Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 272 – 16 July 2012

Monday 16 July 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Fraud in social housing: the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill has been published. It contains new criminal offences for sub-letting social housing (secure and assured tenancies) and amends the Housing Act 1988 in respect of loss of security of tenure for assured tenants. For a copy of the Bill, click here. For a useful House of Commons Library Briefing paper on the Bill click here. The Bill had its second reading on 13 July 2012. For the debate, click here. For a copy of the Government's response to the recent consultation exercise on this topic, click here. The Minister for Housing has meanwhile called on all social landlords to use their existing powers to tackle social housing fraud, including using eviction and he cited instances of good practice. For a copy of the ministerial statement, click here. In Wales, a consultation on measures to tackle social housing fraud is still underway. For details of that, click here.

Tenant management of social housing: on 13 July 2012 the UK Government laid new regulations governing the process by which tenant management organisations (TMOs) can insist on taking over the management of council housing. They replace the current regime and take effect on 6 August 2012. For a copy of the new regulations, click here. For a copy of the Government's response to the recent consultation exercise on this topic, click here.

Landlord-and-tenant lawyer in top judicial post: on 12 July 2012 it was announced that the new President of the Supreme Court will be Lord Neuberger. He is the current Master of the Rolls and a former barrister specialising in landlord and tenant work. For a copy of the announcement, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: the organisation Housemark has just published an analysis of results for 2011/2012 in relation to its work on benchmarking the activity of social landlords in tackling anti-social behaviour. The report indicates that eviction action is taken in only "a very small proportion of cases" and that other successful means of tackling such behaviour included the use of court injunctions. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing and Human Rights: the Commission on a Bill of Rights for the UK has launched its second consultation exercise. The consultation paper invites views on whether socio-economic rights (such as the right to adequate housing) should be included in a UK Bill or Rights and whether the present definition of a 'public authority' should be enlarged. For a copy of the consultation paper. click here. Responses are sought by 30 September 2012.

Legal aid in housing cases: the Legal Services Commission has published statistical data for 2011/2012 indicating the help that was provided through Legal Aid and the Legal Help Scheme (and the County Court Duty Possession Scheme) in housing and other cases. It indicates that there were 530 housing contracts (down from 546 in 2010/11) and that 14,028 applications were made for legal aid certificates in housing cases. For the full data, click here. For the LSC's Annual Report for 2011/2012, click here.

Regulating private landlords: on 6 July 2012 the Welsh Government published a consultation paper on a mandatory scheme of registration and licensing of letting agents, landlords and managing agents operating in the private rented sector in Wales. For a copy of the consultation paper click here. Responses are sought by 17 August 2012.

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.

R(MK) v Home Office [2012] EWHC 1896 (Admin)
10 July 2012

The applicant was a failed asylum seeker who had made representations that he said amounted to a fresh asylum claim. He sought accommodation and support pending a decision on that claim. Home Office policy was that further submissions advanced by someone whose previous application for asylum had been rejected must be considered before the application for support is decided, unless 15 working days have elapsed and there is likely to be further delay. The policy involved an in-built delay before any application for support was considered on its merits. The High Court ruled that the policy was unlawful and would need to be reconsidered by the Government. For the judgment, click here.

Globa v Ukraine [2012] ECHR 1375
5 July 2012

The applicant had been at the top of the waiting list for a Town Council apartment. A vacant apartment was wrongly allocated to someone below him on the list. He took court proceedings and obtained a judgment that: the occupiers be evicted; he be allocated the flat; and the occupiers be rehoused. The Town Council failed to comply with the order and enforcement measures failed. The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It rejected his claim under Article 8 (right to respect for his home) because although he had an enforceable right to enter and occupy the flat, he had never done so and others had established their home there. It upheld his complaint that the failure to enforce the judgment amounted to a breach of Article 6 and awarded him 5000 euros compensation. For the judgment, click here.

Sharples v Places for People Homes Ltd
5 July 2012

The Supreme Court has refused an application by a bankrupt tenant for permission to appeal from a Court of Appeal decision that a possession claim for rent arrears did not infringe the prohibition on obtaining a remedy against a bankrupt in respect of a debt. The reasons for refusal include the statement that the Court of Appeal's judgment "was plainly right". For a copy of that judgment, click here.

Brent LBC and Harrow LBC v Vispasp Sarkari
July 2012

The defendant was a private landlord. He was convicted of breaches of enforcement notices for converting houses into flats and letting them out, even though planning permission to do so had been refused. Harrow Crown Court imposed a fine of £7,515 and ordered the defendant to pay over £18,000 costs. It also made a proceeds of crime confiscation order for £303,000 in respect of the rent received through the unlawful use of the property. The sums must be paid within six months. In default the defendant will spend three and a half years in prison. For more details, click here.

Camden LBC v Voyias and the Information Commissioner [2012] UKUT 190 (AAC)
6 June 2012

The applicant asked the council to provide him with a list of all the empty residential premises in its borough that were not owned by a private individual. The council refused. It eventually relied on the exemption in Freedom of Information Act section 31(1)(a) - prevention of crime. The Information Commissioner decided that the exemption applied. The applicant's appeal was allowed by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) which ordered disclosure. The council appealed to the Upper Tribunal. It allowed the appeal and remitted the case for re-hearing by the FTT. There had been an error in law in taking too narrow a view of the scope of enquiry when considering the public interest in the prevention of crime.

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.

Landlords in the dock: prosecuting to protect tenants
E. Fitzpatrick and J. Luba
[2012] July Legal Action p44

Keep on moving
(the effects of the Localism Act changes on social tenants who move homes)
M. Robinson
[2012] 152 July/August Adviser 18

Where to draw the line
(discrimination in housing and benefits)
C. Collier
[2012] 162 New Law Journal 900
For a copy of the article, click here.

In a fix (2)?
(second of two articles on fixed-term social housing tenancies)
J. Holbrook
[2012] 162 New Law Journal 930
For a copy of the article, click here.

Time to rebuild the small print
(requirements for landlords' section 21 Housing Act notices to shorthold tenants)
N. Hickman
[2012] Law Society's Gazette (5 July 2012)
For a copy of the article, click here.

All mapped out?
(commentary on the Upper Tribunal decision in the Camden case [see above])
A. Proops
[2012] Local Government Lawyer (10 July 2012)

Defences to social possession claims
(commentary on Riverside Group v Thomas))
S. Gerlis
[2012] Busy Solicitors Digest (2 July 2012)

Zambrano carers and their eligibility
(commentary on the impact of the case on homelessness decisions)
D. Broatch
[2012] Local Government Lawyer (12 July 2012)

Housing Law Events

This week

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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