Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 257 - 3 April 2012

Tuesday 3 April 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

New Rules for Social Housing (1): from 1 April 2012 social housing landlords in England have to meet a new set of regulatory standards. The new Social Housing Regulator's regulatory framework for registered social housing providers includes a number of changes from those previously used by the TSA, in particular reflecting the new distinction between the regulator's economic and consumer regulation roles. For a copy of the new Regulatory Framework and all the associated documents, click here. For the accompany letter sent to social landlords jointly by the old and new regulator, click here. For the final letter to social landlords from the TSA, click here. The contact details of the new regulator are available by clicking here.

New Rules for Social Housing (2): the Scottish Government's Scottish Social Housing Charter also came into effect on 1 April 2012. It replaces the performance standards issued under Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 section 79 and sets the standards and outcomes expected from the housing activities of all social landlords in Scotland. For a copy of the Charter, click here. The Charter will be enforced by the new Scottish Housing Regulator which operates independently of Scottish Ministers and assumed its regulatory responsibilities on 1 April 2012. The Regulator consists of the Chair and four Board members. More information about the new Regulator can be found on its website by clicking here. The new Regulator regulates over 180 registered social landlords and the landlord and homelessness functions of 32 local authorities.

Housing Law Advice: free specialist advice on Housing law will remain available to advice workers and legal aid lawyers until 30 June 2012. The Legal Services Commission, which funds the Specialist Support Service, has responded to the issue of judicial review proceedings by agreeing to keep the scheme open while it consults on its future. The consultation paper is available by clicking here.The deadline for responses is 11 May 2012. Until 30 June 2012 advisers can call 0844 515 2113 (England) or 0845 602 3449 (Wales) for free specialist advice on housing law. The lines are open from 10-4 Monday to Friday.

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

Evictions increase: the Court Statistics covering the last quarter of 2011 were published last week. They show that 31,300 warrants of possession were issued, an increase of 7% on the equivalent quarter of 2010, with county court bailiffs making 13,900 repossessions of properties, a 16% increase on the fourth quarter of 2010. 5,500 of the properties were recovered on behalf of mortgage lenders, 12% more than in the fourth quarter of 2010. For the full statistical tables, click here.

Housing Benefit: the Building and Social Housing Foundation has published The Growth of In-Work Housing Benefit Claimants: Evidence and policy implications. The research paper analyses the growth of Housing Benefit claimant numbers in Great Britain in 2010 and 2011. Particular attention is paid to the very rapid growth in the number of in-work Housing Benefit claimants. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Decent Homes: the programme of work under the decent homes initiative is thought to have achieved dramatic change, particularly in standards of social housing. Nottingham City Homes has published Decent Homes Impact Study indicating the effects of the programme on the people of Nottingham. For a copy, click here. http://www.nottinghamcityhomes.org.uk/improving_your_home/impact_study/default.aspx The
Housing & Anti-social behaviour: local authorities in England are invited to join a payment by results scheme enabling them to receive £4000 per family for work with the most serious anti-social behaviour cases in their areas. For more details of the new funding from the Troubled Families programme, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

HSE v Onyemauche 'Fidelia' Peel
26 March 2012
Basildon Crown Court

The defendant owns a number of properties in the Basildon area which she rents out to vulnerable families. Investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that she had not been ensuring Gas Safety Checks were routinely carried out in at least four properties between 2003 and 2010. Two boilers had to be turned off because they were in such a dangerous condition that tenants' lives were at risk. Some safety checks had been done by unregistered engineers, and an unregistered gas engineer had been used to install a gas boiler in one property. The defendant pleaded guilty to 7 breaches relating to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. She was given 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay £2,000 costs. For further details, click here.

Taylor v North Warwicks BC [2012] EWHC 684 (Admin)
22 March 2012

The claimants were gypsies. They had established an unauthorised site for their mobile homes on rural green belt land. The council refused applications for planning permission and issued enforcement notices requiring the return of the land to agricultural use. The claimants appealed to a Planning Inspector but their appeals were dismissed. They appealed from the Inspector's decisions. The High Court dismissed the appeals. Theinspector had made no error of law.

Kameku v Morobe Provincial Government
1 March 2012

The claimant was one of a number of settlers who had established homes and businesses on government land over the course of 50 years. They had had no authority to do so. The provincial government gave 30 day's notice to quit and then carried out a mass eviction of the settlers. They brought proceedings and the judge declared that the acts of the provincial government were in breach of the constitution and unlawful in three respects: they were harsh, oppressive and not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper regard for the rights and dignity of mankind. The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea dismissed an appeal against the judge's ruling. His conclusions had been open to him to make on the evidence. For the full judgment, click here.

Southend on Sea BC v Isaac Odeniran
Southend Magistrates Court
10 February 2012

The defendant was a private landlord of a flat. He operated as a director of Abundant Life Housing Association providing accommodation to vulnerable tenants. The council found the state of the property to be a hazard and served an Improvement notice under the Housing Act 2004 in April 2011 requiring remedial works. An inspection in August 2011 found that nothing had been done. The defendant was convicted of non-compliance contrary to Housing Act 2004 section 30 and was fined £4000. He was ordered to carry out the works, to pay a further £4000 in costs and pay a £15 victim surcharge. For more details, click here. The same defendant had previously unsuccessfully appealed (in the housing association's name) against an Improvement Notice served in respect of a different property. For that judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

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

Highly Charged (service charges)
J. Driscoll
[2012] 30 March 162 New Law Journal p453

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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