Issue 149 - 14th September 2009

Monday 14 September 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Building new social housing: on 10 September 2009 the Housing minister announced that £245 million had been allocated to 43 housing associations across 97 local authority areas to support delivery of a further 3,400 affordable homes. For the detailed announcement, click here. The previous day, he had revealed details of distribution of the further £127 million that the Government has made available to boost council house building. For that announcement, click here. However, on the same day the Audit Commission published its report Building better lives: getting the best from strategic housing which suggested that councils were too focused on building of new homes and should pay more attention to bringing existing houses and flats up to standard and back into use (if empty). For a copy of that report, click here.

Homelessness in England: on 10 September 2009 the latest official data was published on homelessness applications made to local authorities in England. It covers the period to April - June 2009 and includes information on: reasons for application; the characteristics of applicant households; assessments and outcomes; and on households in temporary accommodation. For a copy, click here.

Homelessness in Scotland: on 4 September 2009 the latest official data was published on homelessness applications made to local authorities in Scotland. It covers the period to 2008-09 and includes information on: reasons for application; the characteristics of applicant households; assessments and outcomes; and on households in temporary accommodation. For a copy, click here.

Street Homelessness: the Government's target is to eliminate rough sleeping in England by 2012. On 10 September 2009 it published a Self Assessment Health Check designed for councils to review what arrangements, interventions and services are in place and to assess their current capability to prevent and respond to existing levels of rough sleeping, and explore the need for additional interventions or a separate rough sleeping strategy. For a copy, click here. On the same day the Government issued No One Left Out: Communities ending rough sleeping - Good Practice Notes: Developing a strategic response to prevent and tackle rough sleeping intended for use by local authorities who may traditionally not have experienced high numbers of people sleeping rough, or have in place significant levels of specialist provision, but who still need to adopt a strategic response to preventing rough sleeping. For a copy, click here.

Rights in Social Housing: the Housing Law Practitioners Association has published its response to the TSA discussion paper "Building a new regulatory framework" which gave a pre-statutory view of the approach of the new regulator might take to minimum standards of landlord conduct toward social housing tenants. For a copy of the HLPA paper, click here.

Help for home ownership: on 11 September 2009 the Government published its response to the CLG Select Committee's Report Housing and the Credit Crunch: follow up. It outlines the general measures the Government is taking to stimulate house building and assist buyers to obtain mortgages. For a copy, click here. For those at the other end of the spectrum, facing repossession, a new easy-access portal to advice has been created. It can be accessed by clicking here.

Housing Benefit: on 6 September 2009 the Government made The Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Amendment Order 2009 SI No 2459 which comes into force on 12 October 2009. For a copy, click here. The Order will allow the rent officer, if not satisfied that the list of rents for a particular category would contain sufficient rents to enable a representative local housing allowance to be determined, to add to the list rents for dwellings in the same category located in other areas in which a comparable market exists. For a copy of the explanatory memorandum, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

11 September 2009
Swindon BC v Redpath
[2009] EWCA Civ 943
The defendant had been a council tenant. He was evicted for anti-social behaviour directed at his neighbours (particularly certain owner-occupiers). He regularly returned to the street in which he had formerly lived, often under the influence of alcohol, hanging around communal garages, a bus shelter and outside residents' homes. The council sought and were granted an Anti Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) to prevent him returning. He appealed on the basis that an ASBI could only be granted if it was housing-related whereas his conduct no longer had anything to do with council housing. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The ASBI provisions were to be broadly interpreted and the defendant's conduct was within them. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

8 September 2009
R(Domb) and others v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC
[2009] EWCA Civ 941
Hammersmith & Fulham resolved to cut its council tax by 3%. Among measures designed to balance the budget in light of reduced income, it decided to introduce charges for non-residential home care services provided by its social services department. The claimants, users of those services, sought judicial review of the decision on the basis that the council had failed to have 'due regard' to the impact on those protected by the general equality duties contained in anti-discrimination legislation. The claim was dismissed and the claimants appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The judgment contains the latest judicial thinking on what the 'general equality duties' require of local authorities. For a copy, click here.

14 August 2009
Complaint against Cardiff CC
200702358
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
Council tenants reported anti-social behaviour by their neighbour, an introductory tenant. No action was taken before he became a secure tenant. His misconduct became increasingly serious and criminal. His neighbours continued to report his behaviour to the council for over 6 years but no effective action was taken. On a complaint, the Ombudsman found that the council does not act appropriately in relation to terminating unsatisfactory introductory tenancies and that its procedures and actions do not take appropriate regard of human rights legislation. The council had continued to fail in its responsibilities to the complainant and in particular had failed to consider the full range of legal remedies available to it to protect its tenant and bring the nuisance to an end. He recommended that the council should: transfer the complainant to suitable alternative accommodation; apologise for the failings and pay her £7,500; revise its procedures for dealing with anti social behaviour to take account of human rights and homelessness considerations; and provide further training to its staff in dealing with anti social behaviour sanctions including demotion of secure tenancies and termination of introductory tenancies. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
N. Madge and J. Luba
[2009] September Legal Action 28

A drink too many
(drinking banning orders)
I. Larkins
[2009] Inside Housing 11 September 2009 issue p33
For a copy of the article, click here.

Blurred Boundaries
(commentary on Weaver v LQHT)
K. Mukherjee
[2009] 159 New Law Journal 1205

All eyes on tenancy fraud
C. Dowler
[2009] Inside Housing 11 September 2009 issue p12
For a copy of the article, click here.

Housing Law Consultations

[THIS WEEK] 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.

[THIS WEEK] 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.

[THIS WEEK] 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
The consultation 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 England. 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.

Closing on 26 November 2009
The consultation exercise on proposed changes to the Approved Document for Part J (Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems) of the Building Regulations. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Housing Law Events

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

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

[THIS WEEK] 17 September 2009
Housing & Human Rights
A NWHLPG conference in Manchester
For contact details, click here.

[THIS WEEK] 17 September 2009
Recent Developments in Homelessness and Allocation of Social Housing Law
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
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.

8 October 2009
Obtaining Accommodation outside of the Housing Act 1996
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here.

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

13 October 2009
Social Housing Allocation
A Lime Legal Conference in London
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.

15 October 2009
Housing for Persons from Abroad
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar.
For the details, click here.

 

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