Issue 128 - 23rd March 2009

Tuesday 24 March 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tolerated Trespassers: with only two weeks to go until the anticipated commencement of the new arrangements for tolerated trespassers (expected on 6 April 2009), the Government has announced that the changes are likely to be delayed. In an unpublished letter sent on 18 March 2009 to Chief Housing Officers in England an indication has been given that the timetable will probably slip to early May 2009. For a copy of the letter, click here. The Government has said it will publish guidance for social landlords on the vital regulations and orders (to be made under Schedule 11 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008) which will flesh-out the new arrangements. The "Successor Landlords" regulations are now before Parliament in draft. For a copy, click here. For the Explanatory Memorandum, click here. The HLPA has released the text of a letter from Communities & Local Government indicating why its own proposals for aspects of the roll-out of the new system were rejected. For a copy of the letter, click here.

Legal Aid for Housing Work: in his speech to the Advice Services Alliance conference on 20 March 2009 the Legal Aid Minister (Lord Bach) reviewed the way in which the social welfare aspects of the legal aid scheme were responding to demand in the recession. He also indicated that the 365 responses to the consultation on civil contracts from 2010 were under consideration and he set out progress of work on CLACs, CLANs and Fixed Fees. For a copy of the speech, click here.

Demand for Council Housing: on 18 March 2009 the Local Government Association announced the results of a survey of increased demand for local authority services caused by the current recession. In almost nine out of ten council areas the demand for council housing showed a rise or expected rise. 57 per cent of authorities are already seeing more people in need of social housing and 31 per cent expect to. Demand for welfare advice had also risen (or was expected to rise) in every council area. For a copy of the survey results, click here. The following day, 19 March 2009, the National Housing Federation published details of its own research suggesting that a further 200,000 households would join waiting lists for social housing by 2011. For the details of that research, click here.

Social Housing Allocation: the final tranche of Government financial support for the establishment of Regional and sub-Regional Choice Based Letting Schemes was announced on 20 March 2009. Bids are invited by 9 October 2009 for funding in 2010/11. The Government will meet a maximum of 60% of project start-up costs up to ceiling of £100,000 per scheme. For more details, click here.

Housing for Migrants: on 19 March 2009 the Government published Managing the impacts of migration: Improvements and innovations. The report sets out (at pages 24-29) the impact of recent inward migration on housing and homelessness support. For a copy of the report, click here. Its publication was accompanied by the announcement of a £70m fund to support local communities in managing local pressures from such migration. For more details of that announcement, click here.

Tenant Representation: on 17 March 2009 the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill began its House of Lords Report Stage. Chapter 4 of Part 1 of the Bill (Housing) establishes a new body responsible for representing the views and interests of tenants in England (likely to be called - National Tenant Voice) and confers on it statutory rights to be consulted. The Bill, if passed, will amend the consultation requirements in the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008. For a copy of the Bill, click here . The need for a national representative body is well demonstrated by the responses to a recent survey of council and housing association tenants. They showed that there is presently a lack of knowledge and confusion among tenants about how social housing is being financed and how the funding of council housing and council services inter-relate. For a copy of the survey report, click here.

Controlling Bailiffs: on 17 March 2009 the Justice Minister (Bridget Prentice MP) announced the Government's plans to improve the requirements for bailiff certification and to give greater public access to the certification register itself. These changes will take effect later this year ahead of the roll-out of full independent regulation of bailiffs from 2012. She also announced that, after a review of provisions in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, it had been decided not to increase bailiff's powers of entry and their capacity to use lawful force. For the announcement, click here.

Accommodation for Gypsies & Travellers: in a new report, published last week, the Equality & Human Rights Commission has set out a series of recommendations for national and local organisations on means of achieving greater harmony between the static and mobile communities. For a copy of the report Gypsies & Travellers: Simple Solutions for living together, click here.

House Purchasing: at a cost of up to £400m in government funding, the Homes & Communities Agency has approved more than 18,000 properties for inclusion in the Government's HomeBuy Direct scheme. The scheme works by providing equity loans for part-purchase repayable by monthly changes levied from the sixth year after purchase. Purchases can only be made through HomeBuy Agents. For more details of the latest roll-out of the scheme, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

20 March 2009
Bracknell Forest BC v Green
[2009] EWCA 238
Mr Green succeeded to his mother's council tenancy when she died. The council claimed possession as he was under-occupying. The judge accepted that the house was larger than Mr Green needed and that the council had offered suitable alternative accommodation. But the claim was dismissed. The judge said that it was not reasonable to order possession because Mr Green had been born in the house, was now in his 50s, and had lived in the house all his life. The council appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The judge had not ignored the waiting list or the pressure on the council to house larger families. He had been entitled to say that in this exceptional case a possession order was not justified. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

13 March 2009
Bole v Huntsbuild
[2009] EWHC 483 (TCC)
Mr & Mrs Bole commissioned Huntsbuild to undertake the foundation work involved in the construction of their home. When defects later appeared, they brought an action under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 claiming that the work had not produced premises fit for habitation. The judgment contains a useful review of the law on section 1 and on the basis for assessment of compensation. The couple were awarded £218,000 in damages. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Events

This Week

25 March 2009
Mortgage Possession: Preventing Homelessness and Protecting Homeowners
A Lime Legal Conference
For the details, click here.

Next Week

30 March 2009
Defending Possession Proceedings
A LAG Training Course
For the details, click here

Next Month

21 April 2009
Tolerated Trespassers
A Northern Housing Consortium Event in York
For the details, click here.

23 April 2009
The TSA and Tolerated Trespassers
A HLPA Training Seminar
For the details click here

28 April 2009
Social Housing Conference
Organised by Hardwicke Building chambers
For the details, click here.

30 April 2009
Homelessness & Lettings
A Lime Legal Conference
For the details, click here


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