Issue 81 - 7 January 2008

Monday 7 January 2008

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Recent Cases

Complaint against Ealing LBC Ombudsman Investigation 06\B\05370, 6 December 2007. The local government ombudsman upheld a complaint that the council had wrongly failed to implement an appeal tribunal decision that the complainant was entitled to housing benefit. The claim was only processed after the ombudsman had become involved and some 10 months after a Social Security Commissioner had dismissed the council's appeal. An apology and compensation of £500 was recommended. For the details click here

R(AG & MG) v Leeds CC [2007] EWHC Admin, [2007] All ER (D) 163 (Dec), 11 December 2007. The claimants were failed asylum seekers and were expectant and nursing mothers. They claimed that the council was required to assist them under the National Assistance Act 1948. The High Court dismissed their claims. Support was to be provided by, and was available from, the Secretary of State under section 4 of the 1999 Immigration & Asylum Act.

Smith (the Gypsy Council) v Buckland [2007] EWCA Civ 1318, 12 December 2007. The claimant sought possession of the defendant's plot on a council gypsy caravan site on grounds of nuisance. The case was defended on the basis that no reasonable claimant would have pursued such a possession claim in respect of which the defendant could not challenge the facts by way of defence (or by way of judicial review) causing an infringement of Article 8 rights (see Connors v UK). The Court of Appeal upheld a possession order. Changes to the Caravan Sites Act 1968 made since Connors allowed the court to suspend such orders and to consider and resolve factual disputes when doing so. For the judgment click here

Dostenko v Westminster CC [2007] EWCA Civ 1325, 12 December 2007. The council decided that the applicant was not in priority need and required him to leave a hostel that it had provided as interim accommodation. He applied for a review which took 2 months to complete and meanwhile he was street homeless. He challenged the negative review decision on the basis that the reviewing officer had failed to enquire into and take account of his actual experience in dealing with sleeping rough over those two months. The Court of Appeal dismissed an application for permission to appeal. The reviewing officer had been under no duty to make such enquiries. For the judgment click here

Accent Peerless Ltd (formerly Surrey Heath HA Ltd) v Kingsdon [2007] EWCA Civ 1314, 12 December 2007. Following reports of anti-social behaviour (in the form of multiple vexatious allegations made against neighbours and causing the neighbours to receive unwanted advertising and mailshots) the landlord obtained an outright possession order. The tenants appealed contending that the judge had failed to take account of recent abatement of the nuisance. The Court of Appeal upheld the order. Matters of "reasonableness" and whether to postpone or suspend the order were for the judge not the appeal courts. For the judgment click here

Complaint against Bristol CC, Ombudsman Investigation 06\B\05370, 12 December 2007. The local government ombudsman upheld a complaint that the council had wrongly failed to identify and tackle the cause of dampness in a tenant's home and had failed to exercise properly its discretion to install central heating on medical grounds. He recommended compensation of £1000pa and £1300 for damage to belongings (total £8300). For the details click here

Andre v Robinson [2007] EWCA Civ, [2007] All ER (D) 235 (Dec), 14 December 2007. The defendant was a joint Rent Act protected tenant of a flat. When the other tenants left, the defendant agreed to the landlord installing others in the second bedroom. The question for the courts was whether by doing so he had surrendered his protected tenancy and been re-granted a sole tenancy of his bedroom only. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge's finding that a surrender had not been established.

Pajazitit v Lewisham LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 1351, 18 December 2007. The claimants were failed asylum seekers. They had been offered accommodation by NASS but had declined to travel to dispersal areas. They applied unsuccessfully to the council for assistance under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948. It decided that they were simply destitute and that any medical needs they had could be satisfied by access to primary care services even if they were homeless. The Court of Appeal quashed that decision. The council had failed to answer the question whether their need for shelter was made more acute by the depressive disorders they suffered. For the judgment click here

Green v Croydon LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 1367, 19 December 2007. The claimant was evicted from an assured shorthold tenancy under Ground 8 (arrears of rent) following a hearing that he attended but at which he was not represented. The judgment was based on the rent being £700. The council made a decision of intentional homelessness which was upheld on review. The claimant argued that the reviewing officer should have examined his claim that the rent had been raised unlawfully, that the true rent was £650 and that there were no arrears lawfully due. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. The reviewing officer had not been obliged to go behind the decision of the judge in the possession claim where there was no case for saying that that decision had been clearly wrong. For the judgment click here

Wychavon DC v Sec of State [2007] EWHC Admin, [2007] All ER (D) 311, 19 December 2007. A gypsy couple lived in a mobile home and a caravan stationed on green belt land. After a succession of refusals of planning permission an inspector recommended five years temporary permission. The council appealed and the Secretary of State conceded that the inspector had erred. The couple sought to uphold the decision. The High Court allowed the appeal as the inspector had failed to consider properly whether special circumstances existed to justify development in the green belt.

R(Chavda) v Harrow LBC [2007] EWHC 3064 (Admin), 20 December 2007. The council decided to restrict adult community care services to only those applicants with critical needs. The High Court quashed the decision because neither the report to the council's committee nor the record of its decision indicated that regard had been had to the council's general duty towards disabled persons set out in section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Dixon v Wandsworth LBC [2007] EWHC 3075 (Admin), 20 December 2007. The council decided that Mr Dixon was not eligible for an allocation of council housing because of his previous unacceptable behaviour (conviction for possession of drugs inside his council home). That decision was upheld on an internal review. The High Court dismissed a judicial review claim. The reviewing officer had applied the right tests, taken relevant factors into account and had not reached an unreasonable conclusion.

Next Week

14 January 2008. Possession Proceedings and Rent Arrears. An LSC training event provided in Bristol by Garden Court Chambers. For details see "Housing Law Training" below.

18 January 2008. Obtaining Accommodation in Urgent Interim Relief/Judicial Review Cases. A free practitioner seminar (evening) at Garden Court Chambers. For details click here

Later This Month

22 & 23 January 2008. National Housing Management Conference. A CIH event in Nottingham. For details click here

22 January 2008. Domestic Violence. A free practitioner seminar (evening) at Garden Court Chambers. For details click here

23 January 2008. Recent Developments in Housing Law. A Legal Action Group training day. For the details click here

Housing Law Advice (for Free)

Free written or telephone advice on Housing Law matters is available to solicitors' firms and agencies holding LSC Contracts or Quality Marks from the team of specialist Housing Law Barristers at Garden Court Chambers. For full details click here.

Housing Law Training

Firms and agencies holding LSC Contracts or Quality Marks can send delegates to a host of reduced-cost specialist training sessions in a range of Housing Law 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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