Issue 95 - 12th May 2008

Monday 12 May 2008

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The Latest Housing Law News

Possession actions: on 9 May 2008 the latest statistics on possession claims made by landlords and mortgage lenders were released. They cover the first 3 months of 2008. The figures for claims started and orders made have all increased.
For the full tables of figures, click here. For the press released summary click here. A new £10 million package of measures to support home owners who may be facing difficulties with their mortgages, was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Housing Minister. For details of those measures click here.

Young homeless people: on 9 May 2008 the junior Housing Minister outlined the Government's strategy for tackling homelessness among young people. He reported that the number of 16/17 year olds in bed and breakfast had been halved and that a new "Targeted Youth Support" (TYS) arrangement would ensure better service provision for young people approaching housing authorities. For a copy of his speech, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: on 8 May 2008 the Government released a further tranche of information for social landlords seeking to tackle anti-social behaviour. Over 70% of all social housing stock in England is now covered by landlords who have signed up to the Respect standard for housing management. The latest edition of Standard Issue (No.4, May 2008) outlines the work they have been undertaking. For a copy, click here. The Home Office has issued a new edition of its guide to ASB Tools and Powers. For a copy, click here. The latest Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership figures were also published showing a dramatic increase in the use of "early intervention measures" and a substantial reduction in the number of ASBOs granted. For a copy of the ministerial statement, click here. For further detail, click here.

Home Information packs: on 8 May 2008 the Housing Minister made a Parliamentary Statement about a further delay (to 31 December 2008) in extending the full HIP provisions to leasehold sales. The Statement recognises that more needs to be done to ensure that consumers get real benefits from HIPs. For a copy of the statement, click here. For a summary of the measures announced to help consumers, click here.

Premises Closure Orders: on 8 May 2008 the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill received Royal Assent. The Act contains new powers for the closure of any premises related to serious nuisance or disorder. For a copy of the Act click here.

New Housing Regulator: in a speech given on 8 May 2008 the Housing Minister sought to give encouragement to staff of the Housing Corporation in the face of its demise and replacement by the two new organisations: Homes & Communities Agency and OFTenant. For a copy of her speech, click here.

Overcrowding: on 6 May 2008 the Housing Corporation announced a new input of grant monies to help housing associations tackle overcrowding in the same 38 local authority pathfinder areas in which central Government is funding initiatives under the National Overcrowding Action Plan. For more details, click here.

The Latest Housing CaseLaw

8 May 2008
Dublin CC v Donegan
[2008] IEHC, Lafoy J.
The Irish Housing Act section 62 exempts council tenants from security of tenure. The Irish High Court has now held the provision to be incompatible with Article 8 ECHR. However, that is unlikely to be the final word. Earlier this year the same court held that the provision did not violate the Convention (see Dublin CC v Leonard [2008] IEHC 79 - for the judgment click here) and last week another High Court challenge to section 62 concluded after a nine-day hearing with judgment reserved until October.

9 May 2008
Ehiabor v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC
[2008] EWCA Civ, [2002] All ER (D) 104 (May)
The council decided that the applicant was eligible for homelessness assistance but that she did not have a priority need because the child who was part of her household was a "person from abroad" who was subject to immigration control and therefore not eligible (section 185(4) Housing Act 1996). The child had been born in the UK but was not British and had not been born to a British citizen. The Court of Appeal decided that, although the child had been born here, he was a person from abroad. Because he required "leave to remain" he was subject to immigration control. As a result, he was ineligible and could not confer priority need on the applicant.

9 May 2008
R(McCarthy & Others) v Basildon DC
[2008] EWHC Admin 987
The claimants and many other families had bought Green Belt land in the council's area and stationed their caravans and mobile homes on the land without planning consent. In December 2007 the council resolved to evict the occupiers and clear over 40 pitches using its powers under s178 Town & Country Planning Act 1990. The High Court quashed that decision. Although it might in due course be lawful to clear all the sites, the council had not paid sufficient attention to the issues of (1) whether the health needs of some occupiers were so serious that they ought to be left in situ at least for a limited period, (2) what other sites were available to those who would need to move and (3) how the council would discharge its homelessness duties. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

This Week

13 May 2008
Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights will hand-down judgment in the case of McCann v UK in which it will consider the impact of Article 8 ECHR on possession claims in England & Wales. To access a copy of the judgment on the day click here.

13 May 2008
Housing Bill
The House of Lords will convene in Grand Committee to consider amendments to the Housing Bill. For details of the amendments proposed for debate click here.

Housing Law Events

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

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