Issue 88 - 17th March 2008

Monday 17 March 2008

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The Last Week in Housing Law

On 10 March 2008 the Government published the latest information on local housing authorities' activities under homelessness legislation.The figures cover the last quarter of 2007 for English local authorities. The data includes the number of households accepted as owed the main homelessness duty during the quarter, and the number of households in temporary accommodation on the last day of the quarter. Numbers in both categories fell. For the detailed statistical release click here

Also on 10 March 2008, the Housing Benefit (Local Housing Allowance,
Information Sharing and Miscellaneous) Amendment Regulations 2008 no. 586 and the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Amendment Order 2008 no. 587 were laid before parliament. They make a number of amendments to the Housing Benefit Regulations and Rent Officers Orders in advance of the national rollout of the Local Housing Allowance on 7 April 2008. For the explanatory memorandum summarising the changes they make, click here

On the same day the Housing Corporation announced that a renewed attempt would be made to establish a viable national mobility scheme for social housing tenants. Consultants have been appointed by the Corporation in conjunction with eight housing associations, the London boroughs and ten participating city councils to conduct a feasibility study into a national mobility scheme. For the details click here

In the Budget delivered on 12 March 2008, the Chancellor announced that from April 2008 two new equity loans will be available through the Government's shared equity scheme Open Market Home Buy (OMHB). The loans allow buyers to shop around for the best mortgage deals and are simpler to arrange than previous OMHB products. For the announcement, click here .
The schemes are to be launched through the Housing Corporation which has suggested that they will help thousands of key workers and other first time buyers. For the Corporation's description of the new schemes, click here . For a summary of the other (minor) changes made in the Budget to aspects of housing provision and planning click here

Also on 12 March 2008, a new survey by the leading refugee agencies was published. The Destitution Tally: an indication of the extent of destitution among asylum seekers and refugees reveals significant levels of destitution. It found that more than 40 per cent of asylum seekers and refugees using their services had no access to any means of support, and were street homeless or staying with friends or acquaintances only temporarily. For a copy of the report click here

Last Week's Cases

Manchester CC v Benjamin [2008] EWCA Civ 189, 13 March 2008. When a secure tenant died, the tenancy of her six-bedroomed house passed to her daughter who occupied it with her young child. The council's claim for possession relying on under-occupation (Schedule 2 Ground 216 Housing Act 1985) was dismissed by a judge on the basis that (1) alternative (smaller) housing offered by the council would not carry a right to buy and (2) it would not be reasonable to expect her to move. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. The tenant would keep her right to buy and could exercise it in respect of the alternative home. Balancing the interests of the council in recovering possession of a large house and that of the defendant in keeping her family home, the correct conclusion was that it was reasonable to grant possession. For the full judgment click here

Longhurst Homes Ltd v Killen [2008] EWCA Civ, [2008] All ER (D) 144 (Mar), 12 March 2008. The claimant landlord obtained an anti-social behaviour injunction and power of arrest designed to keep the defendant away from a particular street of its houses (one of which was occupied by the defendant's partner and children) and prohibiting him from assaulting or being abusive towards others. In breach of the injunction the defendant was found by police at his partner's house. Following an unsuccessful escape he was aggressive and threatened the police. He had also sent over 40 threatening text messages to other residents and been abusive and aggressive to particular residents in public. A judge sentenced him to 9 months immediate imprisonment for contempt of the injunction. The defendant appealed on the basis that the sentence was too long given that no actual violence had been used. The Court of Appeal decided that the "stiff" sentence had been justified

This Week

18 March 2008. Housing Advice Conference. Chartered Institute of Housing event in London. For details click here

19 March 2008. EU Law for Social Welfare Lawyers and Advisers. A LAG training course in London. For details click here

Next Month

28 April 2008. Defending Possession Proceedings. A LAG training course in London. For details click here

UNTIL 31 MARCH 2008 ONLY: 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 31 March 2008. For full details click here.


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