Housing Law Week
General Editor: Jan
9th September 2015 Update
POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
On 3 September 2015, the latest Civil Justice statistics for England and Wales were published. They indicate that tenants and mortgage borrowers have legal representation in only 14% of landlord and mortgage lender possession claims. For the full figures, click here
A Fundamental Right to Housing?
A two-year project has been funded by the EU’s ‘Fundamental Rights and Citizenship’ programme to create a set of tools that will assist victims of fundamental rights violations, lawyers, judges and others in determining whether the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union can provide protection in a specific case. For more information about the project, click here For details of a Fundamental Rights event, featuring the right to Housing, click here
Immigration Checks on Prospective Tenants
The charity JCWI has co-ordinated an independent evaluation of the piloting of the ‘Right to Rent’ provisions across the West Midlands. On 3 September 2015, it published the report of its findings. For a copy of the report, “No Passport Equals No Home”: An independent evaluation of the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme click here. For commentary on it, click here
The solicitors’ firm Shoosmiths has published an infographic report based on the results of a landlord survey. It looks at the future of the ‘landlord’s landscape’, from tax, to property costs and rental yields. To see the report, click here
Social Landlords in England
On 2 September 2015, the social housing regulator for England, the Homes and Communities Agency, published its latest quarterly survey report based on responses from private registered providers of social housing who own or manage more than 1,000 homes. For a copy, click here
Private Sector Rents
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a new paper focussing on the differences between ONS private rental price indices and Valuation Office Agency (VOA) private rental market statistics, both of which are based on the same underlying rental data collected by VOA rent officers. For a copy of the paper, click here
Residential sites for Gypsies & Travellers
On 31 August 2015, the UK Government published its response to the consultation on planning issues and travellers, with a summary of responses. There were 771 responses, including 423 responses from members of the Gypsy and Traveller community. For a copy of the response to the consultation, click here In light of it, the Government has issued a new Planning Policy for traveller sites. For a copy of that, click here Ministers describe the policy change as being “part of a wider crackdown on unauthorised occupation of sites”. For that ministerial statement, click here For the Traveller Movement’s briefing on these changes to planning policy for traveller sites, click here
Private renting in Wales
Tai Pawb and the Residential Landlords Association are seeking to set-up a project to help diverse private sector tenants in Wales and the landlords housing them. To gather information, they are inviting tenants to take part in a survey. For the details, click here
Don’t miss out on Lime Legal’s
Tenancy Agreements Conference 2015
(London 9 October 2015)
Brand new programme includes:
- Oh no you don’t: What to include on tenant behaviour
- It’s as easy as ABC: The right A-Z for your Agreement
- If you’re gonna do it, do it right: Changing the terms for current tenants
- It’s not just a piece of paper: Enforcing a Tenancy Agreement
- It’s time to say goodbye: Getting Possession for Tenancy Breach
- Q&A session: ask the experts
Further details here
Book now to be sure of your place here
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
Welfare Reform and Work Bill
This UK Government Bill was published on 9 July 2015. It makes provision about: (1) the benefit cap; (2) social security and tax credits; (3) loans for mortgage interest; and (4) social housing rents. It had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 20 July 2015 and will be considered in detail by a public bill committee in September and October. For the Bill, click here For the explanatory notes, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here. For the documents relating to the Bill (including several impact assessments), click here The Committee which will review the Bill has issued a call for written evidence. For the details, click here
This UK Government Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 28 May 2015 but has yet to be published. For the official outline of its content, click here The official briefing about the Queen’s Speech contains the details at pages 27-29. For that, click here For a commentary on the likely content of the Bill, click here On 4 July 2015 the Chancellor and the Prime Minister released a joint statement indicating that their plans, “which will form part of the Housing Bill to be introduced this autumn, include steps to build discounted homes for first time buyers on all reasonable sized developments, unlock public land for hundreds of thousands of new homes and back small builders with planning changes” (emphasis added). For the statement, click here
Renting Homes (Wales) Bill
This is a Welsh Government Bill introduced in the Welsh Assembly. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the Explanatory Memorandum, click here To monitor the progress of the Bill, click here The Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee has completed its examination of the Bill and has made 37 recommendations. The Bill is expected to resume its Committee Stage in the Assembly (Stage 2) on 30 September 2015.
Housing (Amendments) Bill
This is a Bill introduced in the Assembly on 30 June 2015 by the Northern Ireland Executive. It would make provision for the better sharing of information relating to empty homes or to anti-social behaviour and provide for the registration of certain loans as statutory charges. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the explanatory memorandum (listed under ‘All associated documents and links’), click here For a commentary on the Bill, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here Subject to approval by the Assembly at Second Stage, the Bill will be referred to the Committee for Social Development which has responsibility for the Committee Stage of the Bill.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill
This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Karen Buck MP. It would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation. It had a First Reading on 24 June 2015 and its Second Reading is scheduled for 16 October 2015. For details on the progress of the Bill, click here For a commentary on its content, click here
Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) Bill
This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Dame Angela Watkinson MP. It would amend the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to make provision for collecting information about tenure and the details of private landlords. It had a First Reading on 24 June 2015 and its Second Reading is scheduled for 30 October 2015. For details on the progress of the Bill, click here
Crown Tenancies Bill
This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Mark Pawsey MP. It would provide that Crown tenancies may be assured tenancies for the purposes of the Housing Act 1988, subject to certain exceptions, and modify the assured tenancies regime in relation to certain Crown tenancies. It had a First Reading on 24 June 2015 and its Second Reading is scheduled for 11 September 2015. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the Explanatory Notes, click here For details on the progress of the Bill, click here For a consultation on its proposals, see below.
Firoozmand v Lambeth London Borough Council
3 September 2015
The claimant was owed the main homelessness duty under the Housing Act 1996 section 193. The council provided him with accommodation in performance of the duty, but the claimant said it was unsuitable. A reviewing officer decided that it was suitable and a county court judge dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal. The review had not been undermined by the failure to commission an official inspection of the property to see whether it complied with the housing, health and safety rating standards in the Housing Act 2004 Part 1. It was for the reviewing officer to decide whether such an inspection was needed or whether the issue of suitability could be determined without one. For the judgment, click here
R v Manish Manek
2 September 2015
The defendant owned ‘Je Je Barons’, an estate agency in Kingston, South London. In 2012, he sold his home and went to India. Police discovered that over the four years that the agency had operated, he had stolen over £47,000 from his clients. He had been putting landlord and tenant deposits and rents into his personal account rather than into an approved deposit protection scheme. He was arrested on his return to the UK. At Kingston Crown Court, he was found guilty of 17 counts of theft and sentenced to 20 months immediate imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here
R v Helen Gregory
2 September 2015
The defendant operated a number of lettings and estate agencies. An investigation by trading standards found that she received a total of 1,126 tenancy deposits during five years of offending of which some 796 had not been paid into a deposit protection scheme. These deposits totalled £548,747. Of those, deposits to the value of £67,000 had not been repaid. In August 2014 the defendant pleaded guilty to three charges of engaging in unfair commercial practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Sentencing was deferred to enable her to repay the £67,000. She had not done so by the adjourned hearing. At Derby Crown Court in April 2015 she was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment and banned from working as a company director for six years. A proceeds of crime hearing for a confiscation order had been fixed for 10 September 2015 but has been adjourned for reports until 2016. For more details of the latest developments, click here
Complaint against South Oxfordshire District Council
26 August 2015
The two complainants had bought properties previously owned by the council. The Housing Act 1985 section 157 allows councils to impose a restriction on the future sales of former council homes bought under the ‘Right to Buy’ if the property is in a national park, area of outstanding natural beauty or designated rural area. The property cannot be sold without the consent of the council and the purchaser must have lived or worked in the specified area for three years. Councils have discretion to agree to the sale of the property if the potential purchaser does not have a local connection. When the complainants bought, the council did not notify them of, or enforce, the restriction. When they later wished to sell, it did so. One of the homeowners lost a sale, while the other’s sale was more difficult. The sale prices were affected because of the restriction. The Local Government Ombudsman found the council was at fault for failing to check whether either homeowner had a local connection before granting the initial consent to them to buy, and found no evidence it had actively made a decision to exercise discretion not to enforce the local connection requirement. It had also failed to give the solicitors complete information about the section 157 restrictions. For the investigation report, click here
R v John Gallagher
21 August 2015
The defendant was a longstanding sole tenant of a four bedroom council house in Fulham. He claimed welfare benefits including housing benefits. He then converted a shed in the garden to provide him with accommodation and let out the rooms in the house to tenants by advertising them on Gumtree. While continuing to claim benefits, he received between £645-£700 rent per room per month, plus £80-£100 per month towards utilities, and deposits of £300-£540 per room. At Isleworth Crown Court, he admitted five counts of fraud and was sentenced to 10 months immediate imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here
IS v Department for Social Development
13 August 2015
The claimant was granted a tenancy of a house by the trustees of a trust. She claimed housing benefit (HB) to pay the rent. That was refused because she was a beneficiary of the trust. Later, the claimant disclaimed her position as a beneficiary of the trust and entered into a new tenancy agreement for the property. She applied again for HB. A tribunal found that the tenancy had been created to take advantage of the HB scheme and dismissed her appeal. A Social Security Commissioner gave leave for a further appeal but dismissed the appeal. The Commissioner held that “the tribunal was entitled to find on the evidence that the applicant’s dealings in relation to the Trust, and in the relinquishing of the applicant’s beneficial rights under the settlement, were to secure HB. The tribunal was entitled to find that the applicant had entered into liability to make payments in respect of the dwelling purchased by the Trust in order to take advantage of the HB scheme.” For the judgment, click here
R v Ciro Pipolo
15 July 2015
The defendant let out rooms in his home – a house in Catford, South London. He advertised vacant rooms on the internet. A 19 year old woman agreed to take one of the rooms. On the night she moved in, the defendant sexually assaulted her whilst she was falling asleep. At Woolwich Crown Court, he was sentenced to 22 months immediate imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here
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HOUSING LAW CONSULTATIONS
A consultation paper from the Welsh Government seek views on establishing a National Pathway for Homelessness Services for Children, Young People and Adults who are in care or custody and will otherwise become homeless. The closing date for comments is 24 September 2015. For the consultation arrangements and the consultation paper, click here
New measures on Local Courts for Housing Cases
The Ministry of Justice is consulting on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals across England and Wales, and the integration or merger of 31 more. This represents a reduction in capacity by 139 county court rooms (17% of all county court rooms) and 63 tribunal rooms (13% of all tribunal rooms). For the consultation documents, click here The consultation closes on 8 October 2015. The Law Society has produced a series of campaigner packs to help respondents raise the issue with MPs and AMs. For details, click here
Taxation of Private Renting
On 17 July 2015, the UK Government launched a consultation on the reform of the ‘Wear and Tear Allowance’ applicable to property businesses. The reform is designed to improve the consistency and fairness in the taxation of residential property businesses. For the consultation paper, click here Responses are due by 9 October 2015.
NEW HOUSING LAW ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Setting aside possession orders Will Beetson  Local Government Lawyer 3 September. To read the article, click here
Refusing a final offer of accommodation Christi Scarborough  Local Government Lawyer 26 August. To read the article, click here
The Complete Tenancy Guide For London Renters  The Move out Mates Blog 2 September. To read the article, click here
Stuck with a terrible landlord? As if tenants have any other choice Dawn Foster  Guardian Housing Network 4 September. To read the article, click here
Renting from a rogue landlord? It’s time to know your rights Simon Read  The Independent 2 September. To read the article, click here
Student accommodation: First-time renters are 'vulnerable', according to Shelter poll Aftab Ali  The Independent 4 September. To read the article, click here
How to improve London's private rented housing sector – and how not to Dave Hill  the Guardian London 2 September. To read the article, click here
Worklessness and social housing: a look behind the numbers Veronika Gstir  Guardian Housing Network 18 August. To read the article, click here
Does the housing sector fully understand the Data Protection Act? Audrey Olden and David Hall  CIH Blog 24 August. To read the article, click here
The right balance (between housing legislation and enforcement in the private sector) David Smith  Environmental Heath News 2 September. To read the article, click here
Employers, landlords, bank staff: meet the new border ‘police’ Liz Davies  The Morning Star 2 September. To read the article, click here
The right to buy social housing Tim Willis and David Perry  333 Property Law Journal pp19-21
Squeeze on buy to let (changes in the treatment of income from buy-to-let properties) David Whiscombe  Taxation 2 September. To read the article, click here
How young homeless people experience London and the homeless system Emma Jackson  LSE British Politics and Policy Blog. To read the article, click here
Fully mutual housing co-operatives and possession claims Andy Lane  18 Journal of Housing Law p91
All change - the Supreme Court in 2014-2015 Andrew Arden QC  18 Journal of Housing Law p79
Costs, conditions and consultations: recent developments in selective licensing Julian Sidoli del Ceno and Abigail Jackson  18 Journal of Housing Law p96
Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge  September issue of Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. To read the article, click here
THE HOUSING LAW DIARY
11 September 2015
House of Commons Second Reading of the Crown Tenancies Bill (see Housing Laws in the pipeline above)
24 September 2015
Deadline for responsesto Welsh Government consultation on Homelessness (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
30 September 2015
Committee Stage of the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill begins in the Welsh Assembly (see Housing Laws in the pipeline above)
8 October 2015
Deadline for responsesto UK Government consultation on court closures in England & Wales (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
9 October 2015
Lime Legal’s Social Housing Tenancy Agreements Conference 2015 in London. For details click here
9 October 2015
Deadline for responsesto UK Government’s consultation on the taxation of income from residential property (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
11 October 2015
House of Commons Second Reading of the Crown Tenancies Bill (see Housing Laws in the pipeline above)
16 October 2015
Lime Legal’s Allocations Conference 2015 in London. For details click here
16 October 2015
House of Commons Second Reading of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill (see Housing Laws in the pipeline above)
30 October 2015
House of Commons Second Reading of the Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) Bill (see Housing Laws in the pipeline above)
Tenancy at Garden Court North Chambers
Garden Court North Chambers in Manchester invite applications from experienced housing and immigration law practitioners (five years' post qualification experience).
We recently moved premises to Blackfriars House in the heart of Manchester. Our new home has a custom-built layout with fantastic conference and meeting facilities, enabling superior service to clients and supporting co-operative working practices amongst our barristers.
Applications should be submitted with CV and at least two references to:
The Tenancy Committee
Garden Court North Chambers
3rd Floor, Blackfriars House
Closing date: 2nd October 2015
Trainee Solicitor post at Greenwich Housing Rights
Justice First Fellowship - Legal Education Foundation
Greenwich Housing Rights is recruiting a Trainee Solicitor as part of the Legal Education Foundation's Justice First Fellowship programme.
For more information or to submit an application please visit: http://jff.thelegaleducationfoundation.org/how-to-apply/
Application Deadline: 15 September 2015
Starting Salary: £21,000
Location: Greenwich, London
We are an independent housing advice charity based in Woolwich, South East London. We have a team of 3 solicitors, 8 caseworkers, 30+ dedicated and wonderful volunteers and a small team of support staff.
Apart from direct legal advice services we provide a second-tier support service for other local groups, policy work, campaigning, public legal education and training.
We work closely with local and regional partners to ensure clients have access to a wide range of advice and support services. One of our key partners, Plumstead Community Law Centre, will be helping to deliver the training contract. This opens up the opportunity for our Trainee to develop expertise in welfare benefits, immigration and employment law, all crucial to meeting our clients’ complex needs.
The Trainee will work under the close supervision of our Senior Solicitor and will be expected to play an active part in all of our legal advice and associated services. The trainee will receive additional support from senior staff and category supervisors to develop legal practice skills, subject specialisms and policy work and to ensure the successful delivery of their project. There will be an emphasis on contentious work but the Trainee will be expected to develop the skills necessary to support clients using alternative dispute resolution and will undertake non-contentious work.
Please visit the Legal Education Foundation's website for more information about the Fellowship. For more information about GHR visit www.grhr.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing Solicitor Vacancy
Cambridge House Law Centre is seeking an experienced Housing Solicitor to join an experienced, highly regarded, supportive and fun housing team in a dynamic Law Centre serving the Camberwell area of South London.
The Law Centre has LAA contracts in Housing, Public Law and Community Care.
Salary: £33,000 - £40,000 depending upon experience
30 days annual leave plus pension contribution.
Closing date: 4.00pm on Friday 11th September 2015
For an application pack please email Beryl Peckham at email@example.com
For an informal discussion please contact Stuart Hearne on 0207 358 7025 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing Project Worker (part time) YMCA EAST SURREY
To apply for this position click here
To assist in the day to day running of the NextStep project for those in housing need, providing support, advice, and long-term solutions through private rented sector and resettlement.
Hours of Work:
We are looking for someone to work part time, either 16 or 20 hours per week which is the equivalent of 2 or 2.5 days per week. (Occasional evening and weekend work may be necessary to fulfil the needs of the role but time off in lieu will be given.) Preferred hours of work will be discussed at interview with shortlisted candidates.
Salary: £23,156.28 per annum (pro rata)
Benefits: The post holder will be entitled to free use of the YMCA fitness centre and half price
childcare for dependents. There is free parking available at Hillbrook House.
Closing Date for returned application forms is Monday 14th September 2015 at 9am.
Interviews are planned for Friday 18th September 2015.
Take advantage of the opportunity to advertise your job vacancies here FREE.
Call us on 01249 701555 or email details of the vacancy to email@example.com
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