Issue 106 - 8th September 2008

Monday 8 September 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

Helping Mortgage Defaulters: the Government has released more details of the three new schemes to be operated by registered social landlords (RSLs) to help owners facing mortgage repossession claims. The web page Mortgage rescue measures outlines: the Shared equity scheme - the RSL provides an equity loan enabling the householders' mortgage repayments to be reduced; Shared ownership - the RSL buys a share (enabling the purchaser to pay off some of their mortgage) and converts the property to shared ownership by issuing a shared ownership lease and; Sale and rentback - the RSL clears the secured debt completely and the applicant pays rent to the RSL at a level they can afford.. The schemes will open later this year and are to be accessed through local authority homelessness services. For more details, click here.

Choice for Social Housing Tenants: a new report commissioned by the Housing Corporation - A real choice for tenants? - suggests that giving tenants a choice of landlord could lead to massive changes in the social housing sector and explains how to manage the process of giving tenants a choice about service providers. For a copy of the report, click here. For a summary and critique, click here.

Human Right to Housing: the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has called on the government to consider covering economic and social rights, including a right to housing, in any UK Bill of Rights. The "right to shelter" is reviewed at paras 179-181 of its report "A Bill of Rights for the UK?" For a copy of the Committee's report, click here.

Domestic Violence & Housing: the Housing Corporation has just published new non-statutory guidance for housing associations entitled Behind closed doors A guide for associations on dealing with the victims of domestic violence. The aim is to encourage housing associations to adopt a strategic approach in responding to domestic violence and to offer a range of practical suggestions that encourage association staff to put that strategy into practice. For a copy of the new guidance, click here.

Mandatory Certificates for Tenants: just four weeks ahead of the commencement of the new mandatory requirements for landlords to give tenants Energy Performance Certificates for their homes, the Government has published explanatory booklets setting out how the new provisions will work. For a copy of the Guide for Tenants, click here. For a copy of the Guide for Landlords, click here.

Obtaining Redress for poor Housing Services: the Government has set up a review chaired by David Cook to consider the feasibility and practicability of introducing and extending the idea of redress for citizens where their council services fail to meet agreed standards. For more details of the review, that is due to report in 2009, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

5 September 2008
South Cambs DC v Secretary of Stateb

A gypsy family decided to abandon their traditional travelling and to settle when their third child was born with serious disabilities. They bought land and established a site on it for their mobile homes. The council refused planning consent as the development was contrary to its local planning policy. An inspector allowed an appeal and granted permission in view of the exceptional circumstances. The High Court and Court of Appeal dismissed the council's appeals. There had been no burden of proof on the occupiers to show that there were no alternative sites available but on the evidence the inspector had been entitled to find that none were reasonably available. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

4 September 2008
R(Thomas) v Havering LBC
[2008] EWHC Admin, [2008] All ER (D) 18 (Sep)
The council resolved to close a care home for the elderly. That decision was challenged on the basis that literature on the increased risk of mortality associated with moving settled elderly and disabled care home residents demonstrated that the closure decision was either unreasonable or infringed the residents' right to life contrary to Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention. The claim for judicial review was dismissed. The judge noted that the council had agreed to undertake impact assessments on each resident before requiring any to leave the home and had not acted unreasonably,

8 August 2008
R(Ogbeni) v Tower Hamlets LBC
[2008] EWHC Admin, [2008] All ER (D) 67 (Aug)
The claimant (aged 17) and his aunt were evicted from their home pursuant to a possession order. On his making a homelessness application, the council accepted a duty to accommodate him (being a 17 year old and therefore in priority need) but declined to accommodate his aunt. The High Court quashed that decision. The aunt was a member of the claimant's family with whom he normally resided and the council therefore had to provide accommodation for her together with him.

Housing Law Events Coming Up

This Month

17 September 2008
HLPA Members Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

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.

24 September 2008
Housing & Human Rights
A HLPA members advanced seminar.
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.

2 October 2008
Housing Law Conference in Manchester
Organised by North West Housing Law Practitioners Group
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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