Issue 46 - 5th February 2007

Monday 5 February 2007

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Government & Legislation last week

The statistics for landlord's possession claims, dealt with by the county courts in the last quarter of 2006, were released on Friday 2 February 2007. The number of claims issued was down 20%. The statisticians note that this was the first period to which the Rent Arrears Pre-Action Protocol applied and add: "The introduction of the Protocol may therefore explain much of the reductions in the numbers of rent possession claims issued". Click here for the full report

The statistics for mortgage possession claims for the same period show a 22% increase in the number of possession orders made. They are reflected in figures issued by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) on 31 January 2007 showing that 17,000 homes were repossessed in 2006 - a 65% increase on 2005. Click here for the CML report
For an updated CML briefing note on lender's policies on arrears and repossession Click here

On 29 January 2007 Vera Baird QC MP gave delegates an outline of the new arrangements for electronic issue of possession claims at the Possession claims on-line national conference. For a copy of her speech Click here

On 31st January 2007 the Government launched a new First Time Buyer's Initiative. Under the scheme, purchasers put in at least 50% of the purchase price for a first home with the Government funding the rest of the cost. After 3 years, the un-owned "share" generates an additional charge for the purchaser and the Government's investment is fully recouped on re-sale. The first tranche of properties available covers 700 homes on 18 developments. For the details Click here

Last Week's Cases

R (Johnson) v Havering LBC and R(YL) v Birmingham CC [2007] EWCA 26, 30 January 2007. The claimants were all living in residential care homes. The Court of Appeal had to consider, as a preliminary issue in judicial review proceedings, whether the owners of privately-operated and privately-owned care homes were "persons certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature" for the purposes of Human Rights Act 1998 section 6. It decided that it was bound by previous decisions of the Court of Appeal to hold that, even if primarily accommodating residents placed by social services, the homes owners were not public authorities. Leave to appeal to the House of Lords was granted. For the transcript Click here

Tan and Tan v Sitkowski [2007] EWCA Civ 30, 1 February 2007. The defendant took a lease from the GLC of a shop (and flat above) in 1976. He and his family lived in the premises and he operated a business from the shop until 1989 when he ceased to trade. In 1990 the claimants became the landlords and in 2004 they gave notice to quit and sought possession. The defendant claimed that either (1) his tenancy was protected by the Rent Act 1977 or (2) because the landlords had treated him as a residential tenant - including by accepting housing benefit direct - he had security of tenure. The judge granted a possession order. The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal on the first point but refused permission on the second. After a review of what it considered an unsatisfactory line of authorities, the Court found that it was bound by precedent to hold that a "mixed use" tenancy could not fall within the Rent Acts and dismissed the appeal. Leave to appeal to the House of Lords was refused. For the transcript Click here

Coming Up

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

15 March 2007 Private Law Possession Claims: Public Law Defences, 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

30 March 2007 Social Housing Law & Practice: A Lime Legal Conference. 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 under the heading "New Service":


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