Issue 122 - 2nd February 2009

Monday 2 February 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tolerated trespassers: it is now official. The provisions of the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 which prevent the creation of more tolerated trespassers (and provide current tolerated trespassers with replacement tenancies) will come into effect on 6 April 2009. The date is included in the annual schedule of commencement dates for various housing and planning measures published by the Government. For a copy of the full schedule, click here

National Tenants Organisation: the Government has accepted the recommendations of a project group, chaired by Professor Steve Hilditch, working on the establishment of a national tenants organisation to be known as National Tenant Voice. The next stage of its work will be the establishment of the National Tenant Council later this year. To register an interest in information about these developments Email:

Buy and rent-back: private "sale and rent back" firms buy homes from homeowners, usually at a significant discount, and then rent them back to those owners under tenancy agreements. The Office of Fair Trading has issued formal notices to 16 sale and rent back firms asking them to substantiate claims they make in their advertising. The firms have been given 14 days to reply. Based on their replies, the OFT will make a decision whether take further action (including prosecution). For more details, click here

Housing association rents: the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) has written to housing associations to remind them that they are not required to impose on tenants the full 5.5% maximum guideline rent increase that has been circulated for 2009/2010. For further details of the advice given by the TSA click here

Housing & Human Rights: the Government has explained, in the command paper Responding to Human Rights Judgments, how it thinks that the provisions of the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 will make good the deficiency in homelessness law which led to it being declared incompatible with the European Convention in R(Morris) v Secretary of State in 2005. For a copy of the command paper, click here. Meanwhile, in a speech delivered on 29 January 2009, the Lord Chancellor has set out the thinking behind the Government's proposals for a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to be detailed in a Green Paper later this year. For a copy of the speech, click here.

Possession Claims On-Line: the teething problems experienced with Possession Claims On-Line are touched on by Sir Henry Brooke in his recent report Should the Civil Courts be Unified? Sir Henry found that in April last year only 55% of PCOL claims were being input by users rather than by court staff. For a copy of the full report, click here.

The Housing Stock: the latest figures on housing in England show continued growth in the private rented sector and a reduction in the percentage of the housing stock in owner occupation. The details, and figures on a range of other housing-related issues, are given in the newly published Survey of English Housing Preliminary Report: 2007/8. For a copy of that report, click here.

Separate statistical information on the physical condition of England's housing is given in English House Condition Survey 2007: Headline Report. For a copy of that report, click here. The content of both sets of data is brought together and analysed in a Housing Surveys Bulletin. For a copy of the Bulletin, click here.

Reviewing ASBOs: the provisions of the Criminal Justice, etc Act 2008 requiring an annual review of ASBOs made against defendants aged under 18 were brought into force last weekend. Statutory guidance on the review requirements has been published by the Home Office. For a copy of the new guidance, click here.

Property Information Questionnaires: from 6 April 2009 the law will require that, before marketing a property for sale, the seller must have completed a PIQ giving basic information about the property that is likely to be of help to prospective buyers. The requirements are set out in regulations laid on 21 January 2009 correcting an omission in regulations laid last year. For an explanation of the changes, click here. For a copy of the new regulations, click here

Regulating Social Housing: the TSA has published its first corporate plan to take it through the initial stages of becoming the regulator of social housing held by both local authorities and housing associations. For a copy of the plan, click here: For a summary of the document, click here

Shared Appreciation Mortgages: borrowers who took out shared appreciation mortgages to buy their homes are exploring the possibility of re-opening the transactions using the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The Law Society Gazette has reported that a solicitor is bringing a "class action" on behalf of a large number of such borrowers. For the details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

29 January 2009
Heath v Southern Pacific Mortgages Ltd
[2009] EWHC 103 (Ch)
Ms Heath took out a mortgage for over £28,000, secured on her home. Of that sum, £19,000 was used to discharge an earlier mortgage and the remainder was used for other purposes. When Ms Heath defaulted on the new mortgage, and accrued arrears, the lender claimed possession. The loan appeared to escape the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 because it exceeded £25,000. Ms Heath appealed against a possession order and argued that the Act did apply because the loan in effect had two discrete parts or purposes - each valued at less than £25,000. The High Court rejected that argument and upheld the possession order. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

15 January 2009
Cosic v Croatia
Ms Cosic was a teacher. The school at which she taught provided her with a flat. The school's lease of the flat later expired and the government became the owner of the flat. Ms Cosic then paid the government a monthly rent. Nine years later, the government claimed possession. Ms Cosic had no security of tenure, nor any other right to remain under domestic law, and a court made a possession order. She applied to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that the eviction infringed her right to respect for her home (Article 8). The Court unanimously upheld her claim. The domestic court that had granted possession had not considered Ms Cosic's particular circumstances and had not examined the proportionality of her eviction. She was awarded compensation and costs. For a copy of the judgment, click here

Housing Law Consultations

Housing Benefit: the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation exercise on the new draft regulations for capping housing benefit for larger homes closes on 6 February 2009. For a copy of the consultation document, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Protecting Borrowers ...and deposits
DJ Oldham
(2009) 153 Solicitors Journal 13

Sidelined by Semantics (Lewisham LBC v Malcolm)
(2008) Counsel December Issue p16

Housing Law Events

4 February 2009
Housing Disrepair
A Legal Action Group Training event
For the details, click here.

5 February 2009
Tolerated trespassers (London)
A Chartered Institute of Housing Training Event
For the details, click here.

5 February 2009
Anti-social Behaviour - Tackling Problems, Supporting Victims

10 February 2009
Housing - The changing legal landscape
University of Oxford Housing Seminar
For details, click here.

24 February 2009
Tolerated trespassers (Manchester)
A Chartered Institute of Housing Training Event
For the details, click here.

24 February 2009
University of Oxford Housing Seminar
For details, click here.

18 March 2009
Possession & Tolerated Trespassers
A HLPA Members' Meeting in London
For the details, click here


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