Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 268 - 18 June 2012

Monday 18 June 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social housing allocation: the new housing allocation provisions of the Localism Act 2011 come into force today (Monday 18 June 2012). They are set out in sections 145-147 of the Localism Act, amending the Housing Act 1996 Part 6. The changes are explained in the article The Localism Act 2011: allocation of social housing accommodation. For a copy of that article, click here. It is hoped that the statutory Code of Guidance about how the new allocation provisions should be applied in England will be published shortly. For a copy of the commencement order bringing the provisions into force, click here.

Increases in Homelessness: the latest statistics on homelessness in England were published on 14 June 2012 covering the whole of 2011/2012. They show that, during the 2011/12 financial year, there were 50,290 acceptances of the main housing duty by local housing authorities in England: an increase of 14% from the previous year. Of those, 13,130 applicants were accepted as owed a main duty during the last quarter, January to March 2012, 16% higher than in the same quarter last year. For the full statistics, click here. On the same day, the UK Government announced that funding for the National Homelessness Advice Service would be £3.4m in 2012/13. For that announcement, click here.

Social housing tenants on higher incomes: on 13 June 2012 the UK Government launched a consultation exercise on whether power should be given to social landlords in England to levy higher (market) rents on tenants of social housing with significant incomes. Responses must be submitted by 12 September 2012. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. For the announcement that accompanied the launch of the consultation, click here.

New 'affordable' housing: on 12 June 2012 the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) published the latest figures for new-build affordable housing in England. They show that there were 19,967 housing starts on site and 59,451 housing completions delivered through programmes managed by the HCA in the financial year ending 31 March 2012. The majority (15,698 or 79%) of the housing starts were for affordable homes of which 11,130 were for affordable rent, 1,048 for social rent, 72 for intermediate rent and 3,448 for affordable home ownership. The new 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme accounted for 90% of the affordable homes started in 2011-12. For the full statistics, click here. For the announcement that accompanied the release of the figures, click here.

Housing tenure: Shelter and the Resolution Foundation have published research carried out by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research analysing housing tenure in England. The report is in two parts. The first part looks back at tenure change between 1993/94 and 2009/10, using the Government's Survey of English Housing and its successor the English Housing Survey. The second part projects forward to 2025. It explores how tenure structures may develop under different economic scenarios. For the full report, click here. For a summary, click here.

Social landlords: on 11 June 2012, in its capacity as regulator of social landlords, the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) published a sector risk profile highlighting the challenges ahead for social landlords. For a copy, click here. For the announcement accompanying the publication, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: also on 11 June, the UK Government announced that that every eligible council has agreed to run the Troubled Families programme in its area. The programme operates by releasing payments by 'results' for work with individual families. The eligible results include a 60% reduction in anti-social behaviour across the whole family. For the announcement, click here.

Housing Benefit Changes (1) - private sector: on 14 June 2012 the UK Government published a report from an independent research consortium led by Sheffield Hallam University which covers the early months of housing benefit reform in Autumn 2011. Researchers worked with landlords and tenants in 19 local authority areas to assess attitudes to housing benefit reform in the private sector. For the full report of their findings, click here.

Housing Benefit Changes (2) - social housing: on 13 June 2012 the Minister for Welfare Reform gave a speech spelling-out how welfare reform will impact on social landlords and tenants in 2013. For a copy of the speech, click here.

Housing & Young People: on 13 June 2012 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published new research on housing options for young people. It found that around 1.5 million more young people aged 18-30 will be pushed towards living in the private rented sector in 2020, reflecting growing problems of accessing both home ownership and social renting. For the full report, click here. For a summary of the report, click here.

Homes on park sites: the UK Government's recent consultation exercise on management of mobile home parks closed on 28 May 2012.ln its response, the Local Government Association (LGA) said that measures that should protect park home residents are inadequate and out of date, and that current legislation does not give them the same rights as people living in other types of property. For a copy of the recent consultation paper, click here. For the LGA response, click here. For the LGA's press statement on the response, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Fuller digests of most of the cases noted each week in this Bulletin appear in an online indexed and searchable database edited by Jan Luba QC and called the Case Law Digest. For details of that service, click here.

Southwark LBC v Ofogba [2012] EWHC 1520(QB)
15 June 2012

The council brought a possession claim for rent arrears. The tenant defended the claim on the basis that the alleged arrears included: (1) water charges which the council was not entitled to recover; and (2) charges for cleaning, lighting and maintenance in respect of which no valid variation notices had been given. The claim was allocated to the multi-track and tried by a circuit judge. She upheld aspects of both parts of the defence and entered a money judgment for a lower figure than the council had claimed. She ordered that the possession claim should be adjourned with liberty to restore. The tenant appealed, contending that his defences should have succeeded in full and that the possession claim should have been dismissed. The High Court held that because the money judgment was a final order in a multi-track claim any appeal against it lay to the Court of Appeal. An order for an adjournment was not a final order so an appeal against that lay to the High Court. To enable proper disposal, the High Court transferred the 'adjournment appeal' to the Court of Appeal: For the judgment, click here.

R (Taylor) v Croydon LBC [2012] EWCA Civ 794
17 May 2012

The council decided to replace warden services at its sheltered housing accommodation with a new integrated rapid response service. The claimant sought judicial review of that decision on the basis that the council had been in breach of its obligations under section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to have due regard to various disability-related matters. The High Court refused permission to bring the claim. Permission was also refused by the Court of Appeal. It decided that the officer's report to the council had given proper consideration to the existing arrangements, to the various options for change and to the effects of those options. It had summarised the consultation process and provided an adequate summary of concerns expressed about the individual options. It also set out the officers' response to the concerns expressed. It gave correct legal advice about the section 49A duty and focused the attention of Cabinet members on the approach to be adopted towards the exercise of that duty.

Capital Mortgages Direct v Smith [2012] EWCA Civ 773
14 May 2012

The Smiths entered into a mortgage of their home to secure a commercial loan. The loan was not repaid and the lender claimed possession. The judge made a possession order. The Smiths appealed on the grounds that (1) there was an unfair relationship between the claimant mortgagee and themselves as borrowers (see Consumer Credit Act 1974 sections 140A and 140B); and (2) that to make an order for possession would be in breach of their rights under Article 8 of Schedule 1 Human Rights Act 1998. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. There was no reasonable prospect of success on any aspect of the points argued under Section 140A. As to Article 8, the judge had considered this defence. Accepting it as arguable that Article 8 was relevant, even though the claimant was not a public authority (because the court is a public authority), the Court of Appeal could see no reasonable prospect of success in showing that to make the possession order in this case was disproportionate in all the circumstances.

East Lothian Council v Duffy [2012] Scot SC
9 May 2012

The council agreed that Mr and Mrs Duffy could sublet their council house temporarily. After they had moved out and the sub-tenants had moved in, Mr and Mrs Duffy notified the council that they had found housing elsewhere. They wrote "we will not be returning to [the house] on the 4th of August 2009. We would be very grateful if you could help out [the sub-tenants] with their housing problem..." The council replied "I acknowledge your notification to end the above tenancy as of 12 August 2009...All keys must be returned to this office by 10.00am on 12th August 2009. If the keys are returned late, then your tenancy will continue until the day after they are handed in." The council later claimed possession on the basis that (1) the tenancy had ended or (2) it continued but the tenants were not in occupation and it was reasonable to grant possession. The court held that the tenancy had not ended. The tenant's letter did not give the 28 days' notice required by the tenancy agreement and the council's reply was not an agreement to waive that defect. To the contrary it asserted that the tenancy would continue until they keys were returned (which they had not been). However, a possession order was granted. The tenants were not occupying, did not defend the claim, and - although the sub-tenants had been model occupiers - it was reasonable to grant the council possession so that it could re-let to those in greater housing need. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] June Legal Action p33
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Staying, suspending or setting aside possession warrants
D. Malone and J. Luba
[2012] June Legal Action p29

Surrender and tenant abandonment
M. Pawlowski
[2012] 16 Landlord & Tenant Revew p114

Back to basics - tenancy or other legal relationship
J. Ollech
[2012] 16 Landlord & Tenant Revew p101

Service charges - who pays when a residents' management company fails to comply?
R. Crozier
[2012] 16 Landlord & Tenant Revew p92

Housing Law Events (Summer 2012)

21 June 2012
Housing Law: The Legal Update
A Northern Housing Consortium training event in York
For the 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.

29 June 2012
Homelessness: Law and Practice
A Lime Legal training event 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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