Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 228 - 1 August 2011

Monday 1 August 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tenants lacking mental capacity: the court of protection has published guidance on how and when to make applications to that court in relation to signing or terminating tenancy agreements on behalf of adults who lack the mental capacity to understand or sign the agreement themselves. For a copy of that guidance, click here.

Private sector letting: a new Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents comes into effect today (1 August 2011). The code is mandatory for all members of the Property Ombudsman Scheme. For copies of the code, click here.

New "flexible tenancies": the Localism Bill provides that any new flexible tenancy of social housing must be for a minimum fixed term of two years. In the light of arguments that this period would become the 'norm', the Minister for Housing has revised the draft direction to the Social Housing Regulator so as to provide that the normal minimum becomes five years. For the proposed amendment to the draft direction, click here. For the consultation paper on the draft directions as a whole, click here. The consultation closes on 29 September 2011.,

Social housing regulation: the present regulator, the Tenant Services Authority, has just published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2010/11. For a copy, click here. The TSA's chief executive has written to all social landlords to remind them that they must publish their own annual reports to tenants by 1 October 2011. For a copy of that letter, click here. The individual annual reports are intended to demonstrate progress with operating locally agreed standards or "offers". The TSA has just published the latest report from those landlords who have been trailblazing the use of local offers. For that report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Mew v Tristmire Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 912
28 July 2011
Two houseboat owners had their boats (formerly WW2 landing cradft) moored to a harbour wall. At high tide the boats had initially floated but now rested on wooden supporting structures on the sea bed. The landlords of the plots sought possession. The boat owners claimed that they were assured tenants protected by the Housing Act 1988 because the boats were their dwelling houses. The county court held that they were not protected by the Act. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The boats could not be said to have become affixed to land. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Suupere v Ince [2011] EWHC 2003 (QB)
27 July 2011

In January 2009 the claimant was granted an assured shorthold tenancy and paid a deposit of £500. The landlords failed to protect the deposit until July 2009 and failed to provide the prescribed information required by Housing Act 2004 section 213(5). The landlords sought possession and the tenant counterclaimed for three times the deposit. By the date of trial, the deposit had been repaid but the information given by the landlords did not comply with the prescribed requirements. On appeal, the High Court awarded compensation of £1500 (three times the deposit). It held that the prescribed information requirements were mandatory and had not been complied with by trial. Although the obligation to give the information would become unenforceable when the tenancy ended, the landlords had been unable to establish that the tenancy had ended by the trial date. For the judgment, click here.

Thomas v Bridgend County Borough Council [2011] EWCA Civ 862
26 July 2011
The claimant homeowners sought compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973 Part 1 for the loss of value of their homes arising from the noise and other nuisance caused by the construction of a relief road which opened in 2002. The road was not adopted by the council until 2006. Section 19(3) of the Act provided that compensation would only be paid if the road had been adopted within 3 years. The Court of Appeal decided that the noise and nuisance represented an interference with the property of the claimants contrary to Article 1 Protocol 1 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998. If they were deprived of compensation by reason of the council's delay that interference would be disproportionate and unlawful. Accordingly, section 19(3) had to be interpreted in a way that permitted compensation to be paid. For the judgment, click here.

Complaint against Lambeth Council Complaint 09 014 729
11 July 2011

Three council tenants complained about Lambeth's failure to put right serious disrepair in their homes within a reasonable period, together with poor service and communication. The problems included water penetration through a ceiling (and other leaks) and windows needing repair. The tenants had suffered stress, inconvenience and frustration. The Local Government Ombudsman recommended that the council apologise and pay compensation of £1,000 for two tenants and £500 to the third, as well as completing the outstanding works. For a copy of the investigation report, click here.

X, Y & Z v United Kingdom [2011] ECHR 1199
5 July 2011

The UK Government has agreed to pay compensation of 25,000 euros each to X and Y and 7,000 euros to their carer, Z arising out of the facts relating to an attack on them in their home in the circumstances described y the Court of Appeal in X v London Borough of Hounslow [2009] EWCA Civ 286. It also agreed to pay 12,500 euro costs. In the light of that, the European Court of Human Rights struck the case from its lists. For the decision, click here.

Edwards v CPS [2011] EWHC 1688
4 July 2011

Mr Edwards had been convicted of drug trafficking offences. The prosecution successfully applied for confiscation of his assets including three houses jointly owned by Mr Edwards and his wife. Mrs Edwards sought a declaration that she had a 50% beneficial interest in each of the three properties. She had made no financial contribution to their purchase but relied on the contribution she had made to the marriage. The judge accepted that she had a beneficial interest but assessed it as nearer a third than half. For the judgment, click here.

Owolabi v Bello [2011] EWCA Civ 881
29 June 2011

The claimant landlady sought possession and arrears of rent. The defendant assured shorthold tenant counterclaimed for damages for unlawful eviction and harassment and for a penalty of three times the deposit (which had not been protected). At trial the judge gave judgment for £2500 rent arrears but on the counterclaim awarded £13,000 damages and repayment of the deposit (£220) and a penalty of three times that amount (£660). The Court of Appeal dismissed the landlady's renewed application for permission to appeal because it simply amounted to an attack on the judge's findings of fact based on his having taken a dim view of the landlady's credibility.

Housing Law Articles

Premises, Premises
(impact of the Equality Act 2010 on housing issues)
R. Latham and J. Shepherd
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal No.29 p15
For a copy of the article, click here.

Gladehurst v Hashemi: a decent burial - the end of tenancy deposits
J. Bowen
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p146

Waking up to the new service charge code
S. Highmore
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p119

Grand v Gill: plasterwork - structure not decorative finish
R. Marchbank
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p144

Park home owners- what security?
J. Driscoll
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p126

Housing benefit and temporary absences from home
F. Seymour
[2011] 146 The Adviser p13

Wet, wet, wet
(Remedies for dampness)
M. Robinson
[2011] 146 The Adviser p20

Vermin on the ridiculous
(Remedies for infestation)
M. Robinson
[2011] 146 The Adviser p20

Charging Orders, Orders for Sale and Human Rights
F. Seymour
[2011] 146 The Adviser p32

A step too far
(The Law Commission report on Ombudsmen and the Localism Bill)
L. Murray
[2011] 29 July Inside Housing p28
To read the article, click here.

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] July Legal Action p16
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

Housing Law Events

Autumn 2011

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

21 September 2011
Homelessness & Allocations
A Housing Law Practitioners meeting in London
For the details, click here.

23 September 2011
Public Law and Housing
A Legal Action Group Training 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.

13 October 2011
Unlawful Eviction: What to Look for and What's the Damage?
A Garden Court free evening seminar in London
For the details, click here.

10 November 2011
Disrepair: Penetration, Infestation and Hibernation
A Garden Court free evening seminar in London
For the details, click here.

16 November 2011
Housing Law Update
A Housing Law Practitioners meeting 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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