Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 235 – 3 October 2011

Monday 3 October 2011

Share This Page

Email This Page

The Latest Housing Law News

A new National Housing Strategy: the Prime Minister has announced that the UK Government will shortly publish a new Housing Strategy for England. A key feature will be reform of the right to buy in social housing to encourage more purchases - in particular through an increase in discounts. On 2 October 2011 the Government published a Q&A Factsheet on its right to buy proposals. For a copy, click here.

More evictions: on 29 September 2011 the quarterly court statistics for April to June 2011 were published. They show that 31,500 warrants of possession were issued, an increase of 2% on the equivalent quarter of 2010, with county court bailiffs making 13,800 repossessions of properties, a 6% increase on the second quarter of 2010. 6,200 of the evictions were for mortgage lenders, 4% more than in the second quarter of 2010. For the full figures, click here.

Reform of Squatting Law: the deadline for responses to the Government proposals falls later this week on 5 October 2011. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. For an Impact Assessment of the proposals, click here.

Pay cut for housing lawyers: for new housing cases taken on from today (3 October) barristers and solicitors will receive 10% lower fees. For details of these cuts (and the important transitional provisions) see the new Funding Order which made them, by clicking here. For the new reduced rates appendix to the Standard Civil Contract, click here. For the LSC's explanation of how the cuts are being imposed, click here.

Regulating Private Landlords: on 28 September 2011 the Newham London Borough Council unveiled a proposal to extend mandatory licensing of landlords to all of the 35,000 privately rented homes in its area. For access to the consultation exercise, click here. Responses are sought by 4 December 2011.

Shared Ownership Leases: on 23 September 2011 the Leasehold Advisory Service published a new advice note to provide a brief overview of shared ownership lease for owners/purchasers and property professionals. For a copy, click here.

Fire safety: the Local Government Group has worked with the housing and fire sectors to develop new fire safety guidance for purpose built blocks of flats. The guidance offers information on the legislation and practical advice on how the fire safety issues inherent in these buildings can be addressed effectively. For a copy of the guidance, click here.

Housing in Wales: on 27 September 2011 the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly set out his Programme for Government for the current Assembly term. It outlines Welsh Ministers' priorities and includes a separate chapter on Housing issues. For a copy of that chapter, click here. For the delivery programme on the commitments made, click here.

Empty Homes: on 20 September 2011 the UK Government announced that community groups will soon be able to apply for Government cash to bring empty homes back into use. Community and voluntary organisations will be able to bid for part of the £100m funding for pioneering housing schemes. For the announcement, click here.

Gypsies & Travellers: on 29 September 2011the Welsh Assembly Government launched the first national Gypsy and Traveller Framework in the UK. The document sets out how the Government will ensure that Gypsy and Traveller communities have fair and equal access to the key priorities of accommodation, health and education. For a copy of the framework document, click here.

Managing and letting agents: the Property Ombudsman has just published his digest of cases for September 2011 which contains summaries of five complaints relating to letting and managing agents. For the digest, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Bah v UK
[2011] ECHR 1448
27 September 2011

The applicant had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Her dependent son was permitted to enter the UK to join her on condition that he did not have recourse to public funds. When her private sector tenancy was ended she applied as homeless. Southwark LBC, acting in accordance with Housing Act 1996 section 185, decided that she did not have a priority need because her son could not be counted as part of her household because of his immigration status. That decision was upheld on review. Ms Bah complained to the European Court of Human Rights that she had been the victim of discrimination contrary to Article 14 read with Article 8. The Court ruled that there had been discrimination within the ambit of Article 8 (right to respect for a home) and that "immigration status" was a characteristic protected by Article 14. However, it unanimously rejected the complaint because "the differential treatment to which the applicant was subjected was reasonably and objectively justified by the need to allocate, as fairly as possible, the scarce stock of social housing available in the United Kingdom and the legitimacy, in so allocating, of having regard to the immigration status of those who are in need of housing". For the full judgment, click here.

R v Weston and Williams

23 September 2011
Worcester Crown Court

The defendants ran the lettings agency 'Premier Places' operating in Worcester and Redditch. In the course of their work they took tenants deposits and these were insured by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). Contrary to the terms of the scheme, the funds were not ring-fenced or protected but instead the monies were used for other purposes. When landlords and tenants sought to recover the deposits, TDS had to pay out more than £63,000. Weston, who ran the business, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and Williams to three counts of forgery. They were given suspended prison sentences and ordered to undertake community service. The Chief Executive of TDS said ""Criminals like this should go to jail, not have their sentences suspended. They have defrauded private individuals and brought disrepute to the private rented sector". For his statement, click here. For more details of the case, click here.

Levitt v Camden LBC
[2011] UKUT 366 (LC)
21 September 2011

Camden owned the Brunswick Centre estate of 394 homes. Its communal heating system had been constructed in the 1970s. By 2005 the system was coming to the end of its life and needed replacement. In that year Mr and Mrs Levitt bought one of the flats and installed their own heating system. They were later faced with a service charge bill of over £14,000 for their share of the costs of replacing the system on the estate. They did not resist paying for so much of the work as related to the common parts and communal areas but declined to pay for those costs associated in providing heat for the individual flats. A Leasehold Valuation tribunal held that they were liable to pay. The Lands Chamber dismissed their appeal from that decision. For the full judgment, click here.

R(S) v Croydon LBC
[2011] EWHC 2467 (Admin)

10 August 2011
The claimant was a young man aged 16. The council accepted that he was a 'child in need' for the purposes of Children Act 1989 section 17 but not that it owed him the accommodation duty under section 20. Following the issue of a claim for judicial review and a further assessment, the council accepted that it owed a section 20 duty. There was then a dispute about where and with whom the claimant should live. The High Court decided that that issue should not be pursued in the judicial review proceedings but rather under the dispute resolution mechanism provided by the statute.

Windsor and District HA v Hewitt [No.2]
[2011] EWCA Civ 1096

3 August 2011
The association sought possession on the basis that it had been induced to grant a tenancy by the tenant's false statement. A district judge rejected the claim but the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal and made a possession order (see Windsor and District HA v Hewitt [No.1] [2011] EWCA Civ 735]. The court was not asked for - and therefore did not make- the usual provision for a stay on the possession order pending a possible application for permission appeal to the Supreme Court. After along delay, legal aid was extended to cover an application to the Supreme Court and therefore an application to stay the order was made shortly before the possession order was de to be executed. The Court of Appeal decided that, having regard to the delay, a stay should be refused.

Manchester CC v Ofodile
[2011] EWCA Civ 1086
3 August 2011

The council discovered that one of its tenants had a second home. It served notice to quit and sought possession on the basis that the council tenancy was no longer secure because it was not the tenant's "only or principal" home: section 81 Housing Act 1985. The county court judge made a possession order and the tenant sought permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Refusing permission the Master of the Rolls said: "where a person has two homes it is very much a judgmental exercise for the first instance tribunal to decide which of those two homes is his principal home. Unless the first instance tribunal has reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal could have reached on the facts, or has failed to take into account a relevant factor or has taken into account an irrelevant factor, there is no prospect of the court interfering with its decision."

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] September Legal Action p33
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

Country File
(Shared ownership in rural areas)
J. Hulley
[2011] 30 September Inside Housing p24
For a copy of the article, click here.

How landlords can tackle the rioters
S. Evans and J. Plant
[2011] 12 August Local Government Lawyer
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Month

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 evening seminar in London
For the details, click here.

18 October 2011
Current Issues in Housing Law
A Garden Court free evening seminar by Jan Luba QC in Leicester
For the details Email Brian Hitchcock by clicking here, Email.

25 October 2011
Northern Housing Law Conference
A North West Housing Law Group conference in Manchester
For the details, click here.

Later this year

1 November 2011
Mental Capacity and Housing
A Legal Action Group Training Event in London
For the details, click here.

8 November 2011
Homeless Children in Need
A Legal Action Group Training Event in London
For the details, click here.

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

16 November 2011
Housing Law Update
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For the details, click here.

25 November 2011
Housing Law Conference
Annual Conference of the Social Housing Law Association 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.

14 December 2011
Housing Law Conference
Annual Conference of the Housing Law Practitioners Association 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 ofHousing 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.

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards