Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 214 - 26 April 2011

Tuesday 26 April 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Updating Housing Law: the publishers of Defending Possession Proceedings (see below) have released a free downloadable update to several chapters of the current edition of the book to take account of recent cases such as Pinnock and Powell. To access the update, click here.

Housing Benefit: on 19 April 2011 the Department for Work & Pensions published a new Local Housing Allowance Guidance Manual. For a copy, click here.

Social Housing Rent Arrears: in Northern Ireland, a new set of Rent Collection Guidance has been developed by the Department for Social Development, with support from the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, Housing Rights Service and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. It states that "Eviction should always be viewed as a last resort and should only be used when all other avenues have been exhausted." To access the guidance, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Sharif v Camden LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 463
20 April 2011
The claimant's household included her disabled father and a dependent younger sister. Camden owed the main housing duty under the homelessness provisions and performed it by providing a three bedroom house. Later, the council decided to provide two self contained units in a hostel. One for the father and one for the two sisters. The units were on the same floor of the hostel but a few yards apart. The Court of Appeal decided that the statutory obligation to provide accommodation for an applicant "together with" other household members could not lawfully be performed by the provision of two separate self-contained units. A copy of the judgment will be available here shortly.

Buckinghamshire CC v Kingston upon Thames RLBC [2011] EWCA Civ 457
19 April 2011

Kingston had a statutory duty to provide residential accommodation for a disabled woman under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. In 2009 it assessed that she could leave residential care and live independently in the community with support. It facilitated a move by her to a shared bungalow in Buckinghamshire which she occupied on an assured shorthold tenancy. Kingston later notified Bucks CC that it would become liable for meeting her ongoing care needs under section 29 of the 1948 Act. Bucks contended that it had no liability because the move had been unlawful as Bucks had not been consulted. Upholding a High Court judgment, the Court of Appeal held that there had been no obligation on Kingston to consult Bucks. The move had been lawful. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Beedles v Guinness Northern Counties Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 442
19 April 2011

By reason of his disabilities, Mr Beedles was unable to carry out his responsibilities under his tenancy agreement to keep the interior of his home in good decorative order. The landlord agreed to waive the obligation in his case but Mr Beedles claimed that the 'reasonable adjustment' requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 section 24C imposed a duty on the landlord to meet his request that it carry out the works for him. The Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of that claim. The words 'enjoy' or 'enjoyment' of premises used in the Act meant no more than that the tenant should be able to live in his home as any typical tenant would. On the facts found by the judge, conditions at the premises had not degraded to such extent as to interfere with the ordinary use of them. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

R(MK) v Home Secretary [2011] EWCA Civ, [2011] All ER (D) 158 (Apr)
14 April 2011

The claimant was a failed asylum seeker for whom the Home Secretary was prepared to provide accommodation and food vouchers under Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 section 4. He wanted to live with his partner and child in her private rented accommodation and receive vouchers there. The Court of Appeal held that the Home Secretary had no power to provide vouchers without also providing accommodation and that for the Home Secretary to arrange with the landlord that the claimant could stay with his partner would not amount to the provision of accommodation.

R(Milton Keynes Council) v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government [2011] EWHC 1060 (Admin)
11 April 2011

Prior to 1 October 2010, when new regulations came into force, planning permission was needed for a change of use from a dwelling house to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) so that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) could control the potential amenity and environmental problems that can arise from HMOs, by either refusing planning permission or by the imposition of planning conditions. Now that such a change of use is a permitted development, LPAs have no control over the change of use, except by making a direction which will expose them to the risk of compensation to landowners. Milton Keynes and other councils sought an order quashing the regulations on the basis that they had not formally been consulted before they were made. The High Court dismissed the claim holding that, in the circumstances, there had been sufficient consultation by the Government consulting with the representative bodies of local authorities.

Cockett v Moore [2011] EWCA Civ 493
29 March 2011

Ms Cockett brought a claim for possession and rent arrears against her tenant, Mr Moore. He counterclaimed for a declaration that he had a beneficial interest in the value of the property. At the first hearing, a possession order was made and the other claims were adjourned for full trial. At the trial, the rent arrears claim was dismissed save for an admitted and agreed amount and the counterclaim was dismissed. The judge ordered the tenant to pay 90% of the landlord's costs. He appealed against the costs order. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. Although Mr Moore had defeated the main rent arrears claim, the judge had found that his counterclaim had taken up the bulk of the time at trial and in preparation for it. The claim for a possession order had also succeeded. There were no prospects of upsetting the judge's order on costs.

R(W) v Croydon LBC [2011] EWHC 696 (Admin)
3 March 2011

The claimant was a young disabled adult to whom the council owed the accommodation duty under National Assistance Act 1948. From 2005 it had funded his placement at a specialist facility in Yorkshire but in June 2010 conducted an assessment which determined that he should be moved because (a) he was not being encouraged towards independence and (b) the cost of £4800pw was more than double what the council would normally have paid for similar accommodation. Acting on the assessment, the council decided to move the claimant. He successfully sought a judicial review. The council had failed to consult his parents properly. They had only been provided with a copy of the assessment on their arrival to meet council officials and had not had a proper opportunity to prepare a response before the decision was taken. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

R(YA) v Hillingdon LBC [2011] EWHC 744 (Admin)
1 March 2011

The council provided accommodation for the claimant under the Children Act 1989 on the basis that she was 15. In May 2009 the council undertook an assessment in which it found her age to be 19. The claim for judicial review of that decision was made in February 2010 and fixed for trial in May 2011. Ahead of the trial, the High Court dealt with three preliminary issues. First, it decided that the claim was out of time. Correctly ascertaining a child's age was not a continuing duty. Time began to run in May 2009. However, on the particular circumstances of the case, an extension of time was granted. Second, as the claimant would on any view be an adult at the date of trial, she should attend for cross-examination. Third, special measures would be in place to accommodate her vulnerabilities at trial.

Allen v Southwark LBC [No.2] [2011] EWCA Civ 470
23 February 2011

Mr Allen had been subject to five claims for possession for rent arrears. All were dismissed. He claimed that the taking of the multiple claims amounted to a course of harassment contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The Court of Appeal decided that his claim was arguable (see [2008] EWCA Civ 1478). At the subsequent trial, the judge decided that the possession claims had each been brought in good faith by the council "however mistakenly or incompetently" and dismissed Mr Allen's claim. The Court of Appeal dismissed an application for permission to appeal. There was no real prospect of successfully showing that, on the facts, the judge had been wrong.

Housing Law Articles

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

Rights or Wrongs
(contrasting views on article 8 and possession claims)
J. Holbrook and G. Peaker
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal No.15 p12

Proportionality and housing possession - the sequel
N. Dobson
[2011] 108 Law Society's Gazette No.16 p15.
To read the article, click here.

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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