Issue 160 - 7th December 2009

Monday 7 December 2009

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The Latest Housing Law News

Unauthorised sub-tenants in social housing: on 30 November 2009 the Housing Minister announced details of a new campaign to address "housing fraud", particularly in the form of unauthorised sub-letting of social housing in England. Each local authority and large social landlord is to receive funding to encourage a clampdown on such sub-letting. The Government will also fund a scheme of rewards for those who report sub-letting of social housing to landlords. For a copy of the announcement, click here. For the guidance issued to social landlords, click here. For the marketing pack of publicity materials intended to drive the campaign forward, click here.

New Housing Allocation Statutory Guidance: on 4 December 2009 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government issued a new statutory Code of Guidance on allocation of social housing under Housing Act 1996 Part 6. The Code amends but does not replace the main Allocation Code issued in 2002. It follows a consultation exercise which ended in October. For the new Code, click here. For the Impact Assessment on the new Code, click here. For the summary of responses to the draft Code, click here. For the statement announcing the launch of the new Code, click here. For the Equality Impact Assessment of the new Code, click here.

Preventing Homelessness: the November 2009 issue of the HAT Update from the Homelessness Action Team at the Tenant Services Authority contains features on homelessness strategies, sale and rent back schemes, private sector access schemes and housing help for offenders. For a copy, click here.

Preventing Possession Orders: figures released on 3 December 2009 indicate that, in the 6 months April to September 2009, the housing possession court duty schemes at Newcastle and Gateshead County Courts helped 352 clients and 146 clients respectively. The numbers of possession orders made in mortgage cases at those two courts fell by 13% and 16% respectively. For further details, click here.

Housing debt: the team of 110 staff at National Debtline in Birmingham is now receiving 1600 calls a day. The number of callers who are behind with mortgage payments has increased by more than 15%. For details relating to a recent visit to the service by the Housing Minister, click here. The Money Advice Trust commissioned Shelter in February 2009 to carry out research into the impact of the current economic downturn on the private rented sector. Shelter's research reveals that the recession has exacerbated the financial difficulties of many private sector tenants. For a copy of their recently published report, Taking the strain - The private rented sector in the recession, click here.

Social landlords and the Law: giving the keynote address at a recent conference, Lord Neuberger - the new Master of the Rolls - reviewed latest caselaw on whether housing associations were 'public' authorities and whether occupiers of social housing could defend possession proceedings on human rights grounds. For a copy of his speech, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: in early December 2009, the Home Office published a research report examining the differences between the uses of tools to tackle anti-social behaviour across different local authority areas. For a copy of the report, Exploration of local variations in the use of anti-social behaviour tools and powers, click here. Another Government department, DCSF, has recently published Anti-social behaviour: Family Intervention Projects - Monitoring and Evaluation. For a copy of that report, click here.

Housing in Wales: on 30 November 2009 the Deputy Minister for Housing (Jocelyn Davies AM) laid the proposed Sustainable Homes Legislative Competence Order (LCO) which would give the National Assembly of Wales powers to legislate on housing. If made, the Order will cover: Regulation of social landlords; Disposals by social landlords; Social Housing Tenancies; Homelessness; Housing allocations; Housing-related support; the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites; Empty homes and Council Tax for second homes. For a copy of the draft Order and the explanatory memorandum, click here.

Housing- the facts: on 3 December 2009 the Office of National Statistics published the compendium of Housing & Planning Statistics 2009 covering: tenure; prices; rents; overcrowding, the right to buy, and much more. For a copy of the full report, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

1 December 2009
Secretary of State for DEFRA v Meier and others
[2009] UKSC 11
The defendants were new age travellers occupying forests managed by the Forestry Commission. The claimant secured injunctions and possession orders to clear them from land they were occupying. But the claimant was concerned that they would occupy other land in the area and sought, and obtained, injunctions to restrain them from entering the other lands and pre-emptive possession orders in respect of the other lands. The Supreme Court upheld the injunctions but discharged the possession orders. Such orders could not be made so as to grant possession to the claimant of land it owned and occupied and of which no-one was, at present, in unauthorised occupation. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

1 December 2009
Novitskaya v Brent LBC
[2009] EWCA Civ 1260
The claimant, a refugee, handed a form to the DWP in 2004 which asked that her income support, "or whatever else" she might be entitled to, be backdated to the date of her claim for asylum. Someone endorsed the form "HB + Income support". The local council declined to treat this as a claim for housing benefit or for backdating of that benefit. The Court of Appeal held that it was a claim, albeit a defective one. The defect was cured by later submission of a correct form. A claim did not need to identify, in the words used, the precise benefit claimed. Such a requirement would be unreasonable for new arrivals and others. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

27 November 2009
Brightlingsea Haven Ltd v Morris [No.2]
[2009] EWHC 3061 (QB)
The defendants were leasehold occupiers of lodges on a caravan park site. The claimant was the new site owner. In an earlier judgment the court had held that the claimant was bound by promises made by its predecessor-in-title that the residents could have daytime use of the lodges in the closed season. Such use would be in breach of the planning consent that the claimant had from the local council. The High Court decided that the right course was to require new leases which prohibited daytime occupation but to also require the claimant to compensate the occupiers for the loss of the promised rights. Provision was to be made such that if planning permission were granted, the leases would then enable daytime use and would end entitlement to further compensation.

18 November 2009
R (EW) v Home Office
[2009] EWHC 2957 (Admin)
The claimant was an asylum seeker from Eritrea. The Home Office proposed to return him to Italy where he had previously made an asylum application. He sought judicial review, complaining that the failure by the Italian authorities to implement the statutory system of support for asylum seekers in that country meant that he had been left destitute and homeless and that a return to that situation would amount to inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 Article 3. The High Court rejected that claim. The Italian State had not positively engaged in any negative "treatment" of the claimant or others. No-one in Italy had a statutory right to housing. Although, unlike Italian nationals, the claimant could not join a housing waiting list, that did not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment. Article 3 did not convey a right to accommodation or a 'home'. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Books and Articles

Housing Law Handbook - 10% off
Gain a practical understanding of Housing law with the Housing Law Handbook. It provides a first port of call for lawyers and advisors dealing with housing, professionals in the social housing sector, and those involved in housing management. The book covers possession proceedings, homelessness rights, the allocation of social housing, and other routes into housing. To claim your 10% discount, order online and quote promotion code GCTHLH when prompted.

Housing Allocation and Homelessness - new edition
The new edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies can now be ordered. Price: £50.00. For full details, click here.

House of Surprises
(a review of recent Housing cases in the House of Lords)
G. Peaker
[2009] 153 Solicitors Journal Issue 45 p16
For a copy of the article, click here.

Possession following criminal conviction: Ground 14
J. Mack
[2009] 13 Landlord & Tenant Review 209

Killer's family removed
M. Dirom
[2009] Inside Housing 4 December issue p35
For a copy of the article, click here.

Surrender by Operation of Law: the effect of handing back the keys to the landlord
C. Newnham
[2009] 13 Landlord & Tenant Review 223

Housing Law Consultations

Closing on 4 February 2010
The Home Office consultation on support arrangements for asylum seekers. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 5 February 2010
The TSA consultation on all the new National Standards for Social Housing Management. For copies of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 15 February 2010
The Treasury consultation on further measures to protect mortgage borrowers. For the consultation paper, click here.

Housing Law Events: 2009

[This week] 9 December 2009
Social Housing Management Conference 2009
A Lime Legal event (London).
For the details, click here.

[Next week] 15 December 2009
The Housing Law Conference
An HLPA event
For the details, click here.

[Next week] 16 December 2009
Housing Disrepair
A LAG training day.
For the details, click here.

Housing Law Events: 2010

19 January 2009
Meeting Housing Needs
A conference in Bristol for South West England and South Wales
For the details, click here.

21 January 2009
Housing management
A CIH conference in London
For the details, click here.

28 January 2009
Housing management
A CIH conference in Manchester
For the details, click here.

25 February 2009
Public Sector Housing Law
A Jordans conference in London
For the details, click here.


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