Issue 133 - 5th May 2009

Tuesday 5 May 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Help for those facing repossession (1): the £20m additional funding announced in the Budget to help with homelessness prevention for occupiers facing repossession as a result of the recession will be distributed to local housing authorities this week by the Communities & Local Government Department. That follows the distribution of a similarly targeted £3.7m in March 2009. To assist authorities in directing the additional funds, and in taking local measures to avoid repossessions, the department has sent every authority a copy of a Short Guide from Regional Resource Teams for Local Authorities on How to Prevent Homelessness due to Mortgage and Landlord Repossession CLG, April 2009). Among the suggestions is the possibility of one-off payments to reduce or clear mortgage arrears where that will help defaulting borrowers keep their homes.

Help for those facing repossession (2): the Government has brought together the latest data on mortgage arrears, repossessions, court actions and orders, and the Mortgage Rescue Scheme (MRS), in a single web page. The newly published tables indicate that thus far only one person has been "rescued" under the MRS. To access the new webpage, click here.

Help for those facing repossession (3): response to the economic downturn by local housing authorities and housing associations is a theme of the latest Homelessness Action Team (HAT) Update (April 2009). It details successful joint-working arrangements between the council and housing associations in one major London borough. For a copy, click here.

Leaflets for clients: its time to clear your waiting room of most of your old leaflets and booklets in the CLG's Housing series. The guides on eviction, security of tenure, repairs and many more topics have been revised and reprinted. Eight of the titles are among the latest ten CLG publications. To order new stocks click here.

Equality in Housing: last week the Chartered Institute of Housing launched a new Practice Brief on Equality, Diversity and Good Relations in Housing. For a copy, click here. The Equality Bill, also published last week, contains a new approach to disability discrimination to address the narrow approach taken in the Malcolm case. For a copy of the Bill, available in a special new format, click here.

Tenant's Representatives: the Government has commissioned a study to identify the regional and national tenants' organisations and determine their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. This will enable the Government, the Tenant Services Authority and the emerging National Tenants Voice to make informed decisions about how best to develop and support such organisations. For more information, and to contribute information to the study, click here.

Housing Benefit: the Budget contained a number of Housing Benefit changes, including the removal of the £15 excess over the contractual rent that some local housing allowance claimants had been getting. The changes are explained in the May 2009 issue (Issue 89) of Housing Benefit Direct. For a copy, click here.

More Housing Law for Scotland: the Scottish Government has begun a consultation exercise on legislation for the future of social housing in Scotland. The draft Bill, published last week, addresses the terminology of "social housing", its regulation and the extent of the right to buy. For details of the consultation exercise and a copy of the draft bill, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

30 April 2009
Knowsley Housing Trust v Prescott
[2009] EWHC 924 (QB)[2009] All ER (D) 08 (May)
The defendants were joint assured tenants of the trust (a housing association). One of them was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the local area. The offence was so serious that a sentence of 8 years imprisonment was imposed on a guilty plea. The trust brought a claim for possession relying on the offence. A judge granted a possession order but postponed it on condition that the house should not be used for drug dealing. The trust appealed. The High Court allowed the appeal and substituted an outright possession order. The trial judge had given too much weight to the fact that the house itself had not been used to deal drugs, too little weight to the seriousness of the offence and the scale of the tenant's local drug-dealing, and had given insufficient attention to the prospects for the future. There was no sound basis for an expectation that the drug dealing would cease.

1 May 2009
R(First Real Estates UK Ltd) v Birmingham CC
[2009] EWHC 817 (Admin) [2009] All ER (D) 10 (May)
The claimant company entered into arrangements to supply the council with properties to be used as temporary accommodation for the homeless. The terms enabled the arrangements to be ended on written notice. Having received complaints, and having inspected some of the properties, the council gave 7 days written notice to end the agreements and re-housed the occupiers. The company sought a judicial review contending (1) that the individual agreements with the council were the subject of an overarching unwritten agreement that the arrangements would not be summarily terminated or (2) that the council had raised a legitimate expectation to that effect. The High Court dismissed the claim. The council had terminated the agreements in accordance with their terms.

Housing Law Events

This 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

28 May 2009
Service Changes
A SHLA afternoon seminar
For the details click here

Next Month

4 June 2009
Mortgage Possession Proceedings
A HLPA intermediate level seminar
For the details click here

19 June 2009
Successful Housing Litigation
A Jordans Training Seminar
For the details click here

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