Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 298 - 4 February 2013

Monday 4 February 2013

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Housing Law News

Fraud in Social Housing: the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 31 January 2013. For a copy of the Act, click here. The Act will be brought into force by ministerial order on a date to be appointed.

Welfare reform and social housing: the National Housing Federation has published research commissioned from the University of Cambridge and Ipsos MORI considering the likely impact of welfare reforms on housing association landlords. For a copy of the report, click here.

Accommodation and support for asylum seekers: on 30 January 2013 the report of the parliamentary inquiry into Asylum Support for children and young people was published. The inquiry found that the evidence it had received showed that the current asylum support system is in urgent need of reform if it is to have regard to the safety and well-being of children and meet its obligations to promote children's best interests. 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.

Ibrahim v Wandsworth LBC [2013] EWCA 20
29 January 2013

Ms Ibrahim applied to the council for homelessness assistance when her assured shorthold tenancy expired. The council decided that she had become homeless intentionally. The notification of that decision failed to set out the accommodation duty owed to her as an intentionally homeless person in priority need. Ms Ibrahim applied for a review but the finding of intentional homelessness was upheld and an appeal to the county court was dismissed. She appealed to the Court of Appeal contending that the defect in the decision notice had required the reviewing officer to follow the 'minded-to' procedure in regulation 8 of the Review Regulations and that had not been done. The appeal was dismissed. The defect had been immaterial to the question whether the applicant had become homeless intentionally and had caused no prejudice because the applicant had been accommodated pending the review and appeal. For the judgment, click here.

Grange v Quinn [2013] EWCA 24
29 January 2013

The Quinns granted Mrs Grange a six year lease of a shop. She paid them a premium of nearly £10,000. Six months into the lease the Quinns evicted Mrs Grange for alleged breaches of covenant. In fact, the breaches were not such as to justify forfeiture and no notice had been given under Law of Property Act 1925 section 146. So Mrs Grange had been wrongfully evicted. She claimed damages equivalent to repayment of the premium. The £10,000 had represented the 'goodwill' of the business at the leased premises. A judge dismissed that claim save for £300 token damages. By a majority, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. The majority held that the premium should in-effect be repaid, subject to modest abatement for the period of occupation, although the judgments of the majority do not agree as to the route to that outcome. For the full judgment, click here.

Rey-Ordieres v Lewisham LBC [2013] UKUT 14 (LC)
28 January 2013

The applicant was a leaseholder on the Brockley Estate. The council entered into an agreement with a contractor for the renovation of the estate (which comprised 500 leased properties and 1300 tenanted homes) as part of a private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement. The applicant and 23 other leaseholders applied to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) for a declaration that the service charges levied for 2007-2009, in consequence of the works, were unreasonably high. The LVT found that the works had been reasonably undertaken but disallowed certain management fees and 'on-costs'. On appeal, the council argued that an LVT could not go behind the terms of a public procurement contract which had been subject to competitive tendering. The Upper Tribunal rejected that submission. The contract terms were only persuasive evidence on the point. For the judgment, click here.

Croydon LBC v Laurence Kite
17 January 2013

The defendant was the proprietor of accommodation let to tenants and known as the 'Gomers Hotel'. Neighbours complained to the council about drug dealing and noise. Croydon Magistrates' Court heard that there had been "persistent nuisance and disorder" at the premises for a number of months. It made a three month premises closure order prohibiting anyone from entering or remaining at the address during that period. The defendant was ordered to pay £6,683.60 in prosecution costs to the council within six months. For further details, click here. http://www.croydon.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/council-shuts-down-hotel

Sandwell Council v Harbinder Singh Athwal and Gurbaxo Kaur
7 January 2013

The defendants were private landlords. In May 2012 they had been convicted of failure to comply with an improvement notice in respect of a tenanted property. They had then attempted to undertake the necessary works 'on the cheap' around the tenant. That resulted in what the District Judge described as conditions of "Dickensian squalor". The work done was unsatisfactory and incomplete. At Sandwell Magistrates' Court they were fined a further £500 each, ordered to pay £1500 each in compensation to the tenant, and the council was awarded costs of £4000. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Haringey LBC v Mehmet Parlak, Watchstar Ltd and Watchacre Properties Limited
January 2013

The defendants were private landlords. The first defendant was the director of the two property companies. Council inspections found four properties operated as HMOs, two without licences and all in unsatisfactory condition. At Tottenham Magistrates' Court they pleaded guilty to offences under the HMO Management Regulations relating to four the four properties and to failure to apply for HMO licences for two of them. Despite those pleas, fines totalling £40,000 were imposed plus £4,462.50 in costs. This reflected their poor history of previous convictions for similar offences (see for example Bulletin 294). For details of the prosecution, click here.

Lazarenko v Ukraine [2012] ECtHR Application 27427/02
11 December 2012

The applicants were tenants of a Housing Department flat. They moved abroad. The relevant legislation provided that the right to occupy would be lost in cases of absence exceeding six months (subject to exceptions). On a claim for possession, a court made a possession order because the applicants had been absent for more than six months and there was no good reason to extend the period. Appeals against that order were dismissed. The applicants complained to the European Court of Human Rights that their right to respect for their home had been infringed. The complaint was declared inadmissible. The domestic courts had applied the relevant legislation and considered the reasons for absence and the applicants' circumstances. Although there had been no explicit reference to the proportionality of eviction, the Court itself did not consider that eviction could be said to be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case. For the judgment, click here.

Manu v Southwark LBC [2012] EWCA 1874
18 December 2012

The council sought arrears of rent and a possession order against their tenants Mr and Mrs Manu. The tenants counterclaimed for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and for disrepair. The trial took between two and three weeks of court time, with allegations and counter-allegations on each side. The arrears of rent were proved as £1,172.82. The judge made a conditional order for possession suspended for 18 months, requiring that the tenants pay £10 per week towards the arrears. The counterclaim produced damages of £5,750 and each of the tenant's three children was awarded £500. The damages did not extinguish the claim because there were also earlier orders for costs against the tenant on the claim, but the totals broadly balanced. The judge made no order for costs on the claim and counterclaim. The tenants sought permission to appeal against the orders for possession and costs. The Court of Appeal refused a renewed application for permission. On the facts, the tenants had a bad payment history and a conditional possession order had been justified. The costs order broadly reflected the 'score draw' outcome of the litigation. An appeal would have no reasonable prospect of success.

Hotak v Southwark LBC [2012] EWCA 1874
6 December 2012

Mr Hotak applied to the council for homelessness assistance. It decided that while he might have such medical conditions as to otherwise make him vulnerable he did not actually have a priority need because he was cared-for by his brother with whom he lived. That decision was upheld on review and a county court appeal was dismissed. On a renewed application, the Court of Appeal granted Mr Hotak permission to pursue a second appeal in that court.

Massoud v Croydon LBC [2012] EWCA 1827
6 December 2012

In June 2005 a council tenant travelled to Burundi. In her absence, a transfer request was approved. The council agreed that her son could sign the tenancy agreement for the new premises in her absence. Without returning to the UK, the tenant died in November 2005. The son claimed that he had succeeded to the new tenancy as he had lived with the tenant at her former home and had moved into the new property. A judge found that the succession conditions in Housing Act 1985 section 87 were not met because the son had not resided with the tenant for 12 months prior to her death. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. There was no prospect of the court disturbing the judge's findings of fact.

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.

Prayers answered
(commentary on Dacorum v Sims)
A. Lane and D. Underwood
[2013] 30 January Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here.

Dealing with anti-social behaviour - the proposed new tools
(summary of the proposed changes in the draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill)
D. McCarthy
[2013] 23 January Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here.

Safe and sheltered
(anti-social behaviour in sheltered housing)
M. Dirom
[2013] 1 February Inside Housing
To read 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

7 February 2013
Welfare Reform: Law & Practice
A Social Housing Law Association evening seminar
For the details, click here.

Later this Spring

11 February 2013
How to Quantify Damages in Disrepair Cases
A HLPA intermediate evening seminar (speakers include Beatrice Prevatt)
For the details, click here.

12 February 2013
In Conversation: Giving a Voice to Marginalised Groups
Garden Court Chambers, in association with sounddelivery, are delighted to host an evening exploring how organisations can use audio, video and other media to give a voice to people whose stories are rarely heard. We will hear from individuals working to give a voice to marginalised groups, ranging from migrants and the homeless to those at risk of offending. For full details and to book places, 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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