Issue 54 - 16th April 2007

Monday 16 April 2007

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Due to the Easter break there was no issue of this Bulletin on
Monday 2 April 2007 or
Monday 9 April 2007.

Government & Legislation

On 1 April 2007 the most radical changes in 30 years were made to the law relating to private rented accommodation in Northern Ireland by the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006. A handy guide to the new regime has been published by the Housing Rights Service. For the details click here

On 2 April 2007 the Government launched a consultation exercise on a wide ranging revision of the civil court fee structure governing housing cases and other civil disputes. The paper considers not only fee increases and a redistribution of the burden of fees but changes to the system for remission. For a copy of the consultation paper click here

On 6 April 2007 the new regime for the taking of deposits from assured shorthold tenants came into force and applies to such tenancies granted after that date. The new schemes are outlined in [2007] April Legal Action 31, [2007] 714 Estates Gazette 100 and [2007] 151 Solicitors Journal 451. For the Government Press Release summarising the new arrangements click here

For copies of the guidance booklets for both landlords and tenants click here: The commencement order made under the Housing Act 2004 also brings into force a number of other minor changes on the same date. For a copy of the order click here

On 10 April 2007 the consultation exercise closed on the draft statutory Code of Guidance for Choice Based Letting.
For a copy of the consultation draft click here
For the HLPA response click here
For the Garden Court Chambers response click here

On 12 April 2007 a new petition opened on the 10 Downing Street web-site calling for an extention of security of tenure to residents on council gypsy/traveller sites. For the details click here

The arrangements for housing-related support under the Supporting People Programme for the financial year 2007/2008 have recently been published. A helpful summary is available in a letter sent to all local authority chief executives in March 2007 introducing new statutory guidance and conditions. For a copy of the guidance click here

Recent Cases

Croydon LBC and Hackney LBC v AW, A and Y [2007] EWCA Civ 266, 4 April 2007. The claimants were failed asylum seekers who were destitute were likely to suffer infringement of their Convention Rights if not provided with accommodation and other assistance by the state. The issue on their claims for judicial review was whether the necessary assistance fell to be provided by local authorities (under section 21 National Assistance Act 1948) or the Home Office (under section 4 of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999). The High Court held that their support was a matter for the councils. An appeal by the local authorities was dismissed. For the transcript click here

Wilson v Hursthanger Ltd [2007] EWCA Civ 299, 4 April 2007. In 2003 the defendants fell behind with their mortgage payments. They decided to take a secured loan of £8000 to clear the arrears and provide some liquid funds. They used a local broker trading as "One Way Finance". Of the amount borrowed, £1000 was to pay the broker's fee. The broker also received £240 commission from the lender. Issues arose about whether the transaction complied with the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed those aspects of the appeal turning on the provisions of the Act but ordered the lender to pay the borrowers £240 plus interest in respect of the broker's commission as it amounted to "secret commission". For the transcript click here

Complaint Against Conwy CBC [2007] 3 April, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Homeowners complained that the council had failed to tackle noise nuisance emanating from the home of neighbouring council tenants. The nuisance was caused by the neighbour's son who had learning disabilities. While finding it entirely reasonable that the council did not take enforcement or eviction measures against the tenants, the Ombudsman criticized the council for a delay of 3 years in taking the obvious step of installing sound insulation of the party wall. He recommended the council apologise to the complainants and pay them £2000 and their solicitor's costs. For a copy of the report click here

Coming events

18 April 2007: Housing & Legal Aid. A special HLPA evening meeting. London. Click here for details:
19 April 2007: Choice In Social Housing. A SHLA evening meeting in London. Click here for details:
30 April 2007: Homelessness (Introduction and Practical Procedure). An introductory level training session for HLPA members. Click here for details

"Free" Advice from Specialist Housing Counsel: Offer Extended!

Solicitors firms or advice agencies which have LSC Contracts (or are LSC Quality Mark holders) will still 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": The arrangement has now been extended until June 2007.

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