Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 217 - 16 May 2011

Monday 16 May 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Mortgage Default: a swathe of statistics relating to default on mortgage repayments were released last week, relating to the first three months of 2011. The Council of Mortgage Lenders' figures show a 10% decline in repossessions over the same period last year. For the CML data, click here. HM Court Service figures reveal an 8% increase over the same period last year in the number of mortgage possession claims actually issued. For their statistics, click here. Separate figures show that 2,621 homeowners have now completed the full Mortgage Rescue Scheme process in England since the scheme's launch in January 2009. For those figures, click here.

Addressing Housing Fraud: on 11 May 2011 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government issued a new ten point counter-fraud blueprint for tackling fraud in local government. £19m has already been committed to 51 councils in England to help recover unlawfully occupied homes and last year they recovered nearly 1,600 properties worth around £240m. Oxford Council hired a dedicated fraud officer who recovered 25 properties in their first six months. In 15 of these cases the unlawfully sub-letting tenant was still claiming housing benefit, the total cost of which was £1500 per week. For more details of the 10-point plan, click here. For a copy of The Guide to tackling housing tenancy fraud, click here.

Free Housing Advice: on 9 May 2010 the UK coalition Government confirmed funding of £1.5m over two years in 2011/12 and 2012/13 for FirstStop, an advice agency. FirstStop is a free, independent, information and advice service for older people, their families and carers. It aims to help older people make informed decisions about their housing options and help them maintain independent living in later life. The service is provided through a dedicated telephone line (0800 377 7070) and website (www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk). For more details of the funding announcement, click here.

Repossession for Anti-Social Behaviour: on 9 May 2011 the UK Government gave further details of the proposed new mandatory ground for possession in ASB cases. Being found guilty of housing related anti-social behaviour in one court will provide automatic grounds for eviction in the county court, removing the need to prove the incidents of anti-social behaviour for a second time. The new ground is likely to be introduced as a Government amendment to the Localism Bill presently before Parliament. For more details, click here.

Area Renewal Schemes: the ending of the Housing Market Renewal Programme left partially-completed area renovation schemes in local authority districts across England. On 9 May 2011 the UK Government announced that it would allocate up to £30m to develop a transition package intended to help people where schemes have been stalled in the five most challenged Housing Market Renewal areas - Merseyside, East Lancashire, North Staffordshire, Hull and Teesside. The Homes and Communities Agency will shortly be publishing bidding guidance for local authorities in those areas. For more details of the announcement, click here.

Condensation Dampness: on 11 May 2011 the UK Government published the research report Condensation risk - impact of improvements to Part L and robust details on Part C. This report evaluates the impact of higher insulation and airtightness levels on moisture performance and interstitial and surface condensation risks. For a copy of the report, click here.

New Housing Laws for Wales: on 10 May 2011 the Wales (Housing) Measure 2011 received Royal Assent. The Welsh Assembly, exercising its devolved powers to make primary housing legislation, passed the measure to make provision: (1) for the suspension of the right to buy under the Housing Act 1985 and; (2) about the regulation of registered social landlords (and the enforcement action that may be taken against them) under Housing Act 1996. For a copy of the measure, click here.

Helping the Single Homeless: a new study has investigated the experiences of 400 single homeless people who were resettled from hostels and other temporary accommodation into independent tenancies in London, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. It finds that over 80% had settled well into independent living. The research was conducted by the University of Sheffield in collaboration with Centrepoint and five other homelessness organisations. For a copy of the research report, click here.

Legal challenges to selective licensing: two groups of private landlords are bringing judicial review proceedings seeking to quash decisions by local authorities to declare areas of selective licensing of private rented housing. For more details of the challenge by Southern Landlords Association to Thanet District Council's decision, click here. For more details of the challenge by Hyndburn Landlords to Hyndburn District Council's decision, click here.

Gypsies and Travellers: on 11 May 2011 the Travellers Aid Trust launched its new report A Big or Divided Society? It contains the Final Recommendations and Report of the Panel Review into the Coalition Government Policy on Gypsies and Travellers. For a copy, click here.

Housing Key Facts: last week the Department for Communities and Local Government published Housing and Planning Key Facts, England - May 2011 a quick reference leaflet issued quarterly and containing a snapshot of the main housing and planning data. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Cheltenham & Gloucester PLC v Fraenkl-Rietti [2011] EWCA 524
12 May 2011
In 2001 C&G obtained judgment for £24,000 against the defendant in a mortgage possession claim. After receipts from sale of that property, an unpaid balance of £18,000 remained outstanding. In 2009 C&G applied for a charging order over the defendant's present house in respect of the unpaid balance. The defendant said that (1) an application for a charging order made more than 6 years after judgment required the court's permission and (2) permission should not be granted - and in any event no order made - because the current house was in negative equity with secured liabilities exceeding its value. The court made a charging order. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. Nothing in CPR Part 73 required permission for the making of an application for a charging order and negative equity was no bar to an application. For the judgment, click here.

R (Nassery) v Brent LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 539
11 May 2011

The claimant sought judicial review of the council's decision that he was not in need of 'care and attention' and therefore did not qualify for accommodation under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. His case was that, in light of his mental illness, personality disorder and history of self harm and detention under the mental health legislation, the council should have been satisfied that he either now needed or would in future need care and attention. The judge dismissed his claim and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision. At the date of decision, the claimant's condition was under control. To provide for someone who "might in due course" need care and attention was beyond what the section required. For the judgment, click here.

Helden v Strathmore Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 542
11 May 2011

The company succeeded in its claim to recover sums owed by Mr Helden under his mortgage. The judge ordered him to pay all of the company's costs assessed on the usual indemnity basis in respect of a mortgage lender's costs. The Court of Appeal set aside that order and awarded costs to be assessed on the standard basis. The mortgage agreement had not contained any reference to costs. The Court held that where an agreement contains no provision stating how the costs of proceedings will be dealt with, then it would be wrong in principle to proceed on the basis that there is such a provision, simply because the majority of agreements of the type in question do contain such a provision. If anything, one would presume that the parties intentionally departed from the norm. For the judgment, click here.

Jean-Paul v Southwark LBC [2011] UKUT 178 (LC)
9 May 2011

The council undertook asbestos removal and other remedial work on blocks of flats. It claimed £39,000 from two right-to-buy leaseholders in respect of service charges representing their share of the costs of the work under their lease. The claim was followed by a series of chasing letters but nothing was paid. A Leasehold Valuation Tribunal held that the claims for payment were invalid as they did not conform to the provisions of the lease but that if revised claims were rendered compliantly with the lease, the amount would be payable. On appeal, the Upper Tribunal rejected the contention that any such revised claims would be out-of-time having regard to the 18 month time limit on service charge claims in Landlord & Tenant act 1985 section 20B. The chasing letters constituted notifications sufficient to comply with the time limit. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] May Legal Action p33

Who Benefits?
(the housing implications of the ending of the worker registration scheme)
L. Murray
[2011] 13 May Inside Housing p28
To read the article, click here.

Whose rights? Whose reasons?
(discussion of Pinnock and Powell)
A. Arden
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law 47

Powell, Hall and Frisby
A. Arden and J. Manning
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law 52

The tenancy deposit protection scheme: the state of the art
D. Smith
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law 58

The tenancy deposit protection scheme: higher education students
G. Jones
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law 64

Housing Law Events

This Week

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.

June 2011

14 June 2011
New Planning Policy on Traveller Sites: All Change?
A Legal Action Group Training Event in Birmingham
For the details, click here.

20 June 2011
Homelessness & Allocations
A Legal Action Group Training Event in London
For the details, click here.

23 June 2011
Housing and Anti Social Behaviour 2011
A Jordan Publishing Conference in London
For the details, click here.

29 June 2011
Housing: the Legal Update 2011
A Northern Housing Consortium Conference in York
For the details, click here.

July 2011

14 July 2011
Emergency Homeless Applications: When to get a judge on the phone
A Garden Court Chambers seminar 18:30 to 20:00
For the details, click here.

14 July 2011
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group Training Event in London
For the details, click here.

20 July 2011
Bringing Disrepair Claims
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.
To access the free downloadable update to several chapters of the current edition of the book to take account of recent cases such as Pinnock and Powell, 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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