Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 346 – 3 March 2014

Monday 3 March 2014

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Housing Law News

Use of the private rented sector for the homeless: last week the charities Crisis and Shelter published the final report of a study exploring the long-term outcomes for vulnerable homeless households moved into the private rented sector. The report presents findings after the households were in their tenancies for 19 months. It looks at housing conditions, relationships with landlords and general wellbeing. It makes recommendations to improve the private rented sector. For a copy of the report, click here. The report prompted the Housing Minister to write to the leaders of several local authorities in England to express his concern "that there may be instances where a local authority is placing a homeless household in a property that contains" hazards. For a copy of the letter, click here.

Street homelessness: the latest statistics on rough sleeping in England were published on 25 February 2014. They show that the number sleeping rough has increased by 37% since 2010. For the detailed figures, click here.

Social Housing Fraud: the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 contained a regulation-making power to enable local authorities to compel certain agencies to provide detailed information about tenancy fraud suspects. Last week, the UK Government published a draft of the regulations it proposes to make which cover banks, building societies, suppliers of credit, water and sewerage undertakers, providers of gas and electricity services and telecommunications companies. For a copy, click here. For the Explanatory Memorandum, click here. For the Privacy Impact Assessment, click here.

Legal aid for housing cases: the UK Government has responded to criticism from the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the abolition on 27 January 2014 of the right to legal aid funding for housing cases with 'borderline' merits. The response explains that none of these cases can be run on legal aid through the 'exceptional funding' facility as a way around the abolition of the category. For the response, click here.

Housing and Anti-social behaviour: the Welsh Government has published a major policy and practice review on tackling anti-social behaviour. For the full report, click here. For the summary, click here.

Owner occupation: on 27 February 2014 the UK Government announced the latest figures on take up of owner-occupation in England through right to buy, help to buy and the new buy guarantee scheme. For the announcement, click here. For the detailed statistics on the last two of those schemes, click here. For the figures on the right to buy, click here. For the statistics on the overall number of dwellings in England, click here. The British Property Federation has published a report on Who buys new homes in London and why? For a copy, click here.

Park site homes: on 27 February 2014 the Housing Minister announced that new regulatory arrangements for the 2000 park home sites in England introduced by the Mobile Homes Act 2013 will come into force on 1 April 2014. For the announcement, click here. On the same day, two new guides produced by the Park Homes Working Group were published. For a copy of The Mobile Homes Act 2013: a guide for local authorities on setting licence fees, click here. For The Mobile Homes Act 2013: new licensing enforcement tools - a guide for park home site owners, click here.

Housing in England: the most up-to-date information about housing in England has recently been published in the English Housing Survey Headline report. 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.

Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13
26 February 2014

The claimants bought a bungalow situated 500 yards from a stadium being used for speedway, stockcar and banger-racing and which had an associated motocross track. Those facilities had been established with planning consent. The claimants brought an action for an injunction and damages arising out of alleged noise nuisance. A judge allowed the claim but the decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court allowed an appeal by the claimants. The judgments contain a wide-ranging review of the principles of the law of private nuisance and the remedies for it. For a copy, click here.

R (SJ and LJ) v Surrey CC [2014] EWHC 449 (Admin)
26 February 2014

The claimants sought to establish that they were "children in need" for the purposes of section 17 of the Children Act 1989. The council did not accept that they were and a judicial review of that assessment was sought on grounds of unreasonableness and apparent bias. The High Court rejected the claims. No unlawfulness had been established. For the judgment, click here.

Soor v Redbridge LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 214
19 February 2014

The appellant was the owner of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The council decided that he was liable to pay council tax on the property. The appellant said that the property had been let as a whole to joint tenants and that those tenants were liable for the council tax. A valuation tribunal considered the documents about the alleged tenancy put before them and dismissed the appeal. The High Court dismissed a further appeal. The tribunal had been entitled to say it was not satisfied that the tenancy agreements were genuine. Liability for council tax was established simply by the appellant being the registered owner of the freehold and no credible tenancy had been established by the documentary evidence. The Court of Appeal refused a renewed application for permission to appeal. The tribunal had been entitled to take the view it had of the documents. The appellant had led no oral evidence which could have led the tribunal to a different conclusion.

Riniker v Mattey [2014] EWCA Civ 202
17 February 2014

A tenant exercised the statutory right to request her landlord to provide a copy of the insurance policy in respect of which service charges were payable. The landlord was a company and the notice requiring disclosure was addressed to it. The tenant brought a prosecution for non-compliance and cited the company secretary as defendant. The magistrates' court upheld a submission that there was no case to answer. The Divisional Court dismissed an appeal by case stated. The landlord was the company not its secretary. The company had been given the notice and it bore the statutory obligation. The secretary was not a proper defendant. The Divisional Court made an order requiring the payment of £2000 costs by the tenant. It refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The tenant sought permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) against the costs order. Permission was refused. The Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction in relation to a costs order made in a criminal appeal by the Divisional Court.

Choudhary v Mortgage Express [2014] EWCA Civ 200
13 February 2014

Mr Choudhary owned a flat on which a mortgage was secured. Arrears accrued. The lender appointed Law of Property Act receivers in 2008. In 2011 Mr Choudhary granted an assured shorthold tenancy of the flat. The receivers sought and obtained an order for possession against the tenants. Mr Choudhary cleared the arrears and applied to be joined to the proceedings in order to prevent repossession and a sale. He could not offer to redeem or pay-off the loan. The application was refused. The Court of Appeal refused a renewed application for permission to appeal. Mr Choudhary had no arguable grounds for an appeal.

R (Bromford Royal British Legion Club Ltd) v Ipswich Magistrates' Court [2014] EWHC 526 (Admin)
13 February 2014

The claimants operated a club. Neighbours living in adjoining premises complained of noise. Mid-Suffolk council served a noise abatement notice under section 70(1)(g) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The claimants appealed to a magistrates' court. The district judge was satisfied that the notice had been justified but held that it had been served out of time. The appeal was allowed with no order as to costs. The claimants sought a judicial review. The High Court held that, exceptionally, a successful party could bring such a claim but it failed on its merits. The judge had made no error in holding the notice had been justified.

R (Podowka) v Women's Pioneer Housing Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 208
13 February 2014

The claimant was a tenant of the defendant, occupying a one bedroom flat. She sought a transfer to a two bedroomed flat on medical grounds. In 2008 the landlord rejected that application. In 2012 the claimant applied for a housing assessment by the local council. Later in 2012 her advisers asked the landlord about that application. The landlord denied having received any application itself but indicated that any transfer application made to it was unlikely to be successful given extant rent arrears. The claimant sought a judicial review. The High Court refused permission to bring a claim. The last actual transfer application to the landlord had been made and determined in 2008 and any challenge to that was now out of time. The most recent application had been made to the council. That was not the subject of the challenge. The landlord's recent indication of its policy did not amount to any decision on any application. The Court of Appeal refused a renewed application for permission to appeal. The claim was misconceived.

R (Ward) v South Cambridgeshire DC [2014] EWHC 521 (Admin)
4 February 2014

The claimant was an Irish Traveller. The council operated two official Traveller sites on both of which the predominant community was English Romani Gypsies. The claimant had applied unsuccessfully for pitches on the sites. Her application remained extant but the council indicated that in making any future allocation decision it would take account of the cultural differences between English and Irish Travellers. The claimant sought a judicial review, contending that the council had failed to take account of the public sector equality duty. The High Court rejected the claim. The indication given by the council had not been a decision. When a pitch became available any allocation would fall to be made on the relevant facts and at that stage the council would be bound to comply with its equality duty.

Stevens v Secretary of State for Communities [2014] EWCA Civ 214
29 January 2014

The claimant had applied for temporary planning consent to station her mobile homes on her land in the Green Belt. The application was refused by the local council and a planning inspector dismissed an appeal. The High Court rejected a challenge to that decision. The claimant sought permission to bring a further appeal contending that the inspector had failed to apply the approach to the best interests of the claimant's children required by the judgments in ZH (Tanzania) which had been delivered after her decision. The Court of Appeal refused permission. The inspector had had the interests of the children "in the forefront of her mind" precisely as the Supreme Court had later held was required (in ZH).

JS v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions [2014] UKUT 0036 (AAC)
23 January 2014

The claimant was the joint tenant of a two bedroom flat with his partner. Following the breakdown of their relationship, the couple had separate and exclusive use of each of the two bedrooms. An issue arose as to whether, for the purposes of calculating maximum rent in local housing allowance, the claimant had 'exclusive use of' any one room within the meaning of that term used in regulation 13D of the Housing Benefit Regulations. He said it was a question of fact. The council decided that it was a question of what legal interest he had. An appeal tribunal dismissed an appeal. The Upper Tribunal dismissed a further appeal. The issue was not one of facts but of legal rights. Both joint tenants had legal rights of joint use of any room in the property. For the judgment, click here.

Oxford CC v Felix Valemtim Da Conceicao and Ventura Valentim Da Conceicao
20 January 2014

The defendants were private landlords of a three bedroom maisonette. They had 12 people living in the property, including three children. They had no licence to operate an HMO. They had not complied with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations as there was inadequate fire protection and a lack of fire detection equipment, disrepair throughout and the property was in poor decorative condition. On their guilty pleas, Oxford Magistrates' Court fined them £2,500 each with costs of £500 each. For the 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)

Landlords, property defects and personal injury
P. Wake
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 20 February
To read the article, click here.

A "child in need" ... or not?
T. Amraoui
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 26 February
To read the article, click here.

When is a bedroom not a bedroom?
A. Campbell
[2014] Local Government Lawyer 20 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

This Week

Implications of the Bedroom Tax and the Benefit Cap
6 March 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00
Garden Court Chambers, London
This event is now fully booked. For more details or to join the waiting list, click here.

ASB, the New Regime: law and practicalities
6 March 2014
An evening seminar for SHLA in London
For more details, click here.

Next Week

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

Later

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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