Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 218 - 24 May 2011

Tuesday 24 May 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Changing housing law: on 17 and 18 May 2011 the Localism Bill completed its Report and Third Reading stages in the House of Commons. In debate, the government gave sympathetic reception to opposition amendments designed to reverse the effect of the decisions in Birmingham CC v Qasim (allocation outside the allocation scheme) and Wandsworth LBC v Randall (under-occupying successors). In addition, a raft of government amendments was passed. The Bill has now been reprinted as amended and is in two volumes. As before, the Housing material is in Vol 1 Part 6.For a copy of the Bill, click here. The Bill has now moved to the House of Lords where it will have a Second Reading on 7 June 2011.

Human Rights and Social Landlords: on 19 May 2011 the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Human Rights at Home: Guidance for social housing providers. This non-statutory guidance covers the relationship between the activities of social landlords and the Human Rights Act 1998. For a free copy, click here.

Empty Homes: last week saw a 'week of action' to highlight the 300,000 long term empty homes in England. For the ministerial statement launching the week, click here. Two new toolkits have been launched. They are the Empty Homes Knowledge Toolkit and the Empty Homes Mapping Toolkit. The former is available to all. The latter is available only to local authorities and central government agencies. For copies, click here. For the announcement accompanying launch of the toolkits, click here.

Housing Benefit Reform: the coalition government proposes to raise the age cap for the shared accommodation rate of Housing Benefit from 25 to 35. The Social Security Advisory Committee is considering the proposals. It has invited any representations on the subject to be supplied to it by 17 June 2011. For details, click here.

Support for Mortgage Borrowers: on 19 May 2011 the Department for Work & pensions published new research examining the impact of the temporary arrangements for Support with Mortgage Interest which operated from January 2009 to October 2010. The report looks at the role of money advisers, lenders and benefits officials. For a copy, click here.

Damages for Disrepair: a London solicitors firm specialising in housing law has posted a helpful chart updating the unofficial tariff for damages in disrepair cases offered in Wallace v Manchester CC. Their table takes into account the latest hike in the Retail Prices Index. To access the relevant webpage, click here.

Social housing rents in Wales: the Welsh Assembly Government is presently consulting on proposals for a radical overhaul of rent-setting for social housing in Wales. The consultation closes on 23 June 2011. For more details, click here.

Long leases and ground rents: on 17 May 2011 the Government announced that it had, by way of a correction slip, addressed an error in the regulations dealing with ground rent notices. The notes to the notice now make clear that forfeiture action cannot be taken for non-payment of rent, service charges or administration charges (or a combination of these) unless the unpaid amount is more than £350 or consists of (or includes) an amount which has been outstanding for more than three years. For more details of the change, which took effect last month, click here.

Homes for Service Personnel: on 20 May 2011 the coalition government made a range of commitments to help military personnel with housing needs. These include giving "absolute top priority" to ex-servicemen and women in accessing low cost home ownership schemes. For further details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Grand v Gill [2011] EWCA Civ 554
19 May 2011

A tenant's home was affected by extensive dampness and mould growth. She sought damages for disrepair. The judge disallowed a significant element of compensation because the dampness was largely condensation dampness arising from defective design. The tenant appealed, contending in particular that the damp wall and ceiling plaster was part of the structure and was in disrepair. The Court of Appeal disapproved a High Court ruling in Irvine v Moran that, in residential accommodation, plaster was a mere decorative finish. The Court unanimously held that an obligation to repair "structure" (such as contained in Landlord & Tenant act 1985 section 11) covered plaster. The tenant's damages were increased accordingly. For the judgment, click here.

Gladehurst Properties Ltd v Hashemi [2011] EWCA Civ 604
19 May 2011

The landlord company failed to protect the tenant's deposit under a statutory scheme. After the tenancy had ended, the bulk of the deposit was repaid but there was a dispute over the balance. The tenant brought a claim for the balance and for a penalty of three times the deposit under Housing Act 2004 section 214. The Court of Appeal held that no penalty was recoverable. The right to insist on protection of the deposit and the duty of the court to sanction failure to do so with a penalty each only applied while the tenancy was on foot. For the judgment, click here.

Khalon v Isherwood [2011] EWCA Civ 602
19 May 2011

Following mediation of claims and counterclaims, a landlady and tenant reached an agreement with the help of mediation. The order reflecting the agreement provided for the tenant's assured tenancy to be replaced with an assured shorthold tenancy. When the landlady later sought possession the tenant claimed that he was still an assured tenant because he had not served the prescribed notice on her under Housing Act 1988 Schedule 2A para 7, in effect surrendering his rights. The Court of Appeal set aside a possession order. The document comprising the meditation agreement was not a "notice" under the Act and was not in the prescribed form. There was no power to waive the notice requirement. For the judgment, click here.

Oxford CC v Bull [2011] EWCA Civ 609
18 May 2011

Mr and Mrs Bull separated. She remained in the family home with the children and he moved out to a single room in a shared house. Later the children decided they wanted to live with their father. He allowed them to move in but the landlord gave notice requiring them to leave the single room. Mr Bull applied for homelessness assistance and he and the children were put in interim accommodation together. On review the council decided that Mr Bull was not in priority need and had become homeless intentionally. The Court of Appeal held that Mr Bull was in priority need at the date of the decision because the children were "residing with him" in the interim accommodation. But on the facts the council had been entitled to find that he had become homeless intentionally. The children had a satisfactory home with their mother where they could have continued living. The father's agreement that he would accede to their wish to live with him had caused the unnecessary loss of his home. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

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

Housing Benefit & the Local Government Ombudsman
L. Morris
[2011] 145 Adviser May/June edition

Waiting in vain - what's new in housing allocations law
M. Mackreth
[2011] 145 Adviser May/June edition p27

Forward ever, never backward
(Article 8 and possession proceedings)

M. Robinson
[2011] 145 Adviser May/June edition

Mobile restrictions
(discussion of Murphy v Wyatt)
J. de Waal and A. Creer
[2011] 161 New Law Journal 657
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

June 2011

8 June 2011
Development of a Landlord Registration Scheme for Northern Ireland
A Housing rights Service Event in Belfast
For the details, contact the Housing Rights Service, here.

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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