Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 345 – 25 February 2014

Tuesday 25 February 2014

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Housing Law News

Housing Benefit (1): on 21 February 2014 the UK Government announced that, from 1 April 2014, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals looking for work in the UK would no longer be able to claim housing benefit before finding a job. For the announcement, click here.

Housing Benefit (2): on 12 February 2014 the Government issued a new circular explaining how, from 3 March 2014, it will close a 'loophole' enabling long standing social housing tenants to avoid the effects of the 'bedroom tax'. For a copy of Circular HB A1/2014, click here. For a helpful flow diagram indicating how the 'loophole' presently applies, click here. For the latest official statistics on the numbers and locations of claimants affected by the bedroom tax, click here.

Social housing allocation: on 21 February 2014 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published research evaluating the first year of North Yorkshire Home Choice, a choice-based points-based lettings scheme for social housing. The findings will be of interest to all those allocating social housing. For a free copy of the report, click here.

Social housing tenancies: the Chartered Institute of Housing has published New Approaches to Fixed Term Tenancies. The paper seeks to support housing organisations to pioneer new ways of working and reviews current and emerging practice in use of fixed term tenancies. For a copy, click here.

Data Protection for social housing tenants: on 21 February 2014 the Information Commissioner's Office published a report highlighting areas in which social landlord housing organisations should improve their compliance with the Data Protection Act in respect of tenant and applicant data. For a copy of the report, click here.

Social landlords and welfare reform: the recently published Impacts of Welfare Reforms on the Social Rented Sector is the final Report of a Welsh Government Task and Finish Group looking at the issues. For a copy of their report, click here.

Private renting (1): the UK Government is presently consulting on proposed reforms to arrangements in the private rented sector in England. On 24 February 2014 it updated the discussion paper to include a proposed repeal of section 25 of the Greater London Powers Act 1973 which provides that the "use as temporary sleeping accommodation of any residential premises in Greater London involves a material change of use of the premises" and therefore requires planning permission. For the updated discussion paper, click here. The consultation ends on 28 March 2014.

Private renting (2): the National Landlords Association has launched a media campaign against wider use of selective licensing powers by local councils to regulate letting in the private sector. For the details, click here.

Private renting (3): today - 25 February 2014 - new rules requiring all landlords to register under a landlord registration system came into effect in Northern Ireland. For a copy of the new regulations, click here. For the explanatory memorandum, click here.

Judicial Review in Housing Cases: the House of Commons Library has published a useful briefing note on the Government's plans for further reform of judicial review. For a copy, click here. It has also produced a useful briefing on Legal help: where to go and how to pay. For a copy of that, click here. Another briefing has been issued on proposals to reform UK Human Rights law. For a copy of that, click here.

Shared ownership housing: on 19 February 2014 Gateway Housing Association launched a report on research it had commissioned about shared ownership. The report shows that there is a group of purchasers for whom outright ownership may never be attainable, but for others full home ownership may still be an attainable goal. For a copy, click here.

Safety in social housing: on 19 February 2014 the regulator of social housing in England published the regulatory notices that it has served on two major social landlords in respect of concerns relating to gas safety inspections of tenanted premises. For the details and the notices, 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.

R (MA) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions [2014] EWCA Civ 13
21 February 2014

The claimants sought a judicial review of the housing benefit "bedroom tax" introduced for the social housing sector in April 2013 on the basis that its introduction resulted from a failure to undertake the public sector equality duty in Equality Act 2010 section 149 and had resulted in unlawful discrimination contrary to Article 14 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998 read with Article 1 or Protocol 1. The High Court dismissed the claim. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The discrimination that had occurred had been justified by the Government. It had complied with its equality duties. For the judgment, click here.

R (SG) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions [2014] EWCA Civ 156
21 February 2014

The claimants sought a judicial review of the overall "benefits cap" introduced in April 2013 and which is normally implemented by reducing housing benefit. They claimed that it disproportionately and adversely affected women and children. The High Court dismissed the claim. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The cap had been introduced after Parliamentary debate and could not be said to have been adopted without reasonable foundation. The courts had to respect the will of Parliament. For the judgment, click here.

Cometson v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2014] EWHC 419 (Ch)
21 February 2014

The claimants were the owners of a building in the council's area. It comprised a shop at street level with accommodation above and below. The council included the building in a "Group Repair" scheme designed to improve a group of properties and commissioned builders to carry out necessary work. The work was left incomplete and the claimants brought a claim for damages including loss of their rental income from the living accommodation. The High Court upheld the claim in part. The Council (and in turn its builders) were in breach of their obligations in respect of certain works. But the damages were limited to the costs of carrying out or completing those works. For the judgment, click here.

R (Flynn) v Secretary of State for Communities [2014] EWHC 390 (Admin)
20 February 2014

The claimants were Travellers who had been evicted from the Dale Farm site. They moved their caravans onto an access track leading to the site. The council served planning enforcement notices requiring them to move. They appealed against the notices but the planning inspectorate decided that they had no right of appeal because they had no legal interest in the land. The High Court held that a person with an implied licence had a right of appeal against enforcement notices. For the judgment, click here.

R (Cornwall Council) v Secretary of State for Health [2014] EWCA Civ 12
18 February 2014

A young man with physical and mental disabilities was being accommodated by a local authority under the Children Act 1989 section 20. An issue arose as to which local authority would be responsible for accommodating him once he left care as an adult. That depended upon where he was 'ordinarily resident' for the purposes of the National Assistance Act 1948. The Secretary of State determined a dispute between several local authorities about where he was resident but Cornwall Council sought a judicial review of that decision. The Court of Appeal allowed the claim and granted a declaration identifying the area in which the young man was ordinarily resident. For the judgment, click here.

Health & Safety Executive v Dinyar Sarkari
14 February 2014

The defendant was a private landlord. His tenants complained to their local council that the central heating system wasn't working. The defendant agreed to install a new boiler. He did so using gas fitters who were not registered with Gas Safe Register. Following the work, the tenants immediately contacted the National Grid as they suspected that gas was leaking. Visiting technicians immediately turned off the gas supply and informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of their findings. When contacted by the HSE, the defendant supplied false documentation as evidence of his landlord's annual gas safety record. At Luton Magistrates' Court he pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was given a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community work. He was also fined £5,000 with costs of £9,814. For more details of the prosecution, click here.

West Midlands Police v Israr Rafiq and others
13 February 2014

Serious inter-gang rivalry in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham escalated to include arson, severe assaults, kidnappings, shootings and stabbings in public. In December 2013 the local council and the police moved together to obtain interim gang injunctions and interim anti-social behaviour injunctions against the main ringleaders. At Birmingham Crown Court several two-year gang injunctions were made. In total, the gang received "17 years in gang injunctions and anti-social behaviour injunctions". Some defendants have been excluded from areas of Bordesley Green and some are not to associate with other defendants. There are terms included in the orders designed to prevent drug dealing and nuisance and annoyance to residents and terms to prevent the use or threat of violence and possession of weapons. For more details, click here.

Stoke on Trent Council v John Bucknall and Tina Bucknall
12 February 2014

The defendants were private landlords. In June 2013 a tenant complained about the condition of her home and the council served the defendants with an improvement notice requiring remedial work by the end of July. They failed to comply or take steps to rectify rotten windows and doors or make good a lack of electrical sockets. They pleaded guilty at Stafford Magistrates' Court. They were fined £1,300 with £200 towards costs and a £30 victim surcharge, as well as £435 further costs to cover the cost of drafting and serving the improvement notice. For details of the prosecution, click here.

R (Nzolameso) v Westminster CC [2014] EWHC 409 (Admin)
3 February 2014

The council accepted that it owed the homeless claimant the main housing duty under Housing Act 1996 section 193. It made temporary accommodation available to her in Milton Keynes. She refused that offer and the council treated its duty as ended. On review, the council concluded that the offered accommodation had been suitable. The county court dismissed an appeal. The claimant applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to bring a second appeal on the basis that the council could not show that it was not 'reasonably practicable' to house the claimant in its area. While that application awaited determination, she applied to the council to exercise its discretion to accommodate her pending the Court of Appeal's decision. When it refused, she sought a judicial review. The High Court granted permission for the claim but dismissed it. The council had been entitled to take account of its legal advice about lack of prospects for success in the appeal and had not reached an irrational decision.

Saxton v Bayliss
31 January 2014

The parties were neighbours. They were in dispute as to the boundaries of their properties and a right of way. Ms Saxton brought a claim for assault, harassment, nuisance and trespass. The Bayliss's made similar counterclaims. HHJ Gerald sitting at Central London County Court found that Ms Saxton had been bullied and intimidated and subjected to profound and continuing distress by the Bayliss's. He awarded damages of £25,000 for harassment, £1750 for nuisance, £10,000 exemplary damages and £2000 in respect of an assault. For a short note of the decision, click here.

Tower Hamlets LBC v Samuel Jenyo, Olusola Jenyo and SAB Associates
31 January 2014

The defendants were a married couple and, through their trading company, were landlords of a five-storey terraced house occupied by several tenants. Council officers found that essential security, fire safety and electrical work was required and served an improvement notice. At Thames Magistrates' Court Mr Jenyo was fined £5,800, his wife £4,300 and SAB Associates £4,300 for non-compliance with that notice. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent developments in housing law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2014] February Legal Action 26
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 2
J. Luba
[2014] February Legal Action 26
To read the current article, click here (LAG subscribers only)

Ass not what your landlord can do for you
A. Arden and R. Brown
[2014] LAG housing law blog 17 February
To read the article, click here.

New Lease of Life (review of caselaw on long leaseholds)
J. Driscoll
[2014] 164 New Law Journal No 7595 p13
To read the article, click here.

Interim possession orders - an overlooked tool?
T. Crockett
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 13 February
To read the article, click here.

Shared ownership: a reality check
S. Michaux
[2014] News on the Block 17 February
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Training

Vulnerability and Priority Need in Applications for Homelessness Assistance
A webinar by Liz Davies and Connor Johnston
CPD training from Jordan Publishing
For more details, click here.

Housing Law Events

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.

ASB, the New Regime: law and practicalities
6 March 2014
An evening seminar for SHLA in 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.

Homelessness Conference
15 April 2014
A Legal Action Group event in London
For more details, click here.

Housing Disrepair
30 April 2014
A Legal Action Group training event in 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.

Recent Developments in Housing Law
18 September 2014
A Legal Action Group training event 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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