Issue 145 - 17th August 2009

Monday 17 August 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

County Court Possession Claims: official figures published on 14 August 2009 covering the period April to June 2009 show that, over those three months, mortgage lenders issued 26,215 possession claims (14% higher than in the first quarter of 2009) and another 34,421 landlord possession claims were issued. For the full statistics, click here.

Help for homeowners: although the number of tenants facing possession proceedings greatly exceeded the number of mortgage borrowers, the situation of the latter has attracted much more attention. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) issued a statistical report on 14 August 2009 indicating that in the three months April to June 2009 lenders had taken possession of 11,400 homes and that a further 270,000 borrowers now owe more than three months arrears. For a copy of the CML report, click here.
For its part, the Government announced that it had secured "universal access" to duty schemes at county courts on possession days and that to boost the Mortgage Rescue Scheme (under which only 14 borrowers had converted to social housing tenancies since January 2009) a new "central team" had been established to fast-track applications. For the details, click here.
In a separate statement, the Justice Minister acknowledged that, after a fall caused by the introduction of the Mortgage Pre-action Protocol, the number of mortgage possession claims was again "leveling out". For that statement, click here.
A general overview of practice in the mortgage market, secondary lending, default charges and measures to help defaulting borrowers is given in a major Treasury Select Committee report published on 8 August 2009. For a copy, click here.

Help from local authorities: a new report from the Audit Commission, When it comes to the Crunch, was published on 12 August 2009. It outlines the measures being taken by local authorities in response to the recession but warns that councils should prepare for a worsening social impact as unemployment rises. For a copy of the report, click here.

Restricting shared ownership: on 12 August 2009 the government announced that it would exercise new powers to cap shared-ownership in 13,000 rural settlements. The objective is to prevent properties designed for low cost social housing from being sold-off into the private market by tenants who complete shared-ownership staircasing. For a copy of the statement, click here.
The powers are contained in parts of the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 that are to be brought into force on 7 September 2009. For a copy of the commencement order, click here. The designated areas are identified in a ministerial order. For a copy, click here. Related changes to restrict enfranchisement of long leases in such areas are made by a further order. For a copy of that order, click here. The introduction of these measures follows a consultation exercise. For the report of the responses to that consultation, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

4 August 2009
Complaint against Neath Port Talbot CBC
2008/01411
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
The complainants, a married couple, were council tenants of a two bedroomed house. Both were registered disabled. The wife was in receipt of higher rate disability living allowance. In February 2008 they applied for a transfer to alternative two-bedroomed council accommodation adapted for the disabled in a different part of the council's area. The council referred the application to its medical adviser who rejected the claim for a second bedroom and for adapted accommodation. The application was classified as being for one-bedroom general needs properties. The complainants submitted reports from a GP, a psychiatrist and an occupational therapist but, despite using the council's review and appeals procedures, it was not until the end of November 2008 that they were re-classified for two-bedroomed adapted properties. The Ombudsman found maladministration on the grounds that: (1) the advice of the council's medical adviser was not being treated by the council as advice but as determinative of decisions the council should have taken itself; (2) the council had initially failed to give reasons why it had not changed the classification in light of the reports submitted; and (3) the re-consideration of the application had been delayed to await an occupational therapist's report but that had itself caused a delay of over three months. The Ombudsman recommended £500 compensation.

Housing Law Articles

A less than perfect fit
(commentary on Bracknell Forest DC v Green)
R. Wassall
[2009] 14 August Inside Housing 25
For a copy of the article, click here.

A tale of two trespassers - Part 2
(commentary on possession claims and Article 8)
I. Loveland
[2009] European Human Rights Law Review 495

Final decision
(commentary on Manchester CC v Pinnock)
S. Evans
[2009] 14 August Inside Housing 25
For a copy of the article, click here.

Stuck in the middle with you
(tenants of defaulting mortgage borrowers)
M. Robinson
[2009] 134 Adviser 19

A simple list of fate
(social housing allocation)
M. Mackreth
[2009] 134 Adviser 28

Tenancy Deposit Round-Up
M. Robinson
[2009] 134 Adviser 26

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.

17 September 2009
Housing & Human Rights
A NWHLPG conference in Manchester
For contact 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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