Issue 57 - 7th May 2007

Tuesday 8 May 2007

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Government & Legislation: Last week

At the end of April 2007 the Government issued updated guidance on the limited extent to which workers can be paid less than the minimum wage because their employer provides the worker's accommodation. For a copy of National Minimum Wage and Accommodation Offset, click here

On 30 April 2007 it became unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief in the provision of housing, access to housing or by subjecting a person to eviction or other detriment. The provisions are contained in Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006. Useful guidance on the provisions has been issued by Communities & Local Government. For a copy click here

On 1 May 2007 the Constitutional Affairs Committee published its report on the implementation of the Carter review of Legal Aid. For the report itself click here. The Committee received evidence from a range of housing practitioners and from the HLPA. For a copy of the published evidence click here. Housing advisers may draw comfort from the evidence of the Master of the Rolls (Ev 288) that "The concern of the judges is, however, that both the fee structure and the level of fees should be fixed at a rate that will provide reasonable as to ensure that there are enough solicitors to advise and represent the seriously disadvantaged, as for example...those with housing problems, and to ensure that there are no "advice deserts"." The immediate response of the Legal Services Commission was that it was proceeding with the present timetable. For the LSC press statement click here

Also on 1 May 2007 the Home Information Packs Regulations 2007 were drawn to Parliament's attention by the House of Lords' Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee on the grounds that they "may imperfectly achieve their policy objective". For a copy of the report click here

On 4 May 2007 the statistics for possession proceedings in the first three months of 2007 were released. They indicate an increase in the numbers of mortgage claims made and possession orders granted and a reduction in the proportion being "suspended". Falls in the number of landlord possession proceedings are explained in part by difficulties with the new PCOL system and the implementation of the rent arrears protocol. For the detailed figures click here

Last week's Cases

White v Knowsley Housing Trust [2007] EWCA Civ 404, 2 May 2007. Ms White had been a secure tenant of a council. It sold her home to a housing association and she became an assured tenant. She fell into arrears and in 2004 a suspended possession order was made. She breached the terms but remained in occupation paying rent. When she sought to exercise her preserved right to buy, the Trust responded that she had become a trespasser. That view was upheld by the Court of Appeal. Where, as in this case, an order stated a date on which an assured tenant had to give possession then the tenancy ended on that date even if the order suspended any enforcement on terms and irrespective of whether or not those terms had been complied with. For the transcript, click here

Smith v Secretary of State [2007] EWHC 1013 (Admin), 3 May 2007. Ms Smith and her family occupied an official gypsy caravan site. The Secretary of State approved a compulsory purchase order on large area of land for redevelopment including the site - as it was need to facilitate the London 2012 Olympic Games. Ms Smith sought to quash the order on the grounds that it was a disproportionate interference with her right to respect for her home and her gypsy way of life, contrary to Article 8 ECHR. The judge dismissed her claim as he was satisfied that the Secretary of State had made a proportionate decision balancing her needs against the interests of the wider community. For the transcript, click here

Coming events

16 May 2007: Introduction to Housing Law. A Legal Action Group Training course. For details click here

30 May 2007: Mortgage Arrears and Undue Influence. A HLPA Seminar. For details click here

7 June 2007: Housing Allocation and Homelessness. Two half-day London seminars from Jordans. For details click here

Garden Court Seminars

Due to the huge popularity of our housing seminars we are now running the following repeats:

"Eligibility" issues In Housing (repeat)
Tuesday 15 May 2007 from 18:30 to 20:00
Click Here to book a place

Private Law Possession Proceedings and Public Law Defences: How do they work? (repeat)
Thursday 14 June 2007 from 18:30 to 20:00
Click Here to book a place

Eligibility for Social Welfare Assistance (repeat)
Thursday 21 June 2007 from 18:30 to 20:00
Click Here to book a place

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