Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 290 - 26 November 2012

Monday 26 November 2012

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*** THIS WEEK'S IMPORTANT NEWS****
The third edition of the Housing Allocation and Homelessness book written by Liz Davies and Jan Luba QC is published this week. For information on how to get the book, click here. The very first copies will be issued to delegates attending the three seminars that Jan and Liz are leading this week in Manchester, Birmingham and London. It may still be possible to get tickets for those sessions. Details are given in the "Events" section below.

The Latest Housing Law News

Priority in Housing Allocation: the final pieces of the legal jigsaw needed to underpin new housing allocation schemes for local councils have almost completed their parliamentary passage. The new regulations, requiring "additional preference" to be given to certain members of the armed forces, have been described as ensuring that those from the armed forces with more urgent housing needs are "always given the highest priority". For that statement by the Secondary Legislation Committee, click here. The regulations were approved by the House of Lords Grand Committee on 20 November 2012. For that debate, click here. Likewise by the Commons General Committee on 22 November 2012. For that debate, click here. The final regulations are expected to be published and come into force later this week.

Private rented sector and welfare reform: the Pro-Housing Alliance has just published Poor homes, poor health: to eat or to heat -private sector tenant choices in 2012. The report concludes that the UK Government should be doing more to assess the public health impacts of the welfare reforms, particularly as cutting one budget which merely reflects the high cost of housing (housing benefit), increases demands on other budgets such as GPs in the NHS. For the full report, click here.

Social housing sector and welfare reform: the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has just published its review of the likely impacts of Universal Credit on low income working households. For a copy of their report, click here.

Teenagers in Bed & Breakfast accommodation: notwithstanding statutory guidance to the contrary, it is believed that a number of housing authorities and children's services authorities are still using B&B to accommodate 16 and 17 year old young single people. Advisers able to provide examples of this practice should contact the Young People's Programme Development Consultant at the Law Centres Network by clicking here. holly@lawcentres.org.uk

Discrimination and housing: those who believe they have been unfairly or unlawfully discriminated against in relation to housing and other services have been able to access a new advisory service since October 2012. The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) is funded to provide information advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues to individuals in England, Scotland and Wales. For more details, click here.

Splitting homeless families: it is sometimes suggested that local housing authorities are splitting large homeless households into separate units of temporary or permanent housing accommodation. Shelter would be interested to hear from advisers about any cases in which this has actually happened. To report a case example, click here. Jo_underwood@shelter.org.uk

Homelessness advice: the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) is keen to expand its provision to both national and local advice providers, both in the voluntary and statutory sectors. For further information about their services for both local housing authorities and advice agencies, click here.

Right to Buy: last week the UK Government published a new on-line version of the Form RTB2 to be used by social landlords who are responding to right to buy claims. For the new webpage, click here.

Tenants' Guide: solicitor Tessa Shepperson has just published her new Emergency First Aid Kit for tenants faced with repossession. For more details, click here.

Affordable Housing: on 16 November 2012 the UK Government published the latest information on the numbers of new affordable homes either started or completed in London and across the rest of England. For the new data, click here.

Mobile Homes: a dedicated web page has been established on the new Gov.UK website to bring together all the latest information and materials about improving protection of the rights of those occupying mobile homes. For the link, click here.

Housing and older people: in a new report published last week, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People has highlighted the benefits of improved housing options for older people. The Group has made a series of recommendations to create movement in the housing market, improve the health of older people and provide new housing options for younger people and families. 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.

Macdonald v Price Waterhouse Coopers [2012] EWHC (Admin), [2012] All ER (D) 275 (Nov)
22 November 2012
The claimant lived in the London Borough of Havering. The defendants were the council's auditors. The claimant considered that there were two unlawful items in the council's accounts relating to income from service charges levied on long leaseholders in respect of (1) buildings insurance and (2) communal satellite television services. The auditors declined to take action under the Audit Commission Act 1998 and the claimant appealed. The High Court dismissed the appeal. The defendants had given cogent reasons for declining to act on the complaints and their conclusion was neither unreasonable nor unlawful. [For the earlier judgment of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) on the communal satellite TV aerial, click here.]

Slater v Condappa [2012] EWCA Civ 1506
22 November 2012

The defendant owned a flat. The claimant formed a relationship with the defendant. She moved out of her council home to live with him in the flat. Later, when the relationship broke down, she claimed the whole of, or a share of, the beneficial interest in the flat. The judge rejected her claim. He found the case turned on the credibility of the evidence of the two parties about what they had said and done in relation to the flat. The defendant's credibility had been undermined by the fact that she had deceived the benefit authorities and the social landlord into believing that she still lived in her former council home. The claim was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. For the judgment, click here.

Maxwell Brent Wildsmith v Arrowgame Ltd [2012] EWHC 3315 (Ch)
22 November 2012

The claimants were 12 lessees of a block of flats. They served notice of their statutory right to acquire the freehold from the defendant freehold owner. A judge made the acquisition order as sought. The defendant appealed contending that the notice given under Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 section 27 had been invalid. The High Court dismissed the appeal. The notice had given sufficient particulars to comply with the Act. The judgment contains a useful discussion of the level of detail required in a section 27 notice. For the judgment, click here.

Samin v City of Westminster [2012] EWCA Civ 1468
21 November 2012

The appellant was an Austrian citizen. He came to the UK in 2005 to work. After 10 months he lost his job and had not worked since. He applied as homeless to Westminster. It decided that he did not qualify for housing as an EU worker because he was not "temporarily unable to work". In light of his disabilities, he was (it found) unlikely to work again. That decision was upheld on review and an appeal to the county court was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal. The reviewing officer had applied the right test. The question was whether there was a realistic prospect of a return to work. That was to be resolved as an issue of fact.

Favor Easy Management Ltd v Wu [2012] EWCA Civ 1464
21 November 2012

Two adjoining properties in London were bought by two overseas registered companies. The purchase monies were provided by Mr Lee, a very wealthy businessman. The purchases were arranged by Ms Wu. She claimed that she had been in a relationship with Mr Lee and that he had made a gift of the properties to her. A judge accepted her evidence and declared that she was the legal and beneficial owner of both properties. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The judge's findings on fact and on the credibility of the witnesses would not be disturbed. For the judgment, click here.

Campbell v Daejan Properties Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1503
20 November 2012

Daejan was the landlord under a lease which, by its covenants to repair and for the payment of service charges, referred to the "premises". It contended that the provisions should be read as substituting the word "house" for "premises". No application was made for rectification. Instead, it invited the court to grant a declaration that, on a true construction, the word 'premises' should be read as meaning 'house'. The High Court agreed but the tenant appealed. Allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal said that it was far from clear that there had been a mistake in drafting. The wording used did not produce a result which was commercially nonsensical. Therefore the lease had to be construed using its actual wording. For the judgment, click here.

Akhtar v Hussain [2012] EWCA Civ, [2012] All ER (D) 225 (Nov)
20 November 2012

The claimant and defendant bought a property in their joint names and occupied it as their matrimonial home. Four years later, the wife left taking some of the children. The husband remained in the home with the other children. He said that when his wife had left she had renounced her share of the ownership and value of the home. Later she sought an order for sale and division of the proceeds. The judge rejected the husband's case as to what had been said about giving-up the wife's share. He made an order for sale but deferred it until the youngest son of the family, still living in the home, had reached 18.He ordered the husband to pay an occupational rent of £350 per month until the property was sold. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against the order for sale bur reduced the occupation rent having regard to the fact that the husband was not only an occupier of, but joint owner of, the home.

Lacatus v Romania [2012] ECHR1924
13 November 2012

The applicant was a Roma of Romanian nationality. In 1993 her home was attacked by a mob of non-Roma villagers seeking revenge following a row in which a non-Roma man had been killed. The applicant had been pregnant at the time. Her father, brother and partner were beaten to death by the mob. She was driven from her home. She complained that, among other matters, the state authorities had not intervened to provide her with alternative accommodation and that as a result she had lived in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions. The European Court of Human Rights found violations of Articles 3, 6, 8 and 14 and awarded payment of 17,000 euros. For the judgment, click here.

Haringey LBC v Andrew Pakkos and Cybergate Developments
26 October 2012

The defendant and his company owned two houses. He converted both properties so as to produce a total of 13 self-contained flats which he then let out. The conversions were carried out without planning permission and in breach of planning controls. The council served enforcement notices requiring that the houses be restored. When they were not, the council prosecuted for breach of the notices. The defendants pleaded guilty in respect of one property and were found guilty in respect of the other by Haringey Magistrates Court. Both the defendants were fined £500 each and the court sent the case to the Crown Court to consider making a 'proceeds of crime' order. The Wood Green Crown Court made such an order requiring the defendant to pay £141,000 of the profits he had made from the lettings. If payment is not made within six months, two years imprisonment will be served in default. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] November Legal Action 19
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Landlord & Tenant Update
T. Shepperson
[2012] 156 Solicitors Journal Issue 44 p27

Gatekeeping in times of austerity
G. Peaker
[2012] 15 Journal of Housing Law 107

Gatekeeping: lessons from the Birmingham cases
Z. Nabi
[2012] 15 Journal of Housing Law 109

Does the Localism Act 2011 restrict access to social housing
S. Stephens
[2012] 15 Journal of Housing Law 114

Gatekeeping administrative justice: homelessness internal reviews
D. Cowan et al
[2012] 15 Journal of Housing Law 122

Why social landlords should provide fully furnished properties
S. Doran
[2012] Guardian Housing Network, 20 November
For a copy of the article, click here.

A tight time frame
(commentary on Havering LBC v Smith)
E. Fuller
[2012] 23 November Inside Housing 27
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

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.

Next Month

5 December 2012
After the possession order: set aside or appeal?
An evening seminar in London for HLPA members
For the details, click here.

6 December 2012
Social housing: shaping an Allocations policy
A White Paper Company conference
For the details, click here.

7 December 2012
Housing management: law and practice
A Lime Legal conference in London
For the details, click here.

11 December 2012
Housing Law Conference
Annual conference of HLPA in London
For the details, click here.

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