Issue 101 - 30th June 2008

Monday 30 June 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

Housing & Regeneration Bill: the Bill has now completed its Lords Grand Committee stage having been extensively amended. An updated version of the Bill (which includes those amendments) can be obtained by clicking here. Amendments discussed on the last day of debate included several drafted by HLPA e.g. those covering domestic violence/priority need and county court warrants for possession. For the Hansard debates for 23 June 2008 click here.

Registered Social Landlords and Ground 8: while the issue of use of Ground 8 (mandatory possession for rent arrears) by RSLs received judicial attention last week (see below) it was also debated in Parliament. On 23 June 2008 Baroness Hamwee moved an amendment to the Housing & Regeneration Bill designed to prevent social landlords using Ground 8 - particularly in cases involving HB delays. The amendment was withdrawn in face of Government opposition. To read the debate (starting at column C515), click here. The issue may be raised again at Report stage.

Homelessness:: the Homelessness Action Team at the Housing Corporation has just published the June 2008 issue of HAT Update. For a copy, click here. The Team has also produced a series of four topic briefings on Homelessness issues (available by clicking here). Advisers assisting the homeless in East Anglia may find useful the new report Forward thinking: The role of housing associations in preventing homelessness in Norfolk available by clicking here.

Voluntary Stock Transfers: it is not uncommon, in the lead-up to a ballot on stock transfer, for purchasing landlords to make promises to sitting tenants about the rights and services they will enjoy post-transfer. In Monitoring Stock Transfer Promises the Housing Corporation has offered a thematic review considering whether those promises are being kept. For a copy of the paper, click here.
The New Housing Regulator: the first Chief Executive of the new Tenant Services Authority is to be Peter Marsh, currently deputy Chief Executive at the Housing Corporation. For the announcement of his appointment and background details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

23 June 2008
Wychavon DC v Secretary of State
[2008] EWCA Civ 692
Mr and Mrs Butler, who are gypsies, applied for permission to station their mobile homes on their land in the Green Belt. At the recommendation of a planning inspector, the Secretary of State approved their application to the extent of granting temporary permission for 5 years. The local council appealed. A judge allowed the appeal on the basis that there were no "very special" circumstances to justify grant of planning permission. The lack of appropriate sites for gypsies was a commonplace factor, not a special one. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal from that decision and restored the grant of permission recommended by the inspector. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

24 June 2008
R(Weaver) v London & Quadrant HT
[2008] EWHC (Admin) 1377
Ms Weaver, an assured tenant of L&QHT, fell into arrears of rent. The Trust decided to seek possession using Housing Act 1988 Sched 2 Ground 8 (rent arrears, mandatory ground). Ms Weaver sought judicial review on the basis that the use of Ground 8 in her case infringed Art 8 ECHR and that she had had a legitimate expectation that the Trust would observe Housing Corporation Guidance and only seek possession as a "last resort". The Trust claimed that it was not a public body amenable to judicial review and that it was not carrying out any public function within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Divisional Court decided that the RSL's functions of managing tenancies of social housing were public functions and that it could be subject to a judicial review. The claim failed on its particular facts. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

25 June 2008
Lewisham LBC v Malcolm
[2008] UKHL 43
The House of Lords unanimously allowed Lewisham's appeal and restored its order for possession granted against Mr Malcolm (who had lost his security of tenure by subletting his flat). It rejected the tenant's case that there was a causal connection between his mental illness and the sub-letting. Moreover, it decided that even if there had been such a connection, there had been no discrimination on the grounds of that disability because (a) Lewisham had not been aware of the disability when deciding to seek possession and (b) its policy was to recover possession where any property had been wholly sublet. Mr Malcolm had been treated no more unfavourably than any other tenant who had sublet and moved away. The decision considerably reduces the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not only in housing cases but in all other areas covered by the Act. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

25 June 2008
Earl Cadogan v 26 Cadogan Square Ltd
Howard DeWalden Estates v Aggio
[2008] UKHL 44
Blocks of flats, occupied by individual tenants, were held on long leases by commercial head lessees who had taken their leases from the freeholder. On the head lessees giving notice to extend their leases, the freeholders gave counter-notices denying the right. The freeholders claimed that the right to extend the lease of a flat applied only to the individual occupiers and not also the commercial head lessees of the flats where those leases included the common parts, car parking, etc. Reversing the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords held that the statutory right to extend a lease was available to such a head lessee. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

25 June 2008
Ealing LBC v Jama
[2008] EWCA Civ, [2008] All ER (D) 341 (Jun)
In a claim for possession against a secure tenant, based on nuisance grounds, a judge made an outright order. The tenant appealed arguing that (a) the noise generated from her flat was a necessary consequence of a large household and (b) the order should have been suspended. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The judge had been entitled to find that instances of noise nuisance (and the flooding of the flat below) were breaches of the tenant's tenancy in respect of which it was reasonable to make an outright order.

25 June 2008
Complaint Concerning Walsall Council
No. 07/B/07346
A disabled man sold his home but had arranged no suitably adapted alternative accommodation for his needs. The council met his costs while in residential care and nominated him to housing associations. He was granted a housing association tenancy and a mandatory disabled facilities grant to help fund the adaptation works necessary. The Local Government Ombudsman decided that he had not been advised, as he ought to have been, that the maximum for a mandatory grant was £25,000. Moreover, the council had fettered its discretion by deciding that it would not make any discretionary grants to top-up the maximum. For a summary of the findings, click here

27 June 2008
Westleigh Properties Ltd v Green
[2008] EWHC 1474 (QB), [2008] All ER (D) 387 (Jun)
Leaseholders exercised their right, by notice, to require that the freehold of their flats be transferred to them following an alleged failure to offer a right of first refusal of purchase of the freehold (Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 Part 1). A judge decided that the tenants had not served a valid notice in time. The High Court allowed an appeal. The notice had left the recipient in no doubt about the right the tenants were exercising and there was sufficient evidence of it being sent to the correct landlord. For a copy of the judgment, click here

Coming Up This Week

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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