Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 292 - 10 December 2012

Monday 10 December 2012

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The Latest Housing Law News

Homelessness: the latest statistics on homelessness applications in England were released on 6 December 2012. They show that 13,890 applicants were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty between 1 July and 30 September 2012, 11% higher than during the same quarter of 2011. In consequence, the numbers in temporary accommodation on 30 September 2012 were 8% higher than at the same date in 2011. For the full statistics, click here.

Housing Fraud: the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 30 November 2012. For the debate, click here. For the latest version of the Bill, click here.

Social Housing Stock Transfer: a new report from the Building and Social Housing Foundation has made a series of recommendations for improving tenant involvement and engagement in issues about the transfer of rented social housing to new landlords. For a copy of the report, click here.

Mobile Homes: having completed its Commons Stages, the Mobile Homes Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 3 December 2012. For a copy of the latest version of the Bill, 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.

Carthew v Exeter CC [2012] EWCA Civ, [2012] All ER (D) 50 (Dec)
4 December 2012

The appellant and her partner jointly bought a home. In 2008 they separated and the partner left. He bought out the appellant's share. He then let the home to the appellant as tenant. Later, the appellant became homeless and applied to the council. It decided that she had become homeless intentionally because she had sold her share of the home in 2008. That decision was upheld on a review and in the county court on appeal. The Court of Appeal allowed a second appeal and quashed the review decision. The council had failed to address the question of whether it would have been reasonable for the appellant to have remained in occupation as joint owner in 2008 given her means at that time. The review decision would need to be retaken.

Tweedie v Souglides [2012] EWCA Civ 1546
4 December 2012

Mr and Mrs Souglides held the sub-lease of a flat. They entered into a deed of variation with their landlord to extend the premises let by the sub-lease to include a roof terrace. Later, an issue arose as to whether, after the deed of variation, the couple held the same legal interest in the flat as they had done before. The High Court decided that they did. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the freeholders who were asserting that they did not. It held that the deed of variation operated by way of surrender and re-grant (because it is not possible to vary an original lease by adding additional land into it). The couple therefore held under a new lease pursuant to that re-grant even if otherwise on the same terms as the previous lease. For the judgment, click here.

Arnold v Britton [2012] EWHC 3451(Ch)
3 December 2012

The claimant let chalets on a leisure park to the defendants. The leases required that the defendants pay an annual charge in a specified amount "as a proportionate part of the expenses and outgoings" incurred by the lessor. In the county court, a judge held that this was a variable service charge triggering the controls on such charges contained in the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 as amended. The High Court allowed the lessor's appeal. On a true construction, the charge was a fixed annual sum payable under the lease and not a service charge. For the judgment, click here.

Darlington BC v Mohammed Nazim Uddin

30 November 2012
The defendant owned a restaurant. On an inspection in 2011, council officers found people living both above and below the restaurant in squalid conditions without amenities or fire safety protection. It issued an Emergency Prohibition Notice to prevent the premises being occupied. When a subsequent inspection found residents still in occupation, the council prosecuted. The defendant was found guilty of breach of the notice at Darlington Magistrates' Court. He was fined £3000 and ordered to pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Mannion v Ginty [2012] EWCA Civ, [2012] All ER (D) 375 (Nov)
28 November 2012

The defendant had been a secure tenant. With money supplied by the claimant, she exercised the right to buy her home. Later, the claimant contended that there had been an agreement that the defendant would be allowed to live in the home rent free for three years and then would transfer the property to him. The defendant said the money had been a gift. The defendant failed to comply with directions containing an 'unless' order. Her defence was struck out and judgment was entered for the claimant. Later, he obtained an order for execution of a transfer. The defendant applied for permission to appeal but again failed to comply with an 'unless' order and her application was struck out. Her application for relief from sanctions was dismissed. She argued that in breach of her human rights under Articles 6 and 8 she was being deprived of her home by the court without any consideration of the proportionality of that occurring. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. Procedural sanctions were compliant with Article 6. The court had accorded 'respect' to her right to her home under Article 8 by taking account of the prospect of loss of it as a factor in evaluating whether she should have relief from sanctions.

Complaint against Newham Council
27 November 2012

The complainant lived with her sister. When her sister to her to leave, the complainant applied to Newham council for homelessness assistance. It offered her an appointment for an interview two months later. It failed to even consider providing interim accommodation for the complainant and her child. The Local Government Ombudsman found that the council had failed to comply with the Housing Act 1996 Part 7 and the Code of Guidance. She recommended £250 compensation, an apology, a backdating of a housing application to the date of the first approach, and a review of the council's handling of homelessness applications. For the investigation report, click here.

Wolverhampton CC v Shuttleworth [2012] EWHC (QB)
27 November 2012

The defendant was an introductory tenant. On a claim for possession, she took a point that the court had no jurisdiction. She alleged that the council had notified her of a right to a review of the decision to seek possession (which she had not exercised) but had required her to exercise that right by filling in one of its forms. A judge in the county court dismissed the possession claim. The High Court allowed the council's appeal. The legal requirement to notify the defendant of her right to a review had been met. The notice given had not been invalid. For more details of the appeal, click here.

Eaton Mansions (Westminster) Ltd v Stinger Compania de Inversion [2012] EWHC 3354 (Ch), [2012] All ER (D) 356 (Nov)
27 November 2012

The claimant company sought damages for trespass from the defendant. The trespass consisted of installing air conditioning equipment on the roof of a block of flats without the claimant's consent. It invited the court to award aggravated and exemplary damages in light of the flagrant conduct of the defendant. The High Court held that (1) aggravated damages were designed to compensate for distress and injury to feelings and that such damages were accordingly not payable to a company and (2) the conduct of the defendant had not been so outrageous as to reach the threshold for exemplary damages.

Various Occupiers v Abdul Kalam and Jahanara Begum
26 November 2012

The applicants were students who had occupied premises let by the defendants for the academic year 2011-2012. The defendants had been convicted and fined for letting the property without an HMO licence. The local council helped the students apply for a rent repayment order. The London Rent Assessment Panel of the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RPTS) made an order awarding six students £6,500 each - a total of £39,000. For more details of the award, click here.

Parker v Waller and others [2012] UKUT 301 (LC)
26 November 2012

A landlord let a house in multiple occupation without obtaining a licence. He was prosecuted, convicted and fined. The occupiers then applied for a rent repayment order and the Southern Rent Assessment Panel of the RPTS ordered total payment of £15,423 representing 100% of the rent they had paid. The landlord appealed. The Upper Tribunal held that the Panel had erred. Although the scheme provided that if the rent had been paid by housing benefit it had to be repaid in full in the absence of 'exceptional circumstances', the scheme allowed a wider discretion where the rent had been privately paid. The Upper Tribunal reduced the amount payable to 75% of the rent paid, less the costs and fine that the landlord had to pay. The total was reduced to less than £6000. For the full judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2012] December Legal Action 26
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Housing repairs update 2012
B. Prevatt
[2012] December Legal Action 11
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Tackling the rule in Hammersmith & Fulham v Monk - in theory and in practice: Part 1
I. Loveland
[2012] European Human Rights Review 629

Bringing up the arrears
(tackling rent arrears after welfare reforms)
K. Kirkbride
[2012] 27 November Local Government Lawyer
For a copy of the article, click here.

Zambrano carers - so near and yet so far
D. Broatch
[2012] 4 December Local Government Lawyer
For a copy of the article, click here.

Improving the law on residential service charges
J. Bates
[2012] December Legal Action 17

Quiet enjoyment?
A. Arden, R. Chan and S. Madge-Wyld
[2012] December Legal Action 23

A judicial chink?
(commentary on Southend v Armour)
[2012] 162 New Law Journal 1524

Rules of eviction
(commentary on Thurrock v West)
[2012] 7 December Inside Housing 42
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Books

Housing Allocation and Homelessness (Third Edition) by Liz Davies and Jan Luba QC was published last month. For information on how to get the book, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

10 December 2012
Asylum support: Current Issues and Judicial Review challenges
An ILPA seminar in London
For the details, click here.

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

Next Year

24 January 2013
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group training event
For the details, click here.

1 February 2013
Using the Private Rented Sector for the Homeless
Conference in London from Lime Legal
For the details, click here.

13 March 2013
Public Sector Housing Law Conference
Annual conference in London from Jordan Publishing
For the details, click here.

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