Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 307 - 22 April 2013

Monday 22 April 2013

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Housing Law News

Regulating letting agents and managing agents: on 16 April 2013 the House of Commons accepted Government amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill designed to give the Secretary of State power to make an order requiring letting and managing agents, of privately rented and residential leasehold homes in England, to belong to a redress scheme. The Minister said the Government will consult on the detail, taking into account the recommendations of the Communities and Local Government Committee Select Committee and the Office of Fair Trading. For the text of the amendment, click here. For the debate on it, click here.

Right to buy: earlier this month, the House of Commons Library produced a briefing note on the content and effect of the Coalition Government's recent reforms to the right to buy. For a copy, click here. From figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the GMB trades union has produced a report indicating that almost 40% of properties bought under the right to buy in the London Borough of Wandsworth are now being let to private tenants. For a copy of that report, click here.

Discretionary Housing Payments: the UK Government has now published the final version of the Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual. For a copy, click here. A separate Circular explains the interface between DHPs and the universal credit and council tax reduction schemes. For a copy of that, click here.

Rents: on 17 April 2013 the House of Commons Library produced two briefing notes on rents. The first deals with rents in the social housing sector. For a copy, click here.The second deals with direct payment of housing benefit to meet rents in the private rented sector. For a copy of that, click here.

Gypsies & Travellers: the UK Government has published its response to the consultation on its proposals to revoke the exemption of residential caravans from temporary stop notice planning provisions. It will make the revocation by a new Statutory Instrument which will come into force in May 2013. The intention is to produce a revised guidance suite for local authorities in summer 2013. For a copy of the response, 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.

Naz v Redbridge LBC [2013] EWHC (Admin) noted on LAWTEL
19 April 2013

The council decided that a property owned by Mr Naz had been let to multiple tenants and was an HMO in respect of which he was liable to pay the council tax. Mr Naz appealed to a Valuation Tribunal. He produced a written tenancy agreement showing that the whole property had been the subject of a tenancy at the relevant time. The Tribunal preferred the council's documentary evidence purporting to show that there were numerous separate tenants of different parts of the property during that time. The High Court allowed a late appeal. The Tribunal had plainly erred in law. Only in exceptional cases would it be right for a judicial body to determine that a written tenancy agreement did not represent the true position. The decision would have to be retaken.

R v Jay Allen and Razwan Mohammed [2013] EWCA Crim.
17 April 2013

The first defendant was a private landlord with previous convictions for violence. When one of his tenant's fell behind with his rent, he enlisted the second defendant to help him with an eviction. Their presence was intended to dominate and frighten the tenant whom they ejected. The police were called. Although the tenant was let back in, Sheffield City Council brought a prosecution for offences contrary to sections 1(3) and 1(3A) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. After a trial, the defendants were convicted. The first defendant received an immediate custodial sentence of nine months. The second defendant was given a six month suspended sentence. The Court of Appeal dismissed appeals against conviction and sentence, with costs. For the background to the prosecution, click here.

Reeves v Northrop [2013] EWCA Civ 362
17 April 2013

This was a council tax case. The occupier owned a converted boat tethered at a mooring in an estuary. He and his family had lived on it for more than two years. The local council decided that it was a dwelling and he was liable to council tax in Band A. The Valuation Tribunal allowed an appeal. The council appealed to the High Court, which restored liability. The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal by the occupier. The Tribunal had failed to recognise that the time for which the occupier had been moored in the estuary was not simply a factor of weight but the crucial, and on the facts of this case, the determinative factor. For the judgment, click here.

Sovereign HA v Arthur Hayes
4 April 2013

The association owned the common parts of blocks of flats in Newbury which comprised older persons' housing schemes. The defendant was a young homeless man who was regularly found sleeping in the communal bin stores or in the entrance hallways of the blocks. The association applied to Reading County Court for, and obtained, an injunction with a power of arrest prohibiting the defendant from entering the blocks or attempting to do so. For details of the application, click here.

Hattingh v Juta [2013] ZACC 5
14 March 2013

Mr Juta owned a single dwelling which had previously comprised two units. He allowed Mrs Hattingh, a former employee, to occupy it rent-free. She lived there with her three adult sons, a daughter-in-law and three young grandchildren. Mr Juta later decided that he wanted to convert the property back to two units. One would be occupied by Mrs Hattingh and her youngest son. The other would be occupied by his new farm manager, who needed accommodation. He sought possession against the other two sons and the daughter-in-law. They defended the claim on the basis that their eviction would infringe Mrs Hattingh's "right to family life" against which the owner's claim had to be balanced. Mr Juta said that "family" constituted only an individual, their spouse and minor children. The Constitutional Court of South Africa held that "family life" was not confined to the protection of a nuclear family. The right to family life would embrace such extended family of an occupier as was 'just and equitable' given the owner's rights to the land. On the facts, balancing the owner's rights and the rights of the family members, it had been right to grant possession against them. For the judgment, click here.

Your-move.co.uk t/a Your Move Lettings
6 March 2013

A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that Your Move Lettings had placed adverts of properties to rent on the Rightmove website which were misleading because they did not include a compulsory administration charge in the price quoted. The ASA adjudication upheld the complaint. It decided that the ads should have indicated clearly that the administration fee was not included in the quoted prices and should have provided enough information to allow the consumer to establish easily how further charges would be calculated. Absent that information, they had breached the ASA Code. For a copy of the adjudication, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] March Legal Action 18
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Different directions for England & Wales
A. Arden and A. Cafferkey
[2013] LAG Housing Blog 15 April
For a copy, click here.

Rule review (commentary on Corscombe Close v Roseleb)
L Storey
[2013] Inside Housing 19 April
For a copy, click here.

Regulation of Letting Agents - Where are we heading?
D. Smith
[2013] 16 April
For a copy, click here.

Welfare reform: where now for social housing?
T. Brown
[2013] Guardian Professional 18 April
For a copy, 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

25 April 2013
Leasehold Revisited: case law update
A SHLA 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.

20 May 2013
Homeless Children - safety net or freefall?
A Shelter Children's Legal Service Conference
For the details, Email: Londonlegaladmin@shelter.org.uk

22 May 2013
Social Housing Law & Practice
A Lime Legal training conference in London (speakers include Jan Luba QC)
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.

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

19 June 2013
Housing Law: the Legal Update 2013
A Northern Housing Consortium Conference in York (speakers include Liz Davies and Jan Luba QC)
For the details click here.

20 June 2013
Defending Possession Proceedings
A LAG training event in London
For the details, click here.

27 June 2013
Social Housing Tenancy Agreements
A Lime Legal training conference in London (speakers include Jan Luba QC)
For the details, click here.

3 July 2013
Recent Developments in Housing Law
A LAG training event in London
For the details, click here.

27 July 2013
Allocations: the New World
A HLPA Members Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

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