Issue 140 – 22nd June 2009

Monday 22 June 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Help for mortgage defaulters: on 17 June 2009 the Treasury Select Committee announced the launch of an inquiry into mortgage arrears and repossessions. It has called for written submissions by 12 noon on 1st July 2009. Advisers with experience of assisting defaulters facing repossession may wish to respond. For more details, click here.

Council house building and council house rents: on 16 June 2009 the Local Government Association launched its The Places You Want to Live campaign. The campaign is designed to persuade the government to enable councils to build and develop more social housing by allowing them to retain all revenue from house sales and rents and to allow rents to be fixed locally. For more details, click here.

Homes from housing associations: the National Housing Federation has warned that around 6.5m people - or one in ten of the population - will be on social housing waiting lists in England by 2020 unless urgent action is taken. On 17 June 2009 it said that under its proposals, which are with the Prime Minister and Communities Secretary for their consideration, housing associations could deliver thousands of new social homes to meet that need through £3.2bn of public investment. For more details, click here.

Preventing condensation: the move to improve energy efficiency and reduce heat-loss means that more and more of the homes being built or converted are becoming "airtight". On 19 June 2009 the Government announced proposals to modify Part F (Means of Ventilation) of the Building Regulations to address the problem. Responses to the proposals should be made by 17 September 2009. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Home information packs: on 19 June 2009 the Government published Home Information Pack (No.2) Regulations 2007 (as amended) Procedural Guidance. The guidance is aimed at property professionals involved in the home buying and selling process. For a copy, click here.

Checking-out Estate Agents: on 15 June 2009 the Office of Fair Trading launched its on-line register of estate agents who have either been banned from work as estate agents or given warnings. Home buyers and sellers can now check the register directly for the name of any agent offering them services. For more details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

19 June 2009
Ryan v Islington LBC
[2009] EWCA Civ 578
Ms Ryan exercised the right to buy her council home. She claimed that Islington was not entitled to require her to complete the purchase before it had carried out underpinning works to a rear addition to her flat. The issue was whether a request that Islington should first carry out such works was a matter 'relating to the grant' of the long lease to which she was entitled for the purposes of section 140 of the Housing Act 1985. The judge held it was not. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. A tenant claiming the right to buy had no right to insist that a council carry out repairs or remedial works before completion. The demand for such works did not "relate to" the grant of a long lease. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

19 June 2009
R(Shoaib) v Newham LBC
[2009] EWHC (Admin), [2009] All ER (D) 198 (Jun)
The claimant had been housed by NASS while his asylum claim was pending and when it was refused the council accommodated him under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. Later, a social worker reviewed the decision and withdrew support. A claim for judicial review of that decision was rejected. The High Court held that in asking whether the claimant could look after himself, the social worker had not applied too narrow a test; he had applied the correct test (i.e. whether the person concerned needed things to be done for him which he could/should not be able to do for himself). There was ample material to indicate that the claimant was able to look after himself. The social worker had acted rationally in deciding that section 21 support was not required.

18 June 2009
R(Weaver) v London & Quadrant Housing Trust
[2009] EWCA Civ 587
When LQHT decided to seek possession of Ms Weaver's home relying on Ground 8 (a mandatory ground for rent arrears against an assured tenant) she sought to challenge that decision by a claim for judicial review and asserted that her human rights would be infringed. While dismissing her claim on the facts, the High Court decided that the housing allocation and management functions of an RSL were public functions which could be subject to a human rights or judicial review claim. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. Starting a possession claim was not a "private act" against an RSL social housing tenant. It had a public dimension sufficient to found a human rights or judicial review claim. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

17 June 2009
Hussain v Bradford Community Housing
[2009] EWCA Civ, available on LAWTEL
The claimant had been a joint tenant with his ex-partner. She gave notice to quit (NTQ) in the expectation of rehousing. The NTQ should have expired on a Friday. But it was expressed to take effect on a specified Sunday "or the last day of a period of tenancy after 4 weeks". The landlord also indicated that if the ex-partner's re-housing had not come through in time she could stay-on. A judge held that the notice had validly terminated the tenancy. The Court of Appeal rejected the suggestions (1) that the NTQ was invalid because it was ambiguous or (2) that the landlord's letter about staying-on amounted to a variation of it. The appeal was dismissed.

16 June 2009
London District Properties Management Ltd v Goolamy
[2009] EWHC 1367 (Admin)
The tenants had a fixed term 3-year assured shorthold tenancy agreement which included a rent review clause. When the agreement expired, they remained in occupation as statutory assured periodic tenants. The question then arose whether the landlords could increase the rent only in accordance with the tenancy agreement or whether they could use the notice procedure in Housing Act 1988 section 13. The High Court decided that once the tenancy had become statutory, the section 13 notice procedure was available. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

4 June 2009
Pannon GSM Zrt v Gyorfi
In standard form terms and conditions, a supplier specified that any dispute by the consumer had to be raised in a particular court. The consumer wanted to raise the dispute in a different court and to claim that the term was unfair. The question for the European Court was whether the term was binding until declared unfair by a court or whether an unfair term could simply be ignored. The Court decided that an unfair term was not binding on a consumer at all and that the consumer did not need to obtain a court order to produce invalidity. The decision may help tenants in those cases where a landlord insists on a particular route being adopted to resolve a dispute. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Consultations

Closing on 31 July 2009
Views are invited on the issues relating to costs in housing litigation by Lord Justice Jackson's review of civil litigation costs. His Preliminary Report contains a Housing Claims chapter (Chapter 31 in Volume 1) canvassing a range of issues. For the Preliminary Report, click here.

Closing on 7 August 2009
A consultation exercise relating to the private rented sector is currently underway. It covers the proposed national registration scheme for private landlords and the proposed regulation of letting agencies and managing agents. For the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 31 August 2009
The consultation on the London Housing Strategy is now underway. For a copy of the draft strategy, click here.

Closing on 8 September 2009
The TSA consultation on new national housing standards will close. For a zip file containing all the consultation and background documents, click here.

Housing Law Events


This Week

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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