2015 02 Housing

Sunday 1 March 2015

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Nicholas v Secretary of State for Defence [2015] EWCA Civ 53 (Lord Dyson MR, Pitchford and Lewison LJJ): whether exclusion of Crown licences from security of tenure regime discriminatory. Mrs Nicholas, the Appellant, and her husband, Squadron Leader Nicholas, were Crown licencees. They occupied RAF accommodation under a licence granted to them in 2005 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The licence was terminable by the MoDon 93 days' notice in certain events, including the vacation of the property by Mr Nicholas on marital breakdown. In 2008 the marriage did break down and Mr Nicholas moved out. The MoD gave notice purporting to terminate the licence. Possession proceedings were instituted. Mrs Nicholas sought to defend proceedings arguing that the fact that Crown licensees have no security of tenure amounted to unlawful discrimination contrary to Art.8 ECHR read with Art.14. The matter was transferred to the High Court. Burton J granted a possession order. The Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs Nicholas’ appeal. There had been no discrimination against Mrs Nicholas. If the licence had been granted by a private landlord, Mrs Nicholas would not have had security of tenure, since security under the Housing Act 1988 does not extend to licencees. Equally, if the accommodation had been provided by a relevant landlord under the Housing Act 1985, Mrs Nicholas would still not have had security of tenure, since the accommodation was provided to an employee of the landlord for the better performance of his duties, thereby falling within one of the exceptions to the security of tenure regime. Hence there had been no prejudicial difference in treatment between Mrs Nicholas and a persons in a relevantly similar situation. Since there had been no discrimnation, the question of whether the statutory regime generally was incompatible with Art.8 and Art.14 did not arise. Further, on the facts of the case, the notice was valid. Stephen Knafler QC appeared for the Appellant. Click here for the judgment.

Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWCA Civ 49 (Arden, Elias and Burnett LJJ): validity of regulations excluding Zambrano carers from benefits. In late 2012, a series of regulations were passed, among them the Allocation of Housing and Homelesness (Eligibility) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/2588, designed to exclude “Zambrano carers” from mainstream welfare benefits and housing and homelessness assistance. A number of affected persons unsuccessfully sought to challenge the validity of the regulations in various different fora. These cases then fell for consideration in a conjoined appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Court held that the regulations were not unlawful. The right to reside under the Zambrano principle exists at all times where the Zambrano conditions are met. It does not arise only at the point where removal from the country is imminent, and in order for the EU citizenship rights of the child of a Zambrano carer to be effective, it was necessary for EU member states to make social assistance available to Zambrano carers where necessary in order for the carer to support the child within the EU, which means providing sufficient support to ensure that the carer and child have access to the essential resources needed to live in the jurisdiction. However, member states were entitled to provide assistance at a lower rate than that which would be provided to other EU citizens. This was not precluded by the non-discrimination principle and this “back stop provision” could legitimately be provided under s17 Children Act 1989. Stephen Knafler QC, Desmond Rutledgeand Ali Bandegani appeared for the Appellant in Sanneh. Click here for the judgment.

Home Group Limited v Matrejek [2015] EWHC 441 (QB) (Sweeney J): relief from sanctions. In October 2013 the Respondent, Home Group, commenced possession proceedings against the Appellant, Ms Matrejek . On 28 April 2014 the Respondent failed to attend a Directions Hearing. The Circuit Judge dealing with the matter dismissed the possession claim with costs. On 9 June 2014 the same judge granted the Respondent relief from sanctions, re-instating the claim. Ms Matrejek appealed. Sweeney J dismissed her appeal. The judge had correctly applied the principles set down in Mitchell v News Group Newspapers [2013] EWCA Civ 1537and Denton v TH White Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 906 and, on the facts, was entitled to reach the conclusion that he did. Click here for the judgement.

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics October – December 2014: on 12 February 2015 the MoJ released its latest statistics on mortgage and landlord possession claims. In respect of claims brought by mortgage lenders there were 5,000 orders for possession, 8,300 warrants of possession and 2,400 repossessions by county court bailiffs in October to December 2014. These figures represent the lowest quarterly number of mortgage possession orders, warrants and repossessions recorded since 2004. While in respect of landlord claims, there were 27,400 orders for possession, 18,700 warrants of possession and 10,000 repossessions by county court bailiffs in October to December 2014. Compared to the same period in 2013, the number of orders issued has decreased by 15% and warrants by 1%, though repossessions have increased by 8%. Click here for the statistics.

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