Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 283 – 8 October 2012

Monday 8 October 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Fire hazards in private lets: on 2 October 2012 the London Fire Brigade (LFB) released figures on the numbers of fires in occupied properties which should not be being used for human habitation. The statistics show that over the last three years there were 235 fires in buildings that appeared to have people living in them when they should not have been. These have caused four deaths and 45 serious injuries. The LFB has identified the signs of unauthorised occupation that residents should report to local councils. For more information, click here.

Homelessness: on 1 October 2012 the Scottish Government issued the latest figures on applications made for homelessness assistance to local authorities in Scotland. The figures show that over 10,000 applications were made in the second quarter of 2012. Of those, 93% of homeless applicants were in priority need. For the full statistics, click here. For a House of Commons Library analysis of the homelessness figures in England, published earlier this year, click here.

Under-occupation in social housing: the October 2012 issue of Housing Benefit Direct reminds local authorities that they should by now be "well underway" in preparing for benefit restrictions in April 2013 for working age households under-occupying in the social rented sector. For a copy of the publication, click here.

Tenants and Universal Credit: the DWP has published a special issue of Housing Benefit Direct dedicated to explaining how the Universal Credit will be rolled-out and what it means for tenants. 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.


Colchester BC v Pryke [2012] EWCA Civ, [2012] All ER (D) 38 (Oct)
3 October 2012

The defendant owned an unoccupied plot of land. She was made bankrupt. The land passed to the trustee in bankruptcy. The defendant and her family were then forced to leave their private rented accommodation. They began living on the land in tents and started to construct a cesspit. The council, as planning authority, was granted an injunction preventing development of the land, the erection of any structure or the bringing of mobile homes onto the land. The family then brought three touring caravans onto the land and occupied them. A judge found that the injunction had been breached and imposed suspended prison sentences. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal and rejected arguments (1) that the caravans were not mobile homes and (2) that there had been a failure to consider the defendant's human rights.

R v Jay Allen and Razwan Mohammed
27 September 2012

Mr Allen was a private landlord. His tenant accrued rent arrears. Without giving notice or seeking a possession order, Mr Allen and his friend Mr Mohammed forcibly evicted the tenant. After a four day trial, at Sheffield Crown Court, the defendants were convicted of unlawful eviction contrary to the Prevention of Eviction Act 1977. Allen was sentenced to nine months immediate imprisonment. Mohammed was given a six month suspended prison term and a seven day tagged curfew was imposed. For further details of the prosecution, click here.

Birmingham CC v Keddie [2012] UKUT 323 (LC)
25 September 2012

The council undertook a major works scheme on a block of flats, involving replacement of windows. Two leaseholders complained that the work undertaken was of such poor standard that the service charges imposed to pay for the work were unreasonable. They applied to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT). The LVT decided, following an inspection, that the windows had not required replacement and that no service charge was recoverable. The Upper Tribunal allowed the council's appeal. The LVT ought not to have embarked on an enquiry as to whether the work done constituted 'repair' because the point had not been raised. The judge said: "It is regrettable that it appears to be a developing practice within some leasehold valuation tribunals to take it upon itself to identify issues which are of no concern to the parties and then reach a decision on issues they have not been asked to which then results in an appeal and all the waste of time and money and attendant general aggravation." For the full judgment, click here.

Crosspite Ltd v Sachdev [2012] UKUT 321 (LC)
25 September 2012

A landlord discovered that a leasehold flat had been sublet without permission being sought as required by the lease. It invited an application for permission and charged £165 for its reasonable costs of granting permission. The leaseholder claimed that the charge was unreasonably high and applied to an LVT. It disallowed any charge, holding that none was recoverable under the lease. The Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal. The issue of whether any charge was recoverable had not been before the LVT and ought not to have been determined. In any event, the landlord was free to impose a reasonable condition for the giving of consent and that could include the recovery of its reasonable costs as such a condition. No reasons had been given as to why £165 was unreasonable for retrospective consent. For the full judgment, click here.

Luton Borough Council v Samuel Jackson and Elizabeth Mahia
20 September 2012

The defendants applied to the council as homeless. They said they had been given notice by their landlord to leave their private rented accommodation in Ireland when the landlord defaulted on the mortgage. They gave a false address for the property and a false name for the landlord. The council traced the real landlord who denied that he had required them to leave. The council prosecuted and the defendants pleaded not guilty to offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and the Housing Act 1996. After a trial, they were convicted at Luton Magistrates' Court. Each defendant received a sentence of 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months, together with 100 hours unpaid work. The defendants were also each ordered to pay £500 towards the council's costs. For further details of the prosecution, click here.

Shetland Islands Council v Hassan and Leask
3 September 2012

The defendants were joint tenants of a council house. A police search produced evidence of unlawful drug use and supply. Hassan was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment. Leask had not been involved. The council applied for possession. They said that they intended, if possession was granted, to grant the sole tenancy to Leask. The court found that although Hassan would have no accommodation on leaving prison and was a 'reformed character', it was reasonable for possession to be granted. For the judgment, click here.

R v Pettigrew [2012] EWCA Crim 1998
7 August 2012

The defendant applied for, and obtained, a mortgage of £200,000. The money was used to clear debts. Repayments were made and were up to date. His application for the loan had stated that he was employed by a company and earned over £40,000 per annum. In fact, the company had ceased to trade and the defendant had no income from it. He failed to notify the benefit authorities of his application for the loan, or receipt of it, and was overpaid £46,000 in benefit. On a guilty plea to obtaining the loan by deception and failure to disclose changed circumstances to the benefit authorities he was sentenced to 32 months immediate imprisonment. The Court of Appeal held that such a sentence was not manifestly excessive.

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.

A hostel environment
(council hostels as interim accommodation)
D. Thomas
[2012] 5 October Inside Housing p32
To read the article, click here.

Law means squat
(commentary on the new offence)
B. Adams
[2012] October Inside Housing Legal Supplement p30
To read the article, click here.

No way through
('gatekeeping' and homelessness)
K. Youde
[2012] October Inside Housing Legal Supplement p5
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

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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