Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 236 - 10 October 2011

Monday 10 October 2011

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**** Special note: next Tuesday evening (18 October) in Leicester Jan Luba QC of Garden Court Chambers will be making a free presentation on Current Issues in Housing Law. The meeting is open to all housing practitioners. For the venue and other details, Email the organiser, Brian Hitchcock*****

The Latest Housing Law News

Evictions at Dale Farm: the High Court has reserved judgment on the latest judicial review challenges to the decision of Basildon DC to evict travellers from the unauthorised part of the Dale Farm site. Judgment is expected to be delivered on 12 October 2011.

Public land for house building (1): government departments in England have been asked to review their land-holdings and to release as much of their land as possible for house building. The first four departments to complete the exercise released their results on 5 October 2011. They are: (1) Ministry of Defence - for their review click here; (2) Department of Health - for their review click here; (3) Department for Transport - for their review click here; and (4) Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - for their review click here. The UK government has announced that these responses suggest it is on course to release sufficient land to build 100,000 new homes by 2015. For the announcement, click here. For more detail on the programme to release public land for house building, click here.

Public land for house building (2): the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 gives members of the public the power to request that empty public sector land owned by local authorities (and some other public bodies) is put up for sale for house building. Regulations have been laid by the UK Government to enable this power to become a part of a Community Right to Reclaim Land in England. A dedicated website, which includes the new request form and explains how members of the public can use the system to submit a request, was launched on 5 October 2011 and can be found by clicking here.

Affordable housing: on 5 October 2011 the latest figures on affordable housing supply in England were released. Only 39,170 new units of social rented accommodation were provided in 2010/11. Even that figure represents an 18% increase on the previous year. For the full statistics, click here.

Rented accommodation for students: historically, some of the worst housing in the private rented sector has been that led to students who are sharing. Last week, Accommodation for Students and Unipol launched a new Code for the accreditation of student accommodation in the private rented sector. For details of the scheme, click here. http://www.unipol.org.uk/afsunipolcode/ For a copy of the Code itself, click here.

'Call from Court' service for duty housing advisers: for the past six months a set of Barristers Chambers has been offering a ground-breaking free support service for representatives taking part in county court duty schemes on housing possession days. The service enables advisers to call from court and get immediate free legal back-up from a specialist housing barrister. Calls are routed immediately to specialist counsel or for a call-back within 15 minutes. Initially offered to advisers operating under LSC-funded duty schemes, it has been extended to all possession day schemes and court advice desks. Advisers should call Garden Court Chambers on 020 7993 7600 from the court, ask to be put through to a Housing Clerk, and mention they are calling from a duty scheme.

Housing Benefit: two housing benefit publications were released last week. For a copy of the October 2011 edition of Housing Benefit Direct, click here. For the latest data on Local Reference Rents (as at the end of September 2011), click here.

Housing in Scotland: on 7 October 2011 the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2011 brought into force section 158 (housing support: persons found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness) but only for the purpose of enabling consultation by Scottish Ministers. For a copy of the order, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Charles Terence Estates Ltd v Cornwall Council
[2011] EWHC 2542 (QB)
7 October 2011

The council was established in April 2009 as a unitary authority and absorbed, among others, the liabilities of a district and borough council. Those two councils had taken long leases of 30 properties from the claimant company. The properties were used to provide temporary accommodation to the homeless. The councils had supplied loans and grants to the company to help it enter into private sector leasing arrangements in this way. The new unitary council ceased to pay the rents and the company sued. That claim was dismissed. The leases had no legal effect and were nullities. They had been entered-into by both councils in breach of their fiduciary duties to have regard to market rents. The new unitary council was no longer bound by the leases but failed in its claim to recover previous unpaid rent and the capital monies advanced at the outset because the company had changed its position (to its detriment) on the basis of the void leases. For the judgment, click here.

Church Commissioners v Derdabi
[2011] UKUT 380 (LC)
27 September 2011

Landlords brought a county court claim for unpaid service charges. The tenant defended on the basis that poor management services had been provided by the landlords. The claim was transferred to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal which upheld the specific complaints of poor service, made some reductions in the service charges, and held the rest to be payable. At the tenant's request, it made an order under Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 section 20C that the costs of the proceedings should not be recoverable by way of future service charge. The Upper Tribunal dismissed an appeal by the landlords. The judgment contains a useful review of the law on the correct approach to the exercise of the discretion under section 20C. For the judgment, click here.

South Lanarkshire Council v Doyle
[2011] B1512/09
24 August 2011

In December 2009 the council was granted an interim ASBO against the defendant on the basis that a prima facie case had been made out that he had harassed and caused nuisance to his neighbours. That order was upheld on appeal and, despite later being discharged, brought a period of some calm. When the defendant's activities were alleged to have re-started, the council sought another interim ASBO in 2011. The allegations were denied and the defendant made counter-accusations against his accusers. The sheriff was satisfied that a prima facie case had been made out and granted the interim ASBO. The Sheriff Principal dismissed an appeal. The judgment contains a useful review of the law on the correct approach to interim ASBOs in Scotland. For the judgment, click here.

Nacropolis Developments Ltd v Melech
[2011] EWCA Civ 1084
27 July 2011

A married couple were Rent Act tenants of a flat. They were asked to move to alternative accommodation by their private landlord. They did so. In the new accommodation, one room was taken in the husband's name and one in the wife's name. In both cases they were Rent Act tenancies. A third room was taken in their sister's name on an assured shorthold. The wife lived in the sister's room. New owners determined the Rent Act tenancies and sought possession. The claim succeeded. The husband had died and his statutory tenancy determined on his death. The wife's statutory tenancy of her room determined because she did not occupy it. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. Although there might have been an argument that in reality all three rooms were let with one another - and that the nominal letting in the sister's name was a sham - that case had not been advanced at the trial.

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.

The money is not enough
(commentary on tenancy deposits and Suurpere v Nice)
J. Driscoll
[2011] 1139 Estates Gazette p109

Housing Law Events

This Month

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
ASB & Social Housing Conference 2011
Annual Conference run by Lime Legal 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 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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