Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 341 - 28 January 2014

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Share This Page

Email This Page

Housing Law News

Defending possession claims: yesterday (27 January 2014) the legal aid rules were changed so that legal aid is no longer available to defend residential possession claims which only have 'borderline' prospects of success. For the regulations making that change, click here. For the explanatory memorandum, click here. The regulations were approved despite a Parliamentary Debate in which most speakers criticised the change. For that debate, click here.

Homelessness (1): this week is Homelessness and Poverty Action week. For details of what it is and how to get involved, click here.

Homelessness (2): on 21 January 2014 the Scottish Government released the latest statistics on local authority work on homelessness in Scotland covering July to September 2013. They show that 9,114 applications for homelessness assistance were made - 13% lower than in the same period in 2012. The fall was said to be mainly due to the impact of housing options/homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most local authorities rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness. For the full figures, click here.

Homelessness (3): the homelessness provisions of the Housing (Wales) Bill were the main focus of a submission made by Garden Court Chambers Housing Law Team to the Welsh Assembly. For a copy of the submission, click here.

Housing and Disability: the Chartered Institute of Housing has issued a new briefing note to help social landlords make best use of stock with adaptations for the disabled. To read more, click here.

Discretionary Housing Payments: on 21 January 2014 the Scottish Government announced that during the period March to November 2013 over 45,000 households were paid Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) totalling over £15.3 million. There is nearly £19 million of DHPs left to be spent by local authorities in Scotland by 31 March 2014. For the detailed figures, click here.

Housing and safety: the social housing regulator in Scotland has issued new guidance for social landlords on the need to deal with gas flue safety issues in social housing. For a copy, click here.

Regulating social housing: the social housing regulator for England has updated its outline of the approach it takes to the regulation of social landlords. For a copy, 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.

Circle 33 Housing Trust v Nelson [2014] EWCA Civ noted on LAWTEL
27 January 2014

The association let a property on an assured tenancy. It later brought a possession claim on the basis that the tenant was no longer occupying as her only or principal home. A disclosure order was made requiring the tenant to disclose, among other documents, her credit card and bank statements. When she failed to comply, the court made an "unless order". Some, but not all, of the documents were then produced but the judge struck out the defence and granted possession. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. New evidence showed that the failure to secure and supply the documents had not been the tenant's fault. The defence was re-instated and the case remitted for trial.

Complaint against Cardiff CC, Complaint No.201204993
22 January 2014

A council tenant complained to the Public Sector Ombudsman for Wales that from 2011 to 2012 the council had failed to respond adequately to his complaints of anti-social behaviour (ASB) by his neighbours. The Ombudsman upheld the complaint. She recommended an apology, £3000 compensation and payment of the complainant's costs of moving to a new home. In addition, she called for improved training of ASB staff, a reminder to them about the importance of good record-keeping and the preparation of an information note for a witness giving evidence in support of action to address ASB.

Slattery v Basildon BC [2014] EWCA Civ 30
22 January 2014

Ms Slattery was an Irish Traveller made homeless when she was evicted from an unauthorised encampment. The council accepted that she was owed the main housing duty (Housing Act 1996 section 193) and in performance of the duty it offered her bricks-and-mortar accommodation. She contended that, given her cultural aversion to such housing, the offer was unsuitable and that the only reason she had not been offered a pitch was because of the council's failure to secure sufficient authorised sites. The offer was upheld on review and an appeal to the county court was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal. The council's decision was not unlawful. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Oxford CC v Sony Darshan
20 January 2014

The defendant was a private landlord. He wanted a tenant to leave. He and his two sons went to the tenant's home with a crowbar. They pushed past the tenant, who was alone with her nine-week-old son, and started to remove the front door lock, telling the tenant that she must leave her home immediately. She called 999, police officers attended and stopped the eviction. On a prosecution brought by the council for attempted unlawful eviction, the defendant pleaded guilty. At Oxford Magistrates' Court he was ordered to pay a fine £650, costs of £1,205 and a £65 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Complaint against Hammersmith and Fulham LBC, Complaint No.12012460
14 January 2014

A council tenant in sheltered housing complained about the way the council charged her for water use. In response to the Local Government Ombudsman's enquiries, the council identified that it had overcharged her and other residents by over £38,000 for water use since 2008. The council had then issued a refund to the tenant and was in the process of issuing refunds to all residents who have been overcharged. The Ombudsman made a series of recommendations designed to stop councils breaching the Water Resale Order. For the investigation report, click here.

R (KS) v Bradford MDC [2014] EWHC 11 (Admin)
10 January 2014

In 2004 social services had assessed that an 11-year-old girl could not continue living with her parents. A grandparent agreed to accommodate her. By 2005 the council had concluded that she could not return to her parental home but should remain with the grandparent. It then closed its file. The High Court declared that, despite the absence of a formal decision and placement under the Children Act 1989, the girl had become a looked-after child because a duty to accommodate her had in fact arisen under section 20 of the Act and had been met by the placement with the grandparent. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

R (Jakimaviciute) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2013] EWHC 4372 (Admin)
20 December 2013

The council adopted a new social housing allocation scheme from 1 April 2013. Under the power given by Housing Act 1996 section 160ZA(7) the scheme designated certain classes of applicant as non-qualifying, including a class comprising accepted homeless applicants provided with suitable temporary accommodation. The claimant fell into that class. As a result she was entitled to a statutory 'reasonable preference' under the allocation scheme: Housing Act 1996 section 166A(3). She brought a claim for judicial review contending that it was unlawful to exclude from an allocation scheme a person who would be entitled to a reasonable preference. The High Court refused permission to apply for judicial review. The claimant's case was unarguable. The claimant did not qualify for the council's scheme at all so there was no question of her securing any preference within it.

R (Cash) v Secretary of State for Communities [2013] EWCA Civ 1770
12 December 2013

The claimant owned land on which he stationed 22 mobile homes, some of which were used to house vulnerable people. He had no planning permission and the council issued enforcement notices. A planning inspector dismissed an appeal against the notices and refused a deemed application for planning permission. The claimant appealed, contending that the inspector had failed to have proper regard to the possibility of granting temporary planning permission. The High Court found no error of law and dismissed the appeal. The Court of Appeal refused permission to bring a second appeal.

Darlington Council v George McAlister
4 December 2013

The defendant was a private landlord. Council officers inspecting one of his properties were told it was in single occupation but further investigations found evidence of multiple rooms to let and use for bed and breakfast accommodation. At Darlington Magistrates' Court, the defendant pleaded guilty and was fined £1000 for failing to licence a House in Multiple Occupation and £200 for providing false and misleading information. He was also ordered to pay costs of £350 plus a £100 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Cardiff CC v Alpha Properties Cardiff Ltd
14 November 2013

The defendant company was a property agent operating under the trading name of Acorn Residentials. Acting on a tenant's complaint, council officers inspected a property and found that there was no substantial fire alarm, no protection from fire, no fire doors, no electrical, gas or EPC certificates as well as leaking pipes and penetrating damp. It was unable to trace the landlords and served notice on the agents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004 requiring information about the landlords. The agency failed to comply. At Cardiff Magistrates' Court it was fined £2000 for that default. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Haringey LBC v Hayrettin Kacmaz
November 2013

The defendant was the owner of a restaurant who let the rooms above his business as a house in multiple occupation (HMO). The council had designated the area as subject to a special licensing scheme for HMOs. The defendant pleaded guilty to failing to licence the accommodation, failing to properly manage the premises (with defects found to include a leaking roof, missing handrails, and broken windows), failing to provide the council with copies of gas and electrical safety reports, and failing to provide details of persons with an interest in the properties. At Tottenham Magistrates' Court he was fined £11,620 with costs of £1680. 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)

Residential possession: speedy eviction
DJ Wendy Backhouse
[2014] Law Society Gazette 27 January
To read the article, click here.

The price of justice (legal aid for housing cases)
S. Hynes
[2014] Inside Housing 24 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 (Part 1)
J. Luba
[2013] December/January Legal Action 19
To read the article, click here. (LAG subscribers only)

Something to welcome - for a change!
A. Arden and R. Brown
[2014] LAG Housing Law Blog 23 January
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Events

Anti-Social Behaviour - the New Regime: law and practicalities
6 February 2014
A Social Housing Law Association 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.

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