Issue 134 - 11th May 2009

Monday 11 May 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tolerated trespassers: there is still no sign of a commencement order to bring the provisions of Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 section 299 and Schedule 11 into force - even to the limited extent of stopping the creation of new tolerated trespassers. Although the Government had previously made it clear that the commencement date was likely to be 6 April 2009, it did not write to local authorities until 18 March 2009 explaining that commencement had been delayed. Some authorities had already prepared letters to their tolerated trespassers advising that they would become "replacement tenants" on 6 April 2009. For an example of the legal ramifications unfolding from the distribution of such letters, click here. The ministerial order necessary to extend the impact of the changes to cases of 'successor landlords' was debated by the Commons Committee on Delegated Legislation on 27 April 2009 (for the debate, click here).

Social housing rents and private sector rents: the new regulator of social housing, the Tenant Services Authority, has commissioned a series of research papers reviewing rents and rent increases in both the social rented sector and the private rented sector in recent years. Copies of the reports are available through the TSA website by clicking here.

Housing Facts & Figures: last week the Government published Housing and Planning Key Facts - May 2009. This quarterly leaflet provides latest published data on key aspects of housing and planning statistics including housing delivery, decent homes and energy efficiency. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

5 May 2009
Defence Estates v L
[2009] EWHC (Admin), [2009] All ER (D) 20 (May)
The defendant had been married to an army officer. When he resigned, the army let her remain in MoD accommodation on compassionate grounds. It later claimed that it needed the accommodation for military purposes, served notice to quit and brought a possession claim. The defendant relied on her right to respect for her home under Article 8 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998. The possession claim was then transferred to the High Court. The judge made a possession order. The army had been under no duty to find the defendant alternative accommodation and its need to have the property back outweighed her Article 8 rights.

17 April 2009
Luton BC v Universal Group
Lands Tribunal HA/6/2007
A private sector tenant contacted the council to say that his electricity and water supply had been cut off. Council officers attended and found the landlords' workmen in the process of boarding-up the property on the grounds that it was "unsafe" - i.e. an unlawful eviction of the tenant and other tenants was in progress. The council decided that there were Category 1 hazards at the property and that "emergency remedial action" was appropriate under sections 5 and 40 of the Housing Act 2004. It arranged a plumber to restore the water supply and an electrician to restore the electricity and lighting. It then sought to recover the cost from the landlords. The landlords appealed to the Residential Property Tribunal. It set aside the demand on the basis that the council should have made an emergency prohibition order (excluding the occupiers). The Lands Tribunal allowed the council's appeal and endorsed the action it has taken. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

14 April 2009
Complaint against Hounslow LBC
Local Government Ombudsman
The council has a choice-based letting scheme with "bands". The scheme read: "applicants may qualify for Band B if they have dependent children AND live in insecure accommodation AND do not have a bedroom AND lack or share amenities." Having been evicted by their landlord, the complainants were living temporarily with an aunt and met all those conditions but the council put them in Band C. It said that there were no cases on its the housing register to which that criterion applied and the reference to "insecure accommodation" was read narrowly and with regard to the type of property rather than the circumstances of the applicant. So, for example, insecure accommodation might be a hostel or bed and breakfast, where facilities are shared with people unknown to the applicants. The Ombudsman found that there had been maladministration. If the council had intended the provision to apply as narrowly as its interpretation, the wording should have reflected what was intended. On the plain words of the provision, it was satisfied. The application had not been assessed in accordance with the provisions of the published allocations policy. For a copy of the full report, click here.

The Latest Housing Articles

Tolerated Trespassers: Successor Landlords
R. Latham
[2009] May Legal Action 28

Recent Developments in Housing Law
HHJ Madge & J. Luba
[2009] May Legal Action 21

House of Lords decision on Allocating Social Housing
R. Latham & J. Harrison
[2009] May Legal Action 41

Gypsies & Travellers on Local Authority Sites
C. Johnson
[2009] May Legal Action 43

A Rare Beast
(Landlord's Duty of Care)
K. Warner
(2009) 159 New Law Journal 623

 

Housing Law Events

This Month

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

20 May 2009
Homelessness
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

17 June 2009
Judicial Review
A Garden Court Chambers Conference
For the details click here

19 June 2009
Successful Housing Litigation

A Jordans Training Seminar

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