Issue 49 - 26th February 2007

Monday 26 February 2007

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Government & Legislation Last Week

On Tuesday 20 February 2007, Professor John Hills delivered his report on the future of social housing sector: Ends and Means - The future roles of social housing in England. For the full report or a summary click here

The Secretary of State welcomed the report as not ending discussion on the future of the sector but serving to "open it up".
For her speech click here

On the same day the Government published updated research on the numbers seeking access to social rented housing: The Demand for Social Rented Housing. For a copy of that report click here

Also last week, a wealth of information was published on the progress of the national Decent Homes scheme. For the full report, Implementing Decent Homes in the Social Sector, click here
For a summary of that report click here

Progress on the "energy conservation" aspect of the Decent Homes standard is reviewed in Assessment of the impact of warm front on decent homes for private sector vulnerable households. For a copy click here

With less than four months to go until the national roll-out of Home Information Packs, more areas have joined the "pilot" schemes. The trial in Southwark in South London started on 12 February, and the trial in Gwynned, Conwy and Anglesey in North-west Wales began on Monday 19 February 2007. For more details click here

On Thursday 22 February 2007, the Audit Commission published The future regulation of housing containing its submission to the review being conducted by Professor Cave. For a copy of the submission click here

For more detail of the Cave review itself click here

Last Week's Housing Cases

R(Lin) v Barnet LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 132, 22 February 2007. The council had accepted the main homelessness duty was owed to the claimant and placed her in private sector leased accommodation. She bid for council tenancies under the local allocation scheme but had insufficient points to do so successfully. Her claim for judicial review of the scheme met with only limited initial success and she appealed. The Court of Appeal rejected her claim that the scheme failed to give real or meaningful reasonable preference to the homeless but it allowed an appeal relating to a procedural aspect of the allocation scheme. For the transcript click here

West v Newham LBC [2007] All ER (D) 299 (Feb), 22 February 2007. The claimant had exercised her right to buy her home and, in assessing the sale price, a district valuer had treated the tenancy as having the benefit of a strip of land at the rear. A dispute then arose as to whether the strip belonged to the claimant or her neighbour. The claimant said that the district valuer's assessment had settled that issue. The Court of Appeal rejected that assertion. The valuation could not determine the question of ownership. However, on the facts, the judge should have decided that the claimant owned the strip and that it was not part of her neighbour's tenancy.

Mortgage Express v Da Rocha-Afodu [2007] EWHC 297 (QB), [2007] All ER (D) 276 (Feb), 22 February 2007. The claimant, a mortgage lender, obtained an order for possession of the defendants' home for arrears of mortgage payments. The day before the warrant was due to be executed, a judge dismissed an application to suspend the warrant and so the defendants were evicted. Three months later the defendants applied (out of time) for permission to appeal against the judge's dismissal of their application. Pending the determination of that, they applied for a "stay" which was granted. The lender applied for the stay to be lifted. That application was granted. The High Court held that there was no jurisdiction to grant a "stay" in respect of a warrant that had actually been enforced.

Brassford v Patel [2007] All ER (D) 256 (Feb), 20 February 2007. A husband and wife owned their home in joint names but with no express trust indicating their respective shares. The husband was declared bankrupt and his trustee applied for an order for sale of the property. An issue arose as to the extent of the wife's share. The judge held that although the inference to be drawn from joint ownership might ordinarily be that the parties owned the house in equal shares, in this case the wife had made a substantial contribution to the purchase price and her share would be assessed at 56%. He made an order for sale.

Doncaster MBC v First Secretary of State [2007] All ER (D) 218 (Feb), 19 February 2007. The council refused planning permission to a group of gypsies to occupy land in the green belt. On appeal, a planning inspector granted personal planning permission only and subject to a condition that the land be restored when vacated. The council appealed. The judge rejected that appeal. The inspector had correctly directed herself to the facts, the law and the relevant Circular. She had been entitled to find that there was no realistic prospect of any other reasonable sites becoming available on which the gypsies could station their homes.

This Week

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

Coming Up

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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