Issue 91 - 14th April 2008

Monday 14 April 2008

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The Latest Housing Law News

Tolerated trespassers: are on the way out at last! The latest version of the Housing Bill 2008 includes at clauses 298 and schedule 10 the provisions necessary to abolish them. For a copy of the Bill click here .
The changes follow a consultation exercise the results of which have also just been published. Click here for a copy
Those needing chapter-and-verse on the changes will find it in the revised Impact Assessment on the new Bill at pages 265-280. For a copy of the Assessment click here.

Housing allocation: are allocations of social housing under Part 6 Housing Act 1996 skewed towards applicants from minority ethnic communities? The Equality & Human Rights Commission thinks not. For a briefing on the interim results of its latest inquiry into the issueclick here. For the EHRC press notice click here.
For the letter sent by the EHRC to local housing authorities explaining the initial results, click here .

Specialist support for Housing Lawyers and Advisers: the latest arrangements for specialist support with housing casework came into effect last week. In England, the LSC national contract for specialist Housing law advice has been awarded to Shelter. Solicitors and other advisers seeking specialist Housing Law advice can call 0844 515 2113 Monday-Friday 10am to 4pm. In Wales, the LSC contract has not been let and is to be re-tendered. For the details of that contract click here.

Tenancy deposits: the new schemes have now been running for 12 months and have protected over £880million in deposits. For the detailed announcement on the figures click here. One scheme covering 200,000 deposits has only had to deal with 341 disputes. In the most serious of those, the disputes have been resolved with only 11% resulting in the landlord retaining the full deposit. For the details click here.

Housing Benefit: April 2008 sees three big developments on issues related to Housing Benefit. First, the new Local Housing Allowance Scheme was rolled-out nationally on 7 April 2008. For information targeted at tenants click here. For the new LHA Guidance Manual click here: For the new forms and leaflets click here. Second, the responsibility for checking performance standards in benefit administration passed to the Audit Commission on 1 April 2008. For the details of the change click here. To coincide with the change the Government published a new HB Performance and Best Practice Guide. For access to a copy of the Guide click here. Third, discretionary housing payments are not being used as often as they should be to prevent hardship and homelessness. The DWP has just published a new Best Practice Guide on their use. For a copy click here.

Houses in multiple occupation: the Government is commissioning a new review aimed at improving conditions in, and management of, HMOs. For a copy of the latest Press Notice click here. For the terms of reference of the review click here.

Rough Sleeping: the Government has announced a new action plan to address the continuing problem of rough sleeping. For the press release click here. For the Discussion paper on the topic seeking responses by 8 July 2008 click here.

Private renting: the latest hard data on the situation in the private rented sector has just been published as part of the English House Condition survey. For a copy of the new Private Landlords Survey click here.

Council performance on housing matters: new national standards to measure performance by local authorities take effect this month. The Government has produced guidance on how these standards will affect performance by councils on housing issues. For a copy click here.

Gypsies and Travellers: the government has just given its response to the final report of the independent task group on site provision and enforcement against unauthorised sites. For a copy click here.

The Latest Housing CaseLaw

1 April 2008
Omar v Birmingham CC
The applicant has presented a petition to the House of Lords for Leave to Appeal in this important case about offers of accommodation made under the main housing duty (Housing Act 1996 section 193). For the Court of Appeal's judgment click here

1 April 2008
R(Ahmad) v Newham LBC
The council has presented a petition to the House of Lords for Leave to Appeal against the declaration that its housing allocation scheme is unlawful. For the Court of Appeal's judgment click here

3 April 2008
Sevenoaks DC v Harber [2008] EWHC 708 (Admin)
The council prosecuted for breach of an enforcement notice requiring the defendant to cease use of a caravan stationed on his land. The magistrates acquitted on the basis of a statutory defence that, because the defendant had nowhere else to go and his neighbours would not allow him to remove the caravan across their land, he had done "everything he could" to comply (Town & Country Planning Act 1990 section 179(3)). The Divisional Court allowed an appeal. All the defendant had to do to comply was to remove himself from the land. He had not done that.

4 April 2008
R(Bath) v North Somerset Council [2008] EWHC 630 (Admin)
The council sold its stock in a large scale voluntary transfer. It used some of the receipts for non-housing purposes. The claimant sought judicial review claiming that she had a legitimate expectation that all the receipts would be spent on housing. The High Court dismissed the claim. There had been no clear and unqualified commitment or representation made to the claimant or anyone else that all, or any, of the net capital receipt would be spent on housing.

8 April 2008
R(Gargett) v Lambeth LBC [2008] EWHC 663 (Admin)
Although presently in receipt of full housing benefit, the claimant had accrued arrears of rent. She applied to the council for a lump sum discretionary housing payment (DHP) to help her clear the arrears. When that was refused she sought judicial review. The High Court dismissed her claim. Although DHP was not a form of housing benefit it was intended to supplement benefit for those in receipt of HB receiving less than needed to cover all their housing costs. The claimant had all her present housing costs met by housing benefit. For a copy of the judgment click here.

Housing Law Events

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

29 April 2008 Individual Rights vs Social Responsibility. A SITRA and LAG conference on Supported Housing. For details click here

01 May 2008 Rent Arrears and Housing Benefits. A LAG training course in London. For details click here

21 May 2008 Social Housing Law & Practice Conference 2008. A Lime Legal Conference. For details click here

21 May 2008 Homeless Young People & Housing. The HLPA Members' meeting in London. For details click here

Garden Court Housing Tenancies

We seek two barristers to join our excellent and thriving Housing Team.

Candidates must be housing specialists committed to practising within the principles and ethos of chambers. Knowledge and experience of community care law an advantage. We seek suitable candidates above eight years call and above three years call.

Click for more information and to download the application pack

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 6 May 2008.

Applications from ethnic minorities and women candidates are particularly welcome. We seek to operate a fair recruitment policy.

This Bulletin is produced by the Housing Team at Garden Court Chambers and provided free of charge to subscribers. This issue was written by Jan Luba QC


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