Issue 105 - 2nd September 2008

Tuesday 2 September 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

Housing Allocation: the long-delayed new statutory Code of Guidance on Social Housing Allocation has just been published under Housing Act 1996 section 169. This further guidance - Allocation of Accommodation: Choice Based Lettings - Code of Guidance for Local Housing Authorities - provides information about the factors that local housing authorities should take into account in framing their allocation scheme to offer a choice of accommodation to housing applicants. For a copy of the new guidance, click here.
For a summary of the responses to the consultation exercise on the draft guidance, click here.

County Court Possession claims: the latest figures on the number of possession claims being made in county courts in England & Wales were published on 8 August 2008 covering the second quarter of this year. To access the latest statistics detailing the growth in the numbers of claims made by both landlords and mortgage lenders click here.

Help for Home-Owners: the Government has today announced a £1 billion housing package to help first time buyers struggling to get onto the housing ladder, support vulnerable homeowners at risk of repossession, and support the house-building industry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that stamp duty land tax will not apply to purchases of residential property of £175,000 or less. Also, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced new support measures to help vulnerable homeowners meet their mortgage interest payments. The DWP will be reforming Income Support for Mortgage Interest by shortening the waiting period before SMI is paid from 39 weeks to 13 weeks for new working age claims from April 2009. The capital limit for new working age claims will also be increased to £175,000 from April 2009. For full details of the package of measures, click here.

Homelessness and Housing Associations: the August 2008 edition of the Homelessness Action Team Update focuses on how associations using starter tenancies can make them work better to avoid homelessness and contains other information for associations working on homelessness issues. For a copy of the Update, click here.

Social Housing and unemployment: the Department for Work and Pensions has published Social Housing and Worklessness: Qualitative research findings. The report suggests that there may be only a modest interrelation between worklessness and occupancy of social housing. The impact of increased mobility among social housing tenants appears marginal. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing remedies for domestic violence: the useful article Domestic Violence: local authority duties and responsibilities explores the capacity of landlords to use anti-social behaviour injunctions to address domestic violence. For a copy, click here.

Regulating the Private Rented Sector: the Law Commission has concluded its work on Housing Law Reform with publication of its final report Housing: Encouraging Responsible Letting. The Commission supports a "new approach" to regulation of private landlords that may eventually require the introduction of a compulsory system of self-regulation. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing Benefit: a new look Housing Benefit website has been created by the Government targeted mainly at local authority benefits staff. The site aims to be the definitive source of information, guidance and good practice on Housing Benefit - including Local Housing Allowance - and Council Tax Benefit. Advisers and landlords should also find the site useful. To access the new site, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

4 August 2008
Complaint Against Islington Council
Complaint 06/A/16128
A woman with multiple sclerosis struggled to open the new heavy communal front door to the block of flats where she lived. The Local Government Ombudsman found that the council, in acting to try and reduce antisocial behaviour in the block, failed to consider the needs of disabled residents. The council agreed to follow the Ombudsman's recommendations to remedy the injustice, including payment of £2,000 to the complainant. For a copy of the investigation report, click here.

11 August 2008
Complaint Against Canterbury City Council
Complaint 07/A/00415
For four years a council tenant had problems because her toilet kept blocking. The council assumed she had been responsible for blocking it and told her that she would have to pay to clear further blockages. Tests ultimately showed that the blockages had not been the tenant's fault. The Local Government Ombudsman found maladministration by the Council and recommended £2000 compensation. For a copy of the investigation report, click here.

12 August 2008
Sheffield CC v Oliver
[2008] LRX/146/2007
Ms Oliver held a lease of a council flat acquired under the right to buy. It had single glazed metal framed windows which, although warped, were functioning. The council proposed to levy a service charge for the cost of replacing the windows with UPVC double-glazed units. The question arose whether the windows were part of the structure and exterior of the flat (or the building containing it) for the purposes of Housing Act 1985 Schedule 6 para 14(2). After a review of the authorities, the President of the Lands Tribunal held that in principle "external windows will constitute both part of the structure and part of the exterior of the building or dwelling house to which they belong". For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Events Coming Up

This Month

19 September 2008
Choice Based Letting
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here.

22 September 2008
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group training event.
For the details, click here.

Next Month

1 October 2008
Housing Allocation and Homelessness Conference 2008
A Jordan's Publishing Conference in London
For the details, click here.

3 October 2008
Mortgage Possession: Preventing homelessness and protecting homeowners
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here.

10 October 2008
Anti-Social Behaviour & Social Housing Conference 2008
A Lime Legal Conference in London For the details, click here

17 October 2008
Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 - What it Means for Social Housing Management
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here

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