Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 329 - 21 October

Monday 21 October 2013

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Luba in Leicester. On Wednesday 30 October 2013 at 5pm Jan Luba QC of Garden Court Chambers is leading a free evening seminar in Leicester for lawyers and legal advisers from across the Midlands. The seminar entitled Housing Law: the key current issues on Allocations, Homelessness and Social Housing Possession Cases will be held on Leicester University campus. To register for a free place and for venue details, email Holly Proctor at hollyp@gclaw.co.uk.

Housing Law News

Homelessness (1): on 16 October 2013 the Local Government Ombudsmen (LGO) issued a report triggered by the increasing number of cases they are investigating about council homelessness services - in particular in relation to families and young people. The LGO is calling on local authorities, central government and policy makers, to learn from the experiences in the report and use them to drive up standards. For a copy of the report, click here.

Homelessness (2): this month, the organisation Homeless Link has published a range of materials for staff in frontline agencies - including day centres, night shelters, outreach teams, soup runs and hostels - on dealing with homeless people who are victims of trafficking or forced labour. For more details, click here.

Private renting (1): on 16 October 2013 the UK Government published its response to recommendations made by a Commons Select Committee on improving the law relating to the private rented sector. It has agreed to undertake a review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) housing standards regime, to promote a Tenants' Charter, to establish a model tenancy agreement and to issue further guidance on enforcement of standards and prosecutions for illegal eviction. For a copy of the response, click here. For the draft Tenants' Charter, click here. For the ministerial statement on these developments, click here.

Private renting (2): on 16 October 2013 the Office of Fair Trading launched a consultation on draft guidance which aims to help professionals in the private rented sector, including letting agents and landlords, to comply with the law designed to protect consumers of their services (applicants, tenants and landlords). For more details of the consultation and copies of the consultation papers, click here.

Private renting (3): on 15 October 2013 Jeremy Corbyn MP secured a first reading of a Bill: to provide for the regulation of letting agents, to protect tenants' deposits, to require the enforcement of environmental and energy-efficiency standards in private-sector rented accommodation, to amend the law on secure tenancies, to provide for fair rent to be applicable to all rented accommodation, to require landlords not to discriminate against people in receipt of state benefits, to require local authorities to establish a private rented sector office, and for connected purposes. To read the debate, click here. To watch it, click here. To follow the progress of the Bill, click here.

Housing & Anti-social Behaviour: the Government's Bill to reform the tools available to tackle anti-social behaviour has completed all its Commons stages. The first reading in the Lords was on 16 October 2013 and the Second Reading is scheduled for next week. For a copy of the Bill as it now stands, click here. To follow the Bill's progress, click here.

Housing Benefit: the latest general information bulletin about housing benefit was published by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on 18 October 2013. It contains material about Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), the benefit cap, recovery of overpayments and housing benefit cases pending before the Upper Tribunal. For a copy (available shortly), 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.

Health & Safety Executive v Claire Sherwood
16 October 2013
The defendant was a private landlady. She engaged two unqualified gas fitters to install boilers. Regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, states: "Every landlord shall ensure that any work in relation to a relevant gas fitting or any check of a gas appliance or flue is carried out by, or by an employee of, a member of a class of persons approved for the time being by the Health and Safety Executive for the purposes of regulation 3(3) of these Regulations." Chelmsford Crown Court found the defendant had failed to check that the gas fitters she had employed were competent. She should have ensured they were registered with the Gas Safe Register. She was fined £950 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs. For details of the conviction, click here.

Scriven v Calthorpe Estates [2013] UKUT 469 (LC)
25 September 2013
The leasehold valuation tribunal (LVT) now has wide powers to reviews its own decisions. In this case, the Upper Tribunal gives guidance intended to highlight the existence and principal features of the new power of review. It said that: "The power is important and valuable and its exercise in appropriate cases has the potential to achieve significant savings for parties and tribunals by avoiding expensive and time consuming appeals. It should therefore be kept in mind when a First-tier Tribunal is invited to grant permission to appeal". For the judgment, click here.

Pinnock v United Kingdom [2013] Application 31673/11
24 September 2013
The applicant was a demoted tenant of the council. It obtained a possession order as a result of further nuisance and the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from that order (for that decision, click here). The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights that his Article 8 right to respect for his home had been infringed by the order because he had not been personally responsible for the nuisance and the perpetrators had left his home. The Court rejected the complaint. It held that the Supreme Court had regard to all relevant factors when making the possession order and weighed the applicant's interests in remaining in the property against the interests of the local authority in seeking his eviction. It provided detailed reasons which, far from capable of being taxed as arbitrary or unreasonable, were relevant and sufficient for its conclusion that the applicants' eviction would not be disproportionate. In so far as the applicant complained about the failure of the Supreme Court to resolve disputed matters of fact, it was evident from the court's judgment that, even if the matters had been resolved in the applicant's favour, this would not have affected the outcome of the case. For the judgment, click here.

Miladinovic v Crotia [2013] Application 31588/12
23 September 2013
The applicant owned a house in Croatia. From 1991-2000 she was a refugee in another country and her house was occupied by another person without her consent. In July 2001 she obtained a possession order for his eviction but because of delays in legal and enforcement proceedings, she could not recover possession until June 2007 by which time her house had been destroyed and rendered uninhabitable. She complained to the European Court of Human Rights which has posed these questions for the parties: Has there been a violation of the applicant's right to peaceful enjoyment of her possessions, on account of the prolonged inability to use her house, within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1? Did the applicant have at her disposal an effective domestic remedy for her complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, as required by Article 13? For the Statement of Facts, click here.

R (AB) v Croydon LBC [2013] EWHC 3113 (Admin)
31 July 2013
The claimant was a disabled man confined to a wheelchair and living on the ground floor in the family home of his parents. The house needed a single storey rear extension in order to accommodate the claimant's disabilities. The council had agreed to fund the works, estimated to cost £40,000, with the maximum disabled facilities grant of £30,000 and a loan of £10,000 to the parents. There would be a delay in agreeing the loan, so the claimant asked that the council release £1100 of the grant to begin the process of drawing the plans. The council declined. The claimant sought judicial review and an order for interim relief requiring the council to release the initial funds. The High Court was persuaded that the stance taken by the council was arguably irrational and ordered the release of £1100 pending the grant of permission to apply for judicial review.

R (KA) v Essex County Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1261
26 June 2013
The claimant was unlawfully in the UK. She applied for accommodation and other assistance for herself and her three children under Children Act 1989 section 17. The council declined that help. The High Court quashed that decision on the basis that a refusal of assistance would frustrate her ability to pursue appeals about her immigration status in this country and thus infringe her procedural rights under Article 8. For that decision, click here. The council appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It had been rendered academic by recent UKBA guidance and by the fact that the claimant had an imminent hearing before a tribunal about her removal from the UK.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] October Legal Action 26
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.
To read the current article, click here (LAG subscribers only).

The role of Article 8 in residential possession claims made by individuals and companies
J. Luba
[2013] 17 Landlord & Tenant Review 170

Giving a helping hand (legal aid in housing cases)
R. Conway
[2013] Inside Housing 18 October
To read the article, click here.

What you need to know about the new social housing fraud act
P. Hayes
[2013] Guardian Professional 15 October
To read the article, click here.

Immigration checks will exclude ethnic minorities from renting
B. Reeve-Lewis
[2013] Guardian Professional 16 October
To read the article, click here.

Homelessness crisis: a tale of rogue operators, neglect and abuse
H. Fearn
[2013] Guardian Professional 18 October
To read 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 Week

The Northern Housing Conference
22 October 2013
A conference in Manchester (speakers include Alex Offer)
For more details, click here.

What's mine is yours: Love interests, property interests and other property problems
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.

Next Week

Gypsy and Traveller Law Update
29 October 2013
A LAG training event in Birmingham (speakers include Marc Willers)
For more details, click here.

Housing Law: the key current issues on Allocations, Homelessness and Social Housing Possession Cases
30 October 2013
A Garden Court evening seminar in Leicester (speaker Jan Luba QC)
For more details, see Stop Press (above)

Later this Autumn

What's the use of 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

ASB & Social Housing Conference
22 November 2013
A Lime Legal conference in London (speakers include Jan Luba QC)
For more details, click here.

Housing & Residential Property Mediation Conference
26 November 2013
A dispute resolution conference in London
For more details, click here.

Annual Housing Law Conference
10 December 2013
A HLPA conference in London, with Jan Luba QC speaking.
For more details, click here.

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