Government & Legislation Last week
Monday 22 January 2007 saw another wave of "anti-social behaviour" initiatives from the Government's Respect Action Team.
For a copy of the new Respect Handbook, click here
For the latest statistics on injunctions, possession orders and demotion orders, click here
For the list of 40 local authorities allocated an additional £6m for parenting classes click here
On 24 January 2007 the Government and the Housing Corporation jointly launched a new action team to drive policy on tackling homelessness in London. The team will be based in the Corporation's London field office promoting good practice among London local authorities and RSLs. For the details click here
On 24 January 2007 Shelter published The Advice Gap: A study of barriers to housing advice for black and minority ethnic communities. The report reveals that many people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities face major barriers when accessing housing advice. To read the report click here
The Government has scrapped its Move UK initiative designed to enable applicants to access available social and private sector rented property across the country. The HOMES mobility scheme has also ended and the LAWN and Seaside and Country Homes schemes have been suspended. For the details click here
How should the new Supreme Court (which will replace the judicial function of the House of Lords) work? A consultation exercise has been launched on draft rules for its procedure. Responses are sought by 10 April 2007. For a copy of the consultation paper click here
The deadline for introduction of Home Information Packs is looming (1 June 2007). The government has launched its latest briefing and consultation paper on arrangements for implementation. Responses are sought by 21 February 2007. To access a copy click here
Last Week's Cases
R (Aweys) v Birmingham CC  EWHC 52 (Admin), 26 January 2007. The claimants had all applied to Birmingham as "homeless". The council accepted that it owed them the main duty (HA 1996 s193) because although the claimants had accommodation it was not reasonable for them to continue to occupy (HA 1996 s175). It told them to remain in their homes until made an offer under the council's allocation scheme and placed them in Band B. The council reserved Band A for those homeless applicants it had provided with temporary accommodation. On a judicial review, the High Court found both the council's handling of the homeless and its allocation scheme were unlawful. It followed from the finding that it was "not reasonable to occupy" that the existing accommodation was not "suitable" and the claimants could not be required to continue occupying it. The council had to secure suitable accommodation. Those in Band A had - because the council had secured it - "suitable" accommodation. It was irrational to place them higher than the claimants who were in accommodation the council considered unreasonable for continued occupation. To read the full judgment click here
Hackney LBC v Rottenberg  All ER(D) 174 (Jan), 24 January 2007. On receipt of complaints from a neighbour, Hackney served the defendant with abatement notices under Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part III requiring him to cease chanting, shouting and jumping on internal floors and causing such noise as to be a nuisance. The council's Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) gave unchallenged evidence that the notices had been breached by further noise constituting a nuisance. Magistrates convicted but the Crown Court allowed an appeal. The council appealed unsuccessfully to the High Court. It held that the trial court was not obliged to accept even the expert evidence tendered. It had to be satisfied - in its own judgment - that there had been noise such as to cause nuisance.
Cawthorne v Hamdan  EWCA Civ 6, 24 January 2007. Four tenants in a block of 6 flats served notice exercising the right to collectively enfranchise. A dispute about valuation of the transfer had been pursued to a leasehold valuation tribunal but before the transaction was complete, the landlord served notice requiring a leaseback of the sixth flat. The Court of Appeal held that on a correct construction of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 such a notice should be given in a landlord's counter-notice. It had not been and was, accordingly, invalid. For the transcript click here
On 26 January 2006 the House of Lords refused leave to appeal in Oakfern Properties Ltd v Ruddy  EWCA Civ 1389 and struck out an appeal in Majorstake Ltd v Curtis  EWCA Civ 1171.
28 February 2007 Public Sector Housing Law, 10th Annual Conference in London. For details, click here
28 February 2007 Homelessness and Allocations, a LAG training course. For details, click here
1 March 2007 Eligibility for Social Welfare Assistance, a free Garden Court Chambers seminar. For details, click here
27 March 2007 Homelessness & Lettings. A Lime Legal Conference. For details click here
29 March 2007 Housing and Anti-Social Behaviour. A Jordans Conference. For details click here
15 April 2007 Private Law Possession Claims: Public Law Defences, a free Garden Court Chambers seminar. For details, click here
"Free" Advice from Specialist Housing Counsel
For the period 1 January 2007 to 30 March 2007, solicitors firms or advice agencies which have LSC Contracts (or are LSC Quality Mark holders) will be able to seek and obtain written advice from counsel on Housing cases without having to first call the Garden Court Chambers Call Counsel advice line. Click here for more details