Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 242 - 28 November 2011

Monday 28 November 2011

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The Latest Housing Law News

The new national housing strategy for England: on 21 November 2011 the UK Government published its new National Housing Strategy for England: Laying the Foundations. The strategy deals with social housing allocation and tenure in Chapter 3 and with the private rented sector in Chapter 4. For the Government's press statement, click here. For the full strategy itself, click here. For the National Housing Federation response, click here. For the Shelter response, click here.

The new rules for social housing: on 21 November 2011 the UK Government published the new directions it is giving to the social housing regulator on the requirements it expects to be met by social landlords and enforced by the regulator. The new directions are set out in the Government's response to a consultation exercise on their drafts. For a copy of that response, click here. For the ministerial statement accompanying its publication, click here. In light of the new directions, the current regulator (the Tenant Services Authority) has issued a consultation draft of the new Regulatory Framework that will be adopted to give effect to them from April 2012. The Framework covers anti-social behaviour, tenure, quality of social housing and more. For the draft, click here. Responses are sought by 7 February 2012.

Empty Homes: on 21 November 2011 the UK Government announced the opening of the bid round for the Empty Homes 2012-15 programme designed to produce 3,300 additional affordable homes by March 2015. Bids must be submitted by midday on 23 January 2012. For more details, click here.

Damages for Disrepair: in light of the latest increase in inflation, Anthony Gold solicitors have updated their handy table for calculating damages for disrepair based on the unofficial tariff identified in Wallace v Manchester CC. For the revised table, click here.

Services Charges: the RICS and other professional organisations engaged in advisory work in the leasehold sector have jointly published new guidance on the reporting and accounting procedures for drawing annual service charge accounts. For a copy of the October 2011 guidance, click here.

Mortgage Possession Claims: the Housing Rights Service in Northern Ireland has produced a useful video for homeowners facing possession proceedings, designed to encourage them to attend court hearings. It outlines court procedures and gives advice on available options. For more details, click here.

Councils and housing supply: a new briefing from BSHF was launched on 21 November 2011 explaining the key role that local authorities have to play in identifying land for housing and encouraging its use and development. For a copy of the briefing, which contains an analysis of the shortage in housing supply, click here.

Court fees for housing cases: on 15 November 2011 the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on proposals to increase court fees for legal proceedings in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division). Responses should be made by 7 February 2012. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

R (Adams) v Commission for Local Administration [2011] EWHC 2972 (Admin)
11 November 2011

In 2005 the claimant, a private sector tenant, applied for council accommodation in Lambeth and was placed in Group F of the council's allocation scheme. In February 2009 her solicitors complained to the local government ombudsman that there had been maladministration in handling the application. In May 2009 the ombudsman expressed the provisional view that the complaint would be upheld. Eight days later the council agreed to move the claimant to Group B and made an immediate offer of housing. That was accepted and the tenancy started in June 2009. The council also offered £2000 compensation, a figure proposed by the ombudsman, who then decided to discontinue the investigation. The claimant applied for judicial review, seeking an order that the ombudsman should recommend payment of her legal costs by Lambeth. Although she had been assisted under the legal help scheme she sought an order that would require Lambeth to provide reasonable remuneration for her solicitors' work. The High Court dismissed the claim. The statutory scheme under which the ombudsman operated did not provide for costs orders of the type sought. For the full judgment, click here.

Butt v Hounslow LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 1327
5 August 2011

A decision that Ms Butt had become homeless intentionally was taken by council officer S. When a review request was received, officer S wrote letters suggesting that he was conducting the review. He made the procedural arrangements for the review and granted an extension of time.
The review decision notification was signed by officer F, a senior officer who had not previously been involved in the application.
Ms Butt complained that there had been an irregularity and that in reality officer S had taken both decisions. A judge allowed officer F to give evidence in which he explained that he had made the review decision. On that basis an appeal against the review was dismissed.
Ms Butt sought permission to bring a second appeal, complaining that the judge ought not to have allowed oral evidence on a homelessness appeal. Refusing permission, Neuberger MR said that once the question of who took the review decision was in issue the judge had been entitled to take oral evidence and reach a conclusion.

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.

Shaky Ground
(possession grounds for anti social behaviour)
E. Orme and S. Salmon
[2011] 155 Solicitors Journal No.44 p12

Housing Law Events

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 organised 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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