Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 246 - 3 January 2012

Tuesday 3 January 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Right to buy: the Government has launched a consultation on the detailed implementation of its recent proposals to stimulate the right to buy for tenants of social housing by an increase in discounts and one- for-one replacement of associated sales with affordable rented homes. For the consultation paper, click here. A draft impact assessment has also been published. For a copy of that, click here. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 2 February 2012.

Lettings of social housing: the crucial statistical database indicating the number and characteristics of new lettings by housing associations and councils has been revised to take account of previously missing statistical returns from some social landlords. To access the latest revised CORE lettings tables, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: the scope of the county court to grant injunctions to prevent gang-related violence will be extended to cover 14-18 year old defendants on 9 January 2012. For the relevant commencement order, click here. To coincide with this change, the Home Office has revised and re-issued its statutory guidance on these injunctions. For a copy, click here.

Single homelessness: the government has added a further £20m to the Homelessness Prevention Fund specifically to promote homelessness prevention work by local authorities targeted at the non-priority need single homeless. For further details of the announcement made on 21 December 2011, click here.

Private rented housing: on 23 December 2011 the Housing Minister announced that Sir Adrian Montague will lead a review of barriers to investment in rented homes in England. Sir Adrian's review will examine how best to encourage greater investment in rental properties. For the review's terms of reference, click here.

Street homelessness: on 23 December 2011 the Housing Minister Grant Shapps detailed the distribution of an £8m funding allocation to voluntary sector groups outside London to help local communities across England to get services in place to ensure that nobody will be forced to sleep on the streets for more than one night. For the list of the charities receiving the grants, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Brumwell v Powys County Council [2011] EWCA Civ 1613
21 December 2011

Mr Brumwell had been employed as the resident warden at a caravan park owned and operated by the council. In 1998 he entered into three new agreements with the council. These were drawn with the intention of avoiding his acquiring the right to buy the warden's accommodation as a council tenant. When the agreements determined, he claimed a new lease as a former tenant of the council. A judge rejected that application and held that under the agreements he ran the caravan site as a mere agent of the council. He appealed, contending that the agreements had been 'shams' and that he was the council's tenant. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The fact that the agreements had been drawn to avoid the application of the statutory provisions did not mean that they were shams. For the judgment, click here.

R (CJ) v Cardiff City Council [2011] EWCA Civ 1590
20 December 2011

The claimant applied to the council for accommodation on the basis that he was a child. The council assessed him as being over 18 and he sought a judicial review of that decision. The judge decided that the burden of proving his age was on the claimant and that, on the facts, his claim failed. The Court of Appeal held that the burden of proof had no role to play. The question of the claimant's age fell to be decided on the balance of probabilities. However, on the facts, the judge had been right to reject the claim and the appeal was dismissed. For the judgment, click here.

Benesco Charity Ltd v Kanj [2011] EWHC 3415 (Ch)
16 December 2011

This was a possession claim brought under CPR Part 55 on the basis that the defendants were trespassers. A defence was filed, supported by a witness statement, asserting a tenancy or sub-tenancy. At the first hearing of the claim, a judge granted possession. The issue for the judge had been whether the claim was "genuinely disputed on grounds which appear to be substantial": CPR 55.8(2). The High Court allowed an appeal. A person is entitled to trial of their defence and the content of a witness statement should not be rejected at a summary stage "unless the evidence is incredible". For the judgment, click here.

Stenau Properties Ltd v Leek [2010] UKUT 478 (LC)
12 December 2011

The landlord of a block of flats levied service charges on the tenants without complying with the statutory consultation procedures. It applied to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) for permission to dispense with those requirements. The tenants led no evidence of prejudice as a result of the failure to consult them. The LVT refused dispensation and the landlord appealed. The Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeal. The LVT was entitled to find that the breach was so substantial that prejudice must be taken to have flowed from it, even though there was no evidence of any work that would have been done differently if the consultation had been carried out properly. For the judgment, click here.

Lancashire Mortgage Corporation Ltd v Jones [2011] EWCA Civ 309
18 November 2011

Mrs Jones owned a property held under a joint mortgage with her son. In 2007 it was re-mortgaged in joint names. The earlier loan was cleared and a balance of £80,000 was paid to the son alone. When arrears accrued, the lender sought and obtained a possession order. Mrs Jones applied to set aside that order on the grounds that she had a good defence that the re-mortgage had been the result of undue influence by her son or misrepresentation which bound the lender. At a summary hearing, the District Judge decided that she had not raised an arguable defence and declined to set aside the possession order. A Circuit Judge dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal rejected a renewed application for permission to bring a second appeal as it had no real prospect of success.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2011] December Legal Action p26
For back-copies of articles in this series, click here.

Housing Law Events

3 February 2012
Recent Developments in Housing Law
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For the details, click here.

9 March 2012
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For the details, click here.

1 May 2012
Defending Possession Proceedings
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For the details, click here.

22 May 2012
Housing Disrepair
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For the details, click here.

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