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Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 285 – 22 October 2012

Monday 22 October 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Last gasp on Legal Aid and Housing: at 12 noon today (22 October 2012) the deadline expires for the submission by housing lawyers and other housing advisers of bids for the new contracts to give LSC-funded legal aid, advice and assistance in Housing matters from April 2013. The same deadline applies to the 42 contracts available to operate county court duty schemes for housing possession cases. For more details of the deadline, click here.

Homelessness and the private rented sector: the provisions enabling local housing authorities to perform the main homelessness duty by offering private rented sector tenancies will come into force on Friday 9 November 2012. The change will NOT apply to people who have applied as homeless on or before 8 November 2012 and who are, on that date, being provided with accommodation in performance of a council's duties (e.g. the provision of interim accommodation pending a decision on their application). For the commencement order, click here. A local authority can only use the new power to offer "suitable" private sector accommodation. New regulations specify which matters, including location, a council must take into account before making a private rented sector offer. For those regulations, click here. For the explanatory memorandum summarising them, click here.

Homelessness and eligibility: the decision of the European Court of Justice in the Zambrano gave certain EU nationals the right to reside in the UK while their children were being educated here. From 8 November 2012 new EEA regulations and new Eligibility regulations take effect in England. The EEA Amendment Regulations confer rights of residence and entry on the primary carer of a British citizen who is residing in the UK where the denial of such a right would prevent the British citizen from being able to reside in the UK or in an EEA State. The Eligibility Amendment Regulations add persons with this right of residence to the categories of persons who are ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation or housing assistance under regulations 4 and 6 of the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006. For the EEA Amendment regs, click here. For the Eligibility Amendment regs, click here.

Homelessness and mortgage arrears: the UK Government's special advisers have produced a useful information and advice guide for local housing authorities dealing with threatened homelessness among mortgage defaulters. For a copy of Preventing Repossession Fund 2011/12 Guidance and Example Templates, click here.

New Housing Ombudsman Scheme: from April 2013 a new Housing Ombudsman Scheme will govern complaints made about social housing management in respect of all types of social landlords (especially, councils and housing associations). The draft scheme has just been published for comment. For the consultation paper, click here. For the draft scheme itself, click here. Responses should be made by 15 December 2012.

Mobile Home Sites: on 19 October 2012 the Mobile Homes Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons. The Bill is backed by the UK Government and will improve the rights of residents on mobile home park sites. For the Bill, click here. For the announcement of the government commitment to support it, click here.For the summary of consultation responses on the measures in the Bill, click here.

Social Housing Fraud: the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill enters its Committee Stage in the House of Commons this week. For the Bill, click here. For a briefing paper on it, click here. For the amendments scheduled for debate in Committee, click here.

Social Housing Rents: the Chartered Institute of Housing and the housing association L&Q have jointly published a discussion paper exploring the issues around setting sub-market rents in social housing. For a copy of the paper, 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.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council v Armour [2012] EWHC (Admin) noted on LAWTEL
18 October 2012

Mr Armour was granted an introductory tenancy in January 2011. Within the first few weeks, there were complaints of him being abusive to a neighbour, a council officer and contractors. The council gave notice of intention to seek possession. The decision to serve notice was upheld on review and possession proceedings were issued in June 2011. After repeated adjournments (including the need to address issues of mental capacity and to secure the appointment of a litigation friend), the claim was tried in March 2012. The judge held that, in the light of all the circumstances, including the absence of any further incidents since March 2011, it would not be proportionate to order possession having regard to the tenant's right to respect for his home (Article 8). For her judgment, click here. The council appealed. The High Court rejected the appeal. It decided that the judge had properly balanced all aspects of the case and that her judgment provided a 'model' judgment on deciding issues of proportionality in possession claims. For a discussion of the implication of the High Court's judgment, click here.

Braithwaite v Secretary of State for Communities [2012] EWHC 2835 (Admin)
18 October 2012

Mr Braithwaite owned a house in Enfield which was empty and in very poor condition. The council made a compulsory purchase order under the Housing Act 1985 section 17 to acquire the house and sell it to a housing association or private landlord to restore and let. After an inquiry, the Secretary of State confirmed the order. The High Court rejected a challenge to that decision. The fact that the house was not "empty" for the purposes of use of the EDMO powers was irrelevant. Although the owner's human rights were engaged by the making of the order, the use of the statutory powers by the council had been proportionate action. For the judgment, click here.

Ali v Wandsworth LBC [2012] EWCA Civ 1337
18 October 2012

The claimant needed to travel abroad to see relatives. She ended her private sector tenancy and used the refunded deposit money to meet the air fare. When she returned to the UK, she had no funds and applied to the council for homelessness assistance. It decided that she had become homeless intentionally. A judge dismissed an appeal from that decision. The Court of Appeal refused the claimant's application for permission to bring a second appeal. While it may have been correct that the claimant was mistaken, in good faith, about her entitlement to continuing housing benefit during a temporary absence, that was irrelevant to her deliberate act in terminating the tenancy which had been motivated by the need to obtain the return of the deposit. For the judgment, click here.

Brent LBC v Salah Ali
25 September 2012

In breach of planning controls, and without planning permission, the defendant, a private landlord, converted a single house into 12 units and rented them out. The council's planning enforcement team brought a prosecution for the breach of planning legislation. The defendant was fined £4000. The council then applied to the Crown Court for a confiscation order to recover the proceeds of the crime - the rents the defendant had received. The judge, sitting at Norwich Crown Court, made an order for payment of £1,438,000 within six months with a prison sentence of 10 years in default of payment. The landlord's assets were frozen pending payment and he was also ordered to pay the council's costs of nearly £35,000. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Collins v Secretary of State for Communities [2012] EWHC 2835 (Admin)
19 September 2012

A group of 78 travellers established a caravan site on agricultural land. Their application for planning permission was refused. An enforcement notice was served requiring the site to be cleared. The claimant appealed against both the refusal of permission and the notice. A planning inspector dismissed the appeals and his recommendations were accepted by the Secretary of State. The High Court dismissed further appeals. The primary point for the claimant was that, contrary to the decision in ZH(Tanzania), the interests of the children on site had not been treated as a primary consideration. The judge held that the requirement to consider such interests was one of substance not form. The inspector's report had thoroughly considered the personal circumstances and accommodation needs of all those on site, including the children. For the judgment, click here.

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.

Housing Law Events

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.

13 November 2012
Allocation, Homelessness & social housing management after the Localism Act 2011
An evening seminar with Jan Luba QC in Coventry
For the details, Email Emmett Maginn.

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

20 November 2012
Human rights defences to possession claims
An evening seminar with Jan Luba QC in Nottingham
For the details, Email Cheryl Weston.

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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