Issue 114 - 17th November 2008

Monday 17 November 2008

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing for EU nationals: the House of Commons Library has produced a helpful briefing paper "EU migrants: entitlement to housing assistance (England)" dealing with access to housing and homelessness assistance in England for non-UK EU nationals. For a copy of the paper, click here.

Homelessness: the Welsh Assembly Government has launched a consultation exercise on its new draft 10-year plan to tackle homelessness in Wales. Responses should be in by 25 February 2009. For a copy of the draft plan and the consultation arrangements click here:

Tenant Services Authority: on 5 November 2008 the Chief Executive of the TSA wrote to all local housing authorities and registered social landlords setting out precisely how the transition to full regulation of social housing will be managed once the TSA begins operations on 1 December 2008. For a copy of the letter, click here.

In a speech on 12 November 2008 the TSA chairman stressed that the new regulator would look to boards of management of RSLs to account for the activities of their associations, not simply housing officers. For details of that speech, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

14 November 2008
Wear Valley DC v Robson
[2008] EWCA Civ; [2008] All ER (D) 135 (Nov)
The council obtained an injunction against Mr. Robson, its tenant, to prevent him causing nuisance to his neighbours. Following allegations that the order had been breached, the council applied to commit him to prison. Mr. Robson admitted being abusive and playing loud music on one occasion when he was drunk. A judge additionally found that three other breaches had been established involving loud noise and abuse. Mr. Robson was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. He appealed, arguing that the judge had been wrong to rely on the hearsay evidence of a council officer based on statements made by neighbours. The Court of Appeal held that the judge had not erred in relying on the hearsay evidence and the sentence was not excessive (particularly as the effect of Criminal Justice Act 2003 section 258 was that only half the term would be served).

14 November 2008
Wandsworth LBC v Whibley
[2008] EWCA Civ 1259
The council obtained a possession order on grounds of rent arrears and nuisance against a secure tenant. The order was postponed on terms. The council considered that there had been a breach of the terms and applied to the court to fix a date for possession. In support of the application it submitted a witness statement from a council officer detailing complaints she had received from neighbours since the possession order had been made. The judge considering the application directed a short hearing at which, if the application was opposed, directions would be given for the allegations to be tried. The application was opposed and a one-day hearing was scheduled to deal with it. The council appealed, asserting that the application to fix the date of possession should be dealt with summarily on paper only, save in the most exceptional circumstances. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal stating that "it is not permissible for a tenant who has a possible tenable answer to lose his or her home unheard". For a copy of the Court of Appeal's judgment, click here.

12 November 2008
Allen v London Borough of Southwark
[2008] EWCA Civ, [2008] All ER (D) 113 (Nov)
Mr. Allen, a secure tenant, wished to continue paying his rent at his local housing office. The council wanted him to switch to paying through the post office. Over a number of years it issued five sets of possession proceedings for rent arrears all of which were either withdrawn or dismissed. Mr. Allen then brought a claim that the council's repeated issue of proceedings, without merit, against him amounted to harassment. A judge struck out his claim. But the Court of Appeal re-instated it. A reasonable person might well think that the repeated issue of proceedings could constitute harassment. The claim would have to be tried.

12 November 2008
Wandsworth LBC v Webb
[2008] EWCA Civ. [2008] All ER (D) 111 (Nov)
The council claimed possession from Ms Webb, a secure tenant, on grounds that her teenage son had used her home as a base for his anti-social activities in the area. It obtained an ASBO against the son. Prosecutions brought on the basis that he had committed three offences since the making of the ASBO ended in his acquittal. At trial of the possession claim, the judge took into account the matters that had formed the basis of those three charges and decided that it was reasonable to order possession. The Court of Appeal set aside the order. The judge ought not to have taken the three matters into account as they established nothing more than that the son might have breached the ASBO.

10 November 2008
R(G) v Greenwich Magistrates' Court
[2008] EWHC Admin; [2008] All ER (D) 70 (Nov)
On an application for an ASBO, a court had been satisfied that the defendant had been a gang member, committed anti-social behaviour and often wore a hood to intimidate others. The judge imposed a condition of the ASBO that the defendant was not to wear any garment with a hood, on the basis that it would reduce his swagger and menace and the fear of anti-social behaviour. The High Court dismissed a claim for judicial review. The condition could be justified not only on the grounds that the judge gave but because it would address a gang uniform adopted, in part, as an attempt to escape criminal liability.

Housing Law Events this Month

19-21 November 2008
Annual Lettings & Homelessness Conference (in Staffordshire)
Chartered Institute of Housing

For the details, click here

19 November 2008
Housing Law Update
The last HLPA meeting of 2008

For the details, click here

26 November 2008
Annual Housing Conference
Social Housing Law Association

For the details, click here

26 November 2008
Landlord Liability for Nuisance.
A HLPA Seminar

For the details, click here

Dates for the December Diary

1 December 2008
The Crime & ASB Conference (in Harrogate)
Northern Housing Consortium

For the details, click here

3 December 2008
Residential Landlord & Tenant Conference
Professional Conferences

For the details, click here

8 December 2008
National Youth Homelessness Conference (Croydon)
For details e-mail: hsg-homelessnessdtategy@croydon.gov.uk

9 December 2008
Housing & Regeneration Act 2008
A CIH Conference

For the details, click here

10 December 2008
The Housing Law Conference
Annual HLPA Conference in London.

For the details, click here.

11 December 2008
Housing Management
A Lime Legal Conference (Manchester)

For the details, click here.

12 December 2008
Housing Management
A Lime Legal Conference (London).

For the details, click here.

 

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