Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 279 – 10 September 2012

Monday 10 September 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Homelessness: the latest figures for statutory homelessness in England were published on 6 September 2012. They show that 12,860 applicants were accepted as owed the main homelessness duty between 1 April and 30 June 2012, 9% higher than during the same quarter of 2011. 51,640 households were in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2012, 7% higher than at the same date in 2011. For the full statistical report, click here. On 2 September 2012, the UK Government announced that local housing authorities in England would receive £160m over the next two years in Homelessness Prevention Grants. For the announcement, click here. For the breakdown of the amounts that each council is to receive, click here.

New Homes: on 6 September 2012 the UK Government announced that up to 70,000 additional new homes were to be constructed in England, including affordable housing and opportunities for first-time buyers. For the announcement, click here. For the detailed Parliamentary written statement on the package of measures, click here. For the summary given in a Parliamentary oral statement, click here. Among the package of measures is an extension of the FirstBuy scheme targeted at first time home buyers. For the details of that change, click here.

New Ministers: following a recent Cabinet re-shuffle of the UK Coalition Government, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government remains Eric Pickles MP. The new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice is Chris Grayling MP. The new Minister for Housing is Mark Prisk MP. For the full list of the office-holders, click here.

Social Housing Tenants (1): the UK Government's consultation on proposals to address the issue of high-income social housing tenants ends this week. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. Responses should be submitted by 12 September 2012.

Social Housing Tenants (2): on 28 August 2012 the UK Government announced that £1.3m of grant funding was being made available to encourage more tenant panels to challenge landlords, shape services and get involved in local decision making and to empower tenants to engage with their landlord and take control of local services. The grants are available on applications to charities, benevolent societies and philanthropic institutions to deliver this tenant empowerment programme to tenants living in social housing. For the announcement, click here. For the application details, click here. Applications must be made by 8 October 2012.

Rogue Landlords: new guidance has been issued by the UK Government to help local authorities tackle rogue private landlords operating in their areas. For a copy of that guidance, click here. For the announcement accompanying its publication, click here.

Flats above shops: on 1 September 2012, the UK Government announced that new permitted development planning rights will come into force in England on 1 October 2012 enabling more flats to be created above shops. The change applies to A1 (retail units) and A2 (financial/professional services units) commercial properties. Current provisions only allow for one flat to be created above a shop without the need for a planning application. The new arrangements will allow two flats. For a copy of the announcement, click here.

Squatting: on 1 September 2012 section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 was brought into force creating a new offence in relation to trespass. The effect is that a person squatting in a residential building is committing a crime. The offence covers squatting in all residential buildings. The Ministry of Justice has issued a circular to the judiciary outlining the new offence and offering guidance on it. For a copy of the Circular, click here. For the revised version of an information leaflet produced for home owners who find squatters in occupation, click here. In parallel with these measures relating to housing, on 28 August 2012 the UK Government issued a call to councils in England to clamp down on illegal encampments on land and to stop unauthorised traveller sites being set up. It has issued new guidance to local authorities on the powers available to deal with squatting on land. For a copy of that guidance, click here. For the ministerial announcement that accompanied it, click here.

Right to Buy in Wales: on 3 September 2012, Part 1 (Suspension of the Right to Buy and Related Rights) of the Housing (Wales) Measure 2011 was brought into force. A local housing authority in Wales may now apply to the Welsh Ministers for a direction to suspend the right to buy and related rights in its area for up to 5 years, provided it has completed a consultation exercise and, in the light of that exercise, it concluded that the housing pressure condition was satisfied. For the commencement order, click here. A separate Order makes provision for the statutory modifications that would follow in those areas where the right to buy was suspended. For a copy of that Order, 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 (TS) v Croydon LBC [2012] EWHC 2389 (Admin)
29 August 2012

The claimant sought judicial review of the council's assessment of his age. The council had assessed his likely birth date as 1 January 1996. The claimant, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, said his birth date should be 1 August 1997. The correct date would determine the level of services to be provided by the council. The High Court conducted a trial of the issue, hearing live evidence from the witnesses. It determined that, on the facts, the council's assessed date was the more likely to be correct. For the judgment, click here.

Complaint against Hounslow LBC
28 August 2012

The local government ombudsman upheld a complaint made by a single homeless man with mental health issues who had applied to the council for assistance with accommodation. She found maladministration causing injustice in that the council had: (1) failed to take a homelessness application when the complainant first approached it, and did not do so for a further two months; (2) once it had taken an application, delayed reaching a decision on it for approximately three months; (3) did not properly respond to the complainant's concerns about his temporary accommodation; (4) failed to keep him properly updated about the progress of his application; and (5) left the complainant in bed and breakfast accommodation for around five months longer than would otherwise have been the case. The Council agreed to pay the complainant £500, plus a further £250 to recognise his uncertainty and his unnecessary time and trouble, and to review its procedures. For the full investigation report, click here.

Havering LBC v Smith [2012] UKUT 295 (LC)
21 August 2012

A council tenant exercised his right to buy a flat. The council gave notice under Housing Act 1985 section125 outlining future likely service charge liabilities. The sale was completed in 2001. In 2004 the flat was sold and the lease was taken by Ms Smith. Before purchasing, she sought assurance, which was given by the council, that service charges would be limited to those in the section 125 notice. The council later sought service charges in respect of major works at amounts beyond those in the section 125 notice. Ms Smith applied to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal which found that the recoverable charges were limited by the notice. The Upper Tribunal dismissed the council's appeal. While the content of the notice would not otherwise have acted as a bar on recovery, the council was estopped by its own later representations from recovering a higher charge from Ms Smith. For the judgment, click here.

R (Jakpa) v Legal Services Commission [2012] EWHC 2418 (Admin)
18 July 2012

The claimant had been a tenant. His landlord brought a claim for possession. A District Judge made a possession order. A Circuit Judge refused permission to appeal from that order and it was executed. The claimant then brought judicial review proceedings, seeking to overturn the refusal of permission to appeal. The Legal Services Commission (LSC) withdrew legal aid to fund those proceedings. Its decision was upheld on appeal. The claimant then sought judicial review of the withdrawal of his legal aid. The High Court refused a renewed application for permission to bring that claim. On the facts, the LSC had been entitled to take the view that the merits of the attempted judicial review of the refusal of permission to appeal were insufficient to justify continued funding.

Panayotov v Falmouth House Freehold Co Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1174
17 July 2012

The defendant was a company established by leaseholders to acquire the freehold of their block of flats. The claimant was one of the leaseholders participating in the acquisition of the freehold and he paid the company over £100,000 in connection with the acquisition. He then sought repayment of the monies on the basis that they had been advanced as a loan. The High Court held that the money was not a loan. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from that decision. The facts relating to the transaction showed that the money was not a loan but payment for a further long lease. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] August Legal Action 23
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Taking action on eviction (in Scotland)
S. Evans
[2012] 31 August Inside Housing p27
For a copy of the article, click here.

Recovering tenant debt
L. Felstead
[2012] 7 September Inside Housing p38
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

This week

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.

Autumn 2012

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.

16 November 2012
SHLA Annual Conference
the 7th Annual Conference of SHLA in London
For the details, click here.

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

21-22 November 2012
New Approaches to Allocations, Lettings & Homelessness Conference 2012
A two-day Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Nottingham
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.

27 November 2012
Housing Allocations and Homelessness: The Practitioner Seminar Series 2012
A Jordans Housing seminar in Leeds
Includes a free copy of the forthcoming Housing Allocation and Homelessness (3rd edition) by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies
For the details, click here.

28 November 2012
Housing Allocations and Homelessness: The Practitioner Seminar Series 2012
A Jordans Housing seminar in Manchester
Includes a free copy of the forthcoming Housing Allocation and Homelessness (3rd edition) by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies
For the details, click here.

29 November 2012
Housing Allocations and Homelessness: The Practitioner Seminar Series 2012
A Jordans Housing seminar in Birmingham
Includes a free copy of the forthcoming Housing Allocation and Homelessness (3rd edition) by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies
For the details, click here.

30 November 2012
Housing Allocations and Homelessness: The Practitioner Seminar Series 2012
A Jordans Housing seminar in London
Includes a free copy of the forthcoming Housing Allocation and Homelessness (3rd edition) by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies
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.

11 December 2012
Housing Law Conference
Annual conference of HLPA in London
For the details, click here.

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