Issue 35 - 30th October 2006

Monday 30 October 2006

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Government and Legislation

Earlier today (30 October 2006), Lord Falconer unveiled the latest publications from the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) designed to help public authorities and advisers dealing with the Human Rights Act 1998. For his speech, click here
For copies of the new documents (including a revised Third Edition of A Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998)
click here:

Last week the Government published its White Paper on the reform of Local Government Strong and Prosperous Communities. Volume 2 Annexe E contains the housing related proposals which mainly relate to strengthening the rights of tenants to take over management of housing stock. For the full White Paper (or a short summary)
click here

Figures released by National Statistics on 26 October 2006 show that between £800m and £1650m of Housing Benefit went unclaimed in 2004/5. Since 1997 there has been a 7% fall in take-up of the benefit. The full figures are available he re

On 30 October 2006 the Housing Corporation and the Mayor of London announced further initiatives to reduce the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation in London. The Housing Minister said “It doesn’t make sense to keep people in expensive temporary accommodation with high benefit bills…” and encouraged take-up of the £30m Settled Homes pilot initiative. For the Corporation’s Press Release click here:

Cases

Peaceform Ltd v Cussens [2006] EWHC 2657 (Ch), 16 October 2006. A lease gave a tenant the option to purchase the freehold on not less that 3 months notice to expire before 6 February 2004. The tenant’s solicitors sought to exercise the option by letter dated 27 August 2003 expressed to expire on 7 November 2003. Further correspondence in October 2003 gave the same date. Later the solicitors said that there had been a typographic error and the date they had meant to use in the letter was 7 December 2003. The judge held that the letter did not give the required 3 month’s notice. After reviewing the authorities on the validity of notices given between landlord and tenant, he held that the letter did not place beyond reasonable doubt how and when it was to take effect and was ineffective to exercise the option.

Oakfern Properties Ltd v Ruddy [2006] EWCA Civ 1389 (CA), 25 October 2006. The freeholder of a mansion block of flats let the block to PPM Ltd (a non-profit company owed by 15 residents). The 25 individual flats were sublet to tenants. The freeholder levied a management change which PPM Ltd then passed on to the tenants. Mr Ruddy disputed the reasonableness of the charge. The Court of Appeal held that he was entitled to make the freeholder the respondent to his Leasehold Valuation Tribunal application and that the “maintenance” charge was a service charge for the purposes of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.

Rehman v Benfield [2006] EWCA Civ 1392 (CA), 26 October 2006. An absentee owner (Mr Rehman) allowed a house to become dilapidated and it was squatted. In March 1991 a Mrs Benfield changed the locks and in October 1991 began living in the house. She intended to acquire the house by “adverse possession”. In October 2004 the owner sought possession. Mrs Benfield claimed the right to title in her name by virtue of more than 12 years unbroken occupation. Her claim could only be defeated if the owner could demonstrate that she had acknowledged his title within the last 12 years. The Court of Appeal held that Mrs Benfield’s signature to an invalid counterpart lease within that period amounted to an acknowledgement and her claim failed.

Coming Up Soon

Reminder 2 November 2006: “Eligibility” Issues in Housing
Garden Court Chambers Seminar
This seminar is now fully booked.

3 November 2006: Current Issues in Housing Law. A CityUniversity event
Details from i.d.loveland@city.ac.uk

9 November 2006: Property Bar Association Conference.
Details from propertybar@hardwicke.co.uk

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