Issue 168 – 22nd February 2010

Monday 22 February 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing Benefit: today is the closing date for submissions to the consultation on the reform of Housing Benefit. See the details under "Housing Law Consultations" (below)

Legal Aid for Housing Cases: later this week (on 26 February 2010) the LSC will open the tender process for Social Welfare Law (including Housing) contracts from October 2010. Tenders must be submitted by 12 noon on 21 April 2010 and decisions on bids will be announced on 14 June 2010. A number of Housing providers are intending to bid as parts of consortia with partners who will offer Benefits and Debts advice. On 16 February 2010 the LSC published an update to provide information on how matter starts will be awarded to consortium members: Consortium Arrangements for Social Welfare Law contracts in 2010, Update - February 2010. For the details of that update and other developments on Civil Contracts 2010-2013, click here.

Public land for private house-building in England: on 17 February 2010 the Minister for Housing announced the first three sites to be released under the Public Land Initiative. Under the scheme, the Government provides publicly-owned land in England for house-building but takes out the upfront costs and risks involved in site purchase and preparation because contractors pay for the land only once the completed homes are sold. For details of the first three locations and more about the scheme, click here.

Housing in rural England: on 19 February 2010 the Government announced the list of 36 councils that will be receiving amounts ranging between £4,000 and £70,000 from a £1m fund jointly provided by Communities and Local Government and DEFRA. The funds will pay for expert assistance and training on master-planning and urban design in a drive to achieve up to 10,000 more homes in rural areas. For the detailed announcement, click here. For more on the Rural Masterplanning Fund, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

19 February 2010
James v Birmingham CC
[2010] EWHC 282 (Admin)
Mr James had been subject to a three-year ASBO. Before it expired, the council applied for a variation to extend its scope and duration. The application was defended on the basis that the council ought to have applied for a fresh ASBO which would have required it to prove (if it could) that a further act of anti-social behaviour had occurred in the six months prior to the application. The variation was nevertheless granted and Mr James appealed. The Divisional Court dismissed the appeal. The court had been entitled to grant the application as sought. There was no need to show a fresh incident of anti-social behaviour. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

17 February 2010
Tomlinson v Birmingham CC
[2010] UKSC 8
The claimants had applied for homelessness assistance. In determining their applications for review of adverse decisions made under Housing Act 1996 Part 7, the council's reviewing officers had decided issues of fact (such as whether particular documents had been received by the claimants). The claimants could not appeal against those decisions because appeal to the county court is available only on points of law: Housing Act 1996 s204. They complained that they had been denied a determination of their civil rights by an impartial and independent tribunal as guaranteed by Article 6 of Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1. The Supreme Court decided that there had been no infringement. Decision-making on a question about homelessness assistance did not amount to a determination of "civil rights". For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Repairs: where have all the cases gone?
J. Luba
[2010] 14 Landlord & Tenant Review No.1 p3.

Who holds the keys?
(judicial review of housing associations)
G. Peaker
(2010) 154 Solicitors Journal No.6 p6

Recent Developments in Housing Law
The authors of this series of articles in Legal Action magazine have opened a discussion about its future on the Nearly Legal website. To read and contribute to that debate, click here.

Housing Law Books

Repairs: tenants' rights
The new edition of Repairs: tenants' rights by Jan Luba QC, Deirdre Forster and Beatrice Prevatt has been published. Price: £45.00. For full details, click here.

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.

Housing Law Handbook - 10% off
The Housing Law Handbook, edited by Stephen Cottle and written by other members of the Garden Court Housing Team, provides a first port of call for lawyers and advisors dealing with housing. 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 Law Consultations

[Today] Closing on 22 February 2010
The DWP consultation exercise on proposals for reform of the Housing Benefit scheme. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 12 March 2010
The CLG consultation on draft guidance to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Housing Act 2004 which explains the definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) for licensing purposes, the effect of the licensing provisions in Parts 2 and 3 of the Act and the circumstances in which management orders can be made under Part 4. For a copy of the draft, click here.

Closing on 12 March 2010
The CLG consultation on possible general consents for HMO licensing and selective licensing by local authorities. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 24 March 2010
The CLG consultation on changes to the Code for Sustainable Homes. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 28 March 2010
The Ministry of Justice consultation on a proposal to require mortgage lenders to obtain a court order or the consent of the borrower before repossessing and selling residential owner-occupied homes. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 28 April 2010
The HM Treasury consultation on investment in the private rented sector. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 16 April 2010
The Equality & Human Rights Commission consultation on non-statutory guidance under the Equality Bill. For copies of the consultation documents and further details, click here.

Closing on 30 April 2010
The Ministry of Justice consultation on minimum thresholds of debt default necessary to found Orders for Sale of debtor's homes. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 30 April 2010
The FSA consultation on proposals to help ensure that mortgage borrowers in arrears are treated fairly. For a copy of the consultation papers, click here.

Housing Law Events

[Today] 22 February 2010
Defending Possession Proceedings
A LAG Training Day in London
For the details, click here.

[This week] 25 February 2010
Public Sector Housing Law
A Jordans conference in London
For the details, click here.

[This week] 25 February 2010
Public Law and Housing
A LAG Training Day in London
For the details, click here.

17 March 2010
Possession Claims and the Elusive Defence
An HLPA evening meeting in London
For the details, click here.

15 April 2010
Judicial Review Conference
A conference organised by Garden Court Chambers in London (to be repeated in Birmingham in July 2010).
For the details, click here.

29 April 2010
Homelessness: getting past the gatekeepers!
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar.
For the details, click here.

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