Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 294 – 7 January 2013

Monday 7 January 2013

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Housing Law News

Council housing: on 20 December 2012 the UK Government published the latest statistical data on council housing in England. The figures reveal a continuing decline in the size of the council housing stock and in the number of lettings. However, the number of applicants on waiting lists has continued to grow. For a summary of the annual statistics, click here.

Social housing allocation: on 20 December 2012 the UK Government published the latest statistical data on lettings of social housing in England by councils and housing associations. The figures show that there were 266,000 general needs lettings in 2011/2012 - a 1% decrease from 269,000 in 2010/2011. This has been caused by a fall in the number of local authority lettings from 117,000 to 113,000 households, whilst the number of housing association lettings has increased from 151,000 to 153,000. For the full annual statistics, click here.

Housing and welfare reform: on 20 December 2012 the Department for Work and Pensions announced that the universal introduction of the £500pw benefit cap would be deferred from April 2013 to the summer of 2013. Instead, it will initially be implemented from 15 April 2013 only in the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. For the DWP announcement, click here. For the regulations which enable Housing Benefit to be restricted by reference to the benefit cap, click here.

Gypsies and travellers: at present a 'temporary stop notice' cannot be served by a planning authority in England where the unauthorised use of land is placement of an occupied caravan. On 27 December 2012 the UK Government launched a consultation designed to remove the prohibition. For the consultation paper, click here. Responses are sought by 13 February 2013.

Rent and mortgage arrears: on 4 January 2013 the charity Shelter released the results of a new YouGov survey indicating that the number of people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage each month has increased by 44% over the past year, to 7.8 million people. For the news release, 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.

Hughes v Secretary of State [2012] EWHC 3743 (Admin)
21 December 2012

Two gypsy/traveller families set up their homes on a privately-owned plot of land. They had no planning permission to do so. The council took enforcement action. An application for planning permission was refused. An appeal to an inspector, seeking either permanent or temporary permission, was rejected. The High Court dismissed an appeal. The inspector had treated the best interests of the children of the families as a primary consideration but had been entitled to find them outweighed by deficiencies in highway access to the site and by the adverse impact on character and appearance of the area. For the full judgment, click here.

R(Cornwall Council) v Secretary of State [2012] EWHC 3739 (Admin)
21 December 2012

A disabled young man had been provided with accommodation under Children Act 1989 section 20. When he reached 18, the local authorities for the areas in which he had been accommodated could not agree which of them was responsible for accommodating him as an adult under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. They asked the secretary of state to decide the issue under the 1948 Act section 32 procedure. That decision was then challenged in judicial review proceedings. The High Court dismissed the claim. The secretary of state's decision would stand. The judgment contains useful guidance on which coulcil bears responsibility when a child turns 18. For the judgment, click here.

Johnson v County Bideford Ltd [2012] UKUT 457 (LC)
17 December 2012

A landlord served lessees with a demand for service charges. The demand failed to give the name and address of the landlord (instead, naming the managing agent). The landlord subsequently issued further demands giving the correct details. The Upper Tribunal held that invalidity in a notice arising from non-compliance with Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 section 47 could be made good retrospectively by late compliance with the section's requirements. The late compliance in this case validated the earlier defective demands. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Hackney LBC v Akhondi [2012] UKUT 439 (LC)
10 December 2012

A long-leaseholder complained to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal that service charges imposed by her council landlord were unreasonably high. She particularly mentioned charges for an entryphone and front door replacement. The LVT held that the charges were excessive in relation to the doors, the roof, administration charges and preliminaries. The Upper Tribunal allowed the council's appeal. The LVT decision had been arbitrary, unsupported by evidence and infused with procedural error. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Islington LBC v Doner [2012] EWCA Civ 1745
4 December 2012

A secure tenant died. The defendant had been living with him for more than a year as his carer. The council sought possession. The defendant claimed that the property was her home and that an eviction would interfere with the right to respect for that home protected by Article 8. A district judge made a possession order. A circuit judge dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal gave permission for a second appeal to be pursued in that Court.

Haringey LBC v Mehmet Parlak
28 November 2012

The defendant was a private landlord. On inspecting his overcrowded and unlicensed HMO, a council officer found 78 items of disrepair ranging from fire safety failures, security issues, damp and mould, filthy conditions, broken windows and lights not working. The conditions were so poor that they severely compromised the safety and comfort of tenants. At Highgate Magistrates Court the defendant pleaded guilty to breaches of HMO management regulations and failure to obtain an HMO licence. He was fined £23,000 (in the light of similar previous convictions) with costs of £2,890. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

Sandwell MBC v Parmjit Singh Gill
19 November 2012

The defendant was a private landlord. On inspecting his property a council officer found penetrating dampness, broken paving, dilapidated kitchen base units, and an insecure front entrance door. An improvement notice was served under Housing Act 2004 Part 1. When it was not complied with, the council prosecuted. The defendant was convicted in his absence at Sandwell Magistrates Court and fined £1,600 with costs of £896.37. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Sandwell MBC v Satnam Singh
19 November 2012

The defendant was a private landlord. On inspecting his property a council officer found dampness, water-saturated kitchen base units and worktops, loose gas pipe work, insecure windows and insecure entrance door. An improvement notice was served under Housing Act 2004 Part 1. When it was not complied with, the council prosecuted. The defendant was convicted in his absence at Sandwell Magistrates Court and fined £1,600 with costs of £894. For details of the prosecution, 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.

Housing Law Books

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

Housing Law Events

16 January 2013
Homelessness: Suitability & Private RentedSector Discharge
A HLPA Members Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

24 January 2013
The new rules on housing the homeless
A Garden Court evening seminar
For the details, click here.

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 February 2013
Latest Developments in EU Law for Housing and Social Assistance for Migrants and their Children
A Garden Court evening seminar
For the details, click here.

6 March 2013
Asylum support: Current Issues and Judicial Review challenges
An ILPA seminar in London
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.

20 March 2013
Impact of Welfare Benefit Reform
A HLPA Members Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

 

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