Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 271 – 9 July 2012

Monday 9 July 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Allocating social housing: the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has published a briefing on the content of the new statutory guidance issued to local authorities in England about social housing allocation. For a copy of the briefing, click here. For a copy of the guidance itself, which replaces all previous such statutory guidance in England, click here.

Under-occupation in social housing: on 28 June 2012 the UK Government published a revised version of its impact assessment Housing Benefit: under occupation of social housing. Using revised projections, it now reports that "The introduction of the size criteria is likely to affect an estimated 660,000 Housing Benefit claimants living in the social rented sector at the time of its introduction in 2013/14." Of those, the figure likely to lose all HB entitlement has been revised up from 20,000 to 40,000 claimants. For a copy of the updated assessment, click here. The Chartered Institute of Housing has published a new briefing note on How to... reduce under-occupation. It advises on how to make downsizing a positive choice for tenants and includes several practical examples of organisations that run successful schemes. For a copy, click here.

Housing in England: on 5 July 2012 the latest batch of statistics from the English Housing Survey was released. The results from the EHS Household Survey chart the significant growth in private renting which increased from 10% in 1999 to 17% in 2010/11 as a proportion of households in England. A further 17% of households now rent from a social landlord with 66% in owner occupation. For the full Household data, click here. The statistical information about the housing stock itself is published in the EHS Homes Survey report. For a copy of that, click here. A summary of all the data given in both reports is available in EHS Bulletin Issue 7. For a copy, click here.

Eviction for domestic violence: on 30 June 2012 the pilot scheme to test Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) concluded and the UK Government is now evaluating the results. Until they are available the Government has announced that the orders will remain available in the Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia police force areas. Around 320 DVPO's have been issued since the scheme began in June 2011. For the announcement, click here.

Housing possession cases in the courts: in the first quarter of 2012, 15,152 properties were repossessed by county court bailiffs in England and Wales, a 1% increase on the first quarter of 2011. For these and other statistics relating to court cases in the first three months of 2012, click here. The Ministry of Justice has also published the court statistics for the full year 2011. These show that 215,264 claims for possession were issued in the county courts in 2011, an increase of 5000 on the previous year. For the annual statistics, click here.

Judicial Review in housing cases: on 2 July 2012 the Legal Services Commission announced that the interim position it had taken on the exercise of devolved powers by legal services providers to grant legal aid for judicial review cases would continue until 31 March 2013. That is the date on which the current LSC Standard Civil Contracts (2010 and 2012) will be terminated. For the announcement, click here.

Right to Buy: on 2 July 2012 the Minister for Housing announced that 47 of the 167 local councils in England which retain their own housing stock had not entered into agreements with the UK Government enabling them to keep and re-cycle their receipts from additional right to buy sales. The 47 will have to pass their additional receipts into a central pot from which they will be able to bid for funding (but those which sign-up by September will be able to retain receipts from July 2012 sales onward). For the announcement (containing the list of the 120 councils which have signed up), click here.

Affordable rent homes on 4 July 2012 the National Audit Office published its initial findings on the Government's Affordable Homes Programme. It found the launch of the programme to have been a success, with housing providers committing themselves to building some 80,000 homes for the £1.8 billion investment, compared to the initial target of 56,000. However, it identified the following risks: (1) nearly a fifth of contracts with housing providers remain to be signed; (2) more than half of the planned homes are not currently due to be delivered until the final year of the Programme (2014/15); and (3) some providers are concerned that they may not be able to charge rents at the levels they originally agreed with the Programme. For the full report, click here. For a summary, click here.

Converting business premises into homes: on 3 July 2012 the UK Government published its response to the consultation on changes to planning rules in England to enable former commercial and business premises to be more easily converted for residential use. It has decided to make two changes: (1) to include a new policy in the National Planning Policy Framework that local planning authorities '...should normally approve planning applications for change to residential use and any associated development from commercial buildings (currently in the B use classes) where there is an identified need for additional housing in that area, provided that there are not strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate...'; and (2) to amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to extend existing permitted development rights which allow the space above shops and other town centre uses (A1 and A2 uses) to be converted into a single flat without the need to submit a planning application, to allow for two flats. For a copy of the consultation summary and the Government's response, click here. Another consultation has been initiated on allowing other user classes to be converted into provision of housing. For a copy of that consultation paper, 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.

Birmingham CC v Lloyd [2012] EWCA Civ, noted on LAWTEL
4 July 2012

A council tenant died leaving his home empty. His brother, Mr Lloyd, moved in and lived in the property as his home (although he had his own council tenancy elsewhere). His application for the grant of a tenancy of his brother's former home was refused and the council applied for possession. A judge dismissed the claim on the grounds that an eviction would be a disproportionate interference with Mr Lloyd's Article 8 rights. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. It would only be in a very rare case that an Article 8 defence would succeed on the part of an occupier who had had no authority, from the outset, to establish his home in particular place. This was not one of those cases.

Gallarotti v Sebastianelli [2012] EWCA Civ 865
3 July 2012

The claimant and defendant were friends, They agreed to buy and share a flat together. Each made a cash contribution towards the purchase price and the balance was raised by a mortgage. The purchase was made in the sole name of Mr S and the mortgage was in his name. No written declaration was made that they both owned the flat or in what proportions. A judge found that they had intended that the house be owned as to 50% each despite their differing initial contributions. She made an order that on sale the proceeds should be divided equally. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Mr S. It was satisfied that the parties had never agreed that the shares would remain 50/50 irrespective of differences in subsequent contributions. As Mr S had made the vast bulk of the mortgage repayments, the division should be 75/25 in his favour. For the judgment, click here.

Camden LBC v Abdul Kalam and Jahanara Begum,
20 June 2012

The defendants owned a six-bedroom ex-council house that they let to six students. They were prosecuted for failing to apply for an HMO licence and for HMO management offences relating to the lack of fire exits, fire precautions and disrepair. They changed their pleas to guilty on the first day of trial. Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court fined them £1000 each for failing to obtain a licence. Mr Kalam was also fined £2000 for failing to provide fire precautions and £250 for a broken window. He was ordered to pay £2508 in costs and Mrs Begum was ordered to pay £2000 towards the Council's costs. District Judge Crane said: "The lack of compliance with the regulations compromised the safety of tenants and possibly put their lives at risk. This would still have applied even if there were only four tenants. These [HMO] regulations are in place to prevent precisely this sort of abuse of tenants and putting them at risk in order to pocket large sums of money without carrying out repairs". For more details, 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.

Localism Act 2011 and housing
(A special issue dedicated to the topic)
Various authors
[2012] 15 Journal of Housing Law No.4

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

Article 8 defences and non-secure tenancies
S. Gerlis
[2012] 25 June Busy Solicitors Digest

Housing Law Events

Summer 2012

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

Autumn 2012

12 September 2012
Dealing with the housing possession duty desk
An evening seminar in London for HLPA members
For the details, click here.

19 September 2012
Homelessness Update
An evening meeting in London of HLPA
For the details, click here.

27 September 2012
Housing Mental Capacity and Disability Discrimination
An evening seminar at Garden Court Chambers
For the details, click here.

28 September 2012
Social Housing Allocation
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here.

17 October 2012
How to quantify damages in disrepair cases
An evening seminar in London for HLPA members
For the details, click here.

18 October 2012
Using Mediation to Resolve Housing Disputes
An evening seminar at Garden Court Chambers
For the details, click here.

21 November 2012
Housing Law Update
An evening meeting in London of HLPA
For the details, click here.

22 November 2012
Gypsies and travellers: An Update
An evening seminar at Garden Court Chambers
For the details, click here.

5 December 2012
After the possession order: set aside or appeal?
An evening seminar in London for HLPA members
For the details, click here.

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