Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 318 - 29 July 2013

Monday 29 July 2013

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Housing Law News

Last minute housing appeals: mortgage borrowers and tenants in rent arrears often make last minute applications to stay or suspend warrants for possession, even on the very eve of eviction. If an application is refused by a district judge, an appeal can be made to a circuit judge. In London, an increasing number of courts are without a resident circuit judge. The designated civil judge for London has issued a practice note about how appeals should be dealt with in those circumstances. For a copy, click here.

Possession hearings in the county court: most county courts in England and Wales now have a Legal Aid Agency funded duty scheme for representation on possession days. For the latest list of the contract-holders and the courts covered, click here.

Transferring council housing to other landlords: until 2 September 2013 the UK Government is consulting on the content of a new Housing Transfer Manual to govern arrangements for stock transfers of council housing in England to new landlords. For a copy of the consultation document, click here.

Social housing tenants: on 25 July 2013, following a consultation exercise, the UK Government confirmed that it intends to proceed with proposals that will enable social landlords in England to charge higher rents to tenants with higher household incomes. For the summary of responses to the consultation (containing the Government's proposed next steps), click here. For an analysis of the particular dimension of the proposals for London, click here.

Social housing ownership and management: on 13 July 2013 the UK Government published a summary of the responses to the 'Giving tenants control: Right to Transfer and Right to Manage regulations consultation' undertaken in 2012. The consultation was on proposals to make it easier for tenants to take over responsibility for managing housing services and to explore options for transfer from their local authority. For the summary, click here.

Housing benefit in social housing: the housing association Aragon has published a report of the adverse effects of the first 100 days of the 'bedroom tax' on its finances and on its tenants. For a copy of the report, click here.

Anti-social behaviour: HouseMark has published the sixth annual report of findings from its ASB benchmarking programme designed to help social landlords measure and understand ASB they are tackling on a day-to-day basis. It indicates that social landlords deal with 300,000 ASB cases per annum and that ASB has an annual cost of £325m. For the full report, click here. Meanwhile, the Anti-social Behaviour Bill has completed its House of Commons Committee Stage. For a copy of the version of the Bill that will be considered at Report Stage in the autumn, click here.

Stimulating home ownership: on 11 July 2013 the UK Government published its responses to the recommendations and concerns raised by the Treasury Select Committee about the various housing-related measures set out in the 2013 Budget. For the original Treasury Committee report, click here. For the Government's responses, click here.

Mobile homes: on 10 July 2013, section 318 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 was brought into force in Wales. As a result, agreements in respect of pitches on local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites in Wales have become subject to the Mobile Homes Act 1983. For a copy of the commencement order, 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.

Rousk v Sweden [2013] ECHR 746
25 July 2013

Mr Rousk and his wife lived in a mortgaged property. He failed to comply with his obligations relating to income tax. The tax authorities took enforcement proceedings. The house was sold at auction and the couple were evicted. They complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It found that an eviction represented "the most extreme form" of interference with the Article 8 right to respect for the home and therefore called for significant procedural safeguards. The eviction should have been postponed until all the underlying contentious issues about the tax liabilities and court proceedings had been resolved. The couple were awarded 80,000 euros damages plus costs. For the judgment, click here.

Daejan Investments Ltd v Benson [No.2] [2013] UKSC 54
24 July 2013

The landlord had succeeded in the Supreme Court in obtaining a dispensation enabling it to recover certain service charges from tenants. Orders of the LVT, Upper Tribunal and the Court of Appeal to the contrary effect were set aside. In this supplementary judgment, the court dealt with consequential matters, including costs. It decided that the tenants were entitled to a declaration under Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 section 20C that the costs of the litigation should not be recovered as a service charge.

R (X) v Tower Hamlets LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 904
24 July 2013

The claimant was a foster parent accommodating three children to whom the council owed the accommodation duty in Children Act 1989 section 20. Because she was related to the children, she was paid a lower allowance by the council than other foster parents received. The High Court held that the decision to charge a different rate had been unlawful. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The council could not show any good reason for having departed from statutory guidance which recommended parity of treatment for foster parents. For the judgment, click here.

R v Folarin Oyebola [2013] EWCA Crim 1052
23 July 2013

The defendant had been convicted of nine offences relating to mortgage fraud and sentenced to over four years' imprisonment. The properties he had acquired were let by him to tenants. The Crown applied for confiscation of the proceeds of the crimes and the judge made a confiscation order for £667,000 with four further years' imprisonment to be served in default of payment. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge's finding that rental income from a property acquired by mortgage fraud did amount to a "benefit" which was a proceed of the crimes. For the judgment, click here.

Arnold v Britton [2013] EWCA Civ 902
22 July 2013

Tenants entered into leases with the owner of a park site by which they agreed to pay service charges. The agreements provided that the charges would be increased by 10% per annum compound, irrespective of the actual cost of delivering the services. The effect was that significant sums were now payable for minor services and the charges would increase in the future. The Court of Appeal held that the tenants were bound by their leases. Their meaning of them had been tolerably clear and the courts could not simply unpick 'bad' bargains. For the judgment, click here.

Southwark LBC v Woelke [2013] UKUT 349(LC)
18 July 2013

Southwark sought to recover payment of over £4000 from a leaseholder in respect of the costs of certain major works. It billed for that charge separately from other service charges. A Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) held that the charge was not yet payable because the lease did not allow for presentation of separate bills. The council appealed. The lease was its standard lease and it contended that any minor departure from its strict terms as to billing could be ignored. The issues raised by the appeal concerned the strictness with which contractual procedures for the recovery of service charges must be observed, and the degree of flexibility available to a landlord to deviate from those procedures either deliberately or inadvertently. On the facts, the LVT decision was upheld. For the judgment, click here.

Paddington Basin Developments v Grits [2013] UKUT 338(LC)
18 July 2013

Lessors sought to recover as service charges the costs associated with certain retained land. Liability for such charges turned entirely on the proper construction of the leases. The judgment in this case contains a helpful restatement of the modern approach to the interpretation and construction of service charge provisions in leases.

Barclays Wealth Trustees (Jersey) Ltd v Erimus Housing Ltd [2013] EWHC (Ch) noted on LAWTEL
17 July 2013

A five year fixed term lease expired. The tenant remained in occupation, paying rent, pending the outcome of negotiations for a new lease. No new lease was ever agreed. The tenant gave three months' notice to leave. The landlord said that an annual periodic tenancy had arisen so 12 months' notice was needed. The case considers the principles which apply in determining whether a periodic tenancy can be implied where a tenant holds-over after a fixed term expires.

R (Ground Rents (Regisport) Ltd) v Upper Tribunal [2013] EWHC (Admin) noted on LAWTEL
17 July 2013

In a dispute over service charges for water supply, an LVT ruled in favour of the tenants. The freeholders applied for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. It refused permission for reasons which were based on a factual error. The Upper Tribunal had no power to review the refusal so the freeholders sought a judicial review. The High Court allowed the application and remitted the application to the tribunal to consider on the correct factual basis.

Avon Freeholds Ltd v Regent Court RTM Co [2013] UKUT 213 (LC)
5 July 2013

In a dispute over the acquisition of the right to manage a block of flats, the landlord took a point that the RTM company had not strictly complied with the notification procedures in the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002. An LVT held that the notices were valid. An appeal by the landlord was dismissed. The Upper Tribunal held that the right approach to any deficiency was to ask whether the procedures required had been substantively complied with and what, if any, prejudice the alleged deficiency had caused. For the judgment, click here.

Hull CC v Urban 1 (Hull) Limited
20 June 2013

The council received complaints from private sector tenants that their electricity supply had been turned off at a location to which they had no access. They were without lighting, heating, provision of hot water or cooking facilities. Officers made contact with representatives from the defendant company and the electricity supply was reinstated the following day. At Hull Magistrates Court on 20 June 2013 the company was convicted of two separate offences of committing acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier, contrary to section 1(3A) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and fined a total of £2,000 plus costs of £600. For details of the prosecution, click here.

R v Olive Meade [2013] EWCA Crim 1235
18 June 2013

The defendant, aged 61, had been made subject to an ASBO as a result of her behaviour towards her neighbours. Two incidents of shouting and screaming of racist abuse and hammering on her neighbour's walls represented the tenth and eleventh breaches of the ASBO. She was sentenced to 12 months' immediate imprisonment for those two breaches. The Court of Appeal held that on those facts a significant custodial sentence had been inevitable. However, the sentence was reduced to 10 months in light of the defendant "finally recognising the need for a fundamental change in attitude and behaviour" and her taking steps in that direction.

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.
To read the current article, click here.

Unanswered questions (Malik v Persons Unknown)
J. Bates
[2013] Inside Housing 26 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

Interpreting Statutory Purpose - Lessons from Yemshaw v Hounslow London Borough Council
C. Bevan
[2013] 76 Modern Law Review 742
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing allocation and debt: left out in the cold
M. Mackreth
[2013] 158 Adviser 17

I fought the law and the law one (self-representation in housing cases)
D. Patel
[2013] 158 Adviser 22

Re-allocating housing stock
J. Parker
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 25 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

Interim temporary accommodation, Article 8 and possession
M. Hutchings and J. Oscroft
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 18 July
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 Autumn

Housing money claims: disrepair, deposits and unlawful evictions
18 September 2013
A HLPA Members evening seminar
For more details, click here.

Changes to housing benefit and the introduction of universal credit
26 September 2013
A Garden Court chambers evening seminar for advisers
For more details, click here.

Equitable interests and TOLATA
24 October 2013
A Garden Court chambers evening seminar for advisers
For more details, click here.

What next for Article 8
7 November 2013
A Garden Court chambers evening seminar for advisers
For more details, click here.

Allocations lettings and homelessness
19-20 November 2013
A Chartered Institute of Housing conference (speakers include Liz Davies)
For more details, click here.

Housing law update
20 November 2013
A HLPA Members evening seminar
For more details, click here.

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