Issue 146 - 24th August 2009

Monday 24 August 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Help on possession day: there are now hundreds of schemes providing last minute assistance to defendants in possession cases in the county courts. The Government has established a Housing Possession Court Desk Community on the internet to help participants exchange information and expertise. It can be accessed by registering through the Communities/Idea portal. To register, begin here.

Help for homeowners: Shelter has published research commissioned from Professor Janet Ford and Dr Alison Wallace of the Centre of Housing Policy at the University of York on how mortgage arrears and possessions are being managed by lenders and borrowers in the current economic climate. The study looked at the measures that have been put in place to assist borrowers and identified what more needs to be done to protect homeowners over the longer term. For a copy of the research report, click here.

Homes for military service personnel: last week the Government published its Defence accommodation management strategy. The paper sets out how the MOD's accommodation will be improved and managed over the next 10 years. For a copy, click here. For the ministerial statement accompanying its launch, click here.

Accommodation for children: the housing needs of children for the purposes of the Children Act 1989 are usually assessed using a Common Assessment Framework (CAF). That guidance has now been re-written and published in two separate guides - one for practitioners and the other for managers (particularly the Directors of Childrens' Services). For the practitioners' guide, click here. For the managers' guide, click here.

What tenants of social housing want: new research commissioned and published by the Scottish Government contains a detailed analysis of the subject. For a copy of Identifying the Priorities of Tenants of Social Landlords, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

20 August 2009
Heald and others v Brent LBC
[2009] EWCA Civ 930
The claimants took issue with review decisions made on their applications for homelessness assistance. They appealed to the Court of Appeal on the sole ground that the decisions were invalid because the council had contracted-out the review function to Housing Reviews Ltd, a company established by a former local authority reviewing officer, and that officer was not impartial. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Contracting-out of the review function was permitted and the evidence adduced did not support the proposition that the company did not reach review decisions fairly. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

10 August 2009
Complaint against Lambeth LBC
08/06/663
Local Government Ombudsman
The Council accepted that a young single man was homeless and in priority need and it secured temporary bed and breakfast hotel accommodation for him. For over a year his parents pressed the council and its medical adviser to secure appropriate accommodation for him and a carer. Without help and support over many months he ran up arrears, caused damage to his room, was asked to leave and was found intentionally homeless. The Ombudsman's investigation found that: (1) although the Council had accepted his vulnerability, it did not take action to assist him in completing housing benefit applications or advise him of the implications of increasing rent arrears when there was still a reasonable prospect of recovering them; and (2) there were poor communications by the Council, particularly in the failure to pass on information from the Council's medical advisor to the applicant or his father, and to make it clear that he would be considered for one-bedroom accommodation only. The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and recommended that the Council should: (1) offer a tenancy of one-bedroom accommodation that meets the applicant's identified needs (this would put him in the position he should have been in by the end of January 2007); (2) write-off all the arrears he incurred apart from £11.05 per week (the amount of the charge he was initially advised that he was liable to pay); (3) offer to pay him £2,000 in recognition of the injustice he has experienced; and pay £250 to his father in recognition of his time and trouble pursuing this complaint on his son's behalf. For a copy of the investigation report, click here.

Housing Law Article

Stretching it
(possession claims and possession orders)
DJ Exton
[2009] 153 Solicitors Journal no.32 p15
For a copy of the article, click here.

Open season
(commentary on Weaver v London & Quadrant)
C. Morris
[2009] September/October Roof 41

Safely deposited?
S. Highmore
[2009] 932 Estates Gazette 60

Lawful consequences
(commentary on Aweys/Ali v Birmingham CC)
J. Stark
[2009] September/October Roof 38

What has devolution done for the homeless?
S. Fitzpatrick et al
J. Stark
[2009] September/October Roof 31

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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