Issue 51 - 12th March

Monday 12 March 2007

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Government & Legislation Last Week

On 6 March 2007 the Gypsy and Traveller Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement presented Ministers with its interim report. It advised that enforcement against unauthorised sites remains a "blunt weapon" and "can only be used successfully if there is sufficient provision of authorised sites". For a copy of the report click here

Also on 6 March 2007 the Government laid the Rent Repayment Orders (Supplementary Provisions)(England) Regulations SI 2007 No.572. They come into force on 6 April 2007 and flesh-out provisions of the Housing Act 2004 enabling local authorities to recoup rent and housing benefit paid to landlords of HMOs who are operating premises without a licence. For a copy of the Regs click here

On 7 March 2007 the Housing Minister delivered a speech outlining the "significant progress" she believed the Government had made in tackling youth homelessness and introducing the new Policy Briefing 18: Tackling Youth Homelessness.
For the text of the speech click here For the Policy Briefing click here

On 8 March 2007 the National Homelessness Advice Service was re-launched by the Government and Shelter. The service, initially launched in 1990, brings together Citizens Advice and specialist housing advisers. For details click here

This week's Housing Deadlines

14 March 2007 - deadline for submissions on the failure by the UK Government to introduce remedial legislation to deal with housing laws declared incompatible with Convention Rights by the domestic or international courts (e.g. Housing Act 1996 section 185(4)). Submissions to be sent to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. For details click here

15 March 2007 - last day for responses to Delivering Change through Involvement which sets out the Housing Corporation's proposals for a revised resident and community involvement policy for housing associations. For a copy of the paper click here

16 March 2007 - cut-off date for feedback to the Audit Commission on new draft inspection standards for housing services in homelessness and housing allocation. For copies of the draft revised Key Lines of Enquiry on those topics click here

Last Week's Housing Cases

Southwark LBC v D [2007] EWCA Civ 182, 7 March 2007. A 13-year-old girl, whose mother lived overseas, told her school teacher that her father - with whom she was living - had been violent to her. An urgent case conference was called later day by the council and the father agreed to have no further contact with the girl. A social worker telephoned D, with whom the girl had previously stayed, and she agreed to take the girl in. The council said that it had never owed the girl an accommodation duty under Children Act 1989 because the girl had not required accommodation as D had agreed to take her. The Court of Appeal held that the council had owed a crystallised duty to accommodate the girl (under section 20(1)(c)) and she had become a looked-after child as soon as that duty arose. The council itself had therefore been under a duty to provide accommodation for the girl and the arrangement it made with D had been in pursuance of that duty.

Canty v Canty [2007] All ER (D) 63 (Mar), 5 March 2007. The defendant had been made bankrupt and the trustee-in-bankruptcy had obtained a possession order for a property he owned and occupied. When steps were taken to enforce the order, the defendant refused to leave and occupied the roof. The possession order was varied to include a penal notice and when he again refused to comply, the defendant was made subject of a committal application and sentenced to 6 months immediate custody. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. There had been wilful and deliberate breach of the court's orders.

Complaint against Kirklees MBC, released 8 March 2007, Complaint 05/C/04684. A disabled tenant complained about the council's failure to suitably adapt her new home prior to letting it to herself and her daughter, and the council's action taken to collect arrears accrued while she was unable to move-in. The Ombudsman found fault in: (1) failure in communication between the several departments responsible for letting, repairs, rent collection and social services; (2) failure to understand why the tenants had not moved in and that the rent arrears should not have required court action as the tenants were entitled to full benefit; (3) failure to follow its own policies in dealing with rent arrears; and (4) failure to keep proper records of how the house repairs and the tenancy situation were dealt with. The council agreed to waive the arrears and pay £3000 compensation. For a copy of the report click here

Coming events: This Week

13-15 March 2007 Housing for a World Class Region, a South East CIH Regional Conference, Brighton. For details, click here

Coming events: Later this Month

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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