Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 316 - 15 July 2013

Monday 15 July 2013

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Housing Law News

Impact of welfare reform on rents: today (15 July 2013) the overall benefit cap of £500pw (families) and £350 (singles) comes into effect nationally. For tenants, the cap will be achieved by cutting housing benefit so that the overall weekly total of benefits does not exceed the cap. The Chartered Institute of Housing has published its findings on how social landlords are preparing to meet this and the other recent changes to welfare benefits. For a copy, click here. For the National Housing Federation (NHF) response, to the roll-out of the cap, click here. For the latest NHF Welfare Reform Update, click here.

Housing benefit size criterion in social housing: on 9 July 2013 the organisation Carers UK reported the results of a survey it had undertaken of 100 carers affected by the 1 April 2013 changes. 17% had already fallen into arrears with rent as a result of the change. To read the survey results, click here. In Scotland, local authority landlords are reporting significant increases in social housing rent arrears among tenants who have had housing benefit reduced. On 8 July 2013 the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities published its latest figures on the issue. For the detail, click here.

Discretionary housing payments: DHPs were expected to make up some of the shortfalls between rents and benefits resulting from the above changes. Last week, the Papworth Trust reported that 1 in 3 applications for DHPs made by disabled people were being refused. For its report, click here. Faced with suggestions that the annual DHP allocation for the current financial year is being used up at an alarming rate, the Government has repeatedly pointed out that £11m of last year's DHP allocation went unspent. For an example of such a response, at col 21 of the debate on 8 July 2013, click here.

Housing for younger people: nearly a million additional properties available to younger people at sub-market rent will be needed by 2021 if growing shortfalls between demand and supply are not addressed according to a new report from the University of Cambridge. For that report, click here.

Disposing of social housing: on 12 July 2013 the UK Government published the latest version of its statutory consent for local authorities in England to dispose of their social housing. For copies, click here.

Housing statistics: on 10 July 2013 the UK Government updated the statistical database on the housing stock in England gathered through the English Housing Survey. To access the statistics, 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.

Dunbar Assets PLC v Dorcas Holdings Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 864, [2013] All ER (D) 159 (Jul)
12 July 2013

A lender held loans secured on a property owned by a borrower company. The company allowed a director and his partner to occupy the property as licensees and it was also sub-let to a tenant. On a default on the loans, the lender sought possession. The licensees applied to amend the defences and the tenant applied to be joined as a defendant. At the opening of the trial, the judge was satisfied that there was nothing in the defences and the application and granted a possession order. The Court of Appeal set the order aside. A summary order ought not to have been made - at least not without the defendants having an opportunity to indicate why it should not be made. Such an order could not be justified, without a trial of disputed matters, unless the lender's case could be demonstrated to be 'overwhelming'.

Paratus AMC Ltd v Persons Unknown [2013] EWCA Civ 827
11 July 2013

When a mortgage account fell into arrear, the lender took possession proceedings against all those occupying a property. Unknown to the lender, after taking the loan, the borrower had let the property. The tenant had paid her rent directly into the borrower's mortgage account. The Court of Appeal rejected the suggestion that she had thereby been adopted by the lender as its own tenant. The judgment contains a useful review of the circumstances in which such an assertion might succeed. Here it failed on the facts because the tenant could not show any evidence that the lender knew of her or of the capacity in which, or reason for which, she was making payments into the borrower's loan account. For the judgment, click here.

Thomas v Merthyr Tydfil Car Auction Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 815
11 July 2013

The claimants claimed that the enjoyment of their home was being disturbed by noise and other activities emanating from a nearby yard on which the defendant conducted part of its business. The judge upheld the claim and awarded £9000 damages. The defendant's appeal was dismissed. Although the Court of Appeal was satisfied that the judge had erred in the treatment of certain evidence, there had been more than sufficient evidence to establish the claim and the right legal principles had been applied. For the judgment, click here.

ZH v Newham LBC, CN v Lewisham LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 805
11 July 2013

The claimants were members of homeless families provided interim and temporary accommodation under licences by the councils in pursuit of their responsibilities under Housing Act 1996 Part 7. When those duties ended, the councils terminated the licences but did not propose to take possession proceedings. The Court of Appeal held that it was bound by its previous decisions to hold that the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 did not apply to repossession of such accommodation by the councils and nothing in the Human Rights Act 1998 required a council to take possession proceedings before recovering possession. For the judgment, click here.

Peake v Hackney LBC [2013] EWHC (QB) noted on LAWTEL
11 July 2013

Hackney's reviewing officer decided that Ms Peake had become homeless intentionally. The notification of that decision drew attention to the 21 day time limit. The notice of appeal was put in after that time limit had expired and Ms Peake applied for an extension of time under Housing Act 1996 section 204(2A). The county court judge was not satisfied that she had made out a "good reason" for failing to appeal in time. The High Court dismissed an appeal from that decision. Whether a 'good' reason had been established was a matter to be determined on the relevant facts. It did not involve an inquiry into the merits of the appeal. Fixing a time limit which could only be extended for good reason did not breach the Human Rights Act 1998.

Black v Wilkinson [2013] EWCA Civ 820
9 July 2013

The claimants were two men who were partners but had not entered into a civil partnership. The defendants operated a bed and breakfast establishment from rooms in a property where they also lived. They had accepted a booking from one of the claimants for a double room but, on appreciating that the two men would be sharing a bed, they cancelled the booking. The Court of Appeal upheld a finding that this amounted to unlawful direct discrimination against homosexual men. It was also indirect discrimination for which no justification could be established. The defendants appeal was dismissed. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] July Legal Action 20
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.

Nowhere to call home
M. Willers
[2013] Inside Housing 12 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

Landlords could demolish bedroom-taxed homes
C. Brown
[2013] Inside Housing 10 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

Homeless households 'off the radar' of public services
D. Douglas
[2013] The Guardian 9 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

A plea for a housing mediation service
A. Arden
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 57

Homelessness and capacity: time to revisit Begum?
R. Sandland
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 68

A fond farewell
S. McGrath
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 74

Tenancy deposit or rent payable in advance?
D. Smith
[2013] 16 Journal of Housing Law 80

Residential Property Update
N. Rees and E. Gosling
[2013] 157 Solicitors Journal Issue 27 p23
For a copy of 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

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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