Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 256 - 26 March 2012

Monday 26 March 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social Housing Allocation: this is the final week for responses to the consultation on the draft Code of Guidance for Housing Allocation in England. For the consultation paper, click here. For the detailed response of the Housing Team at Garden Court Chambers, click here. This week the consultation also closes on the two draft orders designed to give priority to ex-services personnel. For the links to those drafts, click here.

Social Housing Fraud: the consultation on new proposals to tackle social housing fraud, such as unlawful subletting, closes next week (4 April 2012). For the consultation paper, click here.

Tenant panels in social housing: every social landlord in England should now be working with its tenants to establish tenant panels. Last week the major national tenants' organisations jointly published Tenant panels: Options and Accountability designed to help landlords and tenants make the most of the new initiative. For a copy, click here.

Private Rented Sector: this is the final week for submissions of evidence to the independent review of the barriers to institutional investment in private rented homes. For the invitation to submit evidence, click here.

Accommodation for travellers: on 25 March the UK Government published its new planning policy for traveller sites. This policy replaces Circular 01/06: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites and Circular 04/07: Planning for Travelling Showpeople which will be cancelled when the new policy comes into force. For a copy of the new policy, click here. In Wales, Assembly Member Julie Morgan has presented a response drafted by the Community Law Partnership to the Welsh Government's paper on the future provision for travellers in Wales. For a copy of the response, click here.

Adapting social housing for disabled military personnel: on 23 March 2012 the Government published the list of 16 councils in England to share £228,750 in funding to reimburse them for work for ex-services personnel by adaptations to their homes. For more details, click here.

Housing & the Budget 2012: for a summary of how the UK Government believes that last week's budget will contribute to housing issues, click here.

Criminal Offence for Squatting: the organisation SQUASH has published Can We Afford to Criminalise Squatting? which appears to show that the cost of criminalising squatting could reach £790 million in the first five years. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Funding for Housing Support: having removed the ring-fencing of Supporting People funding, the UK Government is now anxious that councils are not using all their available funding for housing support. On 20 March 2012 the Housing Minister issued a statement asking councils to protect Supporting People funding to help the most vulnerable in their communities. For a copy of the statement, click here.

Housing for former prisoners: the TSRC has published Accommodation for ex-offenders: Third sector housing advice and provision containing recommendations on the means by which ex-offenders can be helped to achieve better access to housing on release. For the full report, click here. For a summary, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Sheridan v Basildon BC [2012] EWCA Civ 335
21 March 2012

The claimants had been evicted from the unauthorised encampment at Dale Farm and had made homelessness applications. The council accepted that it owed the main homelessness duty as the claimants were in priority need and not intentionally homeless. It made offers of council housing. The claimants challenged the suitability of those offers on the basis that they had cultural aversions to living in conventional housing. Both an internal review and a county court appeal were unsuccessful. The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal. The council did not have sites available for the mobile homes. It could not be required to acquire them to perform the homelessness duties. Nor was the reviewing panel required to consider whether the failure to have sites available was due to inadequate provision made for travellers in the council's area. For the judgment, click here.

R(Sutton) v Calderdale Council [2012] EWHC 637 (Admin)
21 March 2012

The claimant was an assured tenant of a social landlord. He suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had been engaged in acts of damage to his flat (including fire) and abuse to housing officers. The landlord obtained an ASBI and began possession proceedings. The tenant was remanded in custody following a charge of arson. But he was not fit to be tried and was detained under the Mental Health Act section 3 and subsequently remained a voluntary in-patient. His solicitors applied for a community care assessment from the council. When that was not immediately provided, they sought a judicial review. Eventually a valid assessment was conducted and concluded and the claim was resolved, save as to costs. The High Court considered and applied the costs principles applicable to judicial review claims which are overtaken by events and made no order as to costs. For the judgment, click here.

McAteer v Lismore [2012] NI Ch 7
9 March 2012

The defendant was a trustee in bankruptcy of Mr McAteer. In that role, he sold the bankrupt's former home and surrounding lands. The bankrupt died and his estate brought a claim that, in breach of the duty of care, the property had been sold at an undervalue. The High Court of Northern Ireland upheld that claim and awarded the estate significant compensation. For the judgment, click here.

R(AS) v Ealing LBC [2012] EWHC 356 (QB) Admin
6 March 2012

The claimant was an asylum seeker who sought accommodation on the basis that he was aged under 18. He challenged the council's age assessment (and the Home Office decision that he was an adult) by judicial review proceedings. The High Court conducted an age assessment hearing and concluded that his date of birth was 24 August 1993. The judgment contains a useful discussion of the relevant authorities on judicial review of age assessment decisions.

R v Rose Chimuka
5 March 2012
Croydon Crown Court

The defendant approached letting agents purporting to seek private rented accommodation for her own use with her family. Having obtained tenancies, she did not live in the properties but sub-divided them and sub-let them to multiple sub-tenants. She was found guilty of 11 offences of fraud by false representation. She was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment. For more details, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] March Legal Action p20

Going home after a lawful eviction
(Setting aside possession orders and warrants)
A .Byles
[2012] February Housing Team Legal Bulletin GCN Issue 30
To read the article, click here.

Possession Proceedings and Article 8 - Don't Panic
J. Stark
[2012] March Housing Team Legal Bulletin GCN Issue 31
To read the article, click here.

Cutting tenancies short
(Commentary on Riverside Group v Thomas)
J. Sharrock
[2012] 23 March Inside Housing p30
To read the article, click here.

All-new tenant panel show
(Commentary on development of tenant panels in social housing)
M. Hilditch
[2012] 23 March Inside Housing p12
To read the article, click here.

Is rectification in need of rectification
(Commentary on Daventry DC v Daventry & District Housing)
G. Featherstonehaugh
[2012] 19 March Estates Gazette p90

Housing Law Events (Spring 2012)

18 April 2012
How to Defend Subletting Cases
An evening seminar in London arranged by HLPA
For the details, click here.

19 April 2012
Homelessness and Allocation after the Localism Act
An evening housing seminar at Garden Court Chambers.
For more details, click here.

25 April 2012
Doing Your Duty: How to Keep your Client's Home when on the Duty Possession Scheme
(Free for representatives on the housing possession day duty schemes)
An evening housing seminar at Garden Court Chambers.
For more details, click here.

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

16 May 2012
Possession Claims: The Old and The New
An evening meeting in London of HLPA
For the details, click here.

17 May 2012
Localism Act & Social Housing
An evening meeting in Leeds of Yorkshire Housing Law Practitioners (with Jan Luba QC)
For more details: click here.

18 May 2012
Gypsy & Traveller Law Update
A Legal Action Group training event in Birmingham
For the details, click here.

22 May 2012
Social Housing Law & Practice
A Lime Legal 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.

24 May 2012
New Forms of Tenancy and Using the Ombudsman After the Localism Act
An evening housing seminar at Garden Court Chambers.
For more details, click here.


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