Issue 132 - 27th April 2009

Monday 27 April 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Help for Home Owners (1): on 21 April 2009 the Government launched the new Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme operated by mortgage lenders. The intention is that some homeowners in temporary difficulty with their mortgages can reduce to paying as little as 30%of the monthly interest for a period of up to two years (with the unpaid interest being carried-forward for repayment, with interest, later). The participating lenders are listed in a press release: for a copy, click here.
A new leaflet about the scheme says: "to be eligible for HMS, you will need to do the following: (1) you must show that your income has dropped by a substantial amount and that you can no longer meet your current monthly payments. Your lender will want to be confident that this loss of income is only temporary (2) you must agree to pay as much as you can afford and at least 30% of the interest due... (3) you must switch to interest-only terms, if you have not done so already... (4) your mortgage and any other loans secured against your home must not be more than a certain amount (5) your savings must be below a certain level (6) you must have taken out a mortgage or remortgaged before a certain date and (7) you must have been making regular payments (though not necessarily of the full amount due) over the five months before joining the scheme, unless you had agreed a payment holiday with your lender.". For a copy of the leaflet, click here. An Impact Assessment published on 21 April contains a full description of the scheme and eligibility criteria in an Annex. For a copy of that, click here.

Help for Home Owners (2): the Budget on 22 April 2009 produced an announcement that the Government was extending the Mortgage Rescue Scheme so that it is now available to those households in negative equity in addition to those vulnerable households who might already meet the other conditions for rescue. For more details of the scheme, click here.
For an outline of all the Housing-related matters in the budget, click here.

Help at the County Court: on 21 April 2009 the Ministry of Justice drew attention to figures published by the Legal Services Commission suggesting that 2,800 people a month are receiving help through the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme funded by the Commission and that 33,700 people used the scheme in 2008. For the details of the Ministry of Justice announcement, click here. The Commission's future plans for delivery of publicly funded legal services are set out in its Strategic Plan for 2009-12 published this month. For a copy, click here.

Homeless but not in priority need: a new report on the options for those not entitled to accommodation from a council under the provisions of Housing Act 1996 Part 7 (Homelessness) suggests that 1 in 4 local authorities have no emergency accommodation at all for this group. Their options are therefore to move out of the area or to sleep on the streets. The report from Homeless Link also suggests that the majority of respondents to its survey don't believe their 'emergency provision' is sufficient to meet the demand from single homeless people in their area. For more details of the report, click here.

Community Call for Action on Anti-Social Behaviour: this week (on 30 April 2009) the provisions of section 19 of the Police & Justice Act 2006 come into force. They enable a resident to refer a crime and disorder matter to a ward councilor who must then either (1) consider the matter and respond to the person who asked him to consider it, indicating what (if any) action he proposes to take or (2) refer the matter to the local crime and disorder committee. For the commencement order, click here. For an explanatory memorandum to new regulations which sets out the policy behind the "call for action" provisions, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

23 April 2009
Thornhill v Sita Metal Recycling Cambridge Ltd
[2009] All ER (D) 162 (Apr)
The claimant homeowners brought an action claiming that the noise emanating from a scrap yard near their homes and caused by the defendants was a nuisance. The defendants admitted the noise nuisance but said that the conveyancing history under which the owners had acquired their homes showed that they had no right to bring a claim. The High Court dismissed that defence. Nuisance was a tort (a civil wrong) protecting those in possession of land. The nature of the legal interest they held or the contractual history of its acquisition was irrelevant.

Latest Housing Law Articles

Clarity at last
(comment on R(Ahmad) v Newham LBC)
S. Povey
[2009] May/June ROOF 38

Housing Law Events

This Week

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

Next Month

5 May 2009
Household Formation
University of Oxford Housing Seminar
For the details click here

7 May 2009
Annual General Meeting & discussion
A Yorkshire HLPA meeting in Leeds
For the details click here

15 May 2009
Social Housing Law & Practice
A Lime Legal Conference
For the details click here

20 May 2009
HLPA Meeting in London
For the details click here

21 May 2009
Housing Benefit Update for Housing Practitioners
A HLPA London Seminar
For the details click here

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