Issue 102 - 7th July 2008

Monday 7 July 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

Housing & Regeneration Bill: the Bill has now entered its last lap in Parliament with its Lords' Report stage scheduled for later this week (see below). A swathe of last minute government (and opposition) amendments has been prepared for debate. They include the issues of how to deal with 'tolerated trespassers' after stock-transfer and how to give effect to the Strasbourg Court decision in McCann v UK. For the text of the latest amendments, click here. For the updated version of the Bill (which includes the amendments adopted in Committee), click here.

Protocol on Housing Development: ahead of the passage of the Bill, the Government has agreed a new draft protocol for the delivery of more homes with the Local Government Association and the new Homes and Communities Agency. For further details of these plans for the provision of more housing, click here.

Overcrowding: to help local authorities tackle issues of overcrowding in properties in their areas, the Government has published Tackling Overcrowding in England: Self-Assessment for Local Authorities. Copies are available by clicking here.

The paper might be expected to feature strongly at two Tackling Overcrowding Seminars being run by the Chartered Institute of Housing in London and Bradford during August. For the details, click here.

Remedies against public bodies: should public bodies - such as local authority landlords and RSLs - owe a duty of care to those who receive their services? What is the best method of redress when tenants and others are failed by a public sector provider? These issues are canvassed in the new consultation paper Administrative redress: Public Bodies and the Citizen issued by the Law Commission. The consultation closes on 7 November 2008. For a summary of the consultation paper, click here. For a copy of the full document, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

2 July 2008
R(Gilboy) v Liverpool City Council
[2008] EWCA 751
Ms Gilboy had been a secure tenant. A judge granted a demotion order in the light of her household's anti-social behaviour. The council then received more complaints and gave notice of intention to seek possession of her home under the mandatory procedure for possession available against demoted tenants. Ms Gilboy disputed the fresh allegations but on review a reviewing officer found that her household had been responsible for some of the further nuisance as alleged. She sought judicial review of the decision to bring proceedings on the basis that the reviewing officer, who had resolved the factual issues against her, was not an "independent" tribunal as required by Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 Article 6. That claim was rejected by the judge and the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The demoted tenancy regime was not materially different from the introductory tenancy regime in respect of which the Court of Appeal had already found that the combination of a right to an internal review and possible scrutiny by judicial review was sufficient for Article 6 purposes. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

2 July 2008
Thorner v Major
[2008] EWCA Civ 732
The claimant had helped a farmer maintain his farm for about 30 years, free of charge. The farmer had implied that the claimant would get the farm when he (the farmer) died. Such provision was made in a will that was later revoked (for unrelated reasons). After the farmer died intestate, the claimant sought a declaration that he had an interest in the farm by way of a proprietary estoppel. Although he succeeded before a judge, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. Implied representations were not enough. For proprietary estoppel, there had to have been clear and unequivocal representations. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

3 July 2008
R(LW) v North Lincolnshire Council
[2008] EWHC Admin, [2008] All ER (D) 34 (Jul)
The claimant was a young man who had been dealt with by social services for many years as a result of his parents' inability to care for him. He had been convicted of offences and sentenced to a detention and training order. On his release, an issue arose as to whether had had been dealt with by social services as a 'child in need' (under Children Act 1989 section 17) or as such a child additionally owed an accommodation duty (section 20). On a claim for judicial review, the judge decided that although the council had sought to rely on section17 it had in fact owed duties under section 20. That meant that the claimant was owed further duties as a former 'looked-after' child.

4 July 2008
Barrett v Southwark LBC
[2008] EWHC (QB), [2008] All ER (D) 57 (Jul)
The council decided, on review, that Ms Barrett (who was profoundly deaf) had become homeless intentionally. She appealed to the county court but her appeal was filed outside the 21-day time limit. She applied for permission to bring the appeal out-of-time on the basis that she had been advised to appeal, had been told she needed a solicitor but had been unable to find one (who was prepared to take her case notwithstanding her disability) in time, despite diligent efforts. The county court judge refused to extend time and Ms Barrett appealed. The High Court was satisfied that she had had "good reason" for bringing her appeal late and granted the extension of time.

4 July 2008
Complaint Concerning Kirklees Council
No. 07/C/05809
Complaint Concerning Sheffield Council
Serious failings by two local authorities to meet the housing adaptation needs of disabled people are highlighted in these two investigation reports issued by the Local Government Ombudsman. In the Kirklees case, a quadriplegic young man was confined to two unsuitable rooms in his home without suitable facilities, as a result of Kirklees Council's failures. After he was discharged from hospital, it took the council over 18 months to agree a scheme and funding for the adaptations to meet the family's needs. For the full report, click here. In the Sheffield case, a disabled man suffered indignity and inconvenience as a result of Sheffield City Council's failures and spent 10-14 weeks without access to washing facilities or a toilet, and had to borrow £10,000 from relatives to fund the adaptations. For the full report, click here.

4 July 2008
French v Barcham
[2008] EWHC 1505 (Ch)
A husband and wife were joint owners and occupiers of a bungalow. In 1994 the husband became bankrupt. His trustee applied for, and obtained, an order for possession and sale. He asked the judge to offset from the wife's share an amount equivalent to an "occupation rent" from the date of the bankruptcy until the wife moved out. A judge refused to allow the offset and the trustee appealed. The High Court allowed the appeal. It ordered an offset against the wife's proceeds equivalent to 50% of the letting value since the date of bankruptcy. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Coming Up This Week

7 (and 9) July 2008
Housing & Regeneration Bill
Report Stage in the House of Lords

Coming Up Next Week

15 July 2008
Homelessness Seminar
A CIH event in Manchester
For the details, click here

16 July 2008
Possession Proceedings
A HLPA Members meeting in London
For the details, click here

17 July 2008
Housing & Regeneration Bill
Third Reading in the House of Lords

Next Month

14 August 2008
Housing Law - An Update
A Chartered Institute of Housing Event
For the details, click here

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