Issue 41 - 11th December 2006

Monday 11 December 2006

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Government & Legislation: Last Week

On Monday 4th December 2006 the latest tranche of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 provisions relating to Housing came into force. They impose on most landlords new duties to make reasonable adjustments to reflect the needs of disabled people and require public and social landlords to discharge a general disability equality duty. The most extensive impact will be in the social housing sector. An excellent guide is provided by the DRC in A Guide to the Disability Equality Duty and Disability Discrimination Act 2005 for the social housing sector.Click here for a copy.

On Tuesday 5th December 2006 the Government laid the Housing (Assessment of Accommodation Needs) (Meaning of Gypsies and Travellers)(England) Regulations. They define the term “gypsies and travellers" to be used by local authorities in assessing the accommodation needs of such persons in their areas. Click here for a copy of the regulations.  The assessment duty itself is contained in section 225 of the Housing Act 2004. That will come into force on 2 January 2007. Click here for the commencement order.

On Thursday 7th December 2006 the National Audit Office published its report on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of enforcement measures taken by public sector landlords and others in respect of anti-social behaviour: Home Office Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour. For a copy of the report Click here

On the following day, the Government published the latest statistics on Anti-social Behaviour Orders. They show that by the end of December 2005, over 9800 ASBOs had been granted. Click here for the full table.  The accompanying press release proclaims a falling public perception of anti-social behaviour as a serious problem.

On 8th December 2006 the Government issued new guidance entitled Hospital Admission and Discharge: People who are homeless or living in temporary or insecure accommodation. It invites hospitals, Primary Care Trusts, local authorities and the voluntary sector working in partnership, to develop an effective admission and discharge protocol for people who are not living in settled accommodation. The aim of the agreed protocol will be to ensure that no one is discharged to the streets or inappropriate accommodation. Click here for a copy of the guidance.

Cases: Last Week

Lambeth LBC v Namegembe, 6 December 2006, [2006] All ER (D) 70 (Dec). The claimant sought to appeal against a review decision made on her homelessness application. The council said that the review decision had been notified by post in October 2005. The claimant said that she had not received that but had collected a copy of the decision from the council offices in November 2005. The question of whether the appeal had been lodged in time was listed for trial as a preliminary issue. The judge considered witness statements from the claimant’s solicitor and a council officer and found that the appeal was made in time. The High Court allowed the council’s appeal. There had been no evidence from the claimant herself and the conflict between the witness statements should have been resolved by cross-examination.

Khelassi v Brent LBC, 7 December 2006, [2006] All ER(D) 90 (Dec). The claimant had successfully appealed to the county court against a homelessness review decision in which the council had found that he did not have a priority need for accommodation. The judge had held that, on the specific facts of the case relating to the claimant’s mental illness (supported by specialist psychiatric expert opinion) the council ought not to have simply relied on the advice it had received from its general medical adviser. The council’s application for permission to bring a second appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal as it raised no important point of principle or practice.

Coming Up

13 December 2006 Housing Law Conference. The HLPA Annual Housing Law Conference.
For details Click here

15 December 2006 Social Housing Law and Practice in Northern Ireland.  A Lime Legal conference in Belfast.
For details Click here

15 December 2006 Recent Developments in Housing Law. A LAG Training event.
For details Click here



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