Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 320 - 12 August 2013

Monday 12 August 2013

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Housing Law News

Possession claims against tenants: on 8 August 2013 the latest official statistics on landlord possession claims in the county court were released. 39,293 claims were issued in the three months March to June 2013 and during the same period bailiffs executed over 9000 possession warrants for landlords. For the full figures, click here.

Repossessing homeowners: the downward trend in repossessions by mortgage lenders is continuing. In the first six months of 2013, members of the Council of Mortgage Lenders repossessed 15,700 properties. For the CML's statistics, click here.

Moving Gypsies and Travellers: on 9 August 2013 the UK Government re-issued its guidance to local authorities on powers available to address unauthorised encampments. For a copy of the guidance, click here.

Capping housing benefit: the overall benefit cap is normally achieved by a local authority restricting the amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant. The cap was initiated in four London Boroughs in mid-April 2013 and by the end of June had been applied to almost 3000 households. Over 80% were families with children. For the official statistics, click here.

Disposing of council housing: on 5 August 2013 the UK Government launched a consultation exercise on a proposal to remove the requirement on councils to seek the specific consent of the Secretary of State to dispose of (1) vacant housing land or (2) vacant dwellings (to other registered providers) at less than market value. For the consultation paper, click here. The deadline for responses is 13 September 2013.

Reviewing housing laws: on 2 August 2013, the UK Government published a review of the operation of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008. Among other changes to housing law, the Act established the modern form of social housing regulation in England. For a copy of the review, click here.

Accommodation in coastal towns: a new report from the Centre for Social Justice has highlighted increasing concentrations of vulnerable households in low-rent accommodation in seaside towns. For a copy of the report, click here.

Financial support for the costs of housing: the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee are undertaking an inquiry into provision, in the reformed welfare benefits system, of support to meet housing costs. They are particularly interested in hearing views on: new and innovative responses to the changes to housing support already taking place, which could help shape future approaches; and the implications of the changes for landlords (private rented sector and housing associations), local authorities (including availability of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)) and claimants. Written evidence should be submitted by 27 September 2013. For more details, 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.

Ahmad v Secret Garden (Cheshire) Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1005
6 August 2013

The company took a lease of a property intending that a director should live in it as his home and that the rest should be converted into a children's nursery. Planning permission was refused, so the company sublet to the director and others. The lease prohibited sub-letting and did not reflect the actual agreement the parties had made. The tenant sought rectification of the lease. A judge granted the application. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal in a judgment which contains a helpful restatement of the principles to be applied to rectification of leases. For the judgment, click here.

R (GE) v Bedford BC [2013] EWHC 2186 (Admin)
26 July 2013

The claimant was a young woman from Eritrea who had claimed asylum. The UKBA decided that she was an adult, refused her asylum application, detained her and arranged for her removal from the UK. The High Court ordered her release. The claimant said she was a child and should be accommodated by the council under the Children Act 1989 section 20. Instead, a judge ordered the UKBA to provide her with NASS support and accommodation. After she had turned 18, she sought a declaration that she was a 'former relevant child' because the council had owed her the section 20 duty. The High Court rejected that claim. The claimant had never been accommodated by the council at all. Absent such provision, there could be no 'leaving care' duties. For the judgment, click here.

Christie's application [2013] UKUT 327 (LC)
24 July 2013

In a service charge dispute, a leasehold valuation tribunal (LVT) reached a decision in April 2011. The tenant lodged an application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal some 20 months out of time. The LVT had no jurisdiction to consider a late application for permission to appeal and the tenant renewed her application to the Upper Tribunal itself. An extension of time was refused. The interests of justice required finality in litigation. For the judgment, which contains a useful discussion of the principles to be applied to late applications, click here.

R v Christine Cork
22 July 2013

The defendant was a letting agent trading as 'New Horizons' in Canterbury, Kent. She was providing local private landlords with mainly student tenants. She failed to protect about 50 tenancy deposits that she had collected and failed to pay rents collected over to landlords. The total unpaid was £60,000. On a guilty plea to fraud offences, she was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to 18 months' immediate imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here.

R (R) v Tower Hamlets LBC [2013] EWHC (Admin) noted on LAWTEL
18 July 2013

The claimant was a prisoner aged 21. He had been in custody from the age of 14 and was eligible for parole. The council indicated that, if he was released, he would live in probation service accommodation and would then be assisted in obtaining housing in the usual way. He sought a judicial review, seeking an order requiring the council to provide him with accommodation in a facility offering therapeutic programmes and support. The High Court dismissed the claim. The council had carried out a lawful community care assessment and had been entitled to assess the claimant's needs in the way it had. Its only failure had been in not informing the Parole Board of its detailed proposals to help the claimant.

Wirral BC v Geoffrey Irving
18 July 2013

The defendant was the owner of a house which he had converted into 18 units of accommodation for vulnerable tenants. He had no licence for an HMO. He failed to comply with an improvement notice requiring remedial works. The council served a prohibition order preventing the building from being used until works were carried out but the order was breached. On his guilty pleas, Birkenhead Magistrates Court imposed a fine of £3000 and £700 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Murphy v Secretary of State for Communities [2013] EWCA Civ 1015
16 July 2013

Ms Murphy was an Irish Traveller. She lived on a private caravan site which had been established, without planning permission, on agricultural land in the Green Belt and in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The local council refused planning permission and issued an enforcement notice. The Secretary of State dismissed appeals against the council's decisions. The High Court rejected a challenge to those dismissals. The Court of Appeal dismissed Ms Murphy's appeal. The Secretary of State had taken into account local housing need and the needs of Travellers and had not erred in law reaching his decisions.

Colchester BC v Ghulam Sorwar
12 July 2013

The defendant was a private landlady. Her tenant experienced repeated flooding with waste water due to the defendant's failure to repair a vent pipe. The council served notices under the Housing Act 2004 requiring remedial works but they were ignored. At Colchester Magistrates Court the defendant was fined £1970 and will be liable to meet the cost of works in default estimated at £8000. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Bernie v Haringey LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1011
12 July 2013

The council owed Ms Bernie the main housing duty under Housing Act 1996 section 193. It made her a Part 6 offer of permanent accommodation. Ms Bernie refused it. The council then decided that its section 193 duty had ended. That decision was upheld on review. The county court judge dismissed an appeal from it. An application for permission to appeal raised the interesting question of whether a challenge to whether the offer had been one 'reasonable for the applicant to accept' was an attack on the decision as to whether it constituted a 'final offer' or an attack on the decision that the duty had ended. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal because, either way, an appeal had no real prospect of success on the particular facts.

Housing Law Articles

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

Respect for the home as a defence in eviction proceedings
L. Glenister
[2013] 157 Solicitors Journal No.31
To read the article, click here.

Living together apart (commentary on Camden LBC v Sharif)
C. Bevan
[2013] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 334

Surviving succession: the relationship between statute and the common law (commentary on Solihull MBC v Hickin)
N. Hopkins and E. Laurie
[2013] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 314

What the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 means in practice
B. Britton
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 7 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

Going spare? (commentary on Bedroom Tax judicial review)
J. Manning
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 31 July
For a copy of the article, click here.

The long road to justice (commentary on Bedroom Tax judicial review)
J. Plant
[2013] Inside Housing 9 August
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.

How to Operate a Skilful and Lawful Tenancy Strategy and Allocation Scheme
10 October 2013
A White Paper conference in London
For more details, click here.

Allocations Conference
17 October 2013
A Lime Legal conference in London
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.

SHLA Annual Housing Conference
25 October 2013
A conference in London for SHLA members
Details expected at the end of August.

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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