Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 339 - 13 January 2014

Monday 13 January 2014

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Housing Law News

Housing & anti-social behaviour: on 8 January 2014 the House of Lords carried an amendment to Clause 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill which will draw a distinction between a lower threshold for action on anti-social behaviour in the housing context and a higher threshold for intervention in other contexts. To read the debate, and the terms of the amendment, click here.

Housing & legal aid: on 9 January 2014 the independent Low Commission called for the re-introduction of legal aid for most cases involving housing disrepair and those involving enforcement of the right to quiet enjoyment, rather than retaining legal aid only for cases where people face actual eviction or the risk of imminent injury from disrepair (Recommendation 1). For the full report of the Commission, click here.

Private rented sector: on 8 January 2014 the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health issued a warning that, even following the grant aid of £4million made available to 23 councils on 30 December 2013, local authority work on tackling rogue private landlords remained seriously under-resourced. For the details, click here. A new report from CHASM gives a useful review of emerging trends in the private rented sector based on census data. For a copy, click here.

Housing Benefit (1): in an urgent bulletin issued on 8 January 2014 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has acknowledged that the changes to housing benefit (HB) known as the 'bedroom tax' may not apply to some long term HB claimants who have been on HB and in the same home since 1996. For a copy of the bulletin, click here.

Housing Benefit (2): the latest statistics from the DWP show that from April 2013 to the end of November 2013 some 27,352 households had their housing benefit reduced or removed by the operation of the maximum benefit cap. For the full statistics, click here.

Housing Benefit (3): the House of Commons library has produced a new briefing on the issues surrounding withdrawal of entitlement from claimants under 25. For a copy, click here.

Housing Benefit (4): new regulations coming into force today (13 January) make further changes to the way in which rent officers calculate and apply rent levels and local housing allowance, by reference to broad rent market areas. For the new rules, click here. For the explanatory memorandum, click here.

Homelessness: a report prepared for Kent County Council records that homelessness in the county had increased 25% in the first quarter of 2013 and that, at the end of March 2013, 183 households were in B&Bs - an increase of 22% over a year and a doubling over three years. For the report, click here.

Social housing: one London council has reported that in the nine months April - December 2013 it recovered 71 illegally occupied/abandoned council tenancies in targeted action. For the details, click here.

Accommodation for asylum seekers: on 10 January 2013 the National Audit Office published a report reviewing the Home Office contracts for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers. It found poor performance, delays and additional costs. For a copy of the report, 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.

Croydon LBC v Sheryl Pillai
23 December 2013

The defendant is a tenant of Amicus Horizon housing association. The family home was the source of considerable nuisance and anti-social behaviour, attracting large groups of young men to the estate. The police had to disperse the groups and were frequently called to the property to deal with nuisance issues. On an application by the local council, Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court made a closure order prohibiting occupation of the property until March 2014. The landlord has also brought possession proceedings. For further details, click here.

Haringey LBC v Tasking Izzet
December 2013

The defendant is a private landlord. Two of his properties had been houses but had been split into four and five self-contained flats each, without planning permission. The council served enforcement notices requiring the properties be converted back to single dwellings. The council first prosecuted for non-compliance in 2010 and a further prosecution in 2011 resulted in a second conviction. In the absence of compliance, the defendant was prosecuted and convicted for a third time in January 2013. In March 2013 an appeal against conviction was dismissed. The council applied for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to recover the financial gain from the unlawful flat conversions. At Wood Green Crown Court the defendant was found to have benefited by £312,315 and was ordered to repay this within six months or face up to three years in prison. In addition, he was fined £6,000 for each offence and ordered to pay costs of £6,900. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Forest of Dean DC v Ricky Jones [2013] EWHC (Admin) 4052
20 December 2013

Mr Jones established a private Gypsy caravan site. The council refused planning permission and served an enforcement notice. Mr Jones appealed. The Secretary of State accepted a recommendation of a planning inspector that conditional planning permission be granted. The council appealed on the basis that the Inspector had failed to have regard to the impact on three nearby listed buildings. The High Court dismissed the appeal. The inspector had not made the error alleged and had reached a lawful decision. For the judgment, click here.

Zhura v Ukraine
9 December 2013

Land belonging to the applicant's family was compulsorily acquired for a public works project. In exchange, the family was given land on which the local authorities agreed to build a house for them. The house was poorly constructed. It became dangerous and continued to deteriorate. The applicant brought legal proceedings. They had exhausted the entire appellate process twice and had been considered by the Supreme Court three times. They remained unresolved after 10 years. The applicant and her family continued in occupation and complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It has invited observations on the question whether the Ukraine has "complied with its positive obligations under Article 8 of the Convention as regards the applicant's right to respect for her home?" For the official Statement of Facts, click here.

Kanevska v Ukraine
9 December 2013

The applicant bought a flat in good faith and lived in it as her family home from 2004. It was later discovered that the flat actually belonged to a man whose signature had been forged and who had never authorised the sale transaction. Proceedings between that original owner and the applicant finally resulted in the annulment of the applicant's purchase, an order for possession and her eviction. Although the case arose between two individuals, the European Court of Human Rights has invited submissions on the questions "Has there been an interference with the applicant's right to respect for her home, within the meaning of Article 8(1) of the Convention? If so, was that interference in accordance with the law and necessary in terms of Article 8(2)? For the official Statement of Facts, click here.

Skrtic v Croatia
5 December 2013

In 1991 the applicant and her husband were joint tenants of a council house which was destroyed by a bomb. They were given alternative council housing under a 'temporary' tenancy granted in the husband's name rather than a protected tenancy in their joint names. The husband later left and the couple were divorced. The applicant and the children remained in the home. In 2000 the council decided to recover possession as the tenant was no longer in occupation. It annulled the grant of his tenancy and obtained an eviction order in possession proceedings on the basis that the applicant had no right of occupation. The European Court of Human Rights found a violation of the right to respect for a home protected by Article 8. The national courts had confined themselves to finding that occupation by the applicant was without legal basis and had made no further analysis as to the proportionality of her eviction from the flat she had been occupying since 1991. For the judgment, click here.

Circle 33 v Lawal [2013] EWCA Civ 1748
12 November 2013

The defendant was aged 76 and had been the association's tenant since 1974. The association claimed that the tenancy had ceased to be 'secure' as the defendant no longer occupied the property as his principal home (Housing Act 1985 section 81). The judge granted a possession order. She found that over the past five years the defendant had spent only 10% of his time in the UK and that his principal home was in Nigeria. The judge was addressed on Article 8 but did not deal with it in her judgment. On a renewed application for permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal granted a stay and adjourned the application so that the appellant could consider whether county court procedures allowed an Article 8 point to be taken at a later stage when the association would apply for a warrant.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2013] December/January Legal Action 29
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.
To read the current article, click here (LAG subscribers only)

Housing repairs update
B. Prevatt
[2013] December/January Legal Action 11
For back issues of articles in this series, click here.
To read the current article, click here. (LAG subscribers only)

Watch this space (eviction of private tenants on benefits)
M. Owen
[2014] 9 January Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Prosecuting landlords - an update
J. Luba
[2013] December/January Legal Action 19
To read the article, click here. (LAG subscribers only)

Private Rented Sector in England: how to appear to do something while doing nothing
C. Hunter
[2014] 17 Journal of Housing Law 1

Flexible Tenancies and forfeiture
A. Dymond
[2014] 17 Journal of Housing Law 4

Housing Law Events

This Week

Defending Possession Proceedings: One Year On
15 January 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

Government's attack on Squatters
15 January 2014
A Haldane Society meeting in London (featuring David Watkinson)
For more details, click here.

Later this month

Homeless Young People - rights, responsibilities and responses
21 January 2014
A free one-day training course from the LCN in London
For more details, click here.

Later this year

Anti-Social Behaviour
6 February 2014
A SHLA evening seminar in London
For more details, click here.

Human Rights to Occupy Land for Homes and Protest
13 February 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Introduction to Housing Law
26 February 2014
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For more details, click here.

Implications of the Bedroom Tax and the Benefit Cap
6 March 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Homelessness
12 March 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

Housing Rights of the Vulnerable
27 March 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

The Care Bill: Implications for Accommodation Issues
1 May 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Defending Possession Proceedings
14 May 2014
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For more details, click here.

Anti-social Behaviour Strategy
21 May 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

Homelessness and Allocations: Where Are We in 2014?
5 June 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Costs, CFA and Funding
16 July 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

Housing Money Claims: Deposits & Disrepair
17 September 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

Conducting Disrepair Claims Post LASPO and Jackson
25 September 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Understanding Leasehold and Service Charge Disputes
23 October 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
For more details, click here.

Housing Law Update
19 November 2014
A Housing Law Practitioners Association meeting in London
For more details, click here.

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