Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 340 - 20 January 2014

Monday 20 January 2014

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Housing Law News

Social housing rent arrears: following the conclusion of a consultation exercise, the Protection from Eviction (Bedroom Tax) (Scotland) Bill has been put before Scottish Parliament. It would seek to prevent possession for rent arrears caused by the impact of the 'bedroom tax'. For a summary of the consultation responses, click here. For further details about the Bill, click here.

Social housing complaints: following a Parliamentary review of the work of the social housing regulator in England, the UK Government has agreed to work with regulator and the Housing Ombudsman to seek greater clarity for users of complaints procedures relating to social housing management. For the Government response to the Select Committee's recommendations, click here.

Representation on possession days (1): on 13 January 2014 the Legal Aid Agency launched a further tendering opportunity for advisers wishing to run representation schemes at some of England's county courts. For the details, click here.

Representation on possession days (2): on 14 January 2014 a Commons Committee approved the regulations which will stop legal aid being available for defending 'borderline' housing possession cases. For the debate, click here.

Private rented sector (1): Shelter Cymru has published a new free briefing note - Compulsory licensing in the rental sector: myths and facts. For a copy, click here.

Private rented sector (2): HMRC has been running a "let property campaign" to recover tax on undeclared rental income from UK landlords. It has now published a set of representative case studies illustrating the failures it is targeting. For a copy, click here.

Private rented sector (3): the organisation IPPR North has published Back to Rising Damp? Addressing housing quality in the private rented sector. For a free copy, click here.

Private rented sector (4): the CIH Cymru has published a new fact sheet reviewing the private rented sector in Wales. For a free copy, click here.

Right to buy: a new report based on statistics generated from Freedom of Information requests indicates that in London a high proportion of former council properties acquired under the right to buy are being let as private rented accommodation. For a free copy of From Right to Buy to Buy to Let, click here.

Help with housing costs: the Work & Pensions Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into the way in which the welfare system provides support for housing costs. To watch the evidence session from 15 January 2014, click here. For details of those witnesses and of further scheduled evidence sessions, click here.

Homelessness: on 16 January 2014 the European Parliament held a debate on an EU Homelessness Strategy. For the composite motion presented for the debate, click here. To watch the debate itself, click here.

Social housing allocation: in Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development Department has published research commissioned to inform a fundamental review of social housing allocation policy. Responses are invited by 4 March 2014 and a series of public consultation meetings have been organised. For the full details, click here.

Discretionary housing payments: until 3 February 2014 local authorities can apply to the DWP for top-up grant aid to meet the cost of discretionary housing payments. For the details, given in Circular HB A18/2013, click here.

Housing and health: a new survey has found that 22% of low income households have experienced ill health due to cold homes (up from 14% last year). For the detailed findings, click here.

Squatting: on 15 January 2014 retired barrister David Watkinson gave a presentation on the impact of legislation relating to squatting. For a video recording of the seminar, click here.

Housing policy: on 8 January 2014 the official opposition in the UK Parliament initiated a House of Commons debate on the housing shortage and housing policy. To read the full debate, click here.

Gypsies and travellers: on 17 January 2014 the UK Government announced its intention to continue to recover, for its determination, planning applications to establish caravan sites in the Green Belt. It will also shortly launch a consultation on further planning controls to prevent development of such sites. For the written statement, 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.

Smith v Doncaster MBC [2014] EWCA Civ 16
16 January 2014
The council obtained an injunction requiring Mr Smith to cease the residential use of a farm he owned and to remove all caravans, mobile homes and hardcore and access roads installed there. When he failed to comply, the council applied for his committal. A judge found the contempt proved and imposed a 12-month prison sentence to be suspended for 28 days to allow a final opportunity for compliance. The deadline for compliance passed. The land had not been entirely cleared and so the sentence was activated. Later Mr Smith applied to be released on the basis that he had complied with much of the order and subsequently an order for possession had been made preventing him from possessing the land. His application was refused. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. For the judgment, click here.

Pelipenko v Russia [2014] ECHR 57
16 January 2014
The applicants had lost their home because of the failure of court bailiffs to execute a judgment in their favour. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found in October 2012 that this amounted to a violation of their rights under Articles 6 and 8. They later obtained a judgment from the domestic courts that the new owner of their land must provide them with alternative accommodation. The ECtHR had to decide what compensation they were due for the breach of their rights. It awarded them the cost of temporary accommodation from loss of their earlier home until the new judgment was complied with and damages for their lost possessions amounting to 13,000 euros. It also awarded a further 10,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage. For the judgment, click here.

United States v Stonebridge at Bear Creek LLP
8 January 2014
The defendants were the owners and managers of an estate of private rented apartments. In alleged breach of the Fair Housing Act they were said to have engaged in a campaign of denial of housing opportunities to prospective tenants of Middle Eastern and South Asian and/or the segregation of such tenants into particular apartment blocks. For the pleaded claim, click here. However, in an agreement filed for approval by the Texas Federal Court in Dallas, the defendants agreed to adopt and monitor a non-discrimination policy and pay $107,000 in civil penalties and $210,000 in compensation. For details of the settlement, click here.

Stoke on Trent CC v Mohammed Rafakat
8 January 2014
The defendant was a private landlord. The property he let was severely affected by rising damp to all ground floor rooms, as well as penetrating damp to the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, and had substandard electrical installation. He failed to comply with an improvement notice issued under the Housing Act, 2004. At Stafford Magistrates' Court he was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £977 in investigative and legal costs, £435 to meet the cost of drafting the improvement notice, and a victim surcharge of £100. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Sunderland CC v GH (HB) [2014] UKUT 0003 (AAC)
6 January 2014
A claimant was living in a women's refuge and receiving housing benefit (HB) to meet her charges there. She obtained the tenancy of alternative accommodation but could not move in as she had no furniture. She applied for a social fund payment. Several weeks later, a grant was made. She bought furniture and moved in. The council agreed to pay HB on the new home only from the date she moved in rather than from the start of the tenancy. A local tribunal allowed an appeal. The Upper Tribunal dismissed a further appeal by the council. For the judgment, click here.

Ostanko v Russia
19 December 2013
The applicant, her husband and child lived in her mother-in-law's one bedroom council flat. She joined the waiting list for social housing. Six years later, the council offered her temporary accommodation in a four room flat and the family moved to that. After living there 17 years, she applied for an order requiring the council to permanently accommodate her. The council counterclaimed for possession. A court dismissed the claim and granted possession. The applicant was evicted. The European Court of Human Rights has invited Russia to address the questions: (1) 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? (2) If so, was that interference in accordance with the law, did it pursue a legitimate aim and was it necessary in terms of Article 8(2)? For the Statement of Facts, click here.

Reigate & Banstead BC v Mohammed Al Amin
16 December 2013
The defendant was the private landlord of a flat above a restaurant. He refused to comply with two notices from Environmental Health Officers relating to fire safety and insulation. At Redhill Magistrates' Court he was fined £2,000 plus costs and other charges totalling £1,851. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Reigate & Banstead BC v Mohammed Sarwar
16 December 2013
The defendant was the private landlord. The state of his property posed considerable risks to the health of its residents. He was served with two improvement notices requiring him to address fire safety, heating and insulation issues but failed to comply in time. At Redhill Magistrates' Court he was fined £1,000 and the council was awarded costs and other charges of £1,550. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Redbridge LBC v Mohammed Saleem
13 December 2013
The council found that the defendant was the landlord of a single storey illegal structure that housed a family of three on one side of the building and the other side was occupied by three single males. The building was in an appalling condition. The roof was leaking, there were dangerous electrics, some of the rooms had no natural lighting or ventilation, there was no fire alarm, no fire doors and no safe means of escape in the event of a fire. At Havering Magistrates' Court the defendant was found guilty of eight housing management offences under the Housing Act 2004. He was ordered to pay a fine of £24,000 (£3,000 per offence) plus costs of £1,683 and a victim surcharge of £120. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Redbridge LBC v Rafque Uddin
13 December 2013
The defendant was a private landlord. On inspection of his property, the council found that the electrical installation was so dangerous that an electrical contractor employed by the council immediately disconnected the installation to prevent risk of fire or electrocution. The defendant pleaded guilty to failure to comply with an improvement notice. At Havering Magistrates' Court he was ordered to pay a fine of £3,000, costs of £2,190 and victim surcharge of £120. For details of the prosecution, click here.

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)

A winning formula (for section 21 notices)
N. Duckworth and D. Robinson
[2014] 164 New Law Journal No.7590 p12
To read the article, click here.

Should auld allocations be forgot?
A. Arden and R. Brown
[2014] LAG Housing Blog 7 January
To read the article, click here.

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)

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

Human Rights, Public law and Possession Proceedings
D. Patel
[2014] 161 The Adviser 21

Shared Ownership: don't lease me this way
M. Makreth
[2014] 161 The Adviser 26

Foggy road (section 21 notices)
M. Robinson and J. Gallagher
[2014] 161 The Adviser 31

What to do with those in situ? (when a social housing tenancy is terminated)
B. Aremu
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 16 January
To read the article, click here.

Succession and allocation policies
B. Paliga
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 9 January
To read the article, click here.

When a reason is a good reason (late homelessness appeals)
G. Scott
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 9 January
To read the article, click here.

Service charges - something for nothing?
S. Liddle
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 9 January
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

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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