Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 284 – 15 October 2012

Monday 15 October 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing and anti-social behaviour: on 8 October 2012 the UK Government announced that local councils have committed to start work with 41,835 problem families across England by the end of this financial year under the Troubled Families Framework. The Department for Communities and Local Government has paid out £111m in the first round of payment-by-results attachment fees, which will allow local authorities to reorganise services and start working with those families. For the announcement, click here.

'Affordable' rent: the Commons Select Committee on Communities & Local Government has published its report examining the financial viability of the Affordable Homes Programme in the social housing sector. While welcoming the 80,000 homes due to be built under the Programme, the Committee had serious concerns about the impact of financing the higher rents scheme partly through Housing Benefit and on affordability for tenants. For the full report, click here.

Travellers: on 10 October 2012 the UK Government announced that local councils would be given greater powers to stop unauthorised traveller sites being set up and to end the use of such sites by issuing 'Temporary Stop Notices' (TSNs) in relation to caravans which are used as main residences and are in breach of planning control. TSNs enable councils to take immediate action against unauthorised development without having to wait three days for a Stop Notice, or 28 days for an Enforcement Notice, to come into effect but presently TSNs cannot be used against caravans which are main residences. Subject to the outcome of consultations, the Government proposes to lift that restriction. For the announcement, click here.

Homelessness: the Welsh Government is reviewing proposals to amend the statutory regime for homelessness assistance in Wales (which is presently the same scheme as that operating in England i.e. Housing Act 1996 Part 7). On 11 October 2012 it published a new report -Assessing the impacts of proposed changes to homelessness legislation in Wales: A report to inform the review of homelessness legislation in Wales - which contains an assessment by academics of the likely effects of the proposed changes. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing Advice: on 3 October 2012 the BBC reported that eight of Shelter's housing advice offices could shut due to government cuts in legal aid funding. The affected offices are Ashford, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gloucester, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Somerset. For more details, click here.

Tenants and Welfare Reform: the Making Best Use of the Stock Team at the Chartered institute of Housing has published a practice note on best practice for social landlords and benefit authorities over sharing information, to enable the former to deal with the impact of welfare reforms on 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.


Day v Hosebay Ltd; Howard de Walden Estates Ltd v Lexgorge Ltd [2012] UKSC 41

10 October 2012
The leaseholders of two properties served notices on their landlords under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 exercising statutory rights to acquire the freeholds or longer leases of the properties. Both buildings had originally been constructed as 'houses' but one was used as a self-catering hotel and the other as offices. The Supreme Court held that the Act did not apply because whatever the buildings had been constructed as, or were called, by the relevant date they were no longer 'houses'. For the judgment, click here.

R (Sunderland City Council) v South Tyneside Council [2012] EWCA Civ 1232
9 October 2012

The two councils could not agree which of them would be responsible for providing accommodation and other after-care services, pursuant to Mental Health Act 1983 section 117, for a young woman presently in a mental hospital but about to be discharged. Before being admitted for treatment, the young woman had lived in a hall of residence in Sunderland's area. In 2009 she was moved to a hospital in South Tyneside's area where she remained for two years before moving to a hospital in Sunderland's area. While she had been in South Tyneside, her place in the hall of residence in Sunderland had been ended. The Court of Appeal held that South Tyneside was the authority responsible for her after-care. The judgment gives guidance on how to decide which council has responsibility under the 1983 Act. For the judgment, click here.

Paratus AMC Ltd v Persons Unknown [2012] EWHC (Ch), Noted on LAWTEL.
5 October 2012

The claimant lender granted a mortgage in 2008 with which a property was bought. In December 2009 it was let by the owner, without the lender's consent. On mortgage arrears accruing, the lender sought and obtained an order for possession. The tenant appealed. She argued that the lender was bound by her tenancy because it had accepted payments she had made direct to the lender after it knew that she had become the tenant. The High Court dismissed the appeal. The evidence fell short of establishing that the lender had expressly or impliedly consented to being bound by the tenancy.

Pelipenko v Russia [2012] ECHR 1779
2 October 2012

In 1990 the applicant was granted the right to occupy two rooms in a building. In 2001, the owners of the building began possession proceedings. A court dismissed the claim and directed that the occupiers could not be evicted as they had established legal rights in the property. In 2010 new owners sought and obtained an order annulling the applicant's rights and requiring possession to be given. The applicant was evicted. The Supreme Court held that this decision had been wrong and allowed an appeal. But by the time the applicant could be reinstated, the new owners had removed the roof and windows and made the property uninhabitable. A Regional Court dismissed an application for an order that the new owner reinstate the premises. The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It held that there had been an infringement of the right to respect for the applicant's home (Article 8) because, as the Supreme Court's judgment showed, the eviction had not been in accordance with domestic law. For the judgment, click here.

Moray Council v Debdin [2012] ScotSC
28 September 2012

The defendant lived on remote land on which he kept a pack of 46 Alsatian dogs. His relationship with the dogs was such that he was effectively the pack leader. The nearest neighbours (living 670 yards away) complained of noise nuisance from the dogs barking. The council applied for an ASBO prohibiting the defendant from keeping any more than four dogs. The Sheriff dismissed the claim. The evidence did not establish that the defendant had caused alarm or distress or other anti-social behaviour. The neighbours had had an unreasonably low tolerance or an unreasonably high sensitivity to noise. There was no justification for any interference under Article 8 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998 with the defendant's - perhaps unusual - 'family life'. For the judgment, click here.

Litchfield District Council v David Dewsbury and Liane Dewsbury
12 September 2012

The defendants were private landlords. Without building regulations approval, they had converted a house into three separate units and let them. The house was therefore an HMO. On inspection, a council officer found that the property did not have gas or electrical safety certificates, working smoke alarms, safe fire escape routes, or windows that safely allowed escape if there was a fire. The emergency contact details of the person managing the property were also not displayed. The council served improvement notices for fire safety and, when they were not complied with, prosecuted for breach of the notices and non-compliance with the HMO Management Regulations. For failure to comply with the improvement notice for fire safety, Liane Dewsbury was fined £1,500 at Stafford magistrates' court and ordered to pay £1,238 towards the council's costs - a total of £2,738. For the details of the council's prosecution, click here. For the details of the parallel prosecution by the HSE in respect of gas safety issues at the property, see Housing Law Bulletin issue 281.

R(TJ) v Birmingham CC [2012] EWHC 2731 (Admin)
3 September 2012

The applicant applied to the council for homelessness assistance. The council decided that she was a person subject to immigration control and not eligible for such assistance. The applicant's solicitors applied for a review - and for accommodation pending that review - on the basis that one of her dependent children was an EU Citizen and that accordingly, in reliance on Zambrano v Office National de L'Emploi (ECJ) [2012] 2 WLR 886, the applicant was entitled to the provision of accommodation. The council declined to provide accommodation pending the review on the basis that no regulations had been made under Housing Act 1996 section 185(2) prescribing those with derived rights based on Zambrano as eligible, notwithstanding their being subject to immigration control. The applicant sought a judicial review on the basis that the effect of Zambrano was that the applicant was no longer subject to immigration control. The High Court refused a renewed application for permission to apply for judicial review because it did not follow that just because a person asserted that they enjoyed derived rights under Zambrano they were necessarily eligible and entitled to homelessness assistance. The council had directed itself in accordance with the Mohammed test in deciding not to accommodate pending review. (An appeal has been lodged in the Court of Appeal).

Liverpool Mutual Homes v Nugent [2012] EWCA CIv 1245
9 August 2012

Mr Nugent was an assured tenant. His landlord applied for possession on the grounds that there had been a breach of the terms of the tenancy. It relied on Grounds 12, 13 and 14 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1968. It alleged that the property was not kept in a clean condition, that Mr Nugent had allowed it to fall into disrepair, that there was waste and that there were various acts of nuisance. It relied in particular on complaints made by neighbours about the behaviour of Mr Nugent and about the condition of the property. In March 2012 a judge made an outright order for possession to be given in June 2012. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. Although Mr Nugent denied all the matters alleged against him, the judge had accepted that, on the evidence, the grounds were made out and had found it reasonable to order possession. In the absence of any error of law, the appeal had no prospect of success.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] October Legal Action 32
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Statutory succession or common law doctrine of survivorship?
(commentary on Solihull MBC v Hickin)
C. Johnson
[2012] 16 Landlord & Tenant Review p194

Landlord's liability to pay the council tax
O. Tassell
[2012] 16 Landlord & Tenant Review p201

Housing Law Events

This Week

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.

This Autumn

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 afternoon 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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