Issue 52 - 19th March 2007

Monday 19 March 2007

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Government & Legislation Last Week

On Monday 12 March 2007 Baroness Andrews set out the extent of the Government's support for tenant and resident involvement in housing matters in a speech to the TAROE national conference. For a copy of the speech click here

On the same day, the Government published the latest statistics on Homelessness in England (fourth quarter 2006). They show significant reductions in the number of applicants in respect of whom the main housing duty was accepted and a further fall in number of households in temporary accommodation. For the detailed statistics click here For the accompanying press release click here

The Housing Corporation published Service Charges: value for money on 14 March 2007. The paper provides a summary of the ways registered social landlords set and manage service charges. It sets out the regulatory and legal framework for service charges and explains remedies available for tenants and leaseholders such as applying to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal if they consider that the charges are unreasonable. For a copy of the guide click here

The Housing Law Practitioners Association has made submissions to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights relating to the delay in introducing remedial legislation to deal with housing provisions declared incompatible with Convention rights (including those relating to the homeless and to travellers). Copies will be available for HLPA members to download from: http://www.hlpa.org.uk/

Last Week's Housing Cases

R(Ireneschild) v Lambeth LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 234, 16 March 2007. The Court of Appeal allowed the council's appeal against a finding [see 2006 October Legal Action 26] that it had unlawfully conducted a community care assessment of the disabled claimant's accommodation needs. The Court of Appeal was not satisfied that there had been any illegality in reaching the decision on the assessment. In relation to the conduct of assessment process, the Council conceded that: "if during the process leading up to the making of the assessment, it had been common ground that Ms Ireneschild had had a history of falls and that there was a significant risk of her falling in the future, it would have been unfair for the authority to depart from that common ground without giving Ms Ireneschild notice of its change of position and giving her an opportunity to make representations about it" see para [84]. For the judgment click here

Allen v Matthews [2007] EWCA Civ 216, 13 March 2007. A dispute arose about title to particular land. The defendant claimed that he had been in undisturbed occupation of the land for over 12 years and had thereby extinguished the claimant's title by adverse possession. The claimant said that a letter received within that period amounted to an acknowledgement of title sufficient to defeat the claim. The Court of Appeal decided that an acknowledgment required a statement by or on behalf of the person in possession which is reasonably to be understood by the owner as an acknowledgment from that person. The owner does not have to know who is in possession, and the person acknowledging does not have to know who is the owner, but the acknowledgment must be made by or on behalf of the person in possession. On the facts, the acknowledgement had not been given by the defendant or on his behalf. For the judgment click here

Roberts v Swangrove Estates Ltd [2007] EWHC 513(Ch), [2007] All ER(D) 233, 14 March 2007. This case again involved "adverse possession". In relation to disputes as to four pieces of land, the judge had to decide, on the facts of each, whether the occupier had shown both (1) actual exclusive possession of the land and (2) an intention to exclude all others from possession, for the requisite period.

Butland v Powys CC [2007] All ER (D) 262 (Mar) 15 March 2007. The council issued an abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in response to complaints of noise nuisance. A magistrate's court held that an appeal against the notice had been brought out-of-time. The High Court allowed an appeal from that decision. Time had not started to run until the appellant had received the notice. Delivery had not been to his last known address but to an address to which he had asked the council to direct correspondence. The notice was not "correspondence".

R(Hillingdon LBC) v Secretary of State [2007] EWHC 514 Admin, 15 March 2007. The council, which had Heathrow Airport in its area, received Government grant to help with its costs of accommodating unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The grant was later reduced from £140 to £100 per head. The High Court rejected a challenge to that reduction. The council was not able to establish a binding commitment by the Government not to review and revise the payments, nor any legitimate expectation that they would be maintained at the same level. For the judgment click here

Coming events: This Week

21 March 2007 Homelessness, the HLPA quarterly meeting for members, London. For the details click here

Coming events: Later this Month

27 March 2007 Homelessness & Lettings, a Lime Legal Conference. For details click here

28 March 2007 Housing & Community Care, a North West HLPA meeting in Manchester. For details email: info@johnkershawsurveyor.co.uk

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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