Issue 137 - 1st June 2009

Monday 1 June 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Premises Closure Orders: the May 2009 issue of ASB Focus (Issue 4) features a report of action taken by the Safer Knowsley Partnership in February 2009 to secure Premises Closure Orders in respect of three houses in one street, all occupied by members of the same extended family. The properties were said to have been bases for persistent nuisance and anti-social behaviour. For a copy of ASB Focus, click here.

Mortgage lenders and the protocol: a survey conducted by Shelter and advice agencies has revealed that while the primary mortgage lenders have mainly responded positively to the Mortgage Possession Pre-action Protocol, the response of second mortgage lenders has been less constructive. For a summary of the survey findings click here.

Letting Agents: a survey report from Citizens Advice published on 21 May 2009 has shown that 94% of letting agents impose charges on tenants going well beyond the deposit or rent in advance. The organisation has called for a strong system of regulation on letting agents including a ban on such additional charges. For a copy of the report, Let Down: CAB evidence on letting agents and their charges, click here.

Mortgage Rescue Scheme: the statistical returns for April 2009, released on 29 May 2009, appear to show that the Government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme has only resulted in two households and their lenders accepting rescue offers from RSLs since the scheme was launched in January 2009. It was anticipated that the £250m scheme would help 6000 vulnerable households within two years. For the month-by-month statistics, click here. The Government's May 2009 response to the House of Commons' Communities and Local Government Committee Report on Housing and the Credit Crunch says that the scheme would be "kept under review to ensure any impediments to delivery are addressed effectively (p.17). For a copy of the response, click here

The Latest Housing Case Law

27 May 2009
Complaint against Ealing LBC
Local Government Ombudsman Investigation 07/A/10617
The complainant lived in a two-bedroom council flat with his wife and three sons. In 1999 they were joined by his elderly and disabled mother-in-law. On a renewed transfer application, the council's medical adviser recommended that the mother-in-law be rehoused separately into sheltered accommodation. That resulted in loss of priority for the complainant's own application in November 2006. Only after the involvement of an advice agency, and a complaint to the Ombudsman, was priority restored and the mother-in-law treated as part of the complainant's household. The Ombudsman found that the council had acted solely on the medical adviser's advice without proper consultation and assessment. That and other mishandling of the transfer request showed that the council had "failed to give proper and timely consideration to the values and principles that underlay Article 8" (i.e. the right to respect for family life). He recommended backdating of priority for the transfer application and £2000 compensation. For a copy of the investigation report, click here.

22 May 2009
Mohammadi v Shellpoint Trustee Ltd and another
[2009] EWHC 1098 (Ch)
The claimant had brought a claim for housing disrepair against her landlords. They had responded with a forfeiture claim for failure to pay service charges and ground rent. The proceedings produced four judgments and orders following a county court trial and the claimant obtained 75% of her costs in a partly successful appeal to the Court of Appeal. The claimant had been assisted in turn by three sets of solicitors and had had three legal aid certificates each of which had been discharged in the course of the proceedings but later reinstated before being finally discharged. A question arose as to whether the claimant had at all times been a "legally assisted party" for the purposes of the costs-protection provisions of the Legal Aid Act 1988. The High Court decided that she was not such a person during those periods while her certificates were discharged even though they were later re-instated and even though she had spent that time trying to get them re-instated. For a copy of the full judgment, click here.

21 May 2009
Konodyba v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal has granted permission on the papers for the claimant to bring a second appeal in this dispute about eligibility for homelessness assistance for EU nationals and their families. In the light of inconsistent decisions by different county court judges as to whether similar homelessness appeals should be stayed pending a decision of the European Court of Justice on the reference made in Harrow LBC v Ibrahim [2008] EWCA Civ 386, the appeal has been expedited and will be heard on 29 or 30 June 2009.

1 May 2009
Rhondda Cynon Taff Council v Neal
Aberdare Magistrates Court
The defendant was a tenant of a privately rented house. Visitors to the house caused nuisance an annoyance to neighbours involving violence, damage to property, shouting and verbal abuse culminating in six arrests. The landlord declined to take any immediate action. On the application of the local council, the court granted a premises closure order (the first in Wales) and the property was immediately boarded-up. For the council's press release, click here.

Housing Law Events

This 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
For the details click here

24 June 2009
The "Do and Don't" of Possession Hearings in the County Court
A free Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here

Next Month

10 July 2009
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group training event
For the details, click here.

15 July 2009
Housing Law: the Legal Update 2009
Northern Housing Consortium Conference (York)
For the details, click here

15 July 2009
Relationship Breakdown & Housing
An HLPA meeting in London
For the details, click here

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