Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 261 - 30 April 2012

Monday 30 April 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Sub-letting and other tenancy fraud: last week saw the launch of The Tenancy Fraud Forum - an independent not for profit organisation which has been established to bring social landlords together to combat tenancy fraud. Its mission is to create a network across the UK to combat tenancy fraud in social housing. For more details, click here.

Mobility in social housing: on 19 April 2012 the Chartered Institute of Housing published How to...Improve housing mobility. For a copy, click here.

Controlling dogs: on 23 April 2012 the UK Government launched a consultation on a package of measures aimed at tackling irresponsible ownership of dogs. For the consultation details, click here. Responses should be presented by 15 June 2012.

NewBuy Guarantee: last week the first house purchase was completed under the NewBuy Guarantee scheme. The scheme is designed to help those wanting to buy a newly-built property and is expected to help up to 100,000 purchasers. Instead of a typical buyer requiring a £40,000 deposit to buy a £200,000 home, they need only £10,000 deposit. The scheme is available for homes of up to £500,000. For further details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

R(De Almedia) v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC [2012] EWHC Admin 1082
27 April 2012

The claimant, a Portuguese national living in the UK, suffered from skin cancer and depression, in addition to AIDS and Hepatitis C. When he became too ill to work, he was evicted from his private rented accommodation because he could no longer pay the rent. He supported himself until his funds ran out. His friends then provided food and accommodation. He moved into a 400 room hostel with shared bathroom facilities. In November 2011, his life expectancy was about 6 months. He had applied to the council for accommodation under the National Assistance Act 1948. It decided that he did not qualify and could obtain such assistance as he needed by returning to Portugal. He sought a judicial review. The High Court declared unlawful the council's decisions: (1) that he had no eligible needs requiring care and attention within the meaning of section 21 of the 1948 Act and (2) that it was not necessary to make arrangements for him under the 1948 Act for the purpose of avoiding a breach of his Convention rights. It held that the refusal to make arrangements for him under the 1948 Act was incompatible with his rights under Articles 3 and 8. For the judgment, click here.

R(AE) v Croydon LBC [2012] EWCA (Civ) 547
27 April 2012

The claimant had applied to the council for accommodation under the Children Act 1989. He was an asylum seeker from Iran and claimed that his date of birth was 3 September 1995. The council decided that he was born in 1993. A judge declared that he was a child and that his date of birth was 3 September 1994. He appealed. The Court of Appeal allowed his appeal and ruled that his date of birth was as he had claimed. The judgment contains useful guidance on the correct approach to age assessment appeals from the High Court and Upper Tribunal to the Court of Appeal. For the judgment, click here.

R(T) v Metropolitan Police [2012] EWHC Admin 1115
27 April 2012

The claimant lived in a block of flats let by a housing association. She made several complaints to the association about the alleged anti-social behaviour of a neighbour. On one occasion she had an exchange with a friend of that neighbour. He alleged that she had made a homophobic comment and reported the matter to the police. Three months later, the police wrote to the claimant warning her that the allegation was one of harassment and that the letter would be retained as proof that the police had spoken to her about the allegation. The claimant challenged the decision to issue the letter and to retain it on police records. She asserted that it breached data protection principles and her human rights. The High Court dismissed the claim. There had been no illegality in the conduct of the police. For the judgment, click here.

R(Gallastegui) v Westminster CC [2012] EWHC Admin 1123
27 April 2012

The claimant was peace campaigner who had for several years lived in a tent on the pavement opposite Parliament in order to maintain a 24hr vigil. The new Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act 2011 Part 3 authorised council officers to give her a direction to move and enacted new powers to seize tents or other structures on pavements. In December 2011 the council decided it would utilise those powers and she sought judicial review of that decision. The High Court dismissed her claim. Westminster had taken into account her rights under Articles 10 and 11 as well as the factors set out in Article 10(2) and Article 11(2). It attached weight to the fact that Parliament had undertaken a thorough examination of the issues and to the limited effect of Part 3. It had not been unlawful to conclude on the facts of this case that it would exercise its powers. For the judgment, click here.

R(George) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2012] EWHC Admin, [2012] All ER (D) 124 (Apr)
25 April 2012

The claimant's mother was a secure tenant. In 2009 she moved to a care home and in 2010 the council served notice to quit to end her tenancy. The claimant applied for the discretionary grant of the tenancy to him. The council refused that application because: (1) there were considerable rent arrears; (2) the property would be under-occupied; and (3) the claimant had a history of past violent and aggressive behaviour on the estate. Later, he applied again and the council responded that it had already considered the application. The High Court dismissed his claim for judicial review of the latter decision. Permission to apply to the court (see [2012] EWHC 210 (Admin), HLB No 251) had been based on the false factual premise that the earlier decision had turned on a lack of documents rather than a full consideration of the merits.

Gemini Press v Parsons [2012] EWHC QB noted on LAWTEL
24 April 2012

Parsons was the landlord of a property held on a lease. Gemini took an assignment of the lease and later exercised a break clause designed to bring the lease to an end. The break clause specifically conferred the right to give notice on a previous assignee which it named. Dismissing an appeal from the county court judge, the High Court held that Gemini had had no right to utilise the break clause as the right to use it had been personal to the previous assignee.

Kamberaj v Istituto per l'Edilizia sociale della Provincia di Bolzano [2012] EUECJ C-571/10
24 April 2012

Mr Kamberaj, an Albanian national, had resided in Italy since 1994 and held an indefinite residence permit. From 1998 to 2008 he received housing benefit (HB) to help pay his rent. The funds for that benefit were allocated to, first, EU citizens and, second, third-country nationals residing permanently and lawfully in Italy. In 2009 Mr Kamberaj's application for HB was rejected on the ground that the budget intended for third-country nationals was exhausted. The Court of Justice of the European Union held that EU law precludes legislation which treats third-country nationals who are long-term residents differently from EU citizens with regard to the allocation of funds for HB because the EU acknowledges a right to equal treatment for those entitled to HB which is intended to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources. For the judgment, click here.

Lalli v Spirita Housing Ltd [2012] EWCA (Civ) 497
24 April 2012

The claimant was the housing association's assured tenant of sheltered housing. He and 38 other residents had the use of a communal lounge. Following his conduct in making offensive comments to other users of the lounge, the warden wrote to him suggesting that he stay away from the lounge until the incident had been investigated. Following a further incident, the association obtained an interim anti-social behaviour injunction barring him from the lounge. In those proceedings, medical evidence was later adduced which showed the full extent of the tenant's mental impairment and the Official Solicitor was appointed to represent him. The association discontinued the injunction claim. The claimant then brought a claim that the association's action in sending him a letter which he could not read and taking injunction proceedings against him amounted to race and disability discrimination. A judge dismissed his claims. He appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal on the disability discrimination points. The judgment contains a useful account of how the Disability Discrimination Act (now the Equality Act) operates in these circumstances. For a copy, click here.

Yordanova v Bulgaria [2012] ECHR 758
24 April 2012

The claimant was one of 200 to 300 residents of homes comprising an unauthorised settlement on council land that had been established since the 1960s by people of Roma origin. The council resolved to clear the land and remove the occupiers without re-housing them. In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights issued an interim order preventing the evictions while it examined the residents' complaints that displacement would interfere with their human rights. The Court was satisfied that the clearance pursued a legitimate aim (demolishing insanitary and unsafe homes and enabling a building programme) but that it violated Article 8 because although the occupiers had tried to raise issues of proportionality in the domestic courts the courts refused to hear them. The question of proportionality needed to be examined before any evictions. The judgment contains a useful restatement of the principles which apply to evictions of trespassers and others from land owned by public authorities. For a copy, click here.

Delaney v Secretary of State for Communities [2012] EWHC Admin [2012] All ER (D) 106 (Apr)
23 April 201
The claimant was traveller. He bought a site in the Green Belt on which to station his mobile home. It had previously been occupied by another traveller who had temporary planning permission which had lapsed on her departure. His application for planning permission was refused. An inspector upheld that refusal. The claimant appealed on the grounds that the inspectors decision had been flawed by misdirection and an inadequacy of reasons. The High Court dismissed the appeal. There had been no material misdirection and adequate reasons had been given.

Olympic Delivery Authority v Persons Unknown [2012] EWHC 1012 (Ch)
4 April 2012

A park authority granted the ODA a temporary exclusive licence to use land in the park for a basketball training facility. The ODA began work to lay out the pitches and associated facilities but were obstructed by protestors blocking the access roads and abusing contractors. It sought injunctions based on the tort of nuisance. The High Court was satisfied that the exclusive right to possess or occupy the land gave the ODA sufficient interest to found an action in nuisance and granted an injunction. The order made would not interfere with the protestors human rights. For the judgment, click here.

Greenwich RLBC v Kala Beredugo
Bexley Magistrates Court
2 April 2012

The defendant was a private landlord of a property in Thamesmead. A council inspection found that it was an HMO occupied by five people (including a child). It lacked a proper fire warning system and a safe means of escape from fire. The defendant was fined £1000 with costs of £993 for failure to provide tenants with property fire safety protection. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

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.

Why government guidance on allocations is 'wholly inadequate'
T. Baldwin
[2012] 12 April Guardian Housing Network
To read the article, click here.

Uncertain times for tenants
(commentary on the Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill)
B. Adams
[2012] 27 April Inside Housing p26
To read the article, click here.

Sound rulings
(commentary on the Friendship HA v Qasim)
D. Pawlowski
[2012] 27 April Inside Housing p26
To read the article, click here.

Protecting deposits: will the changes make it work?
J. Driscoll
[2012] 1216 Estates Gazette 20 April p99

New lease of life (shared ownership leases)
J. Reyersbach
[2012] 25 April Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Events (Spring/Summer 2012)

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.

13 June 2012
Homeless Cases: Has the Duty been Discharged?
An evening housing seminar from HLPA
For more details, click here.

27 June 2012
Social Housing Tenancy Agreements
A Lime Legal training event in London
For the details, click here.

28 June 2012
Anti Social Behaviour
A SHLA evening seminar in London
For the details, click here.

18 July 2012
Outside the Housing Acts: No recourse and Community Care
An evening meeting in London of HLPA
For the details, click here.

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