Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 309 – 14 May 2013

Tuesday 14 May 2013

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Special Notice
For daily housing law news and updates follow the Editor of this Bulletin (Jan Luba QC) on Twitter @JanLubaQC.

Housing Law News

New programme of legislation: the UK Government's programme for legislation for the coming year was set out in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013. New measures include the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. For a copy of that bill, click here. The new Care Bill deals with local authority duties owed to adults and children with community care needs. For a copy of that Bill, click here. For the Government's perspective on the measures related to housing and immigration status in the Queen's Speech, click here. The new Immigration Bill, which will include provisions requiring private landlords to check immigration status of prospective tenants, will be published shortly.

Housing cases on legal aid: the list of legal services suppliers awarded contracts to undertake legal aid work in the new Housing and Debt categories from 1 April 2013 has been published. For the list, click here. The Legal Aid Agency has also published the list of providers most recently awarded contracts to provide duty representation schemes on possession day in the county court. For that list, click here.

Private renting: Shelter has produced a new report considering the extent to which the absence of security of tenure is causing the disruption of the development of children's lives. For a copy, click here. The charity has also published the interim results of research providing insight into the experiences of households with children claiming housing benefit during a time of cuts and changes to benefits. For that research, click here.

Charging more for empty homes: since 1 April 2013 billing authorities have been able to charge a premium on property that has been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more. The premium can be up to 50% of the council tax on the property. On 7 May 2013 the UK Government issued guidance to local authorities on decision-making related to use of the new powers. For a copy of the guidance, click here.

Homes from offices: on 9 May 2013 the UK Government published a list of maps of the areas of England which are exempt from the Change of use permitted development right 2013 allowing offices to be converted for residential use. For a copy of the list of maps, click here.

The new Housing Tribunal? Two new ministerial orders will create the Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal with effect from 1July 2013. The Chamber will bring together the former rent assessment committees, residential property tribunals, agricultural land tribunals and the Land Registry adjudicator. For the transfer of functions order, click here. For the statutory amendment order, 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.

Loveridge v Lambeth LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 494
10 May 2013

Mr Loveridge was a secure tenant. During a temporary absence, he was unlawfully evicted by the council. He claimed statutory damages under Housing Act 1988 sections 27 and 28. The experts could not agree on the difference in value of the council's interest with Mr Loveridge in residence as compared to his flat being vacant. The judge awarded over £90,000. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. It held that the valuation had to be on an open market basis and therefore premised on the assumption that on any sale to a private buyer Mr Loveridge would become an assured tenant paying a market rent. For the judgment, click here.

R(SL) v Westminster CC [2013] UKSC 27
9 May 2013

The claimant was a failed asylum-seeker suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was assessed as needing regular sessions with mental health professionals and counselling groups, and weekly meetings with a social worker. The council decided that he did not need 'care and attention' and therefore it owed no duty to accommodate him under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. His judicial review claim was initially dismissed but allowed by the Court of appeal. The Supreme Court reversed that decision. The council's conclusion had not been irrational. For the judgment, click here.

R(MN and KN) v Hackney LBC [2013] EWHC Admin 1205
8 May 2013

The claimants were the children of overstayers unlawfully in the UK. They applied to the council for accommodation and support for themselves and their parents under Children Act 1989 section 17. Assistance was refused. A claim for judicial review was dismissed. Hackney was reasonably not satisfied that the family would be destitute unless they are provided with assistance. Its decision to refuse to provide accommodation and support to the claimants and their parents was therefore lawful. For the judgment, click here.

Coates v Dartford BC [2013] EWHC (QB) 1160
8 May 2013

Ms Coates was a gypsy. She placed her caravan on land in the Green Belt. Planning permission to station it was refused. The council sought and obtained an injunction requiring her to vacate the land. The High Court refused an application for permission to appeal. It held that the judge had considered all the factors raised by Ms Coates as to why she should be permitted to remain and her Article 8 rights. For the judgment, click here.

Bowring v Secretary of State for Communities [2013] EWHC 1115 (Admin)
3 May 2013

The appellants owned a house. They installed three kitchens and let it as a house in multiple occupation. Later they converted the house into three separate self-contained flats. The council issued an enforcement notice requiring a return to single dwelling use and the removal of the extra kitchen fittings. An inspector upheld the notice but varied it to require the removal of only one kitchen. The High Court allowed the appellant's appeal. The enforcement notice could only require removal of installations associated with the material change of use. The case was remitted to the inspector to determine whether the additional kitchens had been part and parcel of the change of use or part of an earlier lawful use of the house. For the judgment, click here.

OM Property Management v Burr [2013] EWCA Civ 479
3 May 2013

Mr Burr was liable to pay service charges for his flat, including a share of the costs of fuel supply to common parts. The gas supplier presented the management company with a bill for fuel supplied many years earlier and the company sought to recover that through the service charges. Mr Burr claimed that as the costs had been 'incurred' more than 18 months before the service charges were claimed they were irrecoverable: Landlord & tenant Act 1985 section 20B(1). A Leasehold Valuation Tribunal agreed with him but the upper tribunal overturned that decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Burr's appeal. The cost for the fuel had not been incurred until the supplier had presented its bill, For the judgment, click here.

Henley v Cohen [2013] EWCA Civ 480
2 May 2013

The tenant of a shop with ancillary accommodation converted the non-retail part for use as a residential dwelling and let it on an assured shorthold tenancy. He then applied to enfranchise the lease on the basis that the entire building was now a house 'reasonably so called': Leasehold Reform Act 1967. A judge dismissed that claim and the tenant appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The judge's conclusion that the building was not a house would not be distrurbed. In any event, the tenant could not rely on his own wrongdoing (conversion of the non-retail part in breach of a covenant in the lease) to ground a claim to assert his statutory rights. For the judgment, click here.

R(JL) v Secretary of State [2013] EWCA Civ 449
30 April 2013

The claimant was residing in accommodation provided by the defendant after her separation from her partner (an army officer). She was disabled and had children with disabilities. The tenancy had no security of tenure and in 2009 a possession order was granted. The defendant decided to execute the possession order and the claimant sought a judicial review of that decision. She asked the court to undertake an Article 8 proportionality review of the prospective eviction. The defendant said the Court had no power to do so. The High Court ruled that it could undertake a proportionality review at the eviction stage (rather than the possession order stage) in particular cases. This case warranted such a review because none had been conducted in 2009. However, on the facts, eviction now would not be disproportionate. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court ruling on both grounds. In limited cases an Article 8 review might be required at eviction stage but this claim failed on its facts. For the judgment, click here.

DiMarco v Morshead Mansions Ltd [2013] EWHC 1068 (Ch)
30 April 2013

Mr DiMarco was a tenant liable to pay service charges under his lease. Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 sections 21 and 22 contain statutory rights to obtain information about service charges and inspect accounts on which they are based. Section 25 provides for prosecution of a landlord for non-compliance. Mr DiMarco sought an order in civil proceedings to enforce his rights. A judge struck out that claim. The High Court allowed an appeal. The statute did not provide only for a criminal sanction but also a civil right to enforce its terms. For the judgment, click here.

Hunt v Optima (Cambridge) Ltd [2013] EWHC 681 (TCC)
29 April 2013

The defendants built a block of flats. Some flats they let directly to periodic tenants but others they sold to the claimant leaseholders. There were numerous defects and other problems with the block and the leaseholders sued on the repairing covenants. The High Court judgment sets out a useful review of the law relating to a landlord's obligations to repair under an express covenant and then deals in turn with each of the 19 most significant defects complained of. For the judgment, click here.

Sandwell Council v Trafalgar Court Property Ltd
22 April 2013

The defendants owned an estate of eight blocks of flats. The council had served six improvement notices under the Housing Act 2004 requiring remedial works and two abatement notices. The notices required the company to repair dilapidated and dangerous stairs, walkways and porches in the communal areas of the blocks. They were not complied with and the council prosecuted. At Sandwell Magistrates Court the company was convicted in its absence and fined £5000 in respect of the breach of each notice and £5932 in costs (£45,932 in total). For details of the prosecution, click here.

Lane v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC [2013] EWHC (QBD), [2013] All ER (D) 233 (Apr)
19 April 2013

Mr Lane remained in a council property after his mother died. She had succeeded to her late husband's secure tenancy so there could be no further succession. Mr Lane had been born in the house and lived there all his life. He had obsessive compulsive disorder with a fixation about his home and garden and a particular tree. When the council proposed to fell the tree he brought proceedings to stop them. His claim failed. The High Court allowed an appeal. In these unusual circumstances there would need to be a trial of the question whether felling the tree would infringe Mr Lane's Article 8 rights to respect for his private life and his home.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] April Legal Action 41
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

The holy grail as an empty chalice? Proportionality review in possession proceedings after Pinnock and Powell
I. Loveland
[2013] Journal of Planning & Environment Law p622

Don't look down (commentary on El-Dinnaoui v Westminster CC)
A. Campbell
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 24 April
For a copy, click here.

Local authorities and families with no recourse to public funds
J. Auburn and B. Tankel
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 24 April
For a copy, click here.

Difficult facts making bad law (commentary on Phillips v Francis)
P. Letman
[2013] 163 New Law Journal Issue 7559 p14
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

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.

23 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 John Beckley + 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.

21 June 2013
Homelessness Conference 2013
A Lime Legal training conference in London (speakers include Liz Davies and Jan Luba QC)
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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