Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 312 - 18 June 2013

Tuesday 18 June 2013

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Housing Law News

Homelessness: on 6 June 2013 the latest statistics on statutory homelessness in England were released. They cover January to March 2013 during which 13,230 applicants were accepted as owed the main homelessness duty. In the 2012/13 financial year, there were 53,540 acceptances. This is an increase of 6% from 50,290 in 2011/12. Some 55,300 households were in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2013, 10% higher than at the same date last year. For the figures, click here.

Bed and Breakfast: the latest homelessness statistics also show 14% increases in both families in B&B and in applicants placed in temporary accommodation out-of-district. Some 15 local authorities, which have had more than 10 families in B&B for longer than six weeks, have been invited to bid for a new £1.8m fund to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the problems that are driving the use of B&B. Nearly 80% of the 760 families placed in B&B for longer than six weeks came from those 15 councils. (They are Barking & Dagenham, Birmingham, Brent, Crawley, Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Milton Keynes, Redbridge, Reigate & Banstead, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.) For the letter inviting bids, click here. To help these and other councils, the government is promoting a homelessness "gold standard". For the announcement, click here. For the gold standard website, click here.

Eligibility: new regulations made on 13 June 2013 change the eligibility rules for lettings and homelessness to take account of Croatia joining the EU on 1 July 2013. For the new regulations, click here. For a substantial (but free) new handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration published by the European Court of Human Rights, click here.

Discretionary Housing Payments: new regulations came into force on 10 June 2013 to ensure universal credit claimants who have rent (or equivalent) liabilities can apply for discretionary housing payments (DHP). For the regulations, click here. For the explanatory memo, click here. For council tenants, it may assist local authorities to make DHPs from their Housing Revenue Accounts rather than from general council funds. On 9 May 2013 the DCLG wrote to local housing authorities in England inviting applications for specific directions to that effect under Local Government & Housing Act 1989. Swindon Council was among the first to apply and received such a Direction on 29 May 2013. For details, click here.

Welfare reform and council tenants: on 7 June 2013 the UK Government published its response to the Communities & Local Government Committee's concerns about rent arrears levels for council tenants as a result of welfare reform changes. For a copy of the response, click here. The national roll-out of the benefit cap starts next month in the first of two phases. For an outline of the roll-out arrangements see Housing Benefit Direct Issue 138 (June 2013). For a copy, click here. For the DWP letter to local authorities about the roll-out dates, click here.

Building affordable homes: on 11 June 2013 the Homes & Communities Agency published the latest statistics on delivery of new affordable housing in England. For the figures, click here. For the HCA announcement, click here.

Updates on Housing Law: for daily housing law news and updates follow the Editor of this Bulletin (Jan Luba QC) on Twitter @JanLubaQC

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.

Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669
14 June 2013

The claimant granted the defendant a one year fixed term assured shorthold tenancy in January 2007 and took a tenancy deposit. In April 2007 the parts of the Housing Act 2004 requiring protection of tenants' deposits came into force. In January 2008 the fixed term expired and the tenant remained in occupation under a statutory periodic tenancy. Later, the claimant sought possession relying on a section 21 notice. The Court of Appeal held that the deposit ought to have been protected under the Act and had not been. As a result, the section 21 notice was invalid and the possession claim was dismissed. For the judgment, click here.

R (Afework) v Camden LBC [2013] EWHC (Admin) 1637
13 June 2013

From 1990 to 2000 the council had been providing accommodation and support for the claimant who had mental health difficulties. In 2000 he was subject of a vicious racist attack and suffered very severe injuries including brain damage. The council provided him with specialist accommodation and support under the National Assistance Act 1948 which carried a right to levy charges. The claimant's case was that the duty to accommodate was in fact owed under the Mental Health Act 1993 section 117 for which no charge could be levied. The High Court refused permission to apply for judicial review. No duty under the 1983 Act had arisen prior to 2000 and since then the need for care and accommodation had been rightly addressed under the 1948 Act. For the judgment, click here.

Reading BC v Holt [2013] EWCA Civ 641
7 June 2013

The council granted a tenancy of a three bedroom house to Mr Holt in 1949 for his family to occupy. The defendant was born in 1953 and was the last family member living in the house. She had succeeded to the secure tenancy and had lived in the home all her life. The council sought possession for under-occupation (Ground 16). The judge granted the order on condition that it would not take effect until a formal offer of alternative accommodation with specific features had been made. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The judge had not erred in her consideration of the reasonableness of making an order. Nor had it been necessary for the landlord to offer a specific property before making the claim or before the hearing. The judge was entitled to make a conditional order of the type she had made. For the judgment, click here.

Johnson v Solihull MBC [2013] EWCA Civ noted on LAWTEL
6 June 2013

The applicant was a homeless single man aged 37. He was a drug addict with depression and a long history of persistent criminal offences (some leading to custody). He had slept rough or sofa-surfed for many years. The council decided that he did not have priority need because he was not vulnerable. The decision was upheld on review and an appeal to the county court was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal. There was no error of law in the reviewing officer's decision.

Riniker v Mattey [2013] EWHC (Admin) noted on LAWTEL
5 June 2013

A tenant exercised the statutory right to request a landlord to provide a copy of the insurance policy in respect of which service charges were payable. The company was a landlord and the notice requiring disclosure was addressed to it. The tenant brought a prosecution for non-compliance and cited the company secretary as defendant. The magistrates' court upheld a submission that there was no case to answer. The Divisional Court dismissed an appeal by case stated. The landlord was the company not its secretary. The company had been given the notice and it bore the statutory obligation. The secretary was not a proper defendant.

Complaint against Birmingham City Council 12001546
28 May 2013

A mother and her four children had to leave their home due to incidents of harassment and intimidation. The council placed them in unsuitable bed-and-breakfast accommodation without making any sustained effort to find an alternative. As a result, the family had to live together in the same room for 17 weeks. The council delayed in reaching a decision on its second review of their homelessness application (following a county court appeal). The council also failed to take into account personal and financial circumstances when deciding whether the amount it charged for removal and storage of their possessions was reasonable. The Ombudsman recommended an apology, payment of £1980 (for the stress and anxiety caused by living in unsuitable accommodation and the delay in dealing with a homeless review decision) and a further £2000 in recognition of the injustice caused to the children for living in B&B for a prolonged period. It should also reassess its charges for the removal and storage of possessions. For the investigation report, click here.

Complaint against Kent County Council 12001464
24 May 2013

A 16-year old approached the council for welfare and housing help when he became homeless after both his parents abandoned him. Although the council offered a foster placement, it failed to offer other housing alternatives. After staying with friends, the man became homeless again at age 18. The council would not provide him with accommodation because he was not in priority need. The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice. The man should have been assessed as a 'child in need' on first approach and been provided with Children Act accommodation. The recommended remedies included that the council should: now confirm him as a leaving care child and provide the services he was entitled to as a leaving care child; set aside £3,000 for the injustice caused to him by the loss of welfare benefits; and review the implementation of its joint protocol for homeless young people. For the investigation report, click here.

R (Spaul) v Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) [2013] EWHC (admin) noted on LAWTEL
22 May 2013

A management company issued consultation notices to tenants about major works to be funded by service charges, It then applied to an LVT for a determination of the payable charges. The notices were sent to Mr Spaul at his flat. But he lived elsewhere. The LVT determined the application. Mr Spaul applied to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal on the basis that he had not received the notices. When that was refused, he sought a judicial review. The High Court dismissed the claim. The evidence fell short of establishing that Mr Spaul's alternative address had been provided to the management company following a request for it.

Solihull MBC v Willoughby [2013] EWCA Civ 699
8 May 2013

The defendant tenant was a recovering heroin addict and an alcoholic with mental health problems. Her volatile relationship with a man caused nuisance to neighbours. The council obtained an interim ASBI restraining her from admitting the man to her block of flats and from causing nuisance. It sought committal for eight breaches of the order over a four week period. The tenant admitted seven of the breaches and was given a suspended sentence of two months. A final ASBI was made in January 2013 but there were further admitted breaches by the defendant (now pregnant) and another committal application was made. The judge imposed a 10 month sentence to which the earlier two months (suspended) were added. The Court of Appeal held that an immediate custodial sentence had been inevitable but reduced the ten months to three, making five months in all.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] June Legal Action 31
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Housing in the relegation zone
A. Arden
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 35

Daejan Investmnents Ltd v Benson: some reflections
J. de Waal
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 45

The Tenancy Deposit scheme: A Judicial Dimension
E. Ekperigin
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 49

Practice Comment: Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013
A. Cafferkey
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 53

Dispensing with consultation requirements - Guidance from the Supreme Court
J. Upton
[2013] 17 Landlord & Tenant Review 81

Daejan v Benson - Misplaced intent?
J. Upton
[2013] 17 Landlord & Tenant Review 86

Flexible tenancies: top tips for drafting tenancy agreements
J. Holbrook
[2013] 16 May Local Government Lawyer
For a copy, click here.

Homeless persons, vulnerability and personal circumstances
P. Brown
[2013] 16 May Local Government Lawyer
For a copy, click here.

Accommodating people with community care needs
J. Auburn
[2013] 23 May Local Government Lawyer
For a copy, click here.

An issue of destitution
R. Foster
[2013] 23 May Local Government Lawyer
For a copy, click here.

Business tenancies and the Equality Act
S. Butler and W. East
[2013] 157 No 21 Solicitors Journal 10.
For a copy, click here.

The proposal for a new absolute ground for possession is misjudged
S. Madge-Wyld
[2013] 157 No 21 Solicitors Journal 10.
For a copy, click here.

Splitting up isn't hard to do (leaseholder service charges)
C. Ward
[2013] 14 June Inside Housing
For a copy, click here.

Keeping tenants safe (domestic violence)
P. Hayes
[2013] 7 June Inside Housing
For a copy, click here.

Rights to remain (pre-tenancy checks)
G. Lloyd
[2013] 7 June Inside Housing
For a copy, click here.

Flexible friend (flexibuy tenancy scheme)
H. Tucker
[2013] 31 May Inside Housing
For a copy, click here.

The cost-cutting continues (legal aid for tenants)
O. Hansen
[2013] 31 May Inside Housing
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

This Month

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.

27 June 2013
Advocacy at a Mediation: Your Questions Answered
A Garden Court Seminar on the role of advocates at mediation (speakers include Beatrice Prevatt).
For the details, click here.

Later this summer

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

4 July 2013
Allocations: The New Landscape
A SHLA evening seminar in London
For the details, click here.

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

24 July 2013
Welfare reforms: navigating the changes in the welfare system
A one-day conference in London for front-line staff and managers
For the details, click here.

 

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