Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 323 - 2 September 2013

Monday 2 September 2013

Share This Page

Email This Page

Housing Law News

Private rented sector: in January 2013, the Newham London Borough Council declared the whole of its district an area of mandatory licensing of private sector landlords. On 27 August 2013 it published statistics indicating that 110 legal cases are on-going against local landlords, including: (1) 67 prosecutions for failure to license and/or for HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) Management Regulation offences; and (2) 43 cautions and/or £300 enforcement charges were issued for lower level failure-to-license offences. Inter-agency working has also led to over 100 arrests by police. For more details, click here.

Squatting: in September 2012 unauthorised squatting in residential premises became a criminal offence under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. A recent survey based on FOI requests indicates that since then: (1) 90 arrests have been made outside London but fewer than half of those had resulted in charges; and (2) in London, 92 people had been charged or accepted a caution. For further details, click here.

Welfare Reform and Rents: the Local Government Association has published a report on the cumulative impacts of the Central Government's welfare reform programme on local councils. For a copy, click here. The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland has produced guidance for social landlords on rent payment and collection under universal credit. For a copy, click here.

Bedroom Tax: for the purpose of applying the Housing Benefit regulations, local authorities need to determine how many bedrooms a property has. A survey by the campaign group False Ecomony has found that 15 councils are not counting rooms under 50 square feet as bedrooms. For more details, click here.

Sales of residential premises: in a drive to collect undeclared or unpaid capital gains tax on the profits made by owners selling residential properties (other than their own homes) in the UK and abroad, the HMRC initiated a Property Sales Campaign. To "take advantage of the best possible terms" taxpayers must declare and pay the tax due by 6 September 2013. For details of the campaign, click here.

Housing benefit (1): on 1 September 2013 the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Functions) (Amendment) Order 2013 came into force. It provides that the LHA rate will be the lower of the rent at the 30th percentile of listed rents or the previous year's LHA increased by one per cent, instead of the lower of the rent at the 30th percentile of listed rents or the previous LHA rate uprated by the Consumer Prices Index. For a copy of the Order, click here. For the explanatory memorandum, click here. For the Impact Assessment, click here.

Housing benefit (2): on 28 August 2013 the Cabinet Member for Finance in the City of Westminster reported that the impact of the overall benefit cap on housing benefit was projected to reduce council income from its homelessness temporary accommodation charges by £4.36m pa. The council only has £5.9m pa funding from government for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) for all purposes. A revised local DHP scheme is proposed. For the details, click here.

Eligibility for housing: on 31 August 2013 regulations came into force in Northern Ireland to amend the eligibility rules for housing allocation and homelessness to deal with the entry of Croatia into the EU. For the regulations, click here.

Homelessness: the charity St Mungo's has published a free guide: Health and homelessness: Understanding the costs and role of primary care services for homeless people. For a copy, click here.

Council Tax Reduction Schemes: these local schemes replaced national council tax benefit in April 2013. In Wales, the regulations had a built-in "sunset clause" applying them only to the year 2013/2014. The Welsh Government is now consulting about their replacement. For the consultation 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.

HSE v Phillip Whittaker (trading as PJW Property Developments)
22 August 2013

The defendant undertook building work to a house. He was not a member of the Gas Safe Register. He moved a gas boiler and pipework allowing potentially deadly carbon monoxide to be vented into the property instead of outside. The danger continued for around six weeks until the occupiers were alerted to it. At Yeovil Magistrates' Court he pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was fined a total of £3,000 and costs of £3,000. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Hounslow LBC v Daljit Singh Gill
19 August 2013

The council discovered that the defendant landlord was using an outbuilding for letting to tenants without it having planning permission for residential use. It served an enforcement notice to stop that use but the defendant failed to comply. On a guilty plea at Feltham Magistrates' Court, he was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £997 and a victim surcharge of £15. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Bath & North East Somerset Council v various defendants
12 August 2013

The council brought prosecutions against three private landlords operating in its area. They had failed to license HMOs which they were letting and had failed to comply with HMO regulations in respect of the condition of their properties. Bath Magistrates' Court made orders for fines and costs totalling £16,500. For details of the prosecutions, click here.

Haringey LBC v Blue Ribbon Properties (UK) Ltd
8 August 2013

The defendant landlord failed to respond to council action designed to secure basic housing standards. The council prosecuted in respect of failure to replace faulty windows over the course of a year, despite repeated requests and court action. Tottenham Magistrates' Court imposed a £1500 fine for failing to maintain windows and allowing the property to become damp. The defendant was also ordered to pay £1250 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Rhondda Cynon Taff Council v Hillary Newell
6 August 2013

The defendant was a secure tenant. As a result of anti-social behaviour, her tenancy was demoted. The nuisance continued and an anti-social behaviour injunction was granted. Her landlord then brought possession proceedings. Pending the hearing of that claim, the council applied for a premises closure order. Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court granted an immediate three-month closure order on hearing evidence of threats of violence to neighbours, threats of damage to neighbours' properties, nuisance being caused by shouting, screaming and arguing at all hours of the day and night, intimidating behaviour, banging on walls, and threats of violence against police officers. For details of the proceedings, click here.

Haringey LBC v Ashdale Services (aka Sylvan Estates)
31 July 2013

The defendant landlord failed to obtain a licence for two HMO properties that it let in the council's selective licensing area. The owner pleaded guilty to failure and to breaches of the HMO regulations in respect of one of the properties. It was poorly maintained and did not have functional smoke alarms. The landlord had allowed bedrooms to become mouldy due to broken window sash cords and had failed to fit hand rails in narrow, steep stair wells. Tottenham Magistrates' Court imposed fines and costs totalling almost £50,000. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Brent London Borough Council v John Fearon
14 June 2013

The defendant was a private landlord. He had converted a property into 13 bedsits without planning permission and continued to let them in breach of a planning enforcement notice. At Harrow Crown Court he was fined £10,000, ordered to pay the Council's costs of £32,227 and also ordered to pay £235,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act in respect of the amount he received by renting out the property. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Brent London Borough Council v Hassam Hussain
10 June 2013

The defendant was a private landlord. He had converted a property into nine studio flats without planning permission and continued to let them in breach of a planning enforcement notice. At Harrow Crown Court he was fined £20,000, ordered to pay the Council's costs of £38,422 and also ordered to pay £494,314 under the Proceeds of Crime Act in respect of the amount he received by renting out the property. For details of the prosecution, click here.

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.

Councils illegally housing teenagers in B&Bs
J. Reed
[2013] BBC News 29 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

Vulnerable people 'under threat in unregulated B&Bs'
H. Fearn
[2013] The Independent 27 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

Frozen out (The future for supported housing providers)
M. Hilditch
[2013] Inside Housing 30 August
To read the article, click here.

The wait is over (Complaints against social landlords)
M. Biles
[2013] Inside Housing 30 August
To read the article, click here.

The dangers of damp (Prosecuting landlords for damp and mould)
T. Waitt
[2013] Inside Housing 30 August
To read the article, click here.

The Bedroom Tax's impact on one of the UK's hardest hit towns
C. Purdy
[2013] Guardian Professional 28 August
For a copy of the article, click here.

'No homelessness' policy protects tenants affected by Bedroom Tax
J. Dunn
[2013] Guardian Professional 27 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

Rogue Landlords
12 September 2013
A CIH Training event in Manchester
For more details, click here.

Tenancy Agreements
12 September 2013
A CIH Training event in London (speakers include Liz Davies)
For more details, click here.

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 (speakers include Jan Luba QC)
For more details, click here.

Allocations Conference
17 October 2013
A Lime Legal conference in London (speakers include Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies)
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
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

Latest tweets from Garden Court Chambers

Follow us on Twitter

Tweets by gardencourtlaw

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards

+ View more awards