Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 302 – 4 March 2013

Monday 4 March 2013

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Housing Law News

Social rented sector size criteria: on 27 February 2013 the minority opposition parties initiated a full debate in the House of Commons on the introduction of the housing benefit size criteria into social housing (the 'bedroom tax') from 1 April 2013. For the full debate, click here. Judicial review proceedings designed to prevent the introduction of the bedroom tax were launched on 1 March 2013. For more details, click here.

Rent and service charge arrears in social housing: on 28 February 2013 the Chartered Institute of Housing published its new free guidance note for social landlords: "How to...manage income collection effectively". For a copy, click here.

Housing complaints: to help with preparations for the new housing ombudsman regime taking effect this year, the National Tenants Organisations (NTOs) have published Resolving Complaints Locally: your role as a designated person. For a copy of the guide, directed to MPs, councillors and tenant panel members, click here. For the NTOs webpage containing FAQs on the role of designated persons, click here.

Legal aid for housing cases: the last pieces of the jigsaw, that represents the new legal aid arrangements coming into force on 1 April 2013, are failing into place. On 28 February 2013 the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013 were laid. They set out the rates of pay for solicitors, barristers and experts in future legal aid cases. For a copy, click here. The Lord Chancellor has now published his own guidance on how the new legal aid scheme will work and how the 'override' provisions for exceptional cases will operate. For that guidance, click here.

Possession schemes in the county courts: on 28 February 2013 the opportunity to tender for Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme Services opened for the county courts at Birkenhead, Halifax, Telford, and Tunbridge Wells. This process is only open to those bidders which have been notified by the Legal Services Commission that their Housing & Debt Contract ITT response was successful (subject to verification). The deadline for bids is 12 noon on 26 March 2013. For more details, click here.

New costs regime for housing cases: the new arrangements for the award and assessment of court costs in civil cases will come into effect on 1 April 2013. The Master of the Rolls has now made new CPR Costs Practice Directions 44-48 to replace those currently in force and new forms of bills and schedules of costs have been published. These materials supplement the CPR rule changes also coming into force on the same date. For more details of this 60th Update to the CPR and their Practice Directions, click here.

Squatting in residential premises: SQUASH (Squatters Action for Secure Homes) have published a new report (The Case against Section 144) which suggests that the major concerns regarding criminalisation, that arose during the government's consultation process on criminalising squatting, have been proven right, with homeless and vulnerable people disproportionately affected. The report calls for the repeal of section 144 and provides a six-month analysis of the effects that the new legislation has had since its introduction in September 2012. For a copy of the report, click here.

Regulating the private rented sector: on 26 February 2013, the House of Commons gave a first reading to the Regulation of the Private Rented Sector Bill. Jeremy Corbyn MP has introduced the 10 minute rule Bill to improve security of tenure and standards in private letting. For his speech introducing the Bill click here.

Rents in social housing: on 1 March 2013 the Chartered Institute of Housing and the London & Quadrant Housing Trust published a new discussion paper calling on government to undertake a formal, public review of policy for rent setting and rent increases from 2015 in social housing. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Mortgage default: the Greater London Authority has decided to extend the Mortgage Rescue Scheme in London to March 2014. Under the extension, London and Quadrant Housing Trust and Metropolitan Housing Trust will continue as syndication leads for the boroughs that they currently cover and will be able to accept referrals up to the end of March 2014. For more details, 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 (EAT) v Newham LBC [2013] EWHC 344 (Admin)
28 February 2013

The claimant was a two year old child needing accommodation. She and her mother were homeless after having had to leave their private rented home. The mother was not eligible for homelessness assistance (she was a Ugandan national who had applied unsuccessfully for indefinite leave to remain and whose appeal against that decision remained outstanding). Newham children's services accepted that the claimant was a' child in need' under the Children Act 1989 section 17. It decided that it would not provide accommodation but would assist with travel to Uganda. This was on the basis that the claimant's mother had unsuccessfully made a claim for asylum and that support should be provided by the UKBA pending her departure. The High Court quashed the decision. The claim for indefinite leave to remain did not expressly or impliedly seek asylum. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Zennstrom v Fagot [2013] EWHC 288 (TCC)
21 February 2013

The defendants bought a house in 2003. They had it completely rebuilt. In 2009 they sold it to the claimants. The claimants considered the house structurally unsafe and it was demolished. They brought a claim against the defendants under Defective Premises Act 1972. A duty of care was only owed if the defendants had undertaken the work in "the course of a business". The claimants said the defendants had bought the property to renovate and sell as property developers. The defendants said they bought it to convert into their 'dream home' with a view to living in it. The judge preferred the defendants' evidence. For the judgment, click here.

Corscombe Close Block 8 RTM Co Ltd v Roseleb Ltd [2013] UKUT 81 (LC)
21 February 2013

Roseleb owned the freehold to a block of 15 flats. Four of the flats had been let on 125 year leases to a housing association which had in turn let them under shared ownership leases. Although all four leases had stair-casing provisions, none of the shared ownership tenants had acquired 100%. The claimant company wanted to take over the management of the block and served notice to that effect. Roseleb said that the notice was not valid because it had been served on the four shared ownership leaseholders instead of on the housing association. A Leasehold Valuation Tribunal held that the notices were invalid. The Upper Tribunal reversed that decision. The tenants under the shared ownership leases had been properly served. For the judgment, click here.

Dakus v Ukraine [2013] Application No. 19957/07
7 February 2013

Ms Dakus and her husband lived in a council flat. Their marriage broke down. They divorced and the husband left. Ms Dakus and their child remained in the home. The municipality sought possession but Ms Dakus defended on the basis that the flat was her only home and she had nowhere else to go. The domestic courts decided that Ms Dakus had not been given the right to live in the flat under the relevant legislation and made a possession order. She was evicted despite having applied to the courts for a stay of execution. She applied to the European Court of Human Rights. It directed the parties to answer these questions: (1) Has there been an interference with the applicant's right to respect for her home, within the meaning of Article 8(1) of the Convention in view of the court decision ...and by further applicant's eviction despite her pending request to postpone the enforcement of this decision? and (2) If so, was that interference in accordance with the law and necessary in terms of Article 8(2)? For the full statement of facts, click here.

R v Celina Scott [2013] EWCA Crim 55
23 January 2013

The defendant was a housing association tenant. An ASBO had been made prohibiting her from shouting, screaming or swearing so as to cause nuisance to neighbours. On a prosecution for six alleged breaches of the ASBO she agreed to surrender her tenancy and pleaded guilty to two of the breaches. At a sentencing hearing, she applied to change her pleas. The judge refused her permission to do so and imposed a community order with a supervision requirement in respect of the breaches. She sought to appeal on the basis that her mental health had been such that she had not freely pleaded guilty and ought to have been allowed to withdraw those pleas. The Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal as the application was without merit.

Bank of Ireland v Walker [2013] NICA 2
7 January 2013

The bank brought a claim for possession of the defendant's home when he defaulted on mortgage loan repayments. A possession order was made. The defendant appealed on the ground that the mortgage was in fact a commercial mortgage but should have been residential mortgage regulated by MCOB. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. On the facts, the mortgage documentation clearly showed the mortgage was commercial (to raise funds for the defendant to establish a property investment portfolio) and the defendant had independent legal advice before entering into it. Even if there had been a claim under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 that would not have invalidated the mortgage. It would only have given rise to a liability in damages which would not have been a defence to the possession claim. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] February Legal Action 33
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Some thoughts on expert evidence within (ASB) injunction proceedings
G. Willock
[2013] January/ February Housing Team Legal Bulletin Garden Court North
To read the article, click here.

Deficient homelessness decisions and their impact on the applicant
D. Lintott
[2013] 20 February Local Government Lawyer
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

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.

Next Week

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.

Later This Spring

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

15 May 2013
Using the Equality Act
A HLPA Members Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

22 May 2013
Housing Disrepair
A LAG training event in London (speakers include Beatrice Prevatt)
For the details, click here.

Practical Tips for Possession: The View from the Housing Possession Duty Desk and Exceptional Funding under LASPO
23 May 2013
A Garden Court Evening Seminar (speakers include James Bowen + Connor Johnston)
For the details, click here.

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