Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 296 – 21 January 2013

Monday 21 January 2013

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Housing Law News

Homelessness in England: on 18 January 2013 the organisation Homeless Link distributed £3.6m in funding to 23 organisations to help them prevent rough sleeping and to assist rough sleepers across England. The money is part of the £20m grant that the UK Government is providing to Homeless Link to administer the Homelessness Transition Fund. For more details, including the 23 allocation decisions, click here.

Homelessness in Scotland: on 15 January 2013 the Scottish Government published the latest statistics on the operation of the homelessness legislation in Scotland covering 1 July to 30 September 2012. The figures show that there were 10,269 applications for homelessness assistance - 13% lower than in the same period in 2011. The fall is said to be largely due to the impact of housing options and homelessness prevention strategies rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness. For the full statistics, click here.

Housing & Anti-social Behaviour: on 9 January 2013 the Home Affairs Committee concluded its gathering of written evidence on the draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill. For the evidence received, click here. The Committee has also begun to receive oral evidence of witnesses dealing with the Bill's likely impact. To watch the first evidence session, click here. The second session is scheduled for tomorrow (22 January).

Discretionary Housing Benefit: last week the Chartered Institute of Housing published a new guidance note for social landlords on how to make the most of discretionary housing payments. For a copy, 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.

R (KA) v Essex County Council [2013] EWHC 43 (Admin)
18 January 2013
The claimant was a Nigerian national who had illegally entered the UK in 2002. She had since had three children, all born in the UK. Her attempts to seek permission to remain in the UK had failed. She had been staying with her husband's sister but in March 23012 was told to leave. She applied to the council for assistance under the Children Act 1989. It decided that a refusal to assist her would not breach her human rights and that she could return to Nigeria with the children. The High Court quashed the decision. Article 8 of Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 protected both substantive and procedural rights. The council had failed to consider a procedural right (to an appeal about a decision on her immigration status) which would be lost or impaired if she had to leave the country. For the judgment, click here.

R (Knowles) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions [2013] EWHC 19 (Admin)
17 January 2013

The claimants were gypsies renting a pitch on a private caravan site. Their housing benefit did not cover the full rent. They claimed that this amounted to discrimination contrary to Article 14 of Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 because if they had been on a council-run site their rent would have been met in full by rent rebate. The High Court rejected the claim. Although there were differences between benefit entitlements depending on whether the pitch was on a private or council site, the differences had been objectively justified by the UK Government and were not unlawful. For the judgment, click here.

Health & Safety Executive v Nahida Hashim
17 January 2013

The defendant was a private landlord. She was unable to produce an annual gas safety inspection certificate for the period October 2009 to October 2011. The case was referred to the HSE and the defendant was charged with breaching the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 and with failing to comply with an HSE Improvement Notice requiring production of a certificate. She pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates' Court. She was fined £400 and ordered to pay £1,000 toward prosecution costs. For the details, click here.

Camden LBC v Tonello [2012] EWHC (ChD), [2012] All ER (D) 72 (Jan)
16 January 2013

A council property was let to two joint secure tenants. In 2003 the defendant tenant moved out to live elsewhere. When the other joint tenant died in 2010, the council gave notice to quit. The defendant resisted a possession claim on the basis that she was still occupying the property as her principal home because she was only temporarily absent and intended to return. A judge rejected that defence and granted possession. The defendant lodged an appeal. She found a letter written in September 2010 by her solicitors asserting her intention to return. As the letter had not been produced at trial, she asked that the appeal be conducted as a complete re-hearing rather than by way of review. The appeal judge agreed. However, the High Court allowed the council's challenge to that ruling. Nothing about the circumstances justified the appeal being by way of re-hearing.

R(Naureen) v Salford CC [2012] EWCA Civ 1795
15 January 2013

The claimants were failed asylum seekers. They applied to the council for accommodation under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. When that was refused, they applied for a judicial review. The judge ordered a combined hearing of both permission to apply and of the substantive claim and meanwhile granted an order that Salford accommodate the claimants. Later, the Home Office granted the claimants exceptional leave to remain and the claim became academic. The claimants asked for their costs on the basis that they would have won the judicial review. A judge made no order as to costs. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The judge had exercised his discretion on costs in accordance with the authorities on compromise of judicial review claims. For the judgment, click here.

London & Quadrant HT v Prestige Properties Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ, [2013] All ER (D) 46 (Jan)
14 January 2013

The claimant trust let a property to the defendant company for commercial use. In breach of the lease, the company began to let out the property for residential purposes. The trust alleged that the lease was forfeit for breach of covenant. A judge agreed and refused to grant relief from forfeiture. He also joined two directors of the company as defendants and ordered them to pay the trusts' costs on an indemnity basis given the way they had conducted the litigation. He made an injunction freezing their assets and preventing them from dealing with properties. They appealed. The Court of Appeal made a minor adjustment to the wording of the injunction but otherwise dismissed the appeal. In the circumstances, the judge's orders had been entirely justified.

Kerr v Northern Ireland Housing Executive [2013] NILT R/37/2010
10 January 2013

The claimant owned a property which the Executive acquired by compulsory purchase as part of a renovation scheme. The Executive was obliged to pay the market value by way of compensation, which amounted to about £100,000. The claimant had bought the property for £152,000 just before the recession and still owed £145,000 by way of mortgage. He said that the Executive was obliged to compensate him to the full value of the outstanding mortgage and that any other result would infringe his human rights. The Lands Tribunal (LJ Coghlin presiding) held that the Executive was only obliged to pay the market value. It said: "The legislative framework seeks to provide a means of implementing a socio/economic policy that affords a realistic balance between the public need for community redevelopment/regeneration and the individual needs of those who may be adversely affected but, in doing so in practical terms, it does not set out to resolve every anomaly and hardship." For a ministerial statement welcoming the result, click here.

Sadd v Brown [2012] UKUT 438 (LC)
5 January 2013

A leaseholder applied to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) in a dispute about service charges. It was contended that the landlord had sought to recover an excessive proportion of the insurance premiums from the leaseholder and that the claim for the premiums included charges other than for insurance. The LVT decided that there was no requirement in the lease to pay insurance premiums at all. The landlord appealed. The Upper Tribunal held that the point about whether there was any requirement to pay a premium had not been taken in the LVT and should not have been the subject of a decision there. However, the point about liability was fully canvassed on the appeal and, on a true construction of the lease, no insurance premium was payable. For the judgment, click here.

Islington LBC v Doey [2012] EWCA Civ 1825
11 December 2012

The council applied for an injunction and took possession proceedings as a result of the defendant's anti-social behaviour toward other neighbouring council tenants. The court granted an anti-social behaviour injunction (ASBI). That was breached and a 14 day sentence imposed but suspended. Later, a suspended possession order was made and a further injunction. The defendant then abused and threatened a neighbour. He pointed his finger as if it were a gun and made gunshot noises in the neighbour's direction. The judge imposed a sentence of 16 weeks immediate imprisonment (and the council applied for a warrant of possession as a result of breach of the suspended order). The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The sentence had been justified by the circumstances and was not out of line with the guidelines on sentencing for breach of an ASBO.

Glasgow Rent Deposit & Support Scheme v Glasgow City Council [2012] ScotCS CSOH 199
6 December 2012

The claimant was the unsuccessful bidder in a tendering exercise to provide the council with a scheme of arranging rent deposits and temporary accommodation for homeless people. It brought a claim to set aside the award to the successful bidder on the basis that the contracting process had breached the principles of equal treatment, transparency, non-discrimination and proportionality. The council applied for an order enabling it to proceed to let the contract. The Court of Session granted the council's application. The claimant had failed to make out a prima facie case that there had been any unlawfulness in dealing with its bid. For the judgment, click here.

Miles v Law [2012] EWCA Civ 1756
14 November 2012

Mr and Mrs Miles were private landlords. Mr Law was their Rent Act protected tenant. They wanted the property back in order to provide a home for their adult son and daughter who were of modest means. Mr Law, who only had part-time work and was also of modest means, wanted to sway. A claim for possession was made under Rent Act 1977 Schedule 15 Ground 9. The judge found that possession had been reasonably required and that, on balance, the 'greater hardship' would be suffered by the landlords if possession were to be refused. Mr Law made a renewed application for permission to appeal. The Court of Appeal refused permission. The judge had had to make a comparative judgment and had not arguably erred in the conclusions she had reached. She had been entitled to find that Mr Law would be able to obtain alternative accommodation.

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.

The cost of justice
(experience of social landlords in service charge disputes at the LVT)
M. Hilditch
[2012] Inside Housing Repairs & Maintenance Supplement 19 January p24
To read the article, click here.

The nearest faraway place
(accommodation duties to the homeless)
M. Coates
[2012] 155 Adviser January/February p18

Where do the children play
(eligibility for housing assistance)
D. Patel
[2012] 155 Adviser January/February p22

Enforcing the rights of private sector tenants
(the prospects for Article 8 defences to possession claims)
D. Patel
[2012] 155 Adviser January/February p24

Back to basics: disrepair
M. Mackreth
[2012] 155 Adviser January/February p26

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

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.

Next week

30 January 2013
Mortgage Possession Cases
A HLPA intermediate evening seminar
For the details, click here.

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.

Later this year

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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