Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 281 – 24 September 2012

Monday 24 September 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social housing lettings and sales: on 21 September 2012 the latest statistics on lettings and sales by social landlords in England were published. They reveal that there were 362,610 new lettings of social housing in 2011/2012, a 2% increase on 2010/2011. Of those, 72 % of lets were by private registered providers and 28% by local authorities. Overall 67% of lettings were for general needs social housing. For the full statistical report, click here.

Social housing fraud: the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has published a new briefing paper on How to...tackle tenancy fraud. For a free copy, click here.

Homelessness: on 17 September 2012 the National Housing Federation published research showing that, despite the legal embargo on the use of Bed & Breakfast accommodation for placing homeless families, the number of homeless households in B&B in England as at the end of March 2012 had increased by 44% to 3960 since the first quarter of 2011. For more details, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: on 18 September 2012 the troubled families co-ordinators from 152 upper-tier local authorities in England met in London for a major national conference on action to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families in the next three years. For details of the main speeches, click here.

Housing and domestic violence: on 19 September 2012 the UK Government announced that, following a consultation exercise, it would be adopting a single cross-departmental definition of 'domestic violence' from March 2013. For the announcement (which includes the wording of the new definition), click here.

Social housing tenants and money management: a new guide from CIH considers the practical ways landlords can help tenants in social housing improve their money management, access the right financial products and know where to turn for advice and support. For a free copy, click here.

Private renting: two new draft regulations have been published addressing the private rented sector in Northern Ireland. For the draft regulations on tenancy deposits, click here. For the explanatory memorandum on tenancy deposits, click here. For the draft regulations on landlord registration, click here. For the explanatory memorandum on landlord registration, click here.

Accessible housing: on 18 September 2012 the UK Government published Modelling the current and potential accessibility of the housing stock. This Building Research Establishment report considered the accessibility of the existing housing stock in England with particular reference to its utility for older and disabled people. The report identifies the frequency and suitability of a range of built features within homes to arrive at an overall assessment of their accessibility and future adaptability. For a copy, 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.

Buckland v United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 1710
18 September 2012

The applicant was a gypsy who had occupied a pitch on a council's gypsy and traveller site. Her licence to occupy was terminated. At the date that the claim for possession against her was heard, the county court could suspend the operation of a possession order but not refuse to make one. The court made an order suspended for the maximum period. The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights that she had not had an opportunity to ask the county court to decide whether her eviction was proportionate. The Court said that "the loss of one's home is the most extreme form of interference with the right to respect for the home. Any person at risk of an interference of this magnitude should in principle be able to have the proportionality of the measure determined by an independent tribunal in light of the relevant principles under Article 8 of the Convention, notwithstanding that, under domestic law, his right to occupation has come to an end" para [65]. That obligation was not met by simply empowering a court to suspend an eviction order. The court awarded 4000 euros compensation and 4000 euros costs. For the judgment, click here.

Moore v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government [2012] EWCA Civ 1202
18 September 2012

A building which had been used as a single dwelling for a large family started to be used by the owner for short term lets to holidaymakers. The local council served an enforcement notice based on the contention that the owner had changed the use of the building to use as commercial leisure accommodation. An appeal against the notice was dismissed by a planning inspector and by the High Court. The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal by the owner. Whether use of a property for holiday lets amounted to a change of class of planning use would be a question of fact and degree in each case. On the facts, the council had been entitled to serve the enforcement notice.

Health & Safety Executive v Liane Dewsbury
12 September 2012

Lichfield District Council asked the defendant, a private landlord, to produce gas safety certificates for boilers at two properties she rented out. The certificates were not produced. The HSE served two Improvement Notices requiring her to arrange for a competent gas fitter to carry out an inspection of the gas appliances in the two premises and produce a certificate for both. When she failed to comply, the HSE prosecuted. At South Walls Magistrates' Court the defendant pleaded guilty to breaching section 33(1)(g) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,209. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Sinclair Garden Investments (Kensington) Ltd v 31 Croydon Road Ltd [2012] UKUT 310 (LC)
10 September 2012

Five identical leases of flats in a block of flats contained rent review provisions which included a proviso that stipulated that it was "being made so as to comply with the requirements of Section 78 of the Housing Act 1980". The question arose as to what the effect on the proviso was after section 78 had been repealed. Allowing an appeal from a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT), the Upper Tribunal held that if section 78 were to be repealed in relation to the subject leases (as has happened), it no longer needed to be complied with so that the proviso was spent and should be ignored for the remainder of the lease. For the full judgment, click here.

Birmingham City Council v Abdul Jabber, Azrah Begum and Gul Bahar
29 August 2012

The defendants were private landlords. A fire occurred at the property they rented. Following the fire, council officers inspected the property and found that it had not been properly maintained e.g. several smoke detectors were still covered in their original wrappings. The landlords were prosecuted for their failure to maintain the property in accordance with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation regulations. All three defendants pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates' Court and were fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay costs totalling £3,814. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Ala v Angus Council [2012] CSOH 135
24 August 2012

The claimant was a young male Nigerian who had overstayed his visa. The council decided he was over 18 and not entitled to accommodation and other assistance. The Court of Session conducted a fact-finding judicial review and determined that, as at the date of assessment, the claimant had been a child aged 16 or 17 and therefore entitled to assistance. The judgment contains a useful explanation of the way the law is applied on the issue of age assessment in Scotland and deals with both procedure and the assessment of expert evidence. For the judgment, click here.

R v Tariq Zaman
13 August 2012

The defendant was the private landlord of housing accommodation let to students. At the end of the lettings he failed, without explanation, to return tenants' deposits. When sued, he failed to satisfy judgments. The police prosecuted for 18 offences of theft of the deposits (each ranging from £200-£300) amounting to about £5,000 in total. The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 46 weeks imprisonment (suspended) and 150 hours of unpaid work. His case was remitted to the Leeds Crown Court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The Court made a confiscation order requiring payment in 14 days with 12 months imprisonment in default. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] September Legal Action 17
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Gypsy and Traveller law update
M. Willers and others
[2012] September Legal Action 23

Right to Buy market reinvigorated
C. Ward
[2012] 1238 Estates Gazette 88

Housing Law Events

This week

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.

28 September 2012
Current & Future Issues in Housing Law
A Conference in Bristol
For the details, click here.

Autumn 2012

11 October 2012
Preventing illegal evictions in Hackney
An afternoon workshop at Hackney Town hall
For the details, Email Miranda@hclc.org.uk

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.

19 October 2012
Anti-Social Behaviour & Social Housing Conference 2012
A Lime Legal conference in London
For the details, click here.

31 October 2012
Tackling tenancy fraud
A Conference in London
For the details, click here.

1 November 2012
On the Streets
Garden Court Chambers Film Festival
For 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.

Garden Court Chambers Film Festival

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to present a series of six thought-provoking films this autumn. Each film explores different human rights issues connected with our work. Each film screening will be followed by a panel discussion, films will be showing from Friday 5 October until Friday 9 November, click here for more information.

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