Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 299 – 11 February 2013

Monday 11 February 2013

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Housing Law News

Welfare reform and social housing: every housing benefit (HB) authority is being awarded additional central government funding to meet some of the administrative costs of the impact of the various reforms to HB being introduced in 2013. This includes £4m in respect of the impact of the social housing size criteria ('bedroom tax'). The details of the allocation to each local authority are given in the January 2013 DWP Circular HB/CTB S2/2013. For a copy, click here.

Homelessness: the latest statistics on rough sleeping in England were published on 6 February 2013. They show that 24% of all rough sleepers were in London and that rough sleeping is up by 6% across the country. For the full figures, click here.

Housing in England: the latest statistical data on housing in England was released on 7 February 2013. The figures cover tenure, rents, overcrowding, housing benefit, disrepair, decent homes and energy efficiency. For these latest results from the English Housing Survey, click here.

Housing fraud: on 5 February 2013 the Land Registry launched a property fraud telephone helpline to let owners who are concerned that their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage quickly alert Land Registry. The number is 0300 006 7030 and the line is open 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. For more details of the launch, click here.

Mobile Homes Bill: this Private Member's Bill, which has Government support, has completed all its House of Commons stages and had its Lords' Second Reading on 1 February 2013. For the Second Reading debate, click here. For the Bill itself, click here.

Mortgage Rescue in England: delivery of the mortgage rescue scheme in England was slower in 2011/12 that in previous years. As a result the Housing Minister has agreed that lenders can now refer those borrowers in difficulties who may be eligible for the scheme direct to the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) for money advice and assessment. The NHAS had said it has the capacity to accept up to 100 such referrals each month. For more details of the MRS in England, 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.

Santander UK Ltd v Harrison [2013] EWHC 199 (QB)
7 February 2013

In 2006 the bank granted a mortgage loan of £500,000 secured as a first charge on the defendants' home. In 2008, when arrears had accrued, the bank agreed to capitalise them and add them to the loan. In 2010 further arrears accrued and the bank brought a claim for possession. The defendants pleaded that the effect of the decision to capitalise the arrears had triggered provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 with which the bank had not complied. The judge struck out that part of the defence. The High Court granted permission to appeal but dismissed the defendants' appeal. The provisions of section 82(2) of the 1974 Act were not triggered because the capitalisation had not been a "cash loan". For the full judgment, click here.

Bentley-Thomas v Winkfield Parish Council [2013] EWHC (Admin), [2013] All ER (D) 31 (Feb)
7 February 2013

The council enhanced the play and activities equipment at a recreation ground. The appellant complained about increased noise levels affecting the enjoyment of her home and contended that the noise was a 'statutory nuisance'. She gave notice under Environmental Protection Act 1990 section 82(6). She was not satisfied with the response and brought a private prosecution under section 82. After a trial, at which the judge had preferred the council's case to the evidence of the appellant's expert, the council was acquitted and the appellant was ordered to pay costs of £18,000. The High Court allowed an appeal against the costs order. Such an order should be made only if a prosecution should never have been brought. That was not the case here. Costs were ordered to be paid from central funds.

Cornwall Council v Julie Stoddern
4 February 2013

The defendant was a private landlady. On inspection of a property let by her as a house in multiple occupation, council officers found overcrowded living conditions, serious fire safety concerns and a dangerous spiral staircase to the attic room that was steep, lacked handrails and had no guarding to prevent someone falling. It served a Housing Act 2004 prohibition order requiring the attic room not to be used for any purpose other than for storage (or the taking of remedial action). The property had no HMO licence. The council prosecuted for failure to comply with the notice and failure to obtain a licence. On guilty pleas, Truro Magistrates ordered payment of fines and costs totalling £4,560.77. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Complaint against Croydon Council LGO No.11010420
1 February 2013

In July 2011 Merton LBC decided that an applicant met conditions for referral of her application for homelessness assistance and decided to refer her application to Croydon LBC. Croydon accepted the referral and from 2 August 2011 it provided accommodation. The applicant had children but, despite the terms of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003, the council booked her into bed and breakfast accommodation for more than the maximum period of six weeks. A law centre indicated that it would issue judicial review proceedings if the applicant was not moved by 3 October 2011. She was moved to self-contained accommodation on 29 September 2011.Croydon did not notify the applicant that it had accepted the referred duty, or tell her how it would perform it, until 18 October 2011.The Local Government Ombudsman found maladministration by: (1) keeping the applicant in B&B accommodation for more than the legal limit of six weeks; and (2) failing to notify acceptance of a duty and how it would be performed (which had prevented the applicant having a decision which she could review).However, the investigation was discontinued by the Ombudsman when the Council agreed to remedy the injustice by paying the applicant £400.

R(AT,AG and HG) v Islington LBC [2013] EWHC 107 (Admin)
1 February 2013

The claimant and her two disabled sons sought judicial review of an assessment of the family's needs made under the Children Act 1989. The core issue was that their accommodation was unsuitable given the disabilities of the children. It was overcrowded and was not on the ground floor. The challenge was put on the basis that the assessment had failed to deal with the various contingencies that might arise in relation to the provision or non-provision of temporary or alternative housing. The High Court dismissed the claim. The assessment had been lawful and reasonable. The family had housing needs which were being addressed by their application under the council's allocation scheme. For the judgment, click here.

Lazari v London & Newcastle (Camden) Ltd [2013] EWHC 97 (TCC)
31 January 2013

The claimant purchased the long lease of a flat from the defendant long leaseholders. She said that the flat suffered from serious overheating caused by the heat from service pipes running below the floor. She brought a claim for breach of contract and breach of the Defective Premises Act 1972 section 1. The defence acknowledged an inherent defect but did not clearly admit liability. The claimant applied for an order that £100,000 be paid into court pending trial. The defendant then acknowledged liability at the hearing of the application and the High Court ordered payment-in of £30,000. Such a payment would encourage serious settlement discussions and concentrate minds on compliance with the court's case management orders. For the judgment, click here.

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.

When two become one
(commentary on Dacorum v Sims)
A. Lane and D. Underwood
[2013] 8 February Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Courting trouble
(summary of the proposed changes to possession in the draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill)
J. Plant
[2013] 8 February Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Go west
(commentary on Thurrock BC v West)
K. Anders
[2013] 5 February Local Government Lawyer
To read the article, click here

Article 8 and defences to claims for possession
(commentary on R(JL) v Secretary of State for Defence)
S. Gerlis
[2012] 20 December Busy Solicitors Digest

Rectification of mistake
(commentary on Daventry DC v Daventry & District Housing)
A. Samuels
[2013] 157 Solicitors Journal issue 5 p11
To read the article, click here.

Are you being serviced?
(commentary on Phillips v Francis)
S. Jones
[2013] 162 New Law Journal 133
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

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.

Later this Spring

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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