Issue 66 - 9th July 2007

Monday 9 July 2007

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Government & Legislation: The Last Week

A flurry of new regulations on anti-social behaviour have been made including:

* The Crime and Disorder (Formulation and Implementation of
Strategy) Regulations 2007 SI 1830
(click here for a copy).

* The Crime and Disorder (Prescribed Information) Regulations 2007 SI 1831 (click here for a copy)

* The Crime Prevention (Designated Areas) Order 2007 SI 1829 (click here for a copy)

* The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (Responsible Authorities) (No. 2) Order 2007 SI 1839 (click here for a copy)

* The Crime and Disorder Strategies (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) (Amendment) Order 2007 SI 1840 (click here for a copy)

They come into force on 31 July and 1 August 2007. The last of them prescribes that registered social landlords are required to co-operate with responsible authorities in the formulation and implementation of strategies for the reduction of crime and disorder and drug misuse in England.

On 5 July 2007 The Stonebridge Housing Action Trust (Dissolution) Order 2007 was laid before Parliament. It follows closely the precedent of previous Housing Action Trust dissolution orders (North Hull - SI 1998 No 2871, Waltham Forest - SI 2002 No 86, Tower Hamlets - SI 2004 No 586, Castle Vale - SI 2005 No 411 and Liverpool - SI 2005 No 2518) in dealing with all remaining assets and liabilities of the HAT. It comes into force on 1 August 2007. For a copy click here

Last Week's Cases

Graves v Graves [2007] EWCA Civ 660, 3 July 2007. Following their divorce, Mr and Mrs Graves lived apart and the children lived with their mother. Mr Graves owned a property and agreed to rent it to his ex-wife to provide a home for her and the children. He took a substantial deposit and the letting was on an assured shorthold tenancy. As neither of them had a substantial income, the premise for the tenancy was that the ex-wife would claim and be paid housing benefit (HB) with which to pay the rent. In fact, HB was not payable because the landlord was the children's father. A judge held that the tenancy was void for mistake or had been frustrated by the non-payment of benefit. The Court of Appeal decided that the tenancy had terminated when the HB claim was refused because it was an implied term that the tenancy would continue only if HB was paid. There was no need to consider mistake or frustration. For the transcript click here

Denton v Southwark LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 623, 4 July 2007. Mr Denton was aged 20 and lived in the parental home. After warnings about his bad behaviour, his mother excluded him on account of his rudeness and his use of drugs in her home. On his homelessness application, the council found that he had become homeless intentionally. A judge allowed his appeal but that decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal. The council had been entitled to find that the cause of his homelessness was his own bad behaviour. His mother's "house rules" had not been unreasonable and, accordingly, it would have been reasonable for him to have continued to live at home and complied with those rules. For the transcript click here

Abdirahman and others v Secretary of State [2007] EWCA Civ 657, 5 July 2007. The claimants were EU nationals who were not economically active but were lawfully present and habitually resident in the UK in exercise of their EU Treaty rights. They were refused benefits, including housing benefit, on the basis that they had no "right to reside". They appealed to the Court of Appeal against decisions of the Social Security Commissioners. The Court dismissed their appeals and declined to refer any questions to the EU Court of Justice. There had been no breach of any EU Treaty nor EU Directive and no discrimination in the refusal of their claims. For the transcript click here

Complaint against Northampton Council 05/B/16773, 5 July 2007. A council tenant applied for housing benefit and council tax benefit. The council: delayed in processing appeals relating to the claims; when appeals were allowed it miscalculated the payments; and it failed to deal appropriately with changes of circumstance. Despite these ongoing problems, it took possession proceedings for rent arrears and launched enforcement action for council tax arrears. The local government ombudsman recommended compensation of £2500 minus amounts written-off from the tenant's HB and council tax accounts. For further details and a copy of the investigation report click here

Complaint against Manchester City Council, 06/B/01231, 5 July 2007. The council issued proceedings for an antisocial behaviour order against a longstanding resident without taking steps to check the truth of the allegations made against her. The local government ombudsman found that the council neither interviewed the woman nor tried to gather corroborative evidence. He recommended £2000 compensation and said: "This was an abuse of power of nightmarish proportions", and that "This should never be allowed to happen again". For further details and a copy of the investigation report click here

Coming Events

12 July 2007: Parliamentary debate on the Implementation of the Governments' plans for Legal Aid. For details click here

18 July 2007: Anti Social Behaviour. An HLPA meeting in London. For details click here

19 July 2007: Migrants' Access to Housing. An HLPA seminar in London. For details click here

The Housing Law Bulletin is now on its summer break, the next issue will be distributed on Monday 6th August 2007

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