2014 05 Housing

Sunday 1 June 2014

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Hines v Lambeth [2014] EWCA Civ 660 (Sullivan, Patten and Vos LJJ): eligibility of Zambrano carer for Part VII accommodation. Ms Hines was a Jamaican citizen and Mother to a four-year old child, Brandon, with British citizenship. Brandon had acquired his citizenship from his Father: a national of the Ivory Coast with an EU right to permanent residence. Ms Hines and Brandon’s Father separated but they remained in contact and Brandon would spend around two nights a week with his Father. Ms Hines applied to Lambeth as homeless. Her application was refused on the basis that she was not eligible under s185 Housing Act 1996 and that it was not unreasonable to expect Brandon’s Father to look after him. This decision was upheld on review and on appeal. On a second appeal to the Court of Appeal it was argued on behalf of Ms Hines that a greater intensity of review should be applied in such cases where EU rights were engaged and that Brandon’s best interests should have been taken into account as a primary consideration. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The reviewer had correctly applied the test under regulation 15A Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006/1003, namely whether Brandon would be "unable to reside in the UK or in another EEA State if [the mother] were required to leave [the UK]". There was no warrant to apply a greater intensity of review. The welfare of the child could not be the paramount consideration in such cases since that would be inconsistent with the statutory test. Click here for the judgment.

Davies v Davies [2014] EWCA Civ 568 (Richards, Underhill and Floyd LJJ): proprietary estoppel as a defence to a possession claim. Eirian Davies was led to believe by her parents that she would inherit their farm. Relying on their representations she acted to her detriment, living and working on the farm. Following a breakdown in relations her parents sought to evict her. Eirian defended proceedings arguing that a proprietary estoppel had arisen. At trial the judge found Eirian to have established a beneficial interest in the property. The Court of Appeal dismissed her parents’ appeal. The judge had been entitled to find that Eirian had relied to her detriment on her parents’ representations and had not erred in law. Click here for the judgment.

R (Best) v Chief Land Registrar [2014] EWHC 1370 (Admin) (Ouseley J): effect of s144 LASPO on adverse possession. Mr Best entered an abandoned, vandalised property in 2000 and carried out various works of repair, treating the property as his own from 2001. In 2012 he sought to register his title to the land at the land registry on the basis that he had been in adverse possession for the period of 10 years ending with the date of the application. This application was refused on 10 December 2012 by the Chief Registrar. It was said that the effect of s144 Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act – which criminalises certain acts of trespass – was to prevent any period of adverse possession which involved the commission of a criminal offence from forming the basis of an application to register title. Mr Best sought judicial review. Ouseley J allowed the claim. The criminalisation of trespass under s144 had no effect on the doctrine of adverse possession which is based on sound public policy advantages. Click here for the judgment.

Northumberland & Durham Property Trust Ltd v Ouaha [2014] EWCA Civ 571 (Vos, Gloster and Moses LJ): meaning of surviving spouse under the Rent Act. Mr Al-Faisal was a statutory tenant under the Rent Act 1977. He married the Appellant, Ms Ouaha, in England in 1987 through a Sharia ceremony. Mr Al-Faisal died in Saudi Arabia on 19 November 2010 and Northumberland & Durham Property Trust Ltd, his landlord, sought possession against Ms Ouaha who remained in the property. The judge at first instance granted a possession order finding that Ms Ouaha was not Mr Al-Faisal’s spouse for the purposes of s2(1) Rent Act 1977 since the couple’s marriage was not one which was recognised under the Marriage Acts 1949 to 1986. The Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal. The term "the surviving spouse" should be accorded more formality than the term "a person who was living with the original tenant as his or her wife or wife or husband” and requires a formal marriage ceremony valid under English law. Click here for the judgment.

Immigration Act 2014: on 14 May 2014 the Immigration Act 2014 came into force. Chapter 1, Part 3 of the Act, which deals with residential tenancies, restricts the rights of certain migrants to access accommodation in the private rented sector by prohibiting landlords from entering into tenancy agreements with them. Click here to read Nearly Legal’s commentary on the provisions. Click here for the legislation.

Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics Quarterly January to March 2014 (MoJ): the latest Ministry of Justice possession statistics were published on 8 May 2014. The figures disclose that the number of landlord possession claims in County Courts have increased by 26% since 2010 to 170,453 in 2013 and to 47,220 in the first quarter of 2014. This is the highest quarterly figure in over a decade. The estimated proportion of claims which have progressed to an order, warrant or repossession by county court bailiffs has also increased slightly since 2010. The estimated percentage of claims leading to an order, warrant or repossession in 2010 stood at around 68%, 36% and 21% respectively. The comparable figures for quarter one 2014 are 69%, 37% and 21% respectively. Click here for the statistics.

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