Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 295 – 14 January 2013

Monday 14 January 2013

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Housing Law News

Homelessness and Housing Allocation: today (14 January 2013) new eligibility rules for certain EU nationals come into effect in Northern Ireland. They only apply to new applications for housing or homelessness assistance. For the amending regulations, click here.

Possession Cases: on 7 January 2013 the UK Government issued updated and detailed statistical tables on repossession activity in relation to residential properties throughout the country with particular reference to mortgage arrears, possession claims and mortgage rescue. For the full statistics, click here.

Private Rented Sector: the UK Government has launched a recruitment exercise for a Director and six other members of its new Private Rented Sector Task Force established to increase the provision of good quality private rented housing. For more details of the posts, click here. The £200m fund to support developers in providing more private rented housing launched its prospectus on 20 December 2012 and bids must be lodged by 12 noon on 4 February 2013. For the details, click here.

Paying Housing Benefit to Tenants: the proposal that all tenants (including those in social housing) be paid housing benefit personally and monthly is being piloted by demonstration projects. On 17 December 2012 the DWP issued a media statement about outcomes in the six areas participating in that project. For the press release, click here. For the full report, click here. For an article containing a discussion of experiences in the pilot areas, click here.

Tenants of Social Housing: on 7 January 2013 the Minister for Housing launched the Tenant Training and Support Programme (called "Tenant Central") designed to help tenants in England develop skills they need to hold their landlords to account, set up tenants' panels, or take over the management and maintenance of their homes. Grant funding of almost £1.2m will be made available to the Tenant Participation Advisory Service to deliver the training and support programme. For more details of the Programme, click here. For the ministerial announcement, click here.

Welfare Reform and Housing: the latest developments on the overall benefit cap and other housing benefit issues are covered in DWP Bulletin G12/2012 issued on 21 December 2012 (for a copy, click here) and in the January 2013 issue of Housing Benefit Direct (for a copy, click here). The DWP has also published its proposed guidance for landlords as to which service charges will (and will not) be within the scope of universal credit. For the announcement, click here. Responses are invited by the end of January. For the draft guidance, click here.

Homeless families in Bed & Breakfast: in the face of growing concerns about the number of homeless families placed in B&B temporary accommodation, a minister reminded Parliament on 17 December 2012 that in England "It is unacceptable and illegal to place families with children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation except in an emergency and then for no more than six weeks." (Hansard, col 548 ). For the full exchanges, click here.

Gypsy & Traveller Sites: on 7 January 2013 the Welsh Government launched a consultation on implementing the Mobile Homes Act 1983 on local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites in Wales. For details of the various consultation documents, 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.

Health & Safety Executive v Khalid Khan
2 January 2013

The defendant was a private landlord. His tenant was without heating and hot water for months as a result of a faulty boiler. On inspection of the premises by environmental health officers he was unable to produce an annual gas safety inspection certificate. The case was referred to HSE which found that no inspection certificate had been prepared since 2007. The defendant was charged with breaching the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 and failing to comply with an HSE Improvement Notice. He was found guilty of both offences by the Bradford Magistrates' Court and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid community service over 12 months and to pay £1,500 toward prosecution costs. For the details, click here.

AZ v Secretary of State for Communities [2012] EWHC 3660 (Admin)
20 December 2012

The claimant set up his mobile home on a privately-owned field in the green belt and applied for planning permission to live there with his young son. The evidence showed that his claustrophobic-type condition, taken in conjunction with his personality disorder, the constant pain he lived with from his hand injuries, his recurrent flashbacks, his depressive and suicidal tendencies, his low IQ and illiteracy and his difficulties coping with life all coalesced into the need to live in a secluded and open-air environment close to his wife (who lived near the site) An appeal to a planning inspector, seeking either permanent or temporary planning permission, was rejected. The High Court allowed an appeal. The inspector had failed to consider three of the possible alternatives to the grant of full permission and had erroneously limited her consideration of a time-limited condition to the possibility of a change in the claimant's psychiatric condition. For the full judgment, click here.

R(George) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2012] EWCA 1768
28 November 2012

The claimant's mother was a secure tenant. In 2009 she moved to a care home and in 2010 the council served notice to quit to end her tenancy. The claimant applied for the discretionary grant of a tenancy to him. The council refused that application because: (1) there were considerable rent arrears; (2) the property would be under-occupied; and (3) the claimant had a history of past violent and aggressive behaviour on the estate. Later, he applied again and the council responded that it had already considered the application. The High Court dismissed his claim for judicial review of the latter decision (see Bulletin No 261). The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal. It was arguable that the council had failed to comply with its own allocation scheme by failing to notify the claimant that its decision carried a right to a review.

Paratus AMC Ltd v Fosuhene [2012] EWHC 3791 (Ch)
5 October 2012

The claimant was a mortgage lender. The mortgage loan was advanced in 2008. In 2009 the property was let to the defendant. From August 2009 she paid the rent direct into the mortgage loan account. In April 2011 the lender sought possession. The defendant claimed that the lender was bound by her tenancy by virtue of estoppel or waiver. The court made a possession order. The High Court dismissed an appeal. Put at its highest, the defendant's case was that she had paid rent which had been accepted. But there was no evidence to sustain an arguable case that the lender had done more than receive payments made into the mortgage loan account. There was no intention to adopt the tenancy or enter into a legal relationship with the tenant.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] January Legal Action 37
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Localism and homelessness
A. Arden and E. Orme
[2013] January Legal Action 16

The right to choose
(commentary on Wolverhampton Homes v Shuttleworth)
M. Hyam
[2013] 11 January Inside Housing.
For a copy of the article, click here.

Possession actions against introductory tenants
(commentary on Wolverhampton Homes v Shuttleworth)
M. Hyam
[2013] 11 December Local Government Lawyer.
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 recently. For information on how to get the book, click here.

Housing Law Events

This week

16 January 2013
Homelessness: Suitability & Private RentedSector Discharge
A HLPA Members Meeting in London (speakers include Liz Davies)
For the details, click here.

Next week

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.

Later this year

1 February 2013
Using the Private Rented Sector for the Homeless
Conference in London from Lime Legal (speakers include Bethan Harris and Jan Luba QC)
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 (speakers include Adrian Berry)
For the details, click here.

13 March 2013
Public Sector Housing Law Conference
Annual conference in London from Jordan Publishing (speakers include Liz Davies and Jan Luba QC)
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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