Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 314 - 1 July 2013

Monday 1 July 2013

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Housing Law News

Housing cases and judicial review: changes take effect today (1 July 2013) to the procedures for bringing judicial review claims in the Administrative Court. For the amendments to the procedure rules, click here. For the amendments to the Pre-Action protocol for judicial review (and the modified version), click here. For the amended rules and practice directions, click here.

Housing cases and legal aid: the last annual report of the Legal Services Commission was published on 25 June 2013. It shows (p.23) that spending on civil legal aid fell from £977m in 2011/12 to £941m in 2012/13 with 15% fewer acts of assistance. Meanwhile, net expenditure on administration by the LSC itself increased from £82m to £111m over a one year period. For the annual report, click here.

Housing and Anti-social Behaviour (1): on 24 June 2013 the UK Government announced that in 2015/2016 some £200m funding will become available which - over five years - will see another 400,000 vulnerable families provided with intensive help before they reach the crisis points that would qualify them for the current Troubled Families programme. The payment-by-results programme will be administered by DCLG, but funded from across Whitehall. For the announcement, click here.

Housing and Anti-social Behaviour (2): on 27 June 2013 the House of Commons Public Bill Committee reached Part 3 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill. To follow the debates to date and the progress of the Bill, click here.

Retaliatory eviction: on 27 June 2013 a report was jointly published by Shelter Cymru and Citizens Advice Cymru calling on the Welsh Government to include protection of private sector tenants against retaliatory eviction in its proposed reforms of housing law. For a copy of the report, click here.

Empty homes: on 20 June 2013 the Homes & Communities Agency announced that 65 housing providers with 133 schemes across England are to benefit from nearly £41m of empty homes funding, delivering almost 2,000 new affordable homes. For the announcement, click here.

Temporary accommodation for the homeless: on 24 June 2013 Westminster City Council considered proposals for a new procurement approach to temporary accommodation for homeless households. The new approach was needed to address the unprecedented shortage in supply resulting from an 86% increase in acceptances over a two year period. For the officer's report to the Council's Cabinet, click here.

Housing Policy: on 26 June 2013 the Chartered Institute of Housing published a 2013 briefing paper on the UK Housing Review. For a copy, 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.

R (Howard) v The Official Receiver [2013] EWHC (Admin) 1839
28 June 2013

The claimant was a disabled woman living in social housing. She was subject to a conditional possession order requiring payment of current rent and £5pw. She was granted a Debt Relief Order but, following a change in her circumstances, the Official Receiver (OR) revoked it. The claimant sought a judicial review, contending that the OR had acted in breach of the public sector equality duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. The High Court dismissed the claim. The OR was exercising a judicial function in revoking the Order and was therefore exempted from the equality duty by Schedule 18 para 3. For the judgment, click here.

Incommunities Ltd v Boyd [2013] EWCA Civ 756
26 June 2013

The claimant was granted a possession order against the defendant (an assured tenant) on grounds of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour (ASB). As part of the ASB case, the claimant had relied on three anonymous witness statements of neighbours who do not give live evidence. The statements were adduced by a tenancy enforcement officer. The defendant appealed on the basis that reliance on such statements was contrary to the rules of natural justice and a breach of his Article 6 right to a fair trial. The Court of Appeal held that ordinarily a witness making a statement, but not giving evidence at trial, would be identified. However, the judge had not acted improperly in admitting anonymous hearsay evidence in this case having regard to the criteria in Civil Evidence Act 1995 section 4(2). For the judgment, click here.

Johnson v City of Westminster [2013] EWCA Civ 773
26 June 2013

The council decided that Mr Johnson had become homeless intentionally. That decision was upheld on review and on appeal to the county court. Mr Johnson asked the council to provide him with temporary accommodation while he made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to bring a second appeal. The council declined. The Court of Appeal decided that it had no jurisdiction to interfere with that decision. A refusal of accommodation pending an application or appeal to the Court of Appeal could only be challenged by a claim for judicial review.

Emezie v Home Secretary [2013] EWCA Civ 733
26 June 2013

The claimant was a pregnant woman. Her health needs required her to be provided with self-contained ground floor accommodation by the UKBA which owed her an accommodation duty. That had not been provided and, despite letters before claim, no assurance that it would be provided was given until after a claim for judicial review had been started. The High Court made 'no order for costs' on that claim. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. The judge had wrongly applied the old Boxall test rather than the modern M v Croydon test. The claimant was awarded her costs. For the judgment, click here.

Health & Safety Executive v Newport City Council
24 June 2013

The council agreed to grant-fund works to improve and modify a householder's home to accommodate foster children. The council did not follow its own procedures for choosing contractors to carry out the work and, although it kept a list of approved firms, it did not supply this to the householder or involve the council department which normally dealt with such work. It put forward a contractor without checking their competence or monitoring their work. An inspection by GasSafe found that a boiler had not been correctly fitted and the flue from the gas fire had been capped just below the level of the loft, allowing poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the loft space. It was classified as 'immediately dangerous'. At Cwmbran Magistrates' Court, the council pleaded guilty to a breach of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974,was fined £20,000 and was ordered to pay £11,000 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Wirral BC v Furlong [2013] UKUT 0291 (AAC)
21 June 2013

The council received numerous claims for housing benefit from residents of supported housing accommodation. It did not accept that the residents occupied 'exempt' accommodation because it was not satisfied that the landlord was a 'voluntary organisation' or a 'housing association'. That was because it considered that a consultant working for the landlord (and his businesses) could potentially make a profit from its activities. The council's case was rejected by an appeal tribunal. The President of the Upper Tribunal dismissed a further appeal. The mere possibility of a third party making a profit from the landlord's activities did not mean that a landlord was not a 'voluntary organisation' or a 'housing association'. The judgment gives useful guidance on the meaning of those terms.

Oxford CC v Mohamad Bassam Samsam and Ahmad Mehialdin Samsam
11 June 2013

The council believed that the defendants might be landlords operating an unlicensed HMO in their area. It served them with notices under section 16 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 requiring them to provide the details of all persons and organisations with an interest in the property. Both defendants failed to respond were found guilty of non-compliance at Oxford Magistrates' Court. They were fined £200 and ordered to each pay £500 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

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.

The needs of the many (Reading BC v Holt)
Y. Dania
[2013] Inside Housing 28 June
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 Month

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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