Issue 108 - 22nd September 2008

Monday 22 September 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

Housing Reform Green Paper: in its response to the report The Supply of Rented Housing, produced by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, the government has given more details on the content of the forthcoming Housing Reform Green Paper. That will now set out proposals "to provide housing services and options which help and encourage people toward greater economic independence and social mobility, and deliver greater fairness and make the best use of resources". It is not yet clear to what extent this will mean introducing higher rents in social housing and/or a requirement for working-age tenants to seek and secure employment. The response also indicates (at page 25) the approach the government is taking to the Law Commission's report Renting Homes, on the reforms needed to Housing Law. For a copy of the response, click here.

Local Authority Powers & Duties in Housing: in a new report - The Strategic Housing Role of Local Authorities - the government has listed the extensive powers available to local housing authorities to address housing conditions and housing need in their districts across all housing tenures. The tables not only describe the statutory powers but also offer links to the legislative materials and associated statutory (and non-statutory) guidance. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing Statistics: the National Centre for Social Research has produced Housing in England 2006/07. Using data from the Survey of English Housing 2006/07, the report paints a detailed picture of all aspects of housing in England based on information from over 17,000 households. For example, it offers (at pages 116-118) an overview of tenant responses to having been subject to a transfer from a council landlord to a housing association landlord. For a copy of the report, click here.

Resolving Housing Disputes: a new Dispute Resolution Toolkit has been jointly published by the Housing Ombudsman Service and others. It is designed to enable social housing landlords and their tenants to avoid disputes and (where they do arise) to resolve them speedily and effectively. For a copy of the toolkit, click here.

Decent Homes Standard for England: the government's target of making every social rented home in England a "decent home" by 2010 has been contingent on the restructuring of housing finance and housing management. Three routes have been available to council landlords to finance the work of achieving the standard: stock transfer; establishing an ALMO; or adopting a private finance initiative (PFI). The government has just published The Private Finance Initiative for Housing Revenue Account Housing: The Pathfinder Schemes Baseline Report which sets out initial progress in seven pathfinder areas in which the PFI route was adopted. For the full report, click here. For a summary, click here.

Rent Repayments for Private Tenants: the local authority organisation LACORS has published Rent Repayments Orders: A tenant's guide explaining how tenants can secure refunds of up to 12 months rent where their landlords have failed to obtain licences for accommodation which should have been licensed before letting. An annex to the guide sets out the relevant provisions of the Housing Act 2004. For a copy of the guide, click here.

The New Regulator: the chairman of the new Tenant Services Authority (TSA) has signalled that it will make a "clean break" from its predecessor as regulator of social housing (the Housing Corporation) with a "much greater and clearer focus on tenants". He was speaking on 17 September 2008 ahead of the formal launch of the TSA in December 2008. For more details of the speech, click here.

Mortgage Rescue Schemes: the government has published Homeowners Support Package: Impact Assessments setting out the likely scale and cost of the latest round of mortgage rescue measures. In respect of the three measures targeted at the most vulnerable households, the estimated monetary benefit is £390m if 6000 households are helped over two years. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Housing Benefit Backdating: the maximum backdating of a claim for Housing Benefit is reduced from 52 weeks to 26 weeks for working age claimants by the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendment) (No.4) Regulations 2008 which will apply from 6 October 2008. The Explanatory Memorandum published with the regulations explains that the government will monitor the change with a view to making a further reduction to 13 weeks in due course. For the regulations, click here. For the memorandum, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

19 September 2008
Chilton-Merryweather v Hunt
[2008] EWCA Civ 1025
This case posed the question: Can the owner of a house next to a motorway apply for a reduction of council tax because traffic on the motorway, with attendant noise and pollution, has increased over the years so much that it has possibly reduced the value of his house to a lower tax band? The Court of Appeal held that he could not. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

The Supreme Court (Court of Appeal and High Court) and the House of Lords remain on vacation until October.

Housing Law Events Coming Up

This Week

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 Week

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.


Next Month

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.

Date for the Diary

10 December 2008
The Housing Law Conference
The Annual HLPA Conference in London.
For the details, click here.

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