Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 259 - 16 April 2012

Monday 16 April 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Allocating social housing: the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has published a new guidance note - How to ...consider new approaches to allocations and lettings. For a copy, click here. It may be particularly helpful to councils thinking of giving increased priority to local applicants in light of the report Who is being allocated social housing in London? published by MigrationWatch. For a copy of that report, click here. The Government is still considering responses made to the recent consultation on a new code of guidance for social housing allocation in England. To read the response of the National Housing Federation, click here. For the response from the CIH, click here. For the response drafted by the housing team at Garden Court Chambers, click here.

Complaints against letting agents: in his Annual Report for 2011 the Property Ombudsman records that he received 7,641 letting enquiries and opened 756 formal lettings case reviews. He called for lettings agents to be required to register with a customer redress scheme in the same way that is required of estate agents. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing and older people: Shelter has just published a new policy report A better fit? Creating housing choices for an ageing population. For a copy, click here.

Housing Benefit: the House of Commons library has published a series of free Information Notes on the changes to Housing Benefit. For a copy of Paying Housing Benefit direct to tenants in social rented housing, click here. For a copy of Housing Benefit: Size Criteria and Discretionary Housing Payments, click here. For a copy of The Household Benefit Cap, click here. For Paying Local Housing Allowance direct to tenants in private rented housing, click here. For Measures to reduce Housing Benefit expenditure - an overview, click here.

Right to Buy: the House of Commons library has also published Reforming the Right to Buy (2012). For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

PCE Investors Ltd v Cancer Research UK [2012] EWHC (Ch) 884
4 April 2012

The lease of a property required payment of rent quarterly in advance. It also contained a break clause allowing a tenant to give notice which would terminate the tenancy provided that all the terms of the lease had been complied with. The tenant gave notice and, in respect of the last quarter's rent falling due, paid an amount proportionate to the rent for the period between the quarter day and the termination date. The High Court held that the notice had not been effective to end the lease because the tenant had been obliged to pay a full quarter's rent in advance. As it had not done so, it had not complied with the terms of the lease. For the judgment, click here.

O'Connor v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government [2012] EWHC 942 (Admin)
20 March 2012

The claimant was an Irish gypsy. She moved her caravans onto land that she owned in the Green Belt and sought planning permission from the local council to station them there. When permission was refused, she appealed to the Secretary of State who appointed an inspector. The inspector refused both temporary and permanent planning permission. The claimant challenged that decision on the grounds that she ought at least to have been granted temporary permission in the light of Circulars 11/1995 and 01/2006 and that the inspector's reasons were inadequate. The High Court rejected her claim. The inspector had correctly applied the circulars and his reasons were adequate.

Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority v Lookman Adeyemi
Amersham Crown Court
29 March 2012

The defendant was a private landlord. A woman and her child died in his property as a result of an arson attack by a third party. The defendant admitted offences of providing insufficient fire detectors and alarms at the premises, failing to make a suitable assessment of fire risk and failure to ensure that quick and safe evacuation was possible. The judge imposed a sentence of four months immediate imprisonment and an order for payment of £10,000 prosecution costs. For more details, click here.

Wandsworth LBC v Hassan Akhtar Niazi
Richmond Upon Thames Magistrates Court
28 March 2012

The defendant was a private landlord of a three storey flat. Council officers inspecting the property found 15 people in occupation of filthy and insanitary rooms. He pleaded guilty to four offences: (1) failure to license an HMO; (2) failure to comply with Regulation 3 of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (duty of manager to provide information to occupier); (3) failure to comply with Regulation 7 (duty of manager to maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances); and (4) failure to comply with Regulation 9 (duty to provide waste disposal facilities). He was fined £3,000 for failing to have an HMO licence, £500 for each of the three breaches of the Regulations, a £15 victim surcharge and £2,108 costs. A total of £6,623. For more details, click here.

Swansea CBC v Markus Volkart-Hill and Maureen Volkart-Hill
Swansea Magistrates Court
28 March 2012

The defendants were the joint owners of a property in Swansea that they rented out to students. They had failed to obtain an HMO licence. On a prosecution brought by the council, the husband attended trial and pleaded guilty. His wife failed to attend. They were fined £2000 and £3000 respectively, together with costs and victim surcharges. For more details, click here. http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=48647

Sandwell Council v Javaid Kiyani
Sandwell Magistrates Court
23 March 2012

The council was satisfied that conditions in premises let by the defendant were a hazard. It issued an improvement notice under Housing Act 2004. The defendant failed to comply. On a prosecution brought by the council, he pleaded guilty, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £765 costs. For more details, click here.

Forresters Ketley v Brent [2012] EWCA Civ 324
21 February 2012

The claimant had obtained a money judgment against the defendant in civil proceedings. When the defendant did not pay, the claimant obtained a charging order on his home. The defendant still did not pay, so the claimant sought an order for sale. The court granted that order which required the defendant to move out by 21 March 2010. He did not leave. A judge granted a mandatory injunction requiring him to leave by 20 January 2011. An application for permission to appeal against that order was refused but the defendant still failed to comply. The claimant sought his committal to prison. A judge made an order for 8 weeks imprisonment, which was suspended provided the defendant vacated by 28 March 2011. The defendant appealed against that order. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal.. There had been a clear failure to comply with the injunction. The judge committing the defendant for breach of that order had not acted contrary to the defendant's right to a fair hearing (Article 6) and had been entitled to refuse an adjournment. There was no error in the order made.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] April Legal Action p20
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Owner-occupiers law review 2012
D. McConnell
[2012] April Legal Action p9

The Localism Act 2011: deposits, repairs and the rest
J. Luba and M. Paget
[2012] April Legal Action p27

More light on Article 8: exceptions to the rule
C. Rowlands
[2012] 12 April Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here.

Reinvigorating the Right To Buy
M. Knight and S. Greenhalgh
[2012] 12 April Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here.

Criminalising Subletting
S. Jones
[2012] 52 The Barrister p12

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.

26 April 2012
Tenancy Fraud
An evening housing seminar from SHLA
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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