accommodation was offered. Nor was Miss Browning offered any other advice or assistance. The notes recording Miss Browning's visit to the Housing Options Service were poor and the handling of this case was careless. There seems to have been a deliberate attempt to prevent access to housing assistance." The council agreed to pay up to £500 removal expenses under a reciprocal transfer arrangement to move the complainant back from Wandsworth to Richmond and to pay a further £500 compensation. For the full investigation report, click here.

Horie v The United Kingdom [2011] ECHR 289, Application No 31845/10
1 February 2011

The applicant was a traveller but not a gypsy. She and her family were subject to an injunction requiring them to leave an unauthorised camp on Forestry Commission land and not to establish an unauthorised camp on other specified Commission property in Dorset. The injunction was upheld by the Supreme Court (Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs v Meier [2009] UKSC 11, [2009] 1 WLR 2780). The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights that the injunction infringed her rights under Article 8. The Court ruled that her complaint was not admissible. She had no legal right to be on the land from which she had been excluded or to camp on the other land mentioned in the injunction. The injunction was not so wide as to interfere with her way of life. It did not inhibit any lawful camping and only covered a small part of Dorset. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Greenwood v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Bristol City Council [2011] EWHC Admin 263
1 February 2011

Mrs Greenwood was a pensioner and the council's secure tenant of a post-war prefabricated bungalow. Her home was included in a redevelopment scheme designed to demolish 330 remaining prefabricated bungalows and build 300 new homes in their place. She opposed the making of a compulsory purchase order (CPO) but the order was affirmed by the Secretary of State's inspector. She appealed to the High Court on the grounds that the inspector: (1) had wrongly found that her home failed the Decent Homes standard; and (2) had erred in failing to find that the effect of the order on her would be disproportionate. The High Court dismissed the appeal. The inspector had had sufficient evidence to justify the findings about the condition of the property and had not erred in holding that the CPO was not disproportionate. Mrs Greenwood (who acted in person) was ordered to pay £7000 costs.

Housing Law Articles

Safety First
(inspecting gas installations)
M. Lake
[2011] Inside Housing 18 February p28
To read the article, click here.

New Order
(empty dwelling management orders)
S. Lines
[2011] Inside Housing 11 February
To read the article, click here.

Rising damp
(funding disrepair claims)
J. Robins
[2011] 71 Litigation Funding p6

Dispensing with consultation
(service charge consultation requirements)
J. Bates
[2011] 161 New Law Journal 198

Coming full circle?
(commentary on Hackney LBC v Finlay)
E. Morrison
[2011] 161 New Law Journal 239

Recent Developments in Housing Law
J. Luba and N. Madge
[2011] February Legal Action p42

Housing Law Events

3 March 2011
Article 8: "Is that Possession Order Proportionate"
A Garden Court Chambers seminar 18:30 to 20:00
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.

23 March 2011
Housing and the Human Rights Act
An HLPA meeting in London
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.

6 May 2011
Housing Disrepair
A LAG training day in London
For the details, click here.

11 May 2011
Defending possession proceedings
A LAG training day in London
For the details, click here.

12 May 2011
Update on Anti-Social Behaviour Claims: Are they Winnable?
A Garden Court Chambers seminar 18:30 to 20:00
For the details, click here.

18 May 2011
Possession and Housing Benefit
An HLPA meeting 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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