Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 224 - 4 July 2011

Monday 4 July 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social Housing in England: although the Localism Bill debates have brought considerable parliamentary attention to the proposed reform of social housing laws for England, a separate Westminster Hall debate on social housing reform was held on 28 June 2011. To read the Hansard report of the debate, including the ministerial reply, click here. For the latest marshalled list of amendments to the Localism Bill scheduled for debate in the House of Lords over the next few days, click here.

Inspection of Social Housing Landlords: on 27 June 2011 the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) announced the adoption of a new approach to social housing inspection following the conclusion of its recent consultation. For a summary of the responses received, click here. The TSA's consultation response document describes the arrangements that the TSA will use for commissioning from 1 July 2011. For a copy, click here. These new arrangements replace the transitional arrangements for social housing inspections that have been in place since November 2010.

New Housing Law for Northern Ireland: last week, new statutory provisions relating to housing took effect in Northern Ireland. The first Commencement Order for the Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 brought sections 3 to 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15 and 17 to 24 of the Act into operation on 30 June 2011. For a copy of the Order, click here. For the Act, click here.

Gypsies & Travellers: on 29 June 2011 the data from the count of Gypsy and Traveller Caravans in England, which took place on 27 January 2011, was released. The bi-annual Count takes place in January and July each year, recording the number of caravans on both authorised and unauthorised sites across England. For a copy, click here. Meanwhile, the consultation on planning for future authorised traveller sites (which was due to close this week) has been extended to 3 August 2011. For the consultation paper, click here. An on-line petition has been established calling on the UK Government to ensure that Legal Aid is made available in the Legal Aid Bill 2011 for gypsies and travellers to defend evictions from unauthorised encampments and to be advised and represented in High Court planning matters. For the petition, click here.

Statutory duties relating to Housing: the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) has published a revised and updated list of statutory duties applying to local authorities in England. For a copy, click here. The Department has also published a summary of responses it received to publication of the provisional list. For the summary, click here. In a statement on 30 June 2011, the Minister told Parliament that any consideration of whether to remove specific duties or associated guidance will be a separate process, and would be the subject of further consultation. For the statement, click here.

Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland: the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is consulting on a new Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland. For the consultation paper, click here. The consultation closes on 17 August 2011.

Standards for new-build UK housing: on 29 June 2011 the Housing Minister announced the appointment of Sir John Harman, a former Environment Agency Chairman, to chair a new steering group, established jointly by the Home Builders Federation and the Local Government Group, to oversee work to simplify and harmonise building standards applied to new housing. For the announcement, click here.

Social Housing Allocation in Northern Ireland: the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is consulting on an amended Housing Selection scheme for Northern Ireland. For the consultation paper, click here. The consultation closes on 20 July 2011.

Public Sector Equality duties: on 28 June 2011 the Government laid the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 before Parliament for approval. These regulations will promote the better performance of the equality duty by requiring public authorities to publish equality objectives, at least every four years, and information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty, at least annually. For the ministerial announcement, click here. For the draft regulations, click here.


The Latest Housing Case Law

Brent LBC v Shulem B Association Ltd [2011] EWHC 1663 (Ch)
29 June 2011

The council planned major works to five blocks of flats on one of its housing estates. The company held 15 leases of flats in the blocks. In February 2006 the council served notices claiming payments of services charges due under the leases in respect of the works. When the sums were left unpaid, the council sued. The company's application to strike-out the claim was refused by a county court judge. The High Court granted the company permission to appeal in order to deal with a series of seemingly inconsistent decisions of courts and tribunals about service charge demands. The High Court then allowed the appeal. The demand notices were not in the form required by the leases themselves and did not comply with the terms of section 20B(2) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. For the full judgment, click here.

Lloyds TSB Bank v Jayashankar [2011] EW Misc 9 (CC)
29 June 2011
A possession order made against a mortgage borrower was due for execution by bailiffs on 30 March 2011. On the morning of the eviction, a Deputy District Judge heard and refused the borrower's application to suspend the warrant. The eviction went ahead. Two days later the borrower lodged a notice of appeal to a circuit judge against the refusal of the suspension. The judge decided that there was no jurisdiction to consider an appeal on the merits. The statutory discretion to stay or suspend eviction under section 36 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 had ended with the eviction itself. That eviction could only be undone by the setting aside of the possession order or, perhaps, by a successful application to set aside execution on the basis that it had been obtained by fraud or oppression. For the full judgment, click here.

Broxbourne Borough Council v Robb [2011] EWHC 1626 (QB)
27 June 2011
Irish Travellers moved onto a plot of Green Belt land in breach of an injunction. They then applied for planning permission to regulate their position. The council refused permission and applied for committal for breach of the injunction. The travellers sought to vary the injunction and to stay - at least until the outcome of an appeal against the refusal of planning permission was heard. They suggested that any breach of the court's order be met by a fine. The High Court imposed a sentence of 28 days imprisonment for contempt, not to take effect if the caravans are removed within 4 weeks (enabling the children to complete the summer term at their primary school). For the full judgment, click here.

Bank of Scotland v Zinda [2011] EWCA Civ 706

23 June 2011
Mr Zinda fell behind with his mortgage payments. The bank obtained a suspended possession order (Form N31) requiring him to pay current instalments in addition to £96pm to clear the arrears (at that rate, repayment of the arrears would have taken over 9 years). A couple of years after the order had been made, the bank agreed to consolidate the loan and the arrears and then fixed new instalments. Mr Zinda fell behind again and the bank sought a warrant to enforce the order. An application to stay the warrant was refused and Mr Zinda appealed. He argued that the clearing of the arrears - by the refinancing - meant that the order had been, in effect, discharged. The Court of Appeal disagreed. The order required payment of the arrears as well as current instalments. Even if a borrower did clear the arrears, the order would remain in force to require current instalments to be paid. For the full judgment, click here.

Southall Court (Residents) Ltd v Tiwari [2011] UKUT 218 (LC)
16 June 2011

The landlords proposed to undertake major works to the roof over two wings of a block of flats. They sought service charges of over £1500 from each lessee in order to fund the work. The tenants claimed that the charges were unreasonable because the proposed work was unnecessary. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal took the view that remedial work could wait for another 12-18 months. The Upper Tribunal allowed the landlords' appeal. The landlords' proposals to proceed now rather than delay for 12-18 months were not outside the range of decisions a reasonable landlord could make. For the full judgment, click here.

Karaj v Three Rivers DC [2011] EWCA Civ 768
13 June 2011

Mr Karaj sought a review of a decision that he was not a homeless person. The review was conducted by Mr Minos Perdios on behalf of the council. The point was taken on an unsuccessful appeal to the county court that Mr Perdios had no legal authority to make a review decision for the council. The Court of Appeal was satisfied that an appeal on the point was seriously arguable but it had to address how the additional threshold for a 'second' appeal should be applied. The court said that the judge's "judgment reflects not only the first judicial consideration of the contracting out point but what it is to date the only consideration of it. In those circumstances to regard what would in form be a second appeal to the Court of Appeal as a true second appeal, appears to me to be unsound. It would in substance be a first appeal." Permission to appeal was therefore granted.


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.

The Equality Act and Housing
S. Jackson
[2011] Local Government Lawyer, 30 June
To read the article, click here.


Housing Law Events

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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