Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 321 - 19 August 2013

Monday 19 August 2013

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Housing Law News

Legal aid for housing cases: the Low Commission is looking at the impact of legal aid reform on areas of social welfare law, including housing. It has closed its evidence-gathering phase but is now seeking views of those working in and around the advice sector on its draft report and emerging recommendations. It is holding consultation events in Cardiff on 4 September, in London on 5 September and in Manchester on 19 September. For the draft report, further details of the events and the consultation deadline, click here. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is pursuing a formal inquiry into the implications for access to justice of the Government's proposed legal aid reforms. For the details of that inquiry, click here.

Homelessness: the latest prevention figures show that 202,400 cases of homelessness prevention or relief are estimated to have taken place outside the statutory homelessness framework in England in 2012/13. Of these 181,500 (90 per cent) were preventions and 21,000 (10 per cent) were cases of relief. For the full statistics, click here.

Private Renting: the Centre for London has produced a new report on the state of the private rental sector in London. For copies, click here.

Social landlords and service charges: the organisation Housemark has just published a new free briefing for social landlords on the effective collection of service charges. For a copy, click here.

Private sector tenancy deposits: in a letter to landlord representatives, the Housing Minister has said that the Government is exploring the possibility of new legislation on tenancy deposits in light of the decision in Superstrike. For a copy of the letter, 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.

Camden LBC v Mohammed Wahidul Rahman Aziz
12 August 2013

The defendant was the private landlord of a property he owned in Merseyside. He applied online for social housing from Camden in June 2009 and updated his information again in March 2011. He failed to disclose that he was a property owner and was receiving rental payments from tenants. Having changed his plea to guilty, for making a false representation under the Fraud Act, Highbury Corner Magistrates Court fined him £110 and costs of £1,800. For details of the prosecution, click here.

R (N and N) v Newham LBC [2013] EWHC 2475 (Admin)
9 August 2013

The claimants were children. Their father was an illegal entrant. Their mother was an overstayer. Neither faced immediate deportation as the UKBA was reviewing their applications for leave to remain. The family was homeless but neither parent was eligible for homelessness assistance. The children applied to the council for accommodation with their parents under Children Act 1989 section 17. It declined to assist but since December 2011 the council had accommodated in order to comply with an injunction. The High Court dismissed the judicial review claim. The council had not materially erred in declining assistance. For the judgment, click here.

HSE v Patrick Regan
9 August 2013

The defendant was a builder engaged to carry out work at the victim's home. The defendant was not Gas Safe registered but undertook work which caused a gas leak and which also vented dangerous fumes into the floor of the house. At Luton Crown Court he was sentenced to 12 months immediate imprisonment and ordered to pay costs of £2500. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Camden LBC v Vivek Srivastava
6 August 2013

The defendant had been a council tenant since July 2006. He left and in September 2010 was discovered to have sublet the flat to students. Possession action was taken and the property was recovered in March 2011. The council prosecuted in respect of (a) his failure to notify his departure and (b) his failure to disclose that he had bought a property elsewhere. He entered guilty pleas to two charges under the Fraud Act. At Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge Peter Clarke QC fined him £10,000 and he was ordered to pay £6,000 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Morally v Lambeth LBC
2 August 2013

The council failed to address a damp and mould problem effectively at a tenant's flat. She brought a private prosecution for statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part III. The council pleaded guilty at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court and was fined £1335, ordered to do the repairs, and required to pay £500 compensation. For further details of the prosecution, click here.

Salford Council v Dean Weinberg
August 2013

The respondent was the private landlord of five rented properties in the part of the council's area designated for selective licensing. He failed to obtain licences from the council in order to rent privately. The Residential Property Tribunal ordered the respondent to repay £19,958.84 for housing benefit that it had paid in respect of his tenants' rents. For details of the claim and order, click here.

Aberdeenshire Council v Evans [2013] ScotSC 48
18 July 2013

A secure council tenant was convicted of supplying Class A drugs from his home. Following service of a 15 months' sentence of imprisonment, he returned to the property. The council sought possession. The offence itself established the ground for possession. The only issue was the reasonableness of making a possession order. The court decided that, despite the fact that the tenant was disabled and that the property had been modestly adapted, an eviction would be reasonable given the seriousness of the offence. For the judgement, click here.

R (Ewing) v Camden LBC [2013] EWHC 2542 (Admin)
17 July 2013

A council may refuse to consent to an assignment of a secure tenancy by way of mutual exchange if the property is "substantially more extensive" than the proposed swop-partner reasonably requires. Camden changed its policy so that it would refuse consent if the swop would leave the incoming tenant with a spare bedroom. The claimant sought judicial review on the grounds that a single spare bedroom could not make a property "substantially more extensive" than a tenant required and on the grounds that the council had not undertaken statutory consultation on the change of policy. The High Court refused permission to seek judicial review. Neither ground was arguable.

Hoblyn v Barclays Bank [2013] CSOH 104
27 June 2013

A husband owned a matrimonial home in Scotland in his sole name. He took out a secured loan but defaulted on it. The marriage failed and the couple were divorced. The ex-husband was declared bankrupt. The lender and his trustee sought an order for sale and possession. Initially that was stayed on the ex-wife's application. The appeal court lifted the stay. The ex-wife had not obtained the property in the divorce proceedings and, as an ex-wife, she had no answer to the lender's claim. For the judgment, click here.

R v Ziarat Mahmoud [2013] EWCA Crim 1291
18 June 2013

The defendant obtained a mortgage by falsely representing that he was in employment and had a significant income. He purchased a house that he let to tenants. Following his conviction, the Crown sought a compensation order. The Court of Appeal ordered that the rent collected (over £8000) represented the proceeds of a crime and could be confiscated. The defendant was not entitled to offset, against that order, the mortgage repayments he had in fact made.

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.

Safe as houses (ADR in landlord and tenant disputes)
G. Chase
[2013] 163 New Law Journal No.7573 Page 21
To read the article, click here.

Liz Davies welcomes Andrew Arden QC's conversion to mediation for housing cases
L. Davies
[2013] Garden Court Mediation Blog 11 August
To read the article, click here.

When is Judicial Review Available as a Remedy in Relation to Housing Benefit Issues Where There are Possession Proceedings for Rent Arrears?
D. Rutledge
[2013] Garden Court Chambers Blog 13 August
To read the article, click here.

The Bedroom Tax
S. Birdee
[2013] Garden Court North Housing Law Bulletin Issue 37
To read the Bulletin, click here.

Carrot or stick? Why we need tax breaks for private landlords
M. Theseira
[2013] Guardian Professional 14 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

The secrets of success in tackling housing fraud
M. Dymond
[2013] Guardian Professional 7 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

Anonymity and hearsay: Court of Appeal clarity
K. Anders
[2013] Local Government Lawyer 14 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

Using the broken windows theory to tackle antisocial behaviour
I. Russell
[2013] Guardian Professional 6 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. 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.

Homelessness and Allocations
8 October 2013
A LAG training event in London
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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