Issue 115 - 24th November 2008

Monday 24 November 2008

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The Latest Housing Law News

Legal aid for Housing Cases: faced with the increased demand created by the present housing crisis, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has announced that it will award additional Housing matter starts to some current providers of legal services who are taking the strain of that increased demand. Applications for additional Housing matter starts must be made by 31 December 2008. For the details, click here. The latest edition of the LSC's Focus magazine (now only available on-line) identifies the 19 further courts in which LSC-funded Possession Day court desks will be operating from this month. To access the latest edition, click here.

Mortgage Possession cases: the new Pre-Action Protocol for mortgage possession cases came into force on 19 November 2008. (For a copy, click here). That was swiftly followed by publication of the latest mortgage possession statistics. They show that mortgage possession orders are now being made at an average rate of 10,000 per month -slightly higher than the rate for landlord possession claims. For a copy of the latest figures published on 21 November 2008, click here. An outline of the recent measures that have been introduced to help those at risk of losing their homes was given in a Ministry of Justice news release on 21 November 2008. For a copy, click here.

Homelessness: on 18 November 2008 the government announced a new initiative to eliminate by 2012 the practice of rough sleeping by homeless people. The initiative is said to be backed by funding of £200m and follows a consultation exercise initiated in April 2008. .It includes an undertaking that the Government will consider amending homelessness legislation to accord priority need status to all rough sleepers For the press release announcing launch of the initiative, click here. For the Junior Housing Minister's speech outlining the new arrangements, click here. For a copy of the detailed plan, No One Left Out - Communities ending rough sleeping, click here. For a summary of the responses to the earlier consultation paper, click here.

Housing Help from Local Authorities: too little use is being made of the primary financial and practical support power available to local authorities under Local Government Act 2000 section 2 (also known as the "well-being" power). The Local Government Minister has written to all authorities urging them to consider greater use of the power in the new financial climate. For further details of that initiative, click here. Meanwhile, the latest report on the scope of section 2 - Practical use of the well-being power - contains examples of practical use of the powers (including use by one authority to address issues on a estate beset with problems of anti-social behaviour and drug abuse). For a copy of the report, click here.

Safer Housing: the Electrical Safety Council has published a new best practice guide on electrical installations in domestic premises looking at safety and fire prevention in houses and flats. For a copy of the guide, click here

The Housing Corporation: ceases to operate on 30 November 2008. Its website is bristling with publications and reports rushed out ahead of its demise including the latest findings on performance by housing associations against service-delivery targets. For a copy of Headlines from the 2008 Performance Indicators, click here. Another recent publication from the Corporation assesses the prospects for low cost home ownership schemes in the context of the credit crunch and market changes. For a copy of Low Cost Home Ownership: affordability, risks and issues, click here. For the latest statement of the ambitions of the Tenant Services Authority (which will assume the Corporation's regulatory functions on 1 December 2008), click here.

Housing Benefit: more changes to the details of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit schemes will be made on 27 November 2008 when parts of the Housing Benefit & Council Tax Benefit (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2008 take effect. For a copy of the regulations, click here. On 18 November 2008 the Government announced that it would be legislating to address the Heffernan judgment on rent officer "localities" used for HB assessment purposes. For a copy of the ministerial statement, click here. On the same day, the Government invited views on its proposed changes by 28 November 2008. For a copy of the consultation letter, click here.
Housing & Employment Advice: the Government has announced the funding of another twenty projects to bring together advice about housing options and job opportunities. Each will receive up to £260,000. An additional 10 projects will receive "kick-start" funding to help them develop such services. For the full list of the local authority areas involved, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

21 November 2008
Osibanjo and Olubayo v Seahive Investments Limited
[2008] EWCA Civ 1282

A landlord claimed the right to forfeit a lease for breach of its terms. The tenants said that any beach had been waived by acceptance of rent. A judge found that the landlord had encashed a cheque from the tenants. It had used part of those monies to satisfy a statutory demand but had returned the rest under cover of a letter making it clear that no rent was accepted. He held that there had been no waiver. The Court of Appeal dismissed the tenant's appeal. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

21 November 2008
Grosvenor Estates v Prospect Estates Limited
[2008] EWCA Civ 1281

The tenant under a long lease sought to exercise a statutory right to acquire the freehold. Whether it could do so turned on whether the subject of the lease was a house "reasonably so called" within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. The judge held that it was. The Court of Appeal disagreed and set out helpful guidance on what would be, and what would not be, a "house" for these purposes. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

18 November 2008
R(C) v Birmingham CC
[2008] EWHC Admin; [2008] All ER (D) 171 (Nov)

The claimant and her children were not lawfully resident in the UK. She was an overstayer and her asylum applications had been refused. She had been in the UK for over 7 years. She was not eligible for social housing or for homelessness assistance, so when the family became homeless she applied to the children's services department of the council for accommodation under sections 17 and 20 of the Children Act 1989. It decided to provide only limited assistance on the basis that the claimant was unlawfully in the UK. The High Court set that decision aside. The council had failed to have regard to Home Office policy that no enforcement action would be taken against those with irregular immigration status who had been in the UK for more than 7 years. In the light of the fact that the claimant would be remaining in the UK, the council would need to reconsider its decision having regard to the claimant's rights under Art 8 of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act (right to respect for private and family life).

18 November 2008
Samad v Thompson
[2008] EWHC 2809 (Ch)

The defendants owned the leasehold of a property. The claimant said that the defendants had bought it with a deposit of £38,000 provided by him and that he had paid all the outgoings including the payment of the service charges and of the defendants' mortgage. He sought a declaration that the property was held on trust for him because there had been an oral agreement to that effect. The defendants said there had been no such agreement ad there was no such trust. The High Court upheld the claimant's claim. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Events this Week

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:

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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