Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 237 - 17 October 2011

Monday 17 October 2011

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**** Special note: tomorrow evening (Tuesday 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

National Housing Policy: The Housing Report Edition 1 was published today (17 October 2011) jointly by the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing. It sets out what the UK coalition Government said it would do to tackle the housing crisis and assesses to what extent the stated objectives have been met. The report uses official data to establish what has been achieved and where more attention and greater effort is required. For a copy of the report, click here.

Homes and legal aid: on 13 October 2011 the Legal Services Commission (LSC) explained its approach to taking housing costs into account in applying the means-test for legal aid entitlement. The LSC also set out the evidence it needs to assist decision-making in individual cases. For the details, click here.

Rough sleepers: on 12 October 2011 the UK Government announced that £37.5m funding from the Homelessness Change Programme (HCP) had been allocated to help 37 projects improve facilities for rough sleepers and provide almost 1,200 extra bed spaces, including over 320 extra beds in the London area. For the announcement, click here. For the full list of the 37 projects, click here. For more on the HCP itself, click here.

Private rented sector: if the private rental market is to provide an attractive alternative to home ownership in the UK then a full range of tenancy agreements must be available, according to new research published by the LSE. Towards a sustainable private rented sector compares the UK private rental market with such markets in 15 other industrialised nations. The researchers found that security of tenure is a key factor in countries - such as Germany - where private renting is seen as a practical choice, even for middle-income families. For more details of the report's findings, click here.

Anti-social behaviour: on 13 October 2011 the latest statistics were released on the number and type of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) Orders made by courts in England & Wales. They indicate that more than 20,000 ASBOs have been made since the orders first became available in 1999. For the full data, click here. On 11 October 2011 the Home Office published the first edition of a new free journal for ASB practitioners in England & Wales. For copies of ASB Connect Issue 1, and to subscribe, contact ASB Actionline on 0870 220 2000.

Funding council housing: on 7 October 2011 the UK Government published a Joint Statement about future funding arrangements for council housing from Grant Shapps, Minister for Housing and Local Government and Councillor David Parsons, Chair of the Environment and Housing Programme Board for the Local Government Group on Self-financing. For a copy of the statement, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Williams v Hinton [2011] EWCA Civ 1123
14 October 2011

Private landlords brought a claim for possession of property which had been let an assured shorthold tenancy. The tenants counterclaimed for damages for disrepair and for personal injury that they had suffered by reason of the poor condition of the property. By the date of trial the tenants had vacated but on their counterclaim they were awarded damages of over £12,000 plus costs. The landlords, who had not attended the hearing, appealed. They complained that the court ought not to have proceeded in their absence and ought not to have relied on an expert's report because it had not contained the mandatory declaration required by CPR PD35.3. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It held that: (1) the landlords ought to have applied to set aside the order under CPR 39.3 rather than having appealed, but in any event: (2) the judge had been entitled to proceed - on the facts - in their absence; and (3) the expert had made a declaration in his report complying with the essence of the Practice Direction even if the proper wording had not been used. For the full judgment, click here.

Complaint against Hounslow Council
Local Government Ombudsman No.10019388
13 October 2011

The complainant and her children left their home because of alleged domestic violence. She applied to the council as homeless. It did not offer interim accommodation but immediately concluded that she was not homeless because it was reasonable for her to return home. After a review request from solicitors, the council said it would reverse the 'not homeless' decision but it provided no interim accommodation pending the review outcome. No review decision on the homelessness application was ever reached or notified. The Ombudsman found that the Council had wrongly: (1) failed to offer temporary accommodation following the review request; and (2) failed to reach a fresh decision on the homelessness application. The complainant had later found her own private rented sector accommodation after the council failed to operate correctly its own rent deposit scheme in her case. The Ombudsman recommended that the Council: (1) refund the complainant with the amount it would have paid her landlord under the rent deposit scheme; (2) pay her £500 compensation; and (3) review its procedures. For the full investigation report, click here.

Daventry DC v Daventry & District Housing Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 1153
13 October 2011

The council transferred its housing stock and housing staff to the defendant in a large scale stock transfer. In discussions it had been anticipated that the company would pay the deficit in the pension fund of the transferring staff. However, the final terms provided that the council would pay. It later asserted that the provision had been a mistake and that: (1) there had been a common intention that the defendant would pay the deficit and (2) the defendant had owed a duty of care in the transaction. The High Court rejected the council's case. The council appealed. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, by a majority. Both parties had shared a mistaken belief about the transaction i.e. that it reflected their previously discussed arrangements. The agreement would be rectified to have that effect.

R(CPAG) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2011] EWHC (Admin) 2616
13 October 2011

CPAG sought a judicial review of changes to the housing benefit (HB) scheme that were brought into effect in March and April 2011. The challenges were to: (1) the introduction of maximum weekly caps on the amount of local housing allowance; and (2) the reduction of the maximum size of accommodation eligible for HB from five bedrooms to four bedrooms. Both challenges failed. Neither change was outside the power of the Secretary of State. There had been no breach of equality duties and no unlawful discrimination in making the changes. For the full judgment, click here.

R(Khan) v Isleworth Crown Court [2011] EWHC (Admin) , [2011] All ER (D) 105 (Oct)
12 October 2011

The claimant was a housing association assured tenant. He went to live temporarily elsewhere and allowed his brother to live in his housing association home. The brother had a dog. Officers of the local council were satisfied that the dog's barking was a statutory nuisance and served an abatement notice addressed 'to the occupier' by posting it through the letterbox. The council later brought criminal proceedings against the claimant for breach of the abatement notice and a summons was sent to him at the property. Neither the notice nor the summons came to his attention. He did not attend the hearing and was convicted in his absence. The conviction was upheld on appeal by the Crown Court on the basis that, although it was not the claimant's dog that had caused the nuisance, he should have made better arrangements to receive his post so that he could have dealt with the problem. The Divisional Court allowed a claim for judicial review and quashed the conviction. The person responsible for the nuisance was the brother and not the claimant.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] October Legal Action p31
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

The new affordable rent tenancies
J. Luba and A. Marshall-Williams
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p159

Possession actions and human rights
M. Thompson
[2011] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer p421

Bankruptcy and debt relief orders - possession
B. McCormack
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p181

Setting aside a social housing possession order
D. Cowan
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law p109

The Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc.) Act 2010 - sufficient protection for tenants?
C. O'Neill
[2011] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer p380

Multi-block developments and the right of first refusal under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 - one notice or several?
P. Harrison
[2011] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer p394

Upwardly mobile - can a mobile home be a dwelling?
R. Crozier
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p174

Increasing value limits in long leases - Government proposals on enfranchisement and security of tenure
P. Harrison
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p167

Updating leasehold value limits - a surveyor's perspective
J. Dharmasena
[2011] 15 Landlord & Tenant Review p170

Housing Law Events

This Month

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.

29 November 2011
Human Rights for Housing Providers: are you compliant?
A Conference in Leeds
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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