Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 208 – 14 March 2011

Monday 14 March 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing allocation, homelessness and more: on 28 February 2011 the UK coalition Government published a summary of responses to its consultation paper Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing. For the summary, click here. The ministerial statement made on the same day indicated that the Government would press ahead with the proposals already before Parliament in the Localism Bill. For that statement, click here. Over the last two weeks, the Commons Committee considering the Bill has been debating amendments to the housing provisions contained in Part 6. For the discussion of provisions relating to social housing allocation, click here. For the debates on new homelessness arrangements, click here. Four London Boroughs (Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Wandsworth and Westminster) submitted a memorandum to the Committee suggesting that the government should legislate to ensure that a duty owed to a household threatened with homelessness could be met by a private sector offer. For a copy of that memorandum, click here. For the Hansard report on the discussion of the other housing provisions, in particular flexible tenancies, click here and here. The Committee Stage has now concluded. The Bill will next be considered at a Report Stage in the House of Commons.

Mortgage Possession Claims: on 1 March 2011 the UK coalition Government published Modelling and forecasting county court claims and orders for mortgage repossessions by Professor John Muellbauer and Janine Aron. The study explores the determinants of mortgage possession court orders as well as forecasting court orders on a regional basis for England and Wales from 2011 to 2015. It observes that the recent house price and credit boom of 2006-08 had increased the proportion of households with overstretched budgets and over-extended debt relative to their assets. The most important determinant of court claims and orders was found to be the debt to income ratio. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Homelessness & Housing Allocations Eligibility: on 10 March 2011 the Government laid before Parliament, the Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration)(Revocation, Savings and Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2011 which have the effect of ending the Worker Registration Scheme for A8 nationals from 1 May 2011. From that date A8 nationals will be free to take employment in the United Kingdom, and enjoy a right to reside on that basis, without being subject to the existing requirement to register their employment. For a copy of the new regulations, click here.

Housing Benefit: much of the planning for the forthcoming changes to housing benefit (HB) assumes improved use of Discretionary Housing Payments to make up shortfalls between benefit and rent. The DWP has just published the Discretionary Housing Payments Good Practice Guide March 2011 to help ensure that advisers and councils are up to speed. For a copy, click here. For details of the latest stage of planning to implement the HB changes, see the March 2001 edition of Housing Benefit Direct, available by clicking here. For a copy of the Government's response to the Work & Pensions Select Committee's report on the housing benefit changes, click here.

Housing & Anti-social Behaviour: specialist advice on deploying a range of tools and powers to tackle anti-social behaviour is available from the Government's ASB Actionline on 0870 220 2000 or via Actionline@bss.org. The Actionline team has encouraged practitioners to consider making responses to the consultation paper on the reform of ASB tools and powers. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. The consultation closes on 3 May 2011.

Homelessness Statistics: the latest quarterly figures on homelessness applications to local authorities in England were published on 10 March 2011. They show that the number of applicants accepted as owed a main homelessness duty during October to December 2010 was 15 per cent higher than in the same quarter last year. For the full details and statistical tables, click here.

Service Charges and Council Tenants: in the face of threatened legal proceedings, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has agreed to investigate the consequences of the exclusion of council tenants from statutory protections against unreasonable service charges, in particular those charges levied in respect of district heating schemes. A useful briefing paper and details of how to feed views into the DCLG investigation are available from Gareth Mitchell at gmitchell@pierceglynn.co.uk.

Statutory Duties Relating to Housing: on 8 March 2011 the UK coalition Government launched a review of the burden of statutory duties imposed on local government by current legislation. For the announcement, click here. The Department for Communities and Local Government has identified over 210 such statutory duties in its policy area, which includes statutory housing duties. The review invites responses on the extent to which such duties can be revised or abolished. The informal consultation exercise will remain open for six weeks, closing 25 April 2011. For further details, click here.

Low-cost Home Ownership: at present, a national network of local agents is responsible for matching buyers to low cost home ownership opportunities. On 28 February 2011 the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) announced the possibility of that system being replaced with a new single national Homebuy Agent. For the announcement, click here. A consultation on the proposal closes on 6 May 2011. For the consultation paper, click here.

Disabled Facilities Grants: on 3 March 2011 the Minister for Housing made a parliamentary statement on the distribution of Disabled Facility Grant funding for 2011/2012. For the statement, click here. For more details on the distribution of what is no longer ring-fenced funding, click here.

Affordable Rent Tenancies: the details of how these new forms of social housing tenancy will work when they come on stream later this year were jointly published by the DCLG and the HCA on 28 February 2011 as part of the Affordable Homes Programme 2011-2015. The material relating to allocation, tenure and rent levels is in Chapter 3 of the framework document available by clicking here.

Tenancy Deposits - a new regime: the new arrangements for schemes for deposit-taking in the private rented sector in Scotland came into effect on 7 March 2011. Part 1 of the new regulations imposes duties on landlords to pay a tenancy deposit to an approved scheme, to provide information to the tenant, and to ensure that a deposit is held by an approved scheme throughout a tenancy. For the new regulations, click here.

Housing for young ex-offenders: a new report from the charity Barnardo's shows that children as young as 13 are being released from custody into unsuitable and unsafe housing, leaving them vulnerable to re-offending. It calls for a cross-government action plan and for dedicated senior officials to ensure that suitable accommodation for young people leaving custody becomes an issue of urgent priority. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing Market Renewal: in October 2010, the UK coalition Government announced that the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) programme will end in March 2011 - eight years into what was originally envisaged as a 10 to 15-year programme. On 10 March 2011 the Audit Commission published its Housing Market Renewal: Programme Review 2010 offering a look back at the original objectives of HMR, exploring recent progress and performance and providing a cumulative assessment of the overall impact of the programme. For a copy of the report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Bank of Scotland v Pereira [2011] EWCA Civ 241
9 March 2011

The bank advanced money by way of mortgage to Ms Pereira to enable her to buy a house owned and occupied by Mr and Mrs Pain. The mortgage monies were paid direct to a company controlled by Ms Pereira's then partner as part of his fraudulent activities. The Pains did not move out. Ms Pereira did not move in. When mortgage payments fell into arrears, the bank brought possession proceedings. Ms Pereira did not attend the trial. In 2007 a judge granted a possession order, gave the bank judgment against Ms Pereira for the amount advanced and ordered her to pay damages to the Pains. In 2009 Ms Pereira applied to set aside the orders made in her absence and, in addition, appealed out-of-time to the Court of Appeal against the orders. Her set aside application was dismissed and her appeal against that dismissal was listed with her appeal out-of-time. The Court of Appeal dismissed both appeals. The judgments contain useful guidance on the appropriate use of appeals and applications to set aside when a party has failed to attend trial of a possession claim. For a copy of the judgments, click here.

R (R.O.) v East Riding of Yorkshire Council [2011] EWCA Civ 196
2 March 2011

The claimant was a disabled child aged 13. The council was both the education authority and the children's services authority for his area. The council decided that his needs could best be met by the provision of a full time placement at a residential school. It took the view that from the date of his placement he ceased to be a looked-after child for the purposes of the care and accommodation duties imposed by the Children Act 1989. The Court of Appeal held that this view had been mistaken and that the claimant remained a looked-after child and would also, in due course, be covered by the care-leaver provisions of the Children Act 1989. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

White v Quadrant Brownswood Tenants Co-op [2011] EWCA Civ 239
18 January 2011

The claimant tenant brought an action for damages against the defendant landlords for breach of repairing obligations relating to dampness in a basement flat. The landlords denied liability claiming that the dampness had been caused by the tenant - either from a washing machine leak or by condensation. The trial judge upheld a small part of the claim and both sides appealed to the Court of Appeal. The landlord obtained permission to appeal on costs only and made a renewed application for permission to appeal also on liability. The Court of Appeal refused that application. On the evidence before him, the judge had been entitled to find that a small area of dampness had been caused by a defect in an external rainwater pipe for which the landlords bore the repairing obligation.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] March Legal Action p25

Responses to the Local Decisions Consultation
D. Watkinson
[2011] March Legal Action p8

The Localism Bill: taking security of tenure for granted?
R. Brown and L. West
(2011) 14 Journal of Housing Law p33

Tenancy deposit protection
D. Smith
(2011) 14 Journal of Housing Law p40

Housing co-operatives: legal issues
C. Handy
(2011) 14 Journal of Housing Law p29

Tenancy Deposits
DJ R. Pates
[2011] Law Society's Gazette 3 March 2011, p20

Social Insecurity
(the Localism Bill provisions)
D. Wilson
[2011] Law Society's Gazette 10 March 2011, p24

Housing Law Events this Spring

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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