Issue 144 - 10th August 2009

Monday 10 August 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

New Homelessness Code of Guidance: the Secretary of State has issued new statutory guidance on Intentional Homelessness to supplement the Homelessness Code of Guidance for local housing authorities in England. For a copy of the new Code, click here.

New Social Housing Allocation Code of Guidance: in the wake of the House of Lords decision in Ahmad v Newham LBC the Secretary of State has published a draft of new statutory guidance on Housing Act 1996 Part 6 to replace the current Code of Guidance on Housing Allocation for local housing authorities in England. For a copy of the draft code, click here. For the impact assessment on the draft code, click here. For the ministerial statement explaining the policy behind the new guidance, click here.

The Regulator for Social Housing: the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 gave ministers power to extend the remit of the new social housing regulator (the Tenant Services Authority) to cover council housing as well as housing associations. The government proposes to exercise that power and has published a consultation paper suggesting which council functions might come under the TSA's jurisdiction. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.
The Act also enables the Government to give statutory directions to the TSA as to the standards it sets for social landlords. It proposes to exercise that power in the terms set out in a consultation paper. For a copy of that paper, click here.

Tenants of Mortgage Defaulters: the Government has produced a consultation paper on proposals to extend the protection of tenants who find themselves facing eviction when their landlords default on mortgage payments. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.
For the ministerial announcement launching the consultation, click here.

Second Charge Lenders: the Office of Fair Trading has published new guidance for lenders (and brokers) on the standards to be observed when making loans secured by second charges on residential property. For a copy of the guidance, click here. For the OFT statement, click here.

Stock Transfers of Council Housing: before disposing of tenanted homes to a new landlord a local housing authority in England must consult with tenants and the form of that consultation must follow statutory guidance given by the Secretary of State. New statutory guidance has recently been issued. For a copy, click here. For a summary of responses to the draft guidance, click here.

Strategic Housing Policies: every local council is supposed to adopt and implement a strategic plan for housing in its area. The measures taken under that strategy are subject to inspection by the Audit Commission. The Commission is consulting on a new benchmark by which it will inspect strategic housing activity by local authorities. For the consultation paper, click here. For the consultation questions, click here.

Detecting Housing Fraud: the Audit Commission has announced that the National Fraud Initiative (which enables police, local authorities and central government departments to share data about individuals) is to be extended to housing associations in an attempt to detect those fraudulently occupying social housing. For the details, click here.

Homelessness in Wales: the Welsh Assembly Government has published a Ten Year Homelessness Plan for Wales 2009 to 2019. For a copy of the plan, click here.

Anti-Social Behaviour: the Drinking Banning Order Provisions of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 come into force on 31 August 2009. For a copy of the commencement order, click here. The procedure for applying for such orders in the county court is covered by a new CPR Part 65.31-36. For a copy of the new procedure rules, click here. An outline of the new provisions, and a case study based on the use of an Habitual Drunkard Order provisions of the Licensing Act 1902, are provided in the August 2009 issue of ASB Focus. For a copy, click here.

Fire Safety in Social Housing: the Government has published a paper on the issues emerging from the inquiry by Sir Ken Knight into the fatal tower block fire in Camberwell. For a copy of the paper, click here. For the ministerial announcement made on publication, click here.

Gypsies & Travellers: the Government has recently issued a Good Practice Guide on management of gypsy and traveller sites. For a copy, click here. It has also published a progress report on its policy for gypsy and traveller accommodation. For a copy of the progress report, click here.

Housing Law Reform: the Government has at last responded to one of the Law Commission's three papers on reforming housing law. In a ministerial statement on the Housing: Proportionate Dispute Resolution paper, the Government has rejected a proposal to give county courts jurisdiction over decisions on whether to provide accommodation pending homelessness reviews. For a copy of the statement, click here and scroll down.

Information About Housing: the Government has recently updated its handy collection of data tables called Housing and Planning Key Facts. For a copy, click here. It has also published the results of a major study on Attitudes to Housing covering public perceptions of all types of rented housing. For a copy of that report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

31 July 2009
R(Boolen) v Barking & Dagenham LBC
[2009] EWHC (Admin), [2009] All ER (D) 347 (Jul)
The council operated a choice based letting scheme under which applicants were placed in bands. The highest banded bidders with the longest waiting times were shortlisted for each property. The claimant was top of the shortlist for a number of properties but they were allocated to other shortlisted bidders with more "local connection". She sought judicial review, claiming that the policy on how local connection criteria would be applied by officers to the shortlist was not part of the published scheme. The day before trial, the council amended its scheme to include the criteria. The claim was dismissed. The council had not acted unlawfully in not earlier publishing the criteria.

31 July 2009
Manchester CC v Pinnock
[2009] EWCA Civ 852
The defendant was an ex-secure demoted tenant. The council gave notice that it would seek possession. The defendant was unsuccessful in his internal review of that decision. When the council issued its claim, he defended on the basis that an eviction would infringe his right to respect for his home (Human Right Act 1998 Schedule 1 Article 8). The Court of Appeal upheld a possession order. The demoted tenancy scheme was compatible with convention rights. If there was a claim that the review decision had been unreasonable, that could only be raised in proceedings for judicial review.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

29 July 2009
Rafferty v Secretary of State
[2009] EWCA Civ 809
The claimants were gypsies and owned land on which they sought planning permission to station their homes. The council refused permission. An inspector upheld that decision and a judge dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal held that a decision to refuse permission amounted to an interference with the claimants' rights under Article 8 but that the interference was justified in the interests of maintaining planning controls.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

29 July 2009
R(Araya) v Leeds CC
[2009] EWHC 1962(Admin)
The council owed a duty to provide interim housing accommodation for the homeless claimant under Housing Act 1996 section 188. It first provided emergency housing and later asked her to move at short notice to other accommodation elsewhere designed to support her with permanent re-housing. In a judicial review claim, she asserted that the short notice had infringed her Article 8 rights and that the other accommodation was unsuitable because it was away from an area in which she had a safe base within a minority community. The claim was dismissed.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

20 July 2009
Elvington Park Ltd v City of York
[2009] EWHC 1805 (Admin)
The council claimed that the defendants were making excessive noise on their land and issued abatement notices under Environmental Protection Act 1990 section 769 requiring them to "take steps necessary to prevent noise". The defendants appealed on the basis that the notices were invalid because they did not describe the measures that needed to be taken. The High Court upheld an appeal and declared the notices invalid.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

16 July 2009
Circle 33 HT v Kathirkmanathan
[2009] EWCA Civ, noted on LAWTEL
In a claim brought by his landlords alleging anti-social behaviour, the defendant tenant gave an undertaking not to engage or encourage others to engage in nuisance. On receipt of further complaints of nuisance, the landlords applied for committal and the tenant was sentenced to 8 weeks in prison. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. The mere fact that there had been nuisance was not a breach of the undertaking. It had to have been shown that the tenant had committed the nuisance or encouraged others to do so. In any event, a correct sentence would have been a suspended sentence for the alleged breach.

13 July 2009
R(Odhams Walk Residents Management Ltd) v Westminster CC
[2009] EWHC 1712 (Admin)
The council adopted a policy that its Tenant Management Organisations could only supply studio or one-bedroom flats for their employees (such as resident caretakers) given a lack of two-bedroom and larger accommodation. The claimant sought judicial review contending that the policy involved unlawful sex discrimination against employees. The High Court dismissed the claim. The council's policy related to the conduct of TMOs rather than the council's staff and did not infringe laws designed to protect employees from discrimination.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

10 July 2009
Jones v Kernott
[2009] EWHC 1713 (Ch)
An unmarried couple bought a house in joint names, part funded by the claimant and by a mortgage. It provided a home for the claimant and defendant and their children for almost 10 years until the defendant moved out. The claimant continued making the mortgage payments. The High Court upheld a decision that the claimant was, in light of contributions made, entitled to 90% of the sale value of the property.
For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2009] August Legal Action 30

Action Not Words
(the law of surrender)
J. del Ceno
[2009] 159 New Law Journal No 7379 p1057
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Update
(House of Lords cases on homelessness)
H. Jackson
(2009) 106 Law Soc Gazette No 29 p 16

Take Note
(Housing Act 1988 section 21 notices)
DJ Tim Jenkins
[2009] 153 Solicitors Journal No 28 p17

Deposit Dilemmas
L. West and M. Rivett
[2009] 159 New Law Journal No 7381 p1127
For a copy of the article, click here.

Listening to Reason
(Rent Acts and reasonableness)
J del Ceno
[2009] 153 Solicitors Journal No 28 p17

All Change
(discussion of LQHT v Weaver)
L. Curtis
[2009] 159 New Law Journal No 7378 p1019

Housing Law Consultations

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

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

Closing on 17 September 2009
The consultation on proposals for draft secondary legislation that would remove the (up to) £15 excess Housing Benefit in cases where the Local Housing Allowance rate is higher than the contractual rent. For the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 17 September 2009
A consultation on proposals to modify Part F (Means of Ventilation) of the Building Regulations to address the problem of ventilation being reduced by heat-loss prevention measures. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 18 September 2009
The consultation on the new benchmark by which the Audit Commission will inspect strategic housing activity by local authorities. For the consultation paper, click here.
For the consultation questions, click here.

Closing on 23 September 2009
The consultation on capping any administration fees that housing authorities may wish to charge when offering such equity loan or equity share arrangements to leaseholders needing help with service charges. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 9 October 2009
On the Government's proposed statutory directions to the TSA as to the standards it sets for social landlords. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 14 October 2009
The consultation on proposals to extend the protection of tenants who find themselves facing eviction when their landlords default on mortgage payments. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 23 October 2009
The consultation on the new Housing Allocation Code of Guidance. For a copy of the consultation draft, click here.

Closing on 30 October 2009
The consultation on extending the remit of the new social housing regulator (the Tenant Services Authority) to cover council housing as well as housing associations.. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Housing Law Events

7 September 2009
Recent Developments in Housing Law
A Legal Action Group Training Day
For the details, click here

15 September 2009
Tenancy Agreements
A CIH Conference in London
For the details, click here.

16 September 2009
Community Care & Housing
A HLPA meeting in London
For the details, click here.

24 September 2009
Children's Rights Day Conference
London
For the details, click here.

24 September 2009
Introduction to the LVT/RPTS
A HLPA training seminar
For the details, click here.

29 September 2009
Housing Allocation & Homelessness
A Jordan Publishing Conference in London
For the details, click here.

30 September 2009
Using the Housing Act 2004 (HMOs to TDS)
A HLPA training seminar
For the details, click here.

9 October 2009
Housing & Support for Migrants
A LAG training day
For the details, click here.

14 October 2009
Anti Social Behaviour & Social Housing
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here.

15 October 2009
Introduction to Disrepair
A HLPA training seminar
For the details, click here.

 

 

 

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