Issue 99 - 16th June 2008

Monday 16 June 2008

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Two new Housing Law specialists at Garden Court Chambers: Edward Fitzpatrick (formerly of Mitre Court Buildings) and Dr Tim Baldwin (formerly of 5 Pump Court) have accepted invitations to join the specialist Housing Team at Garden Court Chambers. Read more information about them here.

Homelessness: the homelessness statistics for England for the first quarter of 2008 were published on 12 June 2008. For the figures, click here. The Minister for Homelessness said the figures show that the South East, North East and the East Midlands have now all achieved the Government's 2010 target of a 50 per cent reduction in the numbers of households living in temporary accommodation (from the baseline set in 2004). For the Communities Department's Press Release, click here.

Overcrowding: The new report Tackling Overcrowding in England: Lessons from the London pilot schemes and sub-regional coordination summarises the lessons learned so far from five pilot schemes in London designed to address overcrowding the capital. It highlights good practice and provides practical support to local authorities and registered social landlords (RSLs) to tackle overcrowding. For a copy, click here.

Tenant Services Authority: details of the recruitment exercise for part-time board members of this new regulator (including tenants' representatives) were published this week. For a copy of the advertisement, click here. Deadline date for applications is 30 June 2008.

Assisted purchase: The new report Evaluation of the Social HomeBuy Pilot Scheme for Affordable Housing: Final Report outlines the progress made to December 2007 in implementing Social HomeBuy. It highlights the motivations behind the involvement of participating landlords and their experience of barriers to the implementation of the scheme. For a copy of the report click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

6 June 2008
R(Thompson) v Sunderland City Council
[2008] EWHC Admin (Case No: CO/2577/2007)
The council transferred its housing stock to a registered social landlord (RSL) in 2001. In March 2007 the Sunderland City Cabinet approved a restructuring of the RSL following an exercise in which 30,000 tenants were consulted but only 33 responded. The claimant alleged that the consultation had been inadequate. The High Court refused a claim for judicial review on the basis that the consultation had not been unfair and had not breached promises given to sitting tenants at the time of transfer.

9 June 2008
R(Cowan) v Lambeth LBC
[2008] EWHC Admin (Case No: CO/6224/2006)
The council maintained a scheme to assist the homeless with rent deposits. The eligibility criteria published for the scheme indicated that it was restricted only to those statutorily homeless, in priority need, with a local connection and not intentionally homeless. The claimant (a single homeless man) challenged the eligibility criteria on the basis that they restricted the council's discretions to assist under Local Government Act (LGA) 2000 section 2 and LGA 1988 section 34. At the High Court, a declaration was granted by consent that the scheme had to be read and applied with those discretions in mind. To see the restricted criteria, click here. In the light of the declaration, however, the scheme is now "open to all". The council was ordered to pay the costs.

10 June 2008
R(Smith) v Snaresbrook Crown Court
[2008] EWHC 1282 Admin, [2008] All ER (D) 98 (Jun)
A magistrates' court made a 3 month closure order (the maximum) in exercise of the 'crack house closure' powers in Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003. The claimant, a tolerated trespasser, had to move out. The order was effective and nuisance ceased. Just before the order expired, and he was due to move back in, a magistrates' court granted an extension for a further 3 months. On appeal, the Crown Court upheld that order and the claimant sought judicial review. Dismissing his claim, the Divisional Court gave guidance on the correct approach to granting and extending closure orders.

12 June 2008
Hanoman v Southwark LBC
[2008] EWCA Civ 624
Mr Hanoman exercised the right to buy his flat. In response to delays by the council, he served notices entitling him to set-off his rent against the eventual purchase price. With disputes over the lease still not resolved, the lease was executed. Mr Hanoman then sought resolution of the disputes in the county court. The judge decided that he was not entitled to a set-off because the rent had not been paid by him but by housing benefit. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. The fact that the rent had been paid by way of housing benefit was immaterial. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

12 June 2008
Birmingham CC v Flatt
[2008] EWCA Civ [2008] All ER (D) 145 (Jun)
In June 2007 the council obtained an anti-social behaviour injunction preventing the defendant from using or threatening violence against neighbours or acting in a manner capable of causing nuisance to neighbours or their visitors. The council alleged that in breach of the injunction he had in November 2007 driven his van at a neighbour (who had had to jump clear) and had made a false allegation of incorrect parking against a neighbour's visitor. The judge found both matters proved although he accepted that the defendant had not meant to hurt the neighbour (at whom he had driven) but rather to frighten him. He imposed a sentence of four months imprisonment. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. Although the sentence was at the top end of the range of available sentences it was not excessive.

This Week

18 June 2008
Housing & Anti-Social Behaviour Conference 2008
A Jordans Conference.
For details, click here.

Housing Law Events

1 July 2008
Recent Developments in Housing Law
A LAG training course.
For details, click here.

1 July 2008
Housing Law: the Legal Update
A Northern Housing Consortium conference in York.
For the details, click here.

3 & 4 July 2008
What Next for Homelessness
A Shelter Wales conference in Cardiff
For the details, click here.

4 July 2008
Housing Disrepair
A LAG training course.
For details, click here.

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