Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 282 – 1 October 2012

Monday 1 October 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

New Judicial Officers: this morning (1 October 2012) Lord Neuberger was sworn-in as a Justice of the UK Supreme Court and as its new President. For the details, click here. Lord Dyson was sworn-in as the new Master of the Rolls. Chris Grayling MP took his oath of office as Lord Chancellor.

Court Procedures: today (1 October 2012) new rules come into force for the handling of housing and other cases in the civil courts. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) have been amended to introduce a new rule 81 addressing contempt of court and including new arrangements for committal e.g. for breach of an injunction. For a copy of the amending regulations, click here. The Practice Directions which accompany the CPR have also been extensively amended. PD52 dealing with Appeals has been replaced by five new practice directions (PD52A-E) and a new PD81 has been introduced to supplement the new CPR 81. For a copy of these new Practice Directions, click here.

Evictions: on 27 September 2012 the court statistics for the second quarter of 2012 were published. They show that, over those three months, 30,740 warrants of possession were issued to repossess properties and there were 13,194 actual repossessions made by county court bailiffs. 4,846 of those evictions were on behalf of mortgage lenders. For the full statistical report, click here.

Housing and support: on 17 September 2012 ministers from the DWP told the House of Commons Work & Pensions Select Committee that the government had decided that housing costs for "exempt accommodation" would not be met through the Universal Credit system but would instead continue to be met (in the short term) broadly as now. In the longer term, a "localised funding system" would be developed, subject to feasibility. For the minister's evidence, click here. For a briefing on this development from Support Solutions, click here.

Decent Homes Standard in England: on 28 September 2012 the UK Government confirmed the earlier Budget announcement of £982.7million in allocations to be shared among 41 local authorities to tackle non-decent homes for the years 2013/14 and 2014/15. For the announcement, click here. For a table showing distribution of the £443million being allocated through the Homes and Communities to council landlords across England, click here. The Greater London Authority will distribute £540million to councils in the capital.

Council tax on empty homes: the Local Government Finance Bill includes provisions that will allow a billing authority to charge an empty homes premium on empty dwellings. Individual billing authorities will design their own schemes for applying the premium in their local area including the circumstances in which it may be charged, and the level at which it will be set. On 28 September 2012 the government announced that it considered that there are circumstances in which it would be inappropriate for the premium to apply. It has launched a consultation on possible exemptions which closes on 9 November 2012. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Housing for ex-offenders: on 19 September 2012 the organisation Crisis released a new report that provides guidance and help to offender managers and supervisors as to how they can best support offenders to get homes in the private rented sector. For a copy of the report, 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 v Alex Haigh, Michelle Blake and Anthony Ismond
27 September 2012

On 2 September 2012 the three defendants were discovered squatting in a Pimlico flat owned by a housing association. They were prosecuted for the offence of squatting in a residential building contrary to section 144 of the Legal Aid, etc Act 2012, which had come into force on 1 September 2012. The section applies to squatters who entered premises before the Act came into effect as well as subsequent entrants. All three pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court. They appear to have been unrepresented. Haigh was sentenced to 12 weeks immediate imprisonment. Blake was remanded in custody to await sentence. Ismond was fined £100 and was recalled to prison for breach of his licence conditions. For further details, click here.

Vojtechova v Slovakia [2012] ECHR 1757
25 September 2012

A housing cooperative brought possession proceedings against a tenant for non-payment of rent. The Civil Code provided that a tenancy should not be terminated by a court where a tenant was "in material need" and that situation was not their fault. The tenant (and her daughter, her live-in carer) defended the case on the basis that she was disabled, in financial need and could not pay the rent. The district court made a possession order which was upheld by all the domestic appeal courts. The daughter complained to the European Court of Human Rights that the courts had not addressed the defence raised. The Court said that an aspect of the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the Convention was that a judicial tribunal or court should give reasons for its decision. In this case, the courts had failed to give reasons engaging with the statutory defence raised. The court awarded 3000 euros compensation and 1400 euros costs. For the judgment, click here.

Salford City Council v Jamsheed Kamali
21 September 2012

In November 2009 the council introduced selective licensing under Housing Act 2004 requiring private landlords in its Broughton district to obtain licences. The defendant landlord owned 20 properties in that district. The council reminded him to apply for licences but he failed to do so until he received a summons in criminal proceedings brought by the council. At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester he pleaded guilty to 20 offences of operating flats without a landlord's licence. He was fined £500 per offence, a total of £10,000, ordered to pay £5,000 towards legal costs and warned that default on payment of the fine could result in six months imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here.

R(Carney) v Bolton-at-Home Limited [2012] EWHC 2553 (Admin)
6 August 2012

The claimant had lived with her mother in a house rented from Bolton council. In 2009 they were evicted for anti-social behaviour on grounds that included the misconduct of the claimant herself. In 2011 the defendant took a transfer of the council's stock and also took over the management of the allocation of properties under the council's housing allocation scheme. The claimant bid for a property under the Homes for Bolton choice based letting arrangements and was the highest ranked bidder for a house owned by the defendant landlord in the district in which the former family home had been situated. The defendant bypassed the claimant for an offer of the property relying on a provision of the scheme enabling such a bypass to apply to "a customer previously evicted for anti-social behaviour being rehoused in the same area as the behaviour took place, even if the customer is now suitable to be rehoused". The claimant sought judicial review of that decision which had been upheld on an internal review. The High Court dismissed the claim. It rejected a contention that the bypass provision only applied to a former tenant. It was capable of being read as applying to any person who had engaged in anti-social conduct. The decision had been taken lawfully. For the judgment, 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.

Move away from home
(Article 8 defences and private landlords)
J. Bates
[2012] 28 September Inside Housing p27
To read the article, click here.

A novel approach
(Injunctions to prevent occupations)
J. Holbrook
[2012] 28 September Inside Housing p27
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

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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