Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 213 - 18 April 2011

Wednesday 20 April 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing Law Reform: the House of Commons Library has produced a useful summary of changes made to the Localism Bill by the Public Bill Committee in its Research Paper 11/32 Localism Bill: Committee Stage Report . The housing parts of the Bill are reviewed at pages 41-57. For a copy of the Research Paper, click here.

Gypsy & Traveller sites: last week the UK Government launched a consultation seeking views on a new draft Planning Policy Statement for traveller sites. The final Statement will replace the current policy set out in Circular 01/06 (ODPM): Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites and Circular 04/07: Planning for Travelling Showpeople. The closing date for responses is 6 July 2011. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. Last week the UK Government also published a Guidance Note on applying the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to local authority traveller sites covering the new requirement to provide a written statement to existing residents, other transitional arrangements, and terms relating to the operation of transit pitches. For a copy of the guidance note, click here. At the same time, the Secretary of State announced a range of other measures related to travellers including a decision to provide £1.2m central government funding to assist Basildon Council in evicting those unlawfully residing at the Dale Farm site. For a copy of the announcement, click here. See too, the article Big Fat Gypsy Prejudice, published last week by Inside Housing, by clicking here.

Mortgage arrears: the National Homelessness Advice Service has updated its leaflet Are you worried about your mortgage? Get advice now. For a copy of the April 2011 edition, click here.

More Housing Law Advice needed: the Legal Services Commission last week opened a new bid round for advisers to: (1) operate a housing possession court duty scheme at Wandsworth County Court and/or (2) provide housing and other social welfare law services in Westminster, Oxfordshire, South Warwickshire and North Lincolnshire. Bids must be in by 17 May 2011. For more details, click here.

Residential accommodation from social services: the UK Government has published a new edition of its guidance on charging occupiers for the provision of residential accommodation under the National Assistance Act 1948 and other social services functions. For a copy of the guidance, click here.

Housing and Anti-Social Behaviour: the current consultation exercise on a draft new standard for social housing management responses to Anti Social Behaviour closes on 3 May 2011. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Bad housing in Wales: on 13 April 2011 a new report, The Cost of Poor Housing in Wales, was published. The authors calculate the costs to the NHS of treating accidents and illnesses caused by problems in the home such as unsafe steps, electrical hazards, excessive cold, damp and mould and conclude that the total cost to society of bad housing in Wales, including factors such as children's poor educational attainment and reduced life chances, is around £168m a year. For more details of the report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Goodwill Sip Ltd v Newham LBC [2011] EWHC 980 (QB)
14 April 2011

The claimant group of companies provided the council with temporary accommodation to be used for homeless households. The companies sued on unpaid invoices for over £78,000 representing accommodation charges for 'overstayers' i.e. residents who had refused to leave even though the council had notified them that its homelessness duties had ended. The council denied liability on the basis that once it had notified the resident and the company that a duty had been discharged no further charges were payable. The High Court rejected the companies' claims that it was for the council to evict those overstaying. On a true construction of the arrangements made, the council had no financial liability once its duties to the homeless households in question had ended. It was for the companies to evict the residents if they did not leave. For the judgment, click here.

Jenson v Faux [2011] EWCA Civ 423
13 April 2010

Mr Faux carried out substantial works to a house in 2003/2004 for its then owner. Over £400,000 was spent converting the house from two storeys into what were said to be "4 storeys of luxury accommodation". The property was later bought by the Jensons. They claimed it was defective because of water penetration to the basement and brought a claim for damages relying on Defective Premises Act 1972 section 1. That Act applies to work for "the provision of a dwelling". The Court of Appeal struck out the claim on the basis that there was no reasonable prospect of successfully demonstrating that the work had produced a new dwelling in terms of the identity of the house being changed. For the judgment, click here.

Akhtar v Birmingham CC [2011] EWCA Civ 383
12 April 2011

The council owed Ms Akhtar the main housing duty under the homelessness provisions. It made her an offer of a tenancy of council accommodation which she refused. The council decided that its duty had been discharged. Ms Akhtar sought a review on grounds of (1) size and (2) location. The reviewing officer found that the property had not been suitable. File notes recorded that the size point had succeeded. The council then offered a second larger property in the same area. Ms Akhtar again refused and sought a review on the basis that the second property was unsuitable by reason of size and location. The reviewing officer upheld a decision that the second offer had discharged the council's duty. A judge dismissed an appeal and the Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal. The first review had succeeded and there was no duty to give reasons for a successful review outcome i.e. to spell out that the review had only dealt with size not location. Nor was there a duty in making a second offer to disclose why the review of an earlier offer had succeeded.

Murphy v Wyatt [2011] EWCA Civ 408
12 April 2010

In 1975 an owner let a plot of 1.7 acres of land on a weekly tenancy. The land was used for horse stabling, a livery business and grazing. The tenant brought a caravan onto the land and lived in it as his home. The caravan was later replaced with a mobile home. The landlord served notice to quit and sought possession. The judge decided that the Mobile Homes Act 1983 did not apply to the tenancy of the land. The Court of Appeal rejected the tenant's appeal. The Act only applied to the letting of a mobile home's site and any associated amenity land (e.g. a garden). It could not apply to the tenancy of a large parcel of land on only a small part of which the mobile home was stationed. Additionally, in 1975 when the tenancy began, the Act could not have applied because the land had no planning consent for residential use. For the judgment, click here.

Complaint against Liverpool CC LGO Complaint No 10/008/979
4 April 2011

The council transferred housing stock to a social landlord, LMH. As part of the transfer LMH agreed a protocol that if a council occupational therapist (OT) identified a tenant as needing an adaptation then the necessary work would be completed within 60 working days, subject to the social landlord having funding. The complainant was assessed by an OT as needing a level access shower by reason of his disability. His landlord, LMH, told him that it would take 3 years before the work could be carried out due to shortage of funds. Once 16 months had passed he complained to the council but it took no action. The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found that the council had no system for monitoring whether or when adaptation work it had identified as necessary had been done by social landlords. It had not considered how to discharge its statutory duty owed as a social services authority and had not informed the complainant of the right to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant. The LGO recommended £2000 compensation and made a series of service improvement recommendations. For the full report, click here.

Bank of Scotland v Martin [2011] EWCA Civ 449
31 March 2011

Mr and Mrs Martin took out a mortgage for £38,000 in 1989. They fell into arrears. The property was repossessed and sold in 1997 leaving a £22,000 shortfall. Mrs Martin had moved away and changed her name but in 2002 the bank traced her and invited her to fill in forms about her means. Negotiations followed and from 2005 to 2009 she made modest payments. In 2009 the bank sued for a sum of £21,000 representing the unpaid balance and interest. The defence pleaded that the claim was statute-barred, the first default having arisen in 1989. The judge upheld the bank's claim and the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. The forms completed and the payments made represented an acknowledgement of the debt and so the claim was not out of time.

Bristol CC v Aldford Two LLP [2011] UKUT 130 (LC)
30 March 2011

The council decided that a flat let by the company constituted a Category 1 Hazard and it served an improvement notice. It had decided that the heating arrangements (convector heaters) were inadequate and that a central heating system was required. The landlord appealed and a Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) quashed the notice. The council appealed to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). It dismissed the appeal. It decided that the RPT had not been bound by the council's hazard assessment and that, even if it had been satisfied that a Category 1 Hazard existed, the appropriate course of action on the facts was the service of a hazards awareness notice rather than an improvement notice. For the full judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

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

Valuable possession: take 2
(reply to an earlier article by J. Holbrook on Art 8 and possession proceedings)
S. Madge-Wyld and S. Salmon
[2011] 161 New Law Journal p527

A proportionate response
(commentary on Manchester v Pinnock and Hounslow v Powell)
S. Murdoch
(2011) 1115 Estates Gazette p91

The shifting sands of article 8 jurisprudence in English housing law
I. Loveland
(2011) European Human Rights Law Review p151

When protection matters
(dealing with social housing tenants who hoard waste)
R. Eckford
(2011) 161 New Law Journal p537

Housing Law Events

May 2011

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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