Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 241 - 21 November 2011

Monday 21 November 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

New social housing law: the Localism Act 2011 received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011. Part 7 contains significant amendments to the law relating to housing in respect of allocations, homelessness, security of tenure, tenancy deposits, succession rights and much more. The provisions are not yet in force but are likely to be commenced in 2012. For a copy of the new Act, click here. The Explanatory Notes to the Act will be published separately. For a Plain English Guide to the new Act, click here. Guidance for housing practitioners about the changes in Part 7 is contained in a series of articles in the monthly journal Legal Action, beginning with the December 2011 issue. For details about that journal, click here.

New national housing strategy: this morning (21 November) the UK Government published its new National Housing Strategy. For the press statement, click here. For the full strategy itself, click here.

Housing possession claims: the latest figures on county court housing possession claims in England were released on 10 November 2011. They show that while mortgage possession claims are falling, landlord possession claims are increasing. For the full figures, click here.

Housing Tenancy Fraud: on 10 November 2011 the Audit Commission issued Protecting the Public Purse 2011. The report describes housing tenancy fraud as the largest category of fraud loss across local government. It records a 75% increase in the number of unlawfully occupied properties recovered by landlords. For the report, click here.

Social housing allocation: on 18 November 2011 the Housing Minister announced that new guidance, shortly to be issued on social housing allocation, would invite local housing authorities in England to give more consideration to the needs of applicants seeking accommodation so that they can foster or adopt children. For the announcement, click here. This announcement followed a commitment made to 11 November 2011 to military service personnel that the UK Government pledged "to give councils a duty to put heroes who want a home in their area at the top of the local waiting list". For more details of that pledge, click here.

Gypsies & travellers: on 17 November 2011 the UK Government published data from the count of Gypsy and Traveller Caravans in England which took place in July 2011. The data records the number of caravans on both authorised and unauthorised and for the first time includes a count of new affordable residential pitches. This was done to allow such pitches to be included in the calculation of the New Homes Bonus for individual local authorities. For a summary of the full data, click here,

Under-occupation of social housing: the latest issue (November 2011) of Housing Benefit Direct indicates what progress has been made in preparing for the April 2013 introduction of HB restrictions for tenants who are under-occupying social housing. For a copy, click here.

Homelessness data: the "live tables on homelessness" provide the latest, most useful or popular data on homelessness in England, presented by type, geographical area and on a temporal basis. They have recently been adjusted and updated. For the latest versions, click here.

Extending home ownership: on 18 November 2011 the House of Commons Library produced a new briefing note containing a helpful review of recent initiatives to extend access to home ownership. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Mexfield Housing Co-op Ltd v Berrisford [2011] UKSC 52
9 November 2011

The co-op had granted a tenancy "from month to month until determined as provided in this Agreement". The terms allowed the tenant to give notice but stated that the co-op could only give notice in limited situations (e.g. for tenant default). The co-op gave notice and sought possession. It did not rely on tenant default but sought possession on the basis that the tenancy was void because there was no certainty as to the term. The Supreme Court held that the tenancy was to be treated as a tenancy for life taking effect as a 90 year lease: section 149(6) of the Law of Property Act 1925. It was determinable only on the death of the tenant or by notice given in accordance with its terms. For the judgment, click here.

Abed v Westminster CC [2011] EWCA Civ noted on LAWTEL.
9 November 2011
The council owed Ms Abed, who was homeless, the main housing duty in section 193 of the Housing Act 1996. It offered her accommodation in Newham. She refused the offer on the basis that the accommodation was not suitable. The council conducted two reviews but decided that the offer had been suitable and that its duty had ended. The Court of Appeal held that the review process constituted a complete reconsideration of the facts and could only be upset if it contained an error of law. There had been no error in the review decision in this case.

Jones v Kernott [2011] UKSC 53
9 November 2011

An unmarried couple bought a house in joint names to be used as the family home for themselves and their children. The majority of the purchase price was raised by a mortgage in their joint names. Eight years later, the parties separated. The man left, made no further contribution to the family home and bought a home of his own elsewhere. The Supreme Court gave guidance as to the modern approach to be taken to the principles by which the respective interests in the former family home should be identified. For the judgment, click here.

Bubb v Wandsworth LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 1285,
9 November 2011
The council owed Ms Bubb, who was homeless, the main housing duty in section 193 of the Housing Act 1996. It offered her accommodation which she refused on the basis that the accommodation was not suitable. The council could only treat the refusal as ending its duty if Ms Bubb had received a notice containing the information required by section 193(7). She said that she had not received the notice. A reviewing officer decided that she had had the notice. On appeal, Ms Bubb argued that the judge should decide the question of whether the notice had been received. The Court of Appeal held that the judge only had to decide whether the conclusion of the reviewing officer had been wrong in law. There had been no such error in the review decision in this case. For the judgment, click here.

Freeholders of 69 Marina v Oran & Ghoorun [2011] EWCA Civ 1258
8 November 2011

Freeholders of a block of six flats carried out works to common parts and sought to recover the costs from the tenants by way of service charges. Two tenants disputed liability. The freeholders applied to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal which decided that the sums claimed were lawfully due. The two defendants still did not pay. The freeholders served notice demanding payment under section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and began a county court claim for the sums due which were then paid. The issue became whether the costs of enforcement should be borne equally by the two or by all the tenants collectively. The Court of Appeal held that the terms of the lease enabled the costs to be recovered from the two defaulters. For the judgment, click here.

Daejan Propertries v Campbell [2011] EWHC (Ch) noted on Lawtel
1 November 2011

The tenant occupied a maisonette on the top floor of a converted house. The lease contained a landlord's repairing covenant for the outside of the "premises" and a corresponding obligation to pay service charges. "Premises" was defined as only the exterior of the maisonette. The High Court allowed an application by the landlord for a declaration that the "premises" should be treated as applying to the whole house on the basis that that is what the parties must be taken to have meant.

Ngesa v Crawley BC [2011] EWCA Civ 1291
26 October 2011

The council gave notice to quit, bringing an end Ms Ngesa's non-secure tenancy, and then sought possession. No point was raised by way of defence relying on Article 8 Schedule 1 Human Rights Act 1998. The judge made a possession order and the council sought to execute it. A district judge granted a stay of the warrant and the council successfully appealed against that. Ms Ngesa sought permission to appeal, contending that the appeal judge ought to have applied Article 8 "of his own motion". The application was refused. Once the possession order had been made, the powers of the court were circumscribed by section 89 of the Housing Act 1980 which required possession to be given within a maximum of 6 weeks.

Ikpowonba v Hackney LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 1302,
6 October 2011
The council owed Ms Ikpowonba, who was homeless, the main housing duty in section 193 of the Housing Act 1996. Under the council's choice-based letting system, an auto-bidding mechanism caused her to be offered a property. She said that the property was not suitable or reasonable for her to accept. Both matters were decided against her on review. On appeal, she took the point that section 193(7F) requires those issues to be considered to the satisfaction of the council before an offer is made. The judge found as a fact that there had been "human intervention and consideration" between the auto-bid and the offer sufficient to meet that requirement. Permission for a further appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] November Legal Action p36
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

Disability Discrimination in Social Housing - Part 2
D. Roberts
[2011] 148 Adviser p34

Staying power
(the rights of family members left in occupation by departing tenants)
C.Kus
[2011] 148 Adviser p30

Possession Orders and the Insolvency Act 1986
M. Coates
[2011] 148 Adviser p24

Acting with conviction
(dealing with squatters)
S. Lines
[2011] 11 November Inside Housing p28
For a copy of the article, click here.

What's in the post
(commentary on Saxon Weald Homes v Chadwick)
J. Plant
[2011] 18 November Inside Housing p46
For a copy of the article, click here.

Show me the money
(the case law on tenants' deposits)
J. Dixon
[2011] 1144 Estates Gazette p99

Hashemi, localism and the phoenix of tenancy deposit protection
D. Smith
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law p121

Rent repayment orders
M. Davey
[2011] 14 Journal of Housing Law p128

Housing Law Events

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.

1 December 2011
Social Housing Allocation
A White Paper Company conference
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.

15 December 2011
Housing Management Law Conference
Annual Conference organized by Lime Legal 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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