Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 212 - 11 April 2011

Monday 11 April 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Homes from offices and commercial premises: on 8 April 2011 the UK Government launched a consultation exercise on proposed changes to planning laws designed to make it easier for empty office blocks and other commercial premises to be converted for use as residential accommodation. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. In an announcement made on the same day, the Secretary of State called on local councils to use their existing powers more flexibly to facilitate such conversions pending the outcome of the consultation. For the statement, click here.

Choice based letting: a new research paper shows that ethnic minorities using CBL schemes to apply for social housing are the most likely to end up in deprived and ethnic concentration neighbourhoods. For a copy of the paper, click here.

DIY repairs for social housing: on 7 April 2011 the UK Government launched a Tenant Cashback scheme to allow residents of social housing to take more control of the repairs budgets for their homes, for example by carrying out their own DIY or commissioning repair work locally. For the announcement, click here.

New Equality Duty for social landlords: the new equality duty introduced by the Equality Act 2010 came into force on 5 April 2011. For the commencement order, click here.

Park home residents: new regulations made under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 take effect on 30 April 2011 to regulate the rights of mobile home residents. They set out the terms of written statements to be given to residents by site owners. For a copy of those regulations, click here. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/1006/made/data.pdf A new Order under the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 sections 229 and 250 gives the Residential Property Tribunal jurisdiction to adjudicate on most disputes between residents and site owners. For a copy of the Order, click here.

Gypsy & Traveller sites: on 30 April 2011 the provision exempting residents on council-provided gypsy and traveller sites from the protection of the Mobile Homes Act will be removed by commencement of section 318 of the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008. For the commencement order, click here. A new set of terms and conditions for occupation of such sites is contained in an Order made under the Mobile Homes Act. For a copy of that Order, click here. However, those on official transit sites will have a reduced set of rights set out in a further Order. For a copy of that, click here.

Housing tribunals: on 30 April 2011 new procedure rules and fees will take effect in the Residential Property Tribunal which determines many classes of housing dispute. For a copy of the new Regulations, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Thomson v Aberdeen CC Case Ref: B835/10
23 March 2011

Mr Thomson had an HMO licence for a property he rented-out in Glasgow. He bought a property in Aberdeen but let it out before obtaining an HMO licence from the council. He had heard that premises did not constitute an HMO if occupied by either a family or a religious community. He let to six students from different parts of the UK but the tenancy agreements provided that the occupiers used the property as a religious community or as a family. The council treated the letting as unlawful because the property was an unlicensed HMO. Mr Thomson's application for an HMO licence was refused on the basis that he was not, in the light of his conduct, a fit and proper person to hold one. His appeal to the Sheriff Court was dismissed. The council had acted in accordance with the law and had been entitled to refuse a licence. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Millharbour Management Ltd v Weston Homes Ltd [2011] EWHC 661 (TCC)
22 March 2011

The claimants were several long leaseholders in a huge block of flats built by the defendant. They claimed that there were structural problems with the block and significant disrepair. They sought a direction that two claimants (one an original leaseholder and the other an assignee) should be treated as bringing test cases on behalf of all the other leaseholders rather than requiring every lessee to bring a claim. The application was allowed and the judgment contains a useful review of the possibility of tenants maintaining group actions or class actions under the Civil Procedure Rules. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Windsor & Maidenhead RBC v Hemans [2011] EWCA Civ 374
2 March 2011

A married couple, living in army accommodation in the council's area, separated. The wife and child moved to a different council's area staying first in a refuge and then in a private rented flat. The husband lost the army accommodation. The couple later wished to reunite and establish a home again in the council's area. They applied as homeless. The council decided that they were not homeless as they could live in the wife's flat. On appeal a judge decided that the husband was not homeless because he had no legal right to occupy the wife's flat. The council's appeal against that ruling was allowed by the Court of Appeal. The fact that they intended to reunite implied that the wife had given the husband a licence to occupy. But the Court of Appeal quashed the reviewing officer's decision for failure to consider properly whether it was reasonable for the wife to continue to occupy the flat rather than give it up and move back to the council's area. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Keeping things in proportion
(commentary on Hounslow v Powell et al)
K. Thompson
[2011] 8 April Inside Housing p28
To read the article, click here.

Owner-occupiers law review 2011
D. McConnell
[2011] April Legal Action p10

Government responds to the Local Decisions consultation
D. Watkinson
[2011] April Legal Action p5

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] April Legal Action p26

Housing Law Events

After Easter

6 May 2011
Homelessness & Lettings Conference 2011
A Lime Legal Conference 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.

19 May 2011
Social Housing Law & Practice 2011
A Lime Legal Conference 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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