Issue 80 - 10 December 2007

Monday 10 December 2007

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The Last Week

On 4 December 2007, the Government announced a 20% increase in the Disabled Facilities Grant budget for 2008/2009. Many of the grants are mandatory and can fund a wide range of adjustments and adaptations to premises. For the details of the increased funding and of new arrangements for Home improvement Agencies click here

On the same day, the minister gave a conference speech containing an outline of the developing national housing strategy for an ageing society. For a copy of the speech click here

On 5 December 2007, the Government announced a new injection of funding into local authority homelessness prevention services. The intention is that some £300 million will have been devoted to prevention initiatives by 2008. For the details click here:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/housing/574374 Every council will get at least £30,000. The details of the specific breakdown of the homelessness grants to each local authority for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 are available by clicking here

On the same day, the Government published Evaluating Homelessness Prevention which contains the findings of an evaluation of homelessness prevention initiatives across ten local authorities. It covers a range of schemes including: landlord liaison, rent deposit, tenancy support, family mediation services and those set up to help prevent homelessness for people leaving prison. For a copy of the report click here

The budget for the Government's Supporting People programme for housing-related support was announced on 6 December 2007. Supporting People funding will total £1.686bn in 2008/2009, £1.666bn in 2009/2010 and £1.636bn in 2010/11. Full details and indicative allocations authority-by-authority are available by clicking here

On 7 December 2007, new Government guidance was issued to local authorities on the translation of documents - including housing information - into languages other than English. For a copy of the guidance click here

Meanwhile, the Tribunals Service is continuing its consultation on the future for Housing Tribunals. Views are sought on whether the Residential Property Tribunal and other housing-related tribunals should be brought within the new tribunals structure. Responses are sought by 22 February 2008. For a copy of the consultation paper Transforming Tribunals: Implementing Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 [CP 30/07] click here

Last Week's Cases

Segal v Pasram [No.2] [2007] EWHC (Ch), [2007] All ER (D) 20 (Dec), 3 December 2007. At an earlier hearing, the High Court had held that Mrs Pasram had a half-share in a house divided into two maisonettes. She lived in the upper maisonette which had a slightly higher value than the lower one. Her husband's trustee in bankruptcy claimed that her half share should be satisfied by the lower maisonette. A judge held that the trustee should have the lower one, leaving Mrs Pasram in the upper maisonette.

Maloba v Waltham Forest LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 1281, 4 December 2007. The appellant had arrived in the UK in 1997 and settled here. His partner and child occupied an annex to the appellant's family home in Uganda. In 2004 they left that accommodation to join him in the UK. The council decided that he was not homeless because he had accommodation in Uganda in which he could live with his partner and child. It directed itself that "reasonableness" of occupation for the purposes of Housing Act 1985 section 175(3) related only to size, structure and amenities and not to such broad issues as whether it would be reasonable for the appellant to go there to live. A judge quashed the decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. There was no warrant for the narrow approach to reasonableness that the council had taken. (The court also gave useful guidance on costs in homelessness appeals). For the full judgment click here

Campbell v Royes [2007] UKPC 66, 4 December 2007. The owners of a building claimed possession. The defendant occupier asserted that he had a beneficial interest in the building having contributed towards its purchase, having arranged for it to be tenanted and having carried out repairs. A judge rejected the defendant's case and granted possession. He was reversed on appeal. On a further appeal, the Privy Council restored the possession order. The appeal court had not been entitled to interfere with the judge's factual conclusions. For a copy of the judgment click here

Complaint against Dudley MBC (05/C/13157) 4 December 2007. Council contractors unnecessarily caused damage to the complainant's garden and plants while replacing some fencing. The council told the complainant that she would need to pursue the matter with the contractors. The Ombudsman described this as unacceptable "buck-passing" by the council and made a recommendation for compensation. For a summary of the findings click here
For the full investigation report click here

Haines v Hill [2007] EWCA Civ 1284, 5 December 2007. In divorce proceedings, a court ordered a husband to transfer to his wife his half-share of a property that they jointly owned. That was done, but later the husband was declared bankrupt. The trustee in bankruptcy successfully applied to set aside the transaction as being at an undervalue. The Court of Appeal allowed the wife's appeal. The value of the transfer had been satisfaction of the wife's matrimonial claims. Absent fraud, mistake or misrepresentation such a transfer ordered by a family court could not have been at less than full "value". For a copy of the judgment click here

Powell v Benny [2007] EWCA Civ 1283, 5 December 2007. Before his death the owner of several properties said that the claimants could have them for their use and later wrote that he would "leave the properties" to them. He died having made no will and his administrator sought possession on the basis that the claimants had only had a licence to use the properties and it had determined on death. The judge granted possession but held that the deceased's conduct had given the claimants some equitable rights in the properties that would be satisfied by a monetary award of £20,000. An appeal by the claimants was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. For a copy of the judgment click here

Wright v Croydon LBC [2007] EWHC (QB) [2007] All ER (D) 95 (Dec), 6 December 2007. Ms Wright lived in non-secure council accommodation. When she failed to renew her claim for tax credits she fell into arrears of rent. The council gave notice to quit and obtained a possession order. When the council sought to execute the order, Ms Wright said that her failure to deal with her benefits had been the result of her disabling conditions of dyslexia and diabetes. A judge rejected her case but an appeal was allowed. A court would need to investigate whether she had a disability, whether her arrears were related to that disability and whether the council had acted contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in seeking possession.

South Cambridgeshire DC v Gamell [2007] EWHC 2919 (QB), [2007] All ER (D) 115 (Dec), 7 December 2007. A group of gypsies applied unsuccessfully for planning permission to establish a caravan site on land that they occupied. The council sought an injunction to remove them. The judge decided that although the site was each gypsies "home" and that Article 8 Schedule 1 Human Rights Act 1998 was directly engaged by the proceedings, nevertheless the action being taken by the council was lawful and proportionate and satisfied the requirements of Article 8(2).

This Week

12 December 2007. Introduction to Housing Law. A Legal Action Group Training Course. Click here for details

14 December 2007. Housing Law Practitioners Association Annual Conference. The panellists will include: Lord Neuberger (Law Lord); Alan Beith MP (Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee); John Fitzpatrick (Chair of the Law Centres Federation); Ashraf Osman (Leicester Community Legal Aid Centre); and Polly Glynn (Pierce Glynn). For details click here

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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