Issue 73 - 15 October 2007

Monday 15 October 2007

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Housing News: The Last Week

On 11 October 2007 the Government published details of its new measures to evaluate performance of local authority housing services. From April 2008 the current measures (such as Best Value Performance indicators) will be scrapped and replaced by new National Indicators (NIs). The NIs for Housing are NI156 (Households in temporary accommation), N158 (percentage of decent homes), NI160 (tenant satisfaction with council housing) and NI 181 (time to process housing benefit claims). For a copy of the paper The New Performance Framework for Local Authorities and Local Authority Partnerships: Single Set of National Indicators click here.

Last Week's Cases

Stankova's Application, 9 October 2007. In 1992 Ms Stankova moved out of the housing co-op flat which had been her matrimonial home - leaving her husband there (they were later divorced). She moved with her two children into her father's council flat. After her father's death in 1994 she continued to live in his flat and pay the rent. In 1995 the council told her that the right to occupy her father's flat had not passed to her. In 1996 she was put on a housing list but, other people being above her on the list, no flat was available. The council sought possession and in 1999 she was evicted. She complained of violation of her right to respect for her home. The local court declared that there had been a violation because although the eviction had been in accordance with the law and was necessary to protect the rights of the property-owner (the council) it had not been proportionate, on the facts, to evict her and her children without re-housing. The European Court of Human Rights found that the reasoning of the local court was convincing and saw no ground to reach a different conclusion. It therefore held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 and awarded EUR 3,000 in damage and EUR 450 for costs. For a copy of the judgment click here

Holmes-Moorhouse v Richmond Upon Thames RLBC [2007] EWCA CIv 970, 10 October 2007. A family court made an order, by consent, that a mother and father who had separated should have shared residence with their children. The children would spend alternate weeks with each parent. On the father's homelessness application, the council decided that he did not have a priority need because his child was not residing with him but only staying with him. The Court of Appeal quashed that decision. Under a residence order a child was residing not "staying". However, where that order was made by consent (rather than after a contested hearing) the order did not bind a council to make a finding of priority need. The question was still for the council: was it reasonable to expect the children to be residing with the applicant? For the judgment click here

R(Lawer) v Restormel BC [2007] EWHC 2299 (Admin), 12 October 2007. The claimant fled with her children from domestic violence in her matrimonial home and she gave up the secure housing association tenancy of that home. The council decided that she had become homeless intentionally. It notified her by letter dated 23 August 2007 that it would only provide accommodation for her until 21 September. The claimant applied for a review and her solicitors asked for accommodation pending the outcome of that review (Housing Act 1996 section 188(3)). The council declined. Accommodation was withdrawn on 21 September and eventually the claimant was street homeless. On the evening of 28 September 2007 her solicitors obtained a without notice injunction by telephone from the duty judge requiring the council to accommodate. On the council's application, a High Court judge set aside the order. There had been material non-disclosure to the duty judge and, in any event, the injunction was not warranted as the underlying judicial review claim was without merit. The judgment gives useful guidance to practitioners on the making of urgent injunction applications.

This Week

15 October 2007. Meeting Housing Need. What is the best strategy for meeting Housing need in England? The new Government has three bills in the pipeline and a Green Paper outlining the intended policy direction. The deadline for comments on its proposals expires today. Click here for the details.

16 October 2007. New Legal Aid Housing Contracts. This Tuesday the LSC will be publishing tender details for new contracts to provide legal aid services in Housing and other social welfare fields. Click here for the LSC website and follow links to Community Legal Service (CLS)>Tenders

17 October 2007. Tenancy Agreements. A Chartered Institute of Housing Conference. Click here for details

17 October 2007. Housing & support for migrants. A Legal Action Group training Event. Click here for details.

19 October 2007. Shared-ownership housing. Proposals out for consultation until Friday include removing the possibility of shared-ownership leaseholders buying the freehold before they have paid for a 100% share and restricting stair-casing (buying in stages) in some areas. Click here for the details.

Coming Later this Month

23 October 2007. Homelessness. An Advanced HLPA Seminar covering latest developments for members. Click here for details.

29 October 2007. Possession Proceedings and Rent Arrears. A Garden Court Chambers seminar (provided by the LSC) in Manchester. Click here for the details

30 October 2007. Anti Social Behaviour in Social Housing. A Lime Legal Conference. Click here for details

31 October 2007. Successful Housing Litigation. A Jordan Publishing Conference. Click here for the details

Specialist Housing Advice (for Free)

Firms and agencies holding LSC Contracts or Quality Marks can obtain free written or telephone advice on Housing Law matters from the team of Specialist Housing Barristers at Garden Court Chambers from now until at least April 2008. For full details click here
Specialist Housing Law Training

Firms and agencies holding LSC Contracts or Quality Marks can send delegates to a host of reduced-cost specialist training sessions this Autumn/Winter in a range of Housing subjects. The trainers include specialists from Shelter, One Pump Court, Doughty Street and Garden Court Chambers. For the full brochure of events click here


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