Issue 100 - 23rd June 2008

Monday 23 June 2008

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Registered Social Landlords as "public authorities": on 11 June 2008 Baroness Hamwee moved an amendment to the Housing & Local Government Bill drafted by HLPA and designed to define as "public authorities" (for the purposes of both judicial review and the Human Rights Act 1998) all housing associations and other social landlords. The amendment was withdrawn in face of Government opposition. To read the debate (starting at column GC226), click here. The issue may be raised again at Report stage.

Eligibility for Homelessness and Allocation: in a belated response to the declaration by the Court of Appeal that section 185(4) Housing Act 1996 is incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998, the Government has tabled amendments to the Housing & Regeneration Bill designed to introduce new eligibility rules for both social housing allocation and homelessness. The amendments will be debated by the House of Lords Grand Committee later today. For the text of the changes, see Amendments 114G and 117BZB in the latest group of published amendments, available by clicking here.

The implications of McCann v UK: the considerable implications of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in McCann v UK for the development of domestic housing law were explored in two new articles last week. For the briefing behind Scott Greenwood's piece in Inside Housing, click here. For Andrew Diamond's article in the Law Society Gazette, click here. The HLPA has drafted an amendment to the Housing & Regeneration Bill designed to give McCann immediate effect in UK statute law.

Private Rented Sector: although the review of the private sector commissioned by the Government from York University has not formally called for evidence, the local government body LACORS has put in written submissions suggesting that rogue landlords who fail to comply with basic standards and are subject to repeated enforcement measures should be prohibited by law from renting-out homes. For a copy of the submission, click here.

Inspecting Social Housing Landlords: the Audit Commission has announced a move to more "short notice" inspections of housing association services. The amount of notice given will be cut from several months to just a few days. The Commission is to consult on moving to similar short notice inspections of local housing authority housing services and in inspections of ALMOs. For more detail on the changes, click here.

Disabled Children and Housing: the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published Housing and Disabled Children. The paper contains a useful summary of evidence on the housing needs of young disabled people. For a copy, click here.

Homeless ex-services personnel: the Ministry of Defence has welcomed publication of the report The Experience of Homeless Ex-Service Personnel in London by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University. The researchers reviewed the circumstances of 59 homeless ex-service men and women. For the MoD press release, click here. For a copy of the report, click here.

Accommodation for the most vulnerable: the Law Commission has launched a programme of work to review the legal powers and duties relating to the provision of accommodation in nursing and residential care homes and some supported housing accommodation. For the details of the Commission's new programme of work, including this work on Adult Social Care, click here.

Mortgage rescue: the National Housing Federation has proposed a redistribution of central Government funds to allow housing associations to run more mortgage rescue schemes. The paper, Protecting Households, Delivering Homes, suggests that the money already committed by ministers and housing associations to building new social homes over the next three years should be redistributed to allow housing associations to operate fair mortgage rescue schemes. For a copy of the paper, click here. The extent to which householders are struggling to pay mortgages (and increasing rents) is well described in the latest Shelter report, Breaking Point. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

16 June 2008
Merton LBC v Jones
[2008 EWCA Civ 660
Mr Jones had been a secure tenant but had lost that tenancy on breach of a suspended possession order. He continued in occupation as a tolerated trespasser. He then left the property and obtained a tenancy elsewhere. The council claimed that it had not known of his departure and sought damages for mesne profits for the period after he had gone. The Court of Appeal decided that a trespasser was under no obligation to give notice of intended departure and was not liable to pay compensation for any period after he had given up possession. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

17 June 2008
Greenwood Reversions Ltd v Mehra
The House of Lords refused the tenant leave to appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case concerning forfeiture and demands for rent. For a copy of the Court of Appeal judgment, click here.

17 June 2008
Harouki v Kingston Upon Thames RLBC
The House of Lords refused the applicant leave to appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case concerning overcrowding and homelessness. For a copy of the Court of Appeal judgment, click here.

18 June 2008
Doyle v Hounslow LBC
[2008] EWHC (QB), [2008] All ER (D) 241
Mr Doyle and his mother were joint secure tenants. She gave notice to quit to end the tenancy. The council sought and obtained a possession order. Mr Doyle appealed, contending that his mother had had mental health problems at the time she gave notice. A judge granted permission to appeal and made directions for Mr Doyle to file various documents. In response to his non-compliance, the appeal was struck out. On an appeal against that decision, the High Court restored his appeal. Justice had required that the appeal be heard on its merits notwithstanding the non-compliance.

19 June 2008
Lambeth LBC v Johnston
[2008] EWCA 690
The council decided that Mr Johnston did not have a priority need for accommodation as it was not satisfied that he was 'vulnerable'. That decision was unsustainable because no proper enquiries had been carried out. A subsequent review decision to the same effect was quashed on appeal. The council carried out a further review and again concluded that there was no priority need. The second review decision was also quashed because the reviewing officer had not followed the procedure for giving a "minded-to" notice required by regulation 8(2) of the Review Regulations. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against that decision. The requirements of the regulation were mandatory even in a case where the applicant had known what the issues were and had had an opportunity to make written representations. The reviewing officer had no discretion to dispense with the requirement. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

19 June 2008
R(McCaw) v Westminster Magistrates Court
[2008] EWHC (Admin), [2008] All ER (D) 251 (Jun)
The claimant began a prosecution under section 82 Environmental Protection Act 1990 concerning the condition of neighbouring premises. A procedural issue arose as to how many claimants should be added in the claim. The claimant wished to seek judicial review of the decision made by the magistrates court on that issue and asked the High Court to make a protective costs order in those proceedings. She relied on the Aarhus convention and the special need to facilitate litigation concerned with environmental issues. The High Court declined to make the order. There was no public interest in the litigation that would justify making it.

20 June 2008
R (M) v Lambeth LBC
R(A) v Croydon LBC

The claimants arrived separately in the UK. They were unaccompanied and sought asylum. Each applied to the defendant councils for accommodation under Children Act 1989 section 20. The councils decided that duties were not owed because neither claimant was under 18. Both said they were under 18 and each sought judicial review. The first question for the High Court was whether the determination of a person's age for the purposes of the Act was a determination of a civil right or obligation engaging Article 6 of the ECHR (right to a fair and independent hearing). The Court decided that Article 6 did not apply to such decisions.

This Week

23 June 2008
Housing & Regeneration Bill
The last day of debates in the House of Lords Grand Committee will review amendments on: Ground 8 possession claims, tolerated trespassers, eviction procedure and eligibility for housing.

Housing Law Events

1 July 2008
Recent Developments in Housing Law
A LAG training course in London.
For details, click here.

1 July 2008
Housing Law: the Legal Update
A Northern Housing Consortium conference in York.
For the details, click here.

3 & 4 July 2008
What Next for Homelessness
A Shelter Wales conference in Swansea
For the details, click here.

4 July 2008
Housing Disrepair
A LAG training course in London.
For details, click here.

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