2013 06 Housing

Monday 1 July 2013

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Holt v Reading BC [2013] EWCA Civ 641 (Arden LJ, Kitchin LJ and Sir David Keene): a ground 16 appeal. H had lived for the entirety of her adult life in a property; a detached three bed house with front and rear garden. The tenancy of the property had originally been granted to her father in 1949. Her father died in 1977 and the tenancy was transferred to her mother. The tenancy became secure in 1980 and subsequently fell under the auspices of the Housing Act 1985. H’s mother became very ill and H acted as her full time carer over a number of years, leading up to her death in 2010. The council sought possession under ground 16, Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985 on the basis that the property was more extensive than was reasonably required, it was reasonable to make an order and suitable alternative accommodation would be available. A possession order was granted. Suitable accommodation was not available at the time of the hearing and so the judge made a conditional order that possession should be given up once H had been made an offer of a one-bedroom property, with a storage area for a bike, within a 1.5mile radius of her current address. H appealed arguing, inter alia, that such an order was unlawful and that for the purposes of s84(2)(c) the judge needed to have been satisfied that a particular unit of accommodation was suitable and would be available when the order took effect. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. There is nothing in the legislation which says that a court must be satisfied that the requirements of s84(2)(c) are fulfilled by reference to a particular property. The expression suitable accommodation in ss84(2)(b) and (c) and Schedule 2 part IV is broad enough to encompass accommodation indentified by reference to its essential characteristics. However the Court stressed that this “is not to say it will be appropriate to make a conditional order whenever a local authority seeks possession in a case of this kind” and that “the court should consider with great care whether such an order is necessary and appropriate” or whether an adjournment would be more appropriate. Where such an order is made it is desirable that it should include specific liberty to apply, to cater for the event that circumstances may change, and the order should include a time limit within which alternative accommodation must be found. In such cases courts may also wish to consider a direction that the authority should apply for permission before issuing a warrant, to retain judicial supervision over the process. Liz Davies acted Ms Holt. Click here for the judgment.

Johnson v Solihull MBC (Unreported) 6 June 2013 (Arden LJ, Jackson LJ and McCombe LJ): a priority need homelessness appeal. NB the judgment has not yet been reported. This note is based on the Lawtel summary and should be treated with caution. J was heroin addict, receiving treatment for his addiction, and suffered from depression. He applied as homeless and was found not to be in priority need. On review the decision was upheld. The reviewing officer applied the Pereira test, but used as the comparator a homeless person affected by drug use, and made use of statistics illustrating the proportion of homeless persons with mental illness and/or drug problems. On a second appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld this decision.

Choudhury v Garcia (Unreported) 20 June 2013 (Supperstone J): an unlawful eviction case. G wished C to move out of his property and did nothing to take action when neighbours placed rubbish in C’s garden and placed a wardrobe against his window. G subsequently obtained a possession order but unlawfully evicted C during a stay of execution. Damages of £9,700 (special, general, exemplary and aggravated) were upheld on appeal. This note is based on the Lawtel summary.

Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669 (Lloyd LJ, Lewison LJ and Gloster LJ): an important tenancy deposit case. The relevant provisions of the Housing Act 2004, requiring the protection of tenancy deposits, came into force on 6 April 2007. In this case S took a deposit from R in respect of a one year fixed term tenancy on 8 January 2007, before the regime came into force. At the end of the year, by operation of s5 Housing Act 1988, the tenancy became a statutory monthly periodic tenancy. S kept the deposit throughout. At no point was it placed in a tenancy deposit scheme. On 22 June 2011 S served a s21 notice. A possession order was made at first instance and subsequently set aside as the deposit had not been protected and the s21 notice was invalid. A circuit judge allowed S’s appeal. On R’s appeal to the Court of Appeal, the question for the Court was whether the statutory regime for protecting deposits applies where the deposit was taken in respect of a fixed term tenancy before the regime came into force on 6 April 2007, but the deposit is held over and a subsequent periodic tenancy arises after 6 April 2007. The Court held that the tenancy deposit regime does apply in such a case and allowed the appeal. For a deposit to have been received for the purposes of s213 Housing Act 2004, it is not necessary for it to have been “physically” received. The fact that the landlord kept the deposit when the new tenancy arose was sufficient: “[t]he tenant should be treated as having paid the amount of the deposit to the landlord in respect of the new tenancy, by way of set-off against the landlord’s obligation to account to the tenant for the deposit in respect of the previous tenancy, given that the landlord did not seek payment out of the prior deposit for the consequences of any prior breach of the tenancy agreement. It follows that, on my analysis the tenant did pay and the landlord did receive, [the deposit]” paragraphs 37-38 per Lloyd LJ. Click here for the judgment.

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013: new regulations on eligibility for social housing catering for the accession of Croatia to the EU. Coming into force on 1 July 2013. Click here for the regulations.

Housing statistics for 2012-13: the latest statistics from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on the completion of new homes. In the financial year ending 31 March 2013, 33,711 new homes were completed through projects managed by the HCA (excluding London). Of these 28,558 were for affordable homes, of which 6,579 were for Affordable Rent, 9,577 for Social Rent, 374 for Intermediate Rent and 12,028 for Affordable Home Ownership. Click here for the statistics.

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