Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 223 - 28 June 2011

Tuesday 28 June 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Changing housing law: the House of Lords is part-way through the Committee Stage of the Localism Bill. The Housing-related amendments start at No.170 in the latest marshalled list and cover everything from tenancy deposits to travellers as well as homelessness, security of tenure and allocations. For a copy of that list, click here. For a useful review of the Bill's provisions produced last month by the House of Lords Library, click here.

Housing & Legal Aid: on 21 June 2011 the UK Government published its response to the consultation paper on legal aid reform. For the response, click here. That was immediately followed by publication of the Legal Aid Bill laid in Parliament. For a copy, click here. The Legal Services Commission has published the detailed income cuts for civil legal aid suppliers that will come into force in October. For those details, click here. For the impact assessments on the changes, click here and scroll down. Buried in the material published was the Government's Response to the Justice Select Committee's Third Report of Session 2010-11: The Government's Proposed Reform of Legal Aid. For a copy of that, click here. For what all the changes mean for housing lawyers and advisers, see the useful discussion at NearlyLegal by clicking here.

Housing & Anti-social behaviour: last week the Chartered Institute of Housing launched the new RESPECT ASB Charter for Housing. This non-statutory code is intended to improve performance on anti-social behaviour by social landlords. For a copy, click here. For the sign-up procedure for landlords, click here.

FirstBuy launched: on 20 June 2011 the Housing Minister launched the FirstBuy scheme under which the Government and housebuilders will together offer new house purchasers a 20% equity loan, which - alongside a 5% deposit from the buyer - will enable them to take out a 75% mortgage on the rest of the property. The announcement identifies participating builders and lenders. The scheme will be available through local HomeBuy Agents. For more details, click here. On 25 June 2011 the Minister announced that HomeBuy Agents from the Homes and Communities Agency will visit military bases to explain how the FirstBuy scheme works, as well as to discuss options for members of the armed forces who want to apply for other low cost home ownership schemes. For that announcement, click here.

Mortgage repossessions: on 21 June 2011 Shelter published its research report England Repossession Hotspots 2010/11. The research helps create a national picture of England's repossession hotspots i.e. areas with the highest proportion of homeowners who have been issued with a possession order for their home, and are therefore at serious risk of repossession. For a copy, click here.

Mortgage Rescue Scheme: by 30 June 2011 all purchases under the "old" English Mortgage Rescue scheme (MRS) are expected to have been completed. An exceptional override may be available in some cases. A report last month by the National Audit Office found that the MRS had cost almost £93,000 for every purchase completed instead of the projected £34,000. For a copy of that report, click here.

Access to Information: on 23 June 2011 the Housing Minister announced that the Government will consult with housing associations later this year on whether to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to include housing associations, many of which receive substantial public investment. For more details, click here.

Code of Guidance in Wales: the consultation on a new Homelessness & Allocations Code for Wales closes in just two days time (30 June 2011). For the consultation details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Orlic v Croatia [2011] ECHR 974
21 June 2011

From 1992 Mr Orlic had rented a flat from the Croatian government and occupied it with his family. In 2000 a domestic court found that the tenancy had been wrongly granted to him, that he had no right to remain, and that a possession order should be made. Appeals against that order failed and in 2004 he was evicted. He complained to the European Court of Human Rights that he had been evicted without any of the domestic courts considering the proportionality of his eviction. The Court held that the flat was his "home" even though he had no legal right to occupy it and that because the national courts had only looked at the position in relation to rights of occupation under domestic law and not under Article 8 there had been an infringement of the right to respect for his home. It rejected an argument that the right to raise an Article 8 defence would disrupt the functioning of domestic legal systems. It also identified a duty on public authorities to give reasons for eviction by stating at [69] "In circumstances where the national authorities, in their decisions ordering and upholding the applicant's eviction, have not given any explanation or put forward any arguments demonstrating that the applicant's eviction was necessary, the State's legitimate interest in being able to control its property comes second to the applicant's right to respect for his home.". For the full judgment, click here.

R v Mohammed Qureshi [2011] EWCA Crim, Case No 1100399 C5 [2011] Times 21 June 2011.
17 May 2011

The defendant landlord served notice on two tenants to leave. When they did not do so, the defendant's son and five other men went to the properties and acted in a threatening manner towards the tenants. The defendant was charged with harassment contrary to section 1(3A) Protection from Eviction Act 1977. The Crown Court ruled that there was no case to answer and the Court of Appeal upheld that ruling. A person cannot be guilty of the section 1(3A) offence vicariously by reference to the acts of others.

Black v Duncan [2011] A9858/09, Aberdeen Sheriff Court
16 May 2011

The parties were adjoining house owners. The title to each property gave a right to use a common garden area behind the buildings as a shared garden or drying green. Before 2008 the Duncan's erected a low fence halfway down the ground and in November 2008 put up a large metal fence. They used "their" side of the garden for toileting their dogs. Mrs Black succeeded in her claim for an order for removal of the fence and preventing the Duncans from allowing their dogs to toilet on any part of the land. For the full judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] June Legal Action p22
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

Keeping Tenants in Mind
(commentary on Wynchavon Council v EM)
J. Wearing
[2011] 24 June Inside Housing p66
For a copy, click here.

Pipe Dream
(considers landlord liability for pipework repairs)
N. Morah
[2011] 24 June Inside Housing p66
For a copy, click here.

Damp damaging plaster
P. Butt and R. Lowe
[2011] 17 June Busy Solicitors Digest

Gypsies and travellers and the Law
A. Samuels
[2011] Journal of Planning Law 675

Boundaries of Protection
(commentary on Murphy v Wyatt)
J. Driscoll
[2011] 1124 Estates Gazette 107

Defining Issues
(discussion of HMO definition)
S. Deckker
[2011] 1124 Estates Gazette 104

Housing Law Events

June 2011:

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.

Autumn 2011

21 September 2011
Tenancy Agreements Conference 2011
A Chartered Institute of Housing event in London
For the details, click here.

29 September 2011
Preventing Homelessness and Helping Homeowners at Risk National Conference 2011
A Lime Legal Event in London
For the details, click here.

5 October 2011
Social Housing Allocations Conference
A Lime Legal Event in London
For the details, click here.

1 December 2011
Residential Landlord & Tenant Update 2011
A Professional Conferences event 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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