Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 229 - 8 August 2011

Friday 5 August 2011

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On Wednesday of this week (10 August 2011) Jan Luba QC will be delivering a free evening seminar in Bristol on Current Issues in Housing Law with special reference to the housing law changes presently before Parliament. All are welcome to attend. For venue and other details Email: derek.mcconnell@southwestlaw.org.uk

The Latest Housing Law News

Housing and human rights: on 1 August 2011 the Equality & Human Rights Commission launched an on-line resource of material about human rights for public sector bodies in England and Wales. The resources cover nine public sector issues including housing. To access the new on-line resource, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: on 3 August 2011 the Housing Minister gave details of the matters which will trigger the proposed new mandatory ground for possession for anti-social behaviour. They are likely to include: (1) a conviction for a serious housing-related offence - including violence against neighbours, drug dealing and criminal damage; (2) breach of an injunction for anti-social behaviour - where the social landlord has obtained, or is party to, the injunction; and (3) closure of a premises under a closure order - for example where a property has been used for drug dealing. For the announcement, click here. A consultation paper has been issued seeking views by 27 October 2011 on the detail and practicalities of a new mandatory power. For a copy, click here.

Housing benefit reform: on 2 August 2011 the DWP announced details of the 10 projects which will share a £4m fund to ease the transition to the new arrangements for Housing Benefit. For a copy of the announcement (including the list of projects) click here.

Right to Buy in Wales: the Welsh Assembly Government has begun a consultation on the content of guidance it should issue on the new power for local authorities in Wales to suspend the right to buy in their arrears under the Housing (Wales) Measure 2011. Comments are sought by 31 October 2011. For the consultation draft, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Mitton v Benefield [2011] EWHC 2098 (QB)
1 August 2011

In a modern development of privately owned housing, two families lived in houses directly across the road from each other. Although initially friendly, relations between them broke down. The claimant family alleged that they were the victims of harassment from the defendants which was designed to drive them from their home. The defendants counterclaimed that they had been the victims of the claimants' harassment. After reviewing evidence of events spanning a number of years, the court found that the defendant couple had been the victims. It awarded them each £7000 in general damages, damages for loss of earnings (to be assessed) and an injunction. For the judgment, click here.

Eaton Square Props Ltd v Shaw [2011] EWHC 2115 (QB), [2011] All ER (D) 9 (Aug)
29 July 2011

Ms Shaw was a Rent Act protected tenant. Considerable work was needed at the premises and she moved out, having agreed with the landlords that she would relocate permanently to other accommodation to be let by them on a Rent Act tenancy. Complex arrangements were made, including provisions for certain works to be undertaken at the new premises. Ms Shaw moved into the new home but over a number of years disputes arose about whether work had been carried out in accordance with the agreement and what rent was payable. The landlords brought a possession claim for rent arrears. Ms Shaw counterclaimed for damages and sought to add a claim for £14mllion said to represent her lost income from a business she would have pursued had she not had to spend so much time dealing with the need to get the landlords to comply with the agreement. The High Court ruled that the amendment should not be permitted. The claimed loss could not be said to have arisen from any breach of the landlord and tenant relationship.

Favour Easy Management Ltd v Wu [2011] EWHC 2017 (Ch)
29 July 2011

A dispute arose between a man and a woman about the legal and beneficial ownership of two neighbouring houses. The man claimed that the houses had been purchased by the woman as his employee and in pursuit of his business interests. Accordingly, he or his companies were entitled to them. The woman claimed that she had been the man's mistress and that the properties had been acquired and paid for by way of gifts from the man. The High Court preferred the evidence of the woman and dismissed the man's claims. For the full judgment, click here.

R (O) v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham [2011] EWCA Civ 925
28 July 2011

The council accepted that it had to accommodate a 13 year old disabled boy in accordance with its duties under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The parents wished him to be accommodated at a residential school. The council decided that he should be placed at a specialist childrens' home and attend a specialist school. The parents sought judicial review and claimed an injunction requiring the council to provide a residential school placement. The Court of Appeal decided that the council's decision had not been unlawful and refused an injunction. As the proceedings were judicial review proceedings, the welfare of the child was not the paramount consideration. The issue was whether the decision was lawful. In this case, it was. For the judgment, click here.

Zolotareva v Russia [2011] ECHR 1188
26 July 2011

A court made a possession order requiring a council tenant to move to alternative accommodation. The order was executed by a court bailiff who entered the tenant's home and took her belongings to the new accommodation. A district court later found that the bailiff had acted unlawfully because (1) a stay of execution had been granted by an appeal court before the eviction took place and (2) in breach of procedural rules, the eviction was carried out after 10pm without the requisite authorisation. A later claim for damages for the wrongful execution was dismissed. The tenant complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It found that because the eviction had not been "in accordance with the law" there had been a breach of the tenant's right to respect for her home protected by Article 8. It awarded compensation of 5000 euros and costs. For the judgment, click here.

Grimkovskaya v Ukraine [2011] ECHR Application No 3182/03
21 July 2011

A homeowner complained to the European Court of Human Rights about the noise, vibration and fumes caused by traffic on her street. The road had been re-designated as part of the MO4 motorway. The Court held that the noise, vibration and air and soil pollution had reached a level sufficient to amount to an interference with Article 8(1). The government's attempts to justify the interference by relying on Article 8(2) failed. It could not show that the re-designation had been preceded by an adequate environmental impact assessment or followed by adoption of a reasonable environmental management policy. Additionally, the complainant had not had a proper opportunity to engage in the decision-making process or to challenge the outcome in an independent court or tribunal. The Court awarded compensation of 10,000 euros. For the judgment, click here.

Broster v Galliard Docklands Ltd [2011] EWHC 1722 (TCC)
6 July 2011

In 1997 the company commissioned builders (ECL Ltd) to build a terrace of six houses. On completion, they were sold to separate home owners. The current owners brought a claim against ECL for damages arising from an incident in 2005 when, in high winds, the roof above the terrace was alleged to have lifted by about one metre before falling back down onto the walls causing structural damage. The alleged cause of the lifting was failure by ECL to have strapped the roof joists to the walls. ECL argued that the claim had no prospect of success and should be struck out. The High Court agreed. The law of negligence did not enable a houseowner to sue for negligent construction where they had not commissioned the works and the only damage caused was to the structure of the thing itself. The terrace comprised a single "thing" for these purposes and could not be split into a "roof" and "walls" in order to sustain the legal claim. For the judgment, click here.

Bathaei v Ealing LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 934
6 July 2011

The council reached a decision, on a homelessness review, that an offer of accommodation made to Mr Bathaei was "suitable". The county court dismissed his appeal from that decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed a renewed application for permission to bring a second appeal. The Master of the Rolls said such second appeals "are really renewed appeals against the review decision, rather than against the judge's decision, in the same way as appeals against decisions of the Employment Appeal Tribunal often are really reconsiderations of the decisions of the Employment Tribunal." The review decision was "unusually full, careful and well-reasoned" and the grounds of appeal disclosed no error of law in it.

Housing Law Articles

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.

Update: Landlord & Tenant
T. Shepperson
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal No.30 p23
For a copy of this article, click here.

Welfare Law Update
G. Mitchell
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal No.30 p27
For a copy of this article, 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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