2014 07 Housing

Friday 1 August 2014

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R (Yekini) v Southwark LBC [2014] EWHC 2096 (Admin) (Michael Fordham QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge): power of local authority to charge peppercorn rent to homeless applicants. Ms Yekini was a foreign national and mother to three dependent children, one of whom was a British Citizen. She applied to Southwark LBC as homeless prior to 8 November 2012 on the premise that she was a Zambrano carer (see Zambrano [2012] QB 265). In March 2013 she was found to be owed the main housing duty. As a result of the timing of her application she was eligible for assistance under Part VII Housing Act 1996 but simultaneously was ineligible for housing benefit, meaning that the hostel accommodation she was provided with was not affordable to her and hence not suitable within the meaning of s206(1) Housing Act 1996. Rent arrears accrued at the hostel and a short time later Southwark terminated her licence to occupy. Ms Yekini and her children were subsequently accommodated by Southwark in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, ostensibly pursuant to s17 Children Act 1989. Ms Yekini sought judicial review of Southwark’s actions. Michael Fordham QC allowed her claim. The main housing duty had not come to an end since none of the events specified in s193 had occurred; in discharging the main housing duty Southwark had the power to charge a nil or peppercorn rent under s206(2) Housing Act 1996; and it was open to Southwark to perform that duty through the provision of accommodation under s17 Children Act 1989, in which case the full range of powers and duties under Part VII Housing Act 1996, including the framework governing suitability, would still apply. Adrian Berry acted for Ms Yekini. Click here for the judgment.

McDonald v McDonald [2014] EWCA Civ 1049 (Arden, Tomlinson and Ryder LJJ): Art.8 as a defence to possession proceedings brought by a private landlord. Ms McDonald was a vulnerable adult who suffered from a mental disorder which made her upset by changes in her environment. She occupied a property under an assured shorthold tenancy. Her parents were the landlords. They used the rent from the property, which was paid by housing benefit, to pay off the mortgage secured against the property. Following a change in Ms McDonald’s parent’s circumstances they became unable to afford the payments under the mortgage. The lender proceeded to appoint a receiver. The receivers then served a s21 notice on Ms McDonald. Possession proceedings were issued and the judge at first instance granted a possession order. Ms McDonald sought to appeal arguing that the possession order constituted a disproportionate breach of her rights under Art.8 ECHR. The Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal. It is not open to an occupier to rely on proportionality where the claim is brought by a private landlord. Section 21 Housing Act 1988 is not incompatible with Art.8. And in any event the making of a possession order was not disproportionate on the facts of the case. Click here for the judgment.

Crawley BC v Irvine Ex Tempore 21 July 2014 (Patterson J): new evidence on appeal. A possession order was granted against D. He sought permission to appeal and to adduce further evidence on appeal. The judge dealing with the applications did not consider whether permission should be granted but remitted the case to be reconsidered in light of the fresh evidence. The Court of Appeal allowed Crawley’s appeal. The judge had failed to determine the application for permission and had been wrong to admit the further evidence. Based on Lawtel note.

Homelessness prevention statistics: on 24 July 2014 the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) released its latest statistics on homelessness prevention and relief. In 2013-14, the DCLG estimate that a total of 227,800 cases of homelessness prevention or relief took place outside the statutory homelessness framework in England. An increase of 12% when compared to 2012-13. Of these, 51% involved the household being assisted to obtain alternative accommodation and 49% involved the household being assisted to remain in their existing home. Click here for the statistics.

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