2012 04 Housing

Tuesday 1 May 2012

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Sheridan & others v Basildon Borough Council (Formerly Basildon DC) [2012] EWCA Civ 335 (Sir Andrew Morritt (Chancellor), Patten LJ, Pitchford LJ): The Court of Appeal held there was no error of law in decisions of a local authority review panel which determined that offers of accommodation made to Irish travellers , who had been removed from an unlawful site, were suitable. Parliament could not have intended that a review under the Housing Act 1996 s.202 should encompass an inquiry into strategic questions about the adequacy of site provision. Following the clearing of an unauthorised site the Claimants were deemed eligible for housing assistance under the Housing Act 1996. The local authority's offers of accommodation were rejected as unsuitable. The Claimants sought a review on the basis that they each had an aversion to bricks and mortar accommodation. The review panel was provided with psychiatric reports which stated that if they were forced to live in bricks and mortar accommodation there was a risk of him suffering psychiatric harm. The report stated that if Sheridan was forced to live in bricks and mortar accommodation she was likely to become depressed and possibly harm herself. The review panel also had a report on the local authority's failure to find sites for gypsies and travellers since the last grant of planning permission in 1999. The review panel concluded that the accommodation was suitable as there were no available sites in the district for the Claimant’s caravans. That decision was upheld on appeal and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal (click here fro transcript).

Byrne v Poplar Housing and Regeneration and Regeneration Community Association Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 335 (Etherton LJ, Black LJ, Sir Robin Jacob): In dismissing the appeal the Court held there was no error in a judge's decision refusing relief from sanctions and ordering outright possession against tenants who had not complied with a court order in possession proceedings, which had been brought as a result of their antisocial behaviour (no free transcript available).

The appellant was represented by Michael Paget

Joanne Harripaul v Lewisham LBC [2012] EWCA Civ 266 (Rimer LJ): The Court held that where, following the granting of permission to appeal, a local authority had withdrawn a decision of a review officer and ordered a fresh review, the appellant was entitled to her costs of the appeal. If the local authority had come to the view that the issue of the soundness of the review officer's decision did not merit the incurring of legal costs in arguing about it, it could have come to that decision earlier. It was difficult to assess the likely outcome of the appeal if it had been fully argued, however, whilst it was not a case where it was obvious that appellant would have won, she did have a good arguable case and should be regarded as the successful party and the starting point was that she was entitled to her costs. There were no factors that justified a departure from that general rule (click here for transcript).

Corby Borough Council v Nicholle Scott: West Kent Housing Association v Jack Haycraft [2012] EWCA Civ 276 (Lord Neuberger (MR), Richards LJ, Davis LJ): This case concerned the issue of determining the threshold of when to allow a challnege on proportionality under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 article .8 was arguable. If it was a case that could not succeed, it should not be allowed to take up further court time and to delay the landlord's right to possession (click here for transcript).

Riverside Group Ltd v Sharon Thomas [2012] EWHC 169 (QB) (Ryder J) The Court held that on the basis of the anti-social behaviour of a tenant, who had been granted a starter tenancy, it was appropriate to grant the social housing provider possession of the property on a summary basis as there was no proper basis to conclude that the threshold for a detailed consideration of a proportionality defence had been passed (no free transcript available).

(1) George Maloney (2) Bruce Mackay (in their capacity as receivers of Bernard McFeely (3) Graham Busby (4) Matthew Haw (in their capacity as receivers of Conal Derek McFeely v (1) Filtons Ltd, (2) Filtons Leasing (London) Ltd (2012) Ch D (Judge Mackie QC): The court held, when the applicant receivers applied for interim injunctive relief against the respondent property management companies to gain access to property sub-leased by the second respondent lessee, receivers of charged residential property were entitled to interim injunctive relief granting unrestricted access to the property and relevant documents in circumstances where their access had been obstructed by a purported lessee, who had possibly acted unlawfully in collecting substantial amounts of rent as a result of granting sub-tenancies (no transcript available).

Dixon v United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 424 The applicant and his sister were joint secure tenants of a council property with Wandsworth Borough Council. The applicants sister gave notice to quit which brought the tenancy to an end. In 2006 the Wandsworth obtained a possession order on the basis that the applicant had become a trespasser. In 2009 the High Court refused to set aside the possession order because, on the law as it then stood (pre-Pinnock and Powell), and Mr Dixon could not raise an Article 8 defence to the claim. Mr Dixon applied to the European Court of Human Rights and the Government accepted that there had been a procedural breach of Article 8 because the proportionality of the eviction had not been considered and paid the applicant 3000 euros in compensation (click here for transcript).

Allocating social housing – Government guidance falls short

Garden Court Chambers Housing Team has responded to the Government's consultation on the Draft Code of Guidance for the Allocation of Social Housing under the Localism Act 2011. The housing barristers conclude that the draft guidance falls well short of providing the real help local authorities need to get the process right. They call for more detailed and practical guidance, so that there is clarity for councils drawing up their allocation schemes, and for applicants for social housing who want to know how their application will be dealt with. To read the response in full (click here).

The response was written by Jan Luba QC, Liz Daviesand Tim Baldwinon behalf of the Housing Team.

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