Issue 110 - 6th October 2008

Monday 6 October 2008

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Latest Housing Law News

New Housing Minister: The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP has been appointed Minister of State (Housing) in the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). She replaces Caroline Flint MP who served as Housing Minister from January 2008. Former legal aid solicitor Sadiq Khan also joins the CLG in a ministerial role. Ms Beckett will have a seat in the Cabinet.

Wednesday was Implementation Day: 1 October 2008 saw four important developments in the housing field:

(1) private landlords and social landlords are now obliged to give all new prospective tenants a copy of the up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate for the home they will be renting. A poll undertaken by YouGov suggests that 77% of tenants thought that their landlords do not care about energy efficiency. For the poll details, click here. For a copy of the Government's guide to the new EPC regime for tenants, click here. For a general explanation of the changes, click here. Links to other sources are available from www.direct.gov.uk/epc To see the report of the pilot of the impact of the EPC requirements on social landlords, click here.

(2) new rules on the establishment of Tenant Management Organisations came into force. For the statutory guidance published on the same day, click here. For the new handbook designed for residents thinking of setting up a TMO, click here. A press release from the Housing Corporation sets out the new help available from the Tenant Empowerment Programme . For a copy, click here.

(3) new planning rules enabling homeowners to more easily modify, extend or adapt their homes took effect. For more detail, click here.

(4) the new HomeBuy Direct scheme was launched by the Housing Corporation. It is designed to encourage housing construction companies to make unsold housing available for first time buyers with the encouragement of an equity loan. For more details, click here.

Housing in the Courts: the new Judicial Statistics 2007 provide a useful analysis of the housing disputes that end up in the courts. The latest figures cover possession cases and other housing cases in the county courts and contain an interesting area-by-area breakdown of the numbers of injunction applications. For a copy of the publication, click here. The Ministry of Justice has declined a Freedom of Information Act request to release tables breaking-down the statistics to show which lenders and landlords were bringing possession cases.

Housing Reform Green Paper: a team of civil servants at the CLG has been working on the Green Paper scheduled for publication before the end of 2008. For a "wish list" of reforms proposed for inclusion by London Councils, published as Rethinking Housing, click here.

Mortgage Lending: The Financial Services Authority has fined a mortgage lender (GE Money Home Lending) a hefty £1.12 million for systems and controls failings that resulted in 684 borrowers with regulated mortgage contracts suffering financial loss in excess of £2.3 million before redress was later paid to them by the firm. For the details, click here.

In a separate move, the FSA has also fined a mortgage broker (TBO Investments Limited) £28,000 for failing to document clearly the explanation of the risks of transactions to its clients. It also failed to make and retain records that demonstrated the suitability of its advice or ensure that its business was conducted in accordance with FSA requirements. For the details, click here.

Shared Ownership: the Housing Corporation has published Circular 03/08: Amendment of procedures for varying shared ownership leases. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

2 October 2008
R(Ahmed) v Asylum Support Adjudicator
[2008] EWHC 2282 (Admin)
The claimant was an Iraqi Kurd. His application for asylum in the UK was refused and his appeal rights were exhausted. After the withdrawal of NASS assistance, friends accommodated him. Three years later, he became homeless and destitute when the friends asked him to leave. He applied for accommodation under Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 section 4 ('hard cases' support). The application was refused by the Secretary of State and, on appeal, by the Asylum Support Adjudicator (ASA). The High Court dismissed a claim for judicial review. The claimant could not show that the ASA had erred in law in finding that the requirements for statutory support under section 4 were not made out. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

3 October 2008
R(Rutter) v Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
[2008] EWHC Admin, [2008] All ER (D) 37 (Oct)
The claimant was an elderly and disabled resident at a residential care home. The council's cabinet resolved to close the home. That decision was "called-in" by a group of councillors but the decision was reconsidered and affirmed at a scrutiny committee. The High Court dismissed a claim for judicial review on the basis that any shortcoming in the cabinet's decision-making had been remedied by the more recent scrutiny committee decision.

Housing Law Events Coming Up

This Week

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

Next Week

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

Later this Month

21 October 2008
The Future of Social Housing
Housing seminar in Oxford led by Professor Peter King.
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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