Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 275 – 6 August 2012

Monday 6 August 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tenancy strategies: local housing authorities in England have less than six months left to formulate and publish their tenancy strategies for social rented housing in their districts. Shelter has published a new report designed to assist local politicians, strategy officers and policy officers in preparing their Tenancy Strategies and landlord Tenancy Policies, in the light of the new flexibility available to them as a result of the Localism Act 2011. For the full report, click here. For the briefing for councillors, click here. For the background research paper comparing social housing tenure arrangements in other countries, click here.

Access for repairs: the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 Schedule 2 para 12(1) has repealed section 8(2) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. The subsection gave a landlord a right to enter tenanted premises to which the section applied, for the purpose of viewing their state and condition. The repeal is part of a package of measures designed to remove rights of third parties to enter residential premises. It came into force on 1 July 2012. For a copy of the 2012 Act, click here.

Protections for social housing tenants: on 1 August 2012 new provisions took effect in Scotland to prevent secure tenants from being subject to possession proceedings for rent arrears without pre-action procedures having been carefully followed. The Scottish Secure Tenancies (Proceedings for Possession) (Pre-Action Requirements) Order 2012 specifies the action a social landlord must take before recovering possession. For a copy of the Order, click here. The Scottish Secure Tenancies (Proceedings for Possession) (Confirmation of Compliance with Pre-Action Requirements) Regulations 2012 require certification that such action has been taken before proceedings are issued. For a copy of the regulations, click here.

Shortfalls of housing benefit in social housing: the UK Government has issued a series of template documents/leaflets designed to assist local authorities with their support for Housing Benefit claimants who will be affected from April 2013 by the introduction of the size criteria for social sector tenants. For copies of the templates, click here.

Mobile home parks: on 1 August 2012 the Government responded to the House of Commons Select Committee report on park homes. It acknowledged that while there are good site operators, who provide a decent service to their resident home owners and operate within the law, malpractice is widespread. It agreed with the Committee that the current legislation does not adequately protect residents and their assets, and fails to enable them to fully exercise their rights as home owners. For a copy of 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.

R(JL) v Secretary of State for Defence [2012] EWHC 2216 (Admin)
30 July 2012

The claimant was residing in accommodation provided by the defendant after her separation from her partner (an army officer). She was disabled and had children with disabilities. The tenancy had no security of tenure and in 2009 a possession order was granted. The claimant was accepted as homeless by the local council but it had no suitable alternative property to offer despite giving the claimant the highest priority on its allocation scheme. The defendant decided to execute the possession order and the claimant sought a judicial review of that decision. She asked the court to undertake an Article 8 proportionality review of the prospective eviction. The defendant said the Court had no power to do so. The High Court ruled that it could undertake a proportionality review at the eviction stage (rather than the possession order stage) in particular cases. This case warranted such a review because none had been conducted in 2009. However, on the facts, eviction now would not be disproportionate. The local council would have to provide suitable temporary accommodation under its statutory duties.

Drysdale v Hedges [2012] EWHC (QB) noted on LAWTEL
27 July 2012

A landlady let a house with three steps leading up to the front door. In the course of moving her belongings into the house, the tenant slipped on the steps (which were wet after rain) and fell sideways over the edge of the steps and into the basement area in front of the house. She was seriously injured and brought a claim for damages. The High Court held that the landlady was not in breach of any repairing obligation under the tenancy agreement or under section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. That was because neither the step nor the painted surface of it were in disrepair. As neither the tenancy agreement nor the Act applied, the landlady simply owed a common law duty of care. Although she had painted the step with semi-gloss paint, there had been no breach of duty because the paint was for exterior use and the container gave no warning not to use it on steps.

Hillingdon LBC v Harnek Singh Brar
20 July 2012

The council served an enforcement notice, which was upheld on appeal in September 2010, requiring the defendant landlord to restore an outbuilding (which he was letting) to its original use as a garage and to restore the subdivided main house to a single home. On a prosecution for failure to comply with either requirement, the defendant pleaded guilty. At Uxbridge Magistrates' Court he was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,300 costs. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Oxfordshire CC v Dong Lei
20 July 2012

The fire authority served a prohibition notice on the defendant landlord preventing him from allowing people to sleep in the top floor of his house. He ignored the notice and continued to house people on the top floor. At Oxford Magistrates' Court, he pleaded guilty to 12 charges made up of three different offences, committed on four separate occasions. These included failure to comply with the prohibition notice, as well as on-going failures to provide an adequate fire detection system, an alarm system, or a safe means of escape, such that people were at risk of death or serious injury if there were a fire. He was fined £2,250 and ordered to pay costs of £1,300. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Oadby and Wigston BC v Joel Rose
19 July 2012

The defendant landlord let a property which was in an incomplete and unsafe condition. On inspection, there were found to be two category 1 hazards and two category 2 hazards for the purposes of the Housing Act 2004 Part 1.On a prosecution brought by the council, Leicester Magistrates Court fined the landlord £1,500 and ordered him to pay £2,000 costs. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Tolui v Rent Assessment Committee of the London Rent Assessment Panel [2012] EWCA Civ 1065
17 July 2012

The claimant landlord undertook improvements at a property he rented and applied for registration of a new, higher, fair rent. When a Rent Assessment Committee failed to set the rent at the rate he sought, he appealed. The High Court held that his appeal had been brought out of time and dismissed it. The claimant sought permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. That Court refused permission. There was no arguable error in the judge's refusal to exercise discretion to extend the time limit.

Southend BC v Sukhbir Singh Sandhu
11 July 2012

The defendant was the landlord of a three storey property with one ground floor self-contained flat and nine bedsits sharing one bathroom. At Southend Magistrates' Court he was convicted of running an unlicensed HMO. He was fined £1,500 plus £270 costs. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Reading BC v Abdul Sheikh and Jarvis Properties
9 July 2012

The first defendant was a private landlord of a registered HMO in the council's area. The second defendant was the landlord's managing agent for the property. An inspection by the council's officers, made following a resident's complaint, revealed that: (1) 11 people were living at the property instead of the permitted seven; (2) the fire alarm system was not working; (3) other fire safety provisions such as fire doors and emergency lights were not being maintained; (4) fire safety notices were incorrectly positioned and did not direct occupiers to exit via a safe route; (5) an internal shower room extractor fan was not working and electrical wires were exposed; and (6) the shower and the toilet in the top floor shower room were blocked up due to a failed macerator unit, resulting in foul water filling up both the shower tray and toilet and leaking through to the ceiling below. At Reading Magistrates' Court the agents were fined over £20,000 for failing to properly manage the HMO, comply with health and safety conditions in the HMO Licence, and failing to provide information. The landlord was fined £500 with legal costs of £200 after pleading guilty to failing to provide requested information. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] June Legal Action 33
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

No right to remain
(commentary on Birmingham CC v Lloyd)
J. Plant
[2012] 3 August Inside Housing p27
For a copy of the article, click here.

Inevitable improvements
(housing standards in Wales)
J. Plant
[2012] 3 August Inside Housing p27
For a copy of the article, click here.

Landlords in the dock: prosecuting to protect tenants
E. Fitzpatrick and J. Luba
[2012] July Legal Action 44

Housing Law Events

Autumn 2012

12 September 2012
Recent developments in housing law
A LAG training event in London
For the details, click here.

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

13 September 2012
Homeless children in Need: Local authorities' duties
A LAG training event in London
For the details, click here.

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

20 September 2012
Succession, Mutual Exchange & the Localism Act
An evening meeting in London of SHLA
For the details, click here.

25 September 2012
Localism Act: an update for housing practitioners
A LAG training event in London
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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