Housing Law Week
General Editor: Jan
12th August 2015 Update
POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
On 3 August 2015, the UK Government announced new measures to “crackdown” on illegal immigrants renting properties in this country. For the announcement, click here The announcement was accompanied by the issue of a technical discussion paper, Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector, which seeks views on proposals to tackle rogue landlords and letting agents as well as abandonment i.e. when a tenant disappears (see Housing Law Consultations, below). For a commentary on the proposed new measures, click here
Housing & the Care Act 2014
On 6 August 2015, the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) published a short briefing on the Care Act 2014: Implications for councils with housing. To access the piece, click here The Home Office and Department of Health have confirmed that there are no limitations on local authorities undertaking needs assessments or in meeting urgent needs pending assessment. For a briefing on the Care Act 2014 and its availability to those with care needs who have no recourse to public funds, click here
On 4 August 2015, the DWP published Housing Benefit Direct, Issue 161 containing the latest updates for council HB staff. For a copy, click here
Housing in England
On 6 August 2015, the live statistical tables covering mobility among households, length of residence, demographic characteristics of movers, movement between tenures, movement into and out of tenures, and tenancy deposits were published. To access the new tables, click here and for analysis click here
Social Housing in Wales
On 6 August 2015, the Welsh Government published an annual statistical report which includes information on rents, the number of dwellings, bedsits and bedspaces owned or partly owned by local authorities and registered social landlords. For a copy, click here
Social Housing Tenancy
Agreements Conference 2015
London 9 October 2015
Click here for details
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
NB. The UK Parliament is now in Summer Recess. Both Houses return on 7 September 2015. For the rest of the recess dates for this Parliament, click here
Welfare Reform and Work Bill
This UK Government Bill was published on 9 July 2015 to make 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 now be considered in detail by a public bill committee. For the Bill, click here For the explanatory notes, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here. For the briefing prepared by the House of Commons Library, click here For the Second Reading debate itself, click here Several briefings were prepared for the Second Reading debate by a range of organisations. For the CRISIS briefing click here, for the CAB briefing click here, for the Z2K briefing click here To see the amendments already put down for debate in committee, click here A programme motion has scheduled the Committee stage to conclude by 15 October 2015. The Committee which will review the Bill has issued a call for written evidence. For the details, click here Those intending to submit evidence may wish to address the UK Government’s own detailed impact assessments on the Bill. To see those, click here and scroll down
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 recently completed its examination of the Bill and has made 37 recommendations. For a copy of its report and for a summary of its conclusions and recommendations, click here and scroll to the foot of the webpage where it is listed under ‘Documents’. The Assembly debated the general provisions of the Bill on 7 July. For the record of the debate, click here For the amendments tabled for discussion at Stage 2, click here and scroll to the ‘Document’ section at the foot of the page. For the latest amendments up those published on 16 July 2015, and a statement of the purpose and effects of those published on 8 July, click here and scroll to the ‘Documents’ section at the foot of the webpage.
Housing (Amendment) 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 letter of 2 July 2015 inviting submissions about the Bill by 4 September 2015, click here For a commentary on the Bill, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here
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 details on the progress of the Bill, click here For a consultation on its proposals, see below.
NEW HOUSING CASES
R(HA) v Ealing LBC
7 August 2015
The claimant was a homeless mother fleeing domestic violence with her children. She applied to join the council’s housing allocation scheme but could not meet the qualifying condition based on local residence. In a claim for judicial review, she argued that: (a) the local scheme was contrary to Housing Act 1996 Part 6 by establishing an absolute exclusion from the housing register for those in the reasonable preference categories who do not meet the residency requirement (Ground 1); (b) the residency requirement unlawfully discriminated against women who are victims of domestic violence (Grounds 4 and 5); (c) the policy and the decision in the claimant’s case were taken in breach of the council’s obligations under Children Act 2004 section 11 (Ground 7); and the council had failed to apply or consider applying an exceptionality provision when taking the decision in the case, thereby fettering its discretion (Grounds 2 and 3). The claim succeeded on all grounds. For the judgment, click here For a commentary, click here
R(SG) v Haringey LBC
4 August 2015
The claimant was a vulnerable and destitute asylum seeker with care and support needs. The council contended that it no longer had a duty to accommodate asylum seekers in light of the repeal by the Care Act 2014 of National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. In a judicial review, the High Court, declared the council’s decision to be unlawful and confirmed that local authorities continue to have duties to accommodate asylum seekers whose needs for care and support do not arise solely because of destitution or its anticipated effects. For more details, click here
Westminster CC v Raymond Whittard and Sharon Smith
3 August 2015
The first defendant was a council tenant. He had let his flat to the second defendant since at least 2010. When council officers began investigating, the defendants pretended to be a couple in a relationship (despite Smith living at the flat with her boyfriend and Whittard living in a house he had bought in Cheshire). Both admitted fraud charges. Smith was given a nine months suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 140 hours community work. Whittard received a 10 month suspended sentence and with a 150 hours community work requirement. For further details of the prosecution, click here
Watford BC v Khalil Ur-Rehman
3 August 2015
The defendant was the private landlord of an HMO. A council inspection found the premises entirely unfit for multiple occupation because: no fire doors were fitted; there was only one battery powered smoke detector present in the entire property; there was no emergency lighting; and locks on doors could only be operated with a key – providing no escape route in the event of a fire. The defendant pleaded guilty to offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. He was fined a total of £7,500 with costs of £5,673.27 and a £120 victim surcharge. His property was damaged by fire, but his landlord’s insurance did not cover HMOs and so was made void. For details of the prosecution, click here
West Berkshire District Council & Reading Borough Council v Department for Communities and Local Government
31 July 2015
This was a successful claim for judicial review of decisions of the Secretary of State: (1) to make alterations to national policy in respect of planning obligations for affordable housing and social infrastructure contributions by way of a Written Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons (HCWS50); and (2) to maintain those policy changes following the completion of an Equalities Impact Assessment. For the judgment, click here For a commentary on the outcome, click here For media comment, click here
R v Tahir Ali
30 July 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. He punched his tenant twice in the face while holding some form of weapon and while an unknown accomplice hit the tenant on the leg with a cricket bat. He was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. At Oxford Crown Court, Judge Peter Ross said he was satisfied that the attack was the end of a campaign of violence against tenants in the rented house, which came to a head when the victim missed a rent payment. He imposed a sentence of seven years immediate imprisonment. For further details, click here
Health & Safety Executive v Shane Wyatt (trading as S & J Plumbing and Heating)
30 July 2015
The defendant was a gas engineer. When British Gas inspected one of his installations, they recorded carbon monoxide levels three times that considered immediately dangerous and condemned a gas fire. Other work the defendant had carried out was similarly defective. He had not fitted the appropriate parts to the different appliances he had worked on, and had failed to do the appropriate checks after he carried out the work. This left the householders at risk from a gas explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. At St Albans Crown Court he was sentenced to nine months immediate imprisonment after pleading guilty to breaching two counts of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and section 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. For details of the prosecution, click here
Barnet LBC v Carroll Thompson
23 July 2015
The defendant was a council tenant. In September 2013, she completed a housing needs survey in which she confirmed she was living in the property with her children and that if decanted she required three bedrooms rather than two. In June 2014, the council received information suggesting she was no longer living in that home. The council served a notice to quit and the defendant returned the keys. On inquiries, it was discovered that since August 2012 she had in fact been living in a five bedroom house owned by her husband. At Harrow Crown Court, following a trial on four counts of fraud, she was convicted of two of the offences. The defendant is due to be sentenced at the same court on 18 August. For details of the prosecution, click here
Liverpool CC v Adrian Webb and Lynn Joyce Webb
16 July 2015
The defendants were private landlords of three flats in a converted house. On inspection it had no fire alarms or fire doors, with key-operated locks to exit doors. Rooms were riddled with damp, there was a lack of handrails to staircases, no adequate heating and a collapsed ceiling (due to a water leak that had gone unattended). The kitchens were poorly laid out and unsafe, with electric cables trailing across the floor and a chest of drawers was being used as a kitchen worktop. The council issued prohibition orders to prevent occupation. At Liverpool Magistrates’ Court the defendants were convicted in their absence on four counts each of failing to comply with the prohibition orders. They were each fined £8,000 and were both ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge with costs of £1,326. For details of the prosecution, click here
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The UK Government has published a discussion paper which sets out proposals for new legislation relating to private renting, including a blacklist of rogue landlords and letting agents, tougher penalties for the worst offenders, extending rent repayment orders and introducing fixed penalty notices. It also invites views on tackling the problem of abandonment in the sector, where a tenant disappears, leaving the landlord uncertain over their right to repossess. For the discussion paper, click here Responses can be emailed to email@example.com by Thursday 20 August 2015. The closing date for comments made on-line is Thursday 27 August 2015. They should be submitted via the online form here
Accommodation & Support for Failed Asylum Seekers
On 4 August 2015, the UK Government issued a consultation paper about proposed changes to arrangements for providing accommodation and support to failed asylum seekers and illegal entrants. For the consultation paper, click here For the impact assessment, click here Responses should be made by noon on 9 September 2015.
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.
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.
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
ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge  July issue Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. To read the article, click here
The absolute ground for possession – it works! Chris Grose and Michael Owen  Local Government Lawyer 30 July. To read the article, click here
The wild west of letting agent regulation Tessa Shepperson  159 Solicitors Journal S.J. No.30 p33
Homelessness vulnerability: the new law Stuart Hearne  CILEx Journal August issue p41
Will the new measures to crack down on renting by illegal immigrants work? John Perry  Inside Housing 4 August. To read the article, click here
Housing and the Immigration Bill 2015  Hodge Jones & Allen Blog 7 August. To read the article, click here
Britain's housing system is an example of just how bad it can get for renters Rosie Walker  Guardian Housing Network 4 August. To read the article, click here
Student lives put at risk by negligent landlords Abby Young-Powell  Guardian 4 August. To read the article, click here
Student lives being 'put at risk' as landlords and letting agents fail to respond to 'dangerous' accommodation conditions Aftab Ali  Independent 6 August. To read the article, click here
The housing association that will no longer build homes for the poor Tom Murtha  Guardian Housing Network 7 August. To read the article, click here
CLG Consultation on proposals for the PRS Dr Stephen Battersby  UK Housing Professionals Forum Blog 6 August. To read the article, click here
Criminal landlords could be blacklisted Corin Williams  Environmental Heath News Blog 5 August. To read the article, click here
THE HOUSING LAW
13 August 2015
Decision expected from High Court in challenge to Croydon’s proposed licensing scheme for private landlords. For more details, click here
20 August 2015
Deadline for Email responses to UK Government consultation on measures to address rogue private landlord (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
27 August 2015
Deadline for on-line survey responses to UK Government consultation on measures to address rogue private landlord (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
9 September 2015
Deadline for responses to UK Government consultation on accommodation for failed asylum seekers (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
24 September 2015
Deadline for responses to Welsh Government consultation on homelessness (see Housing Law Consultations, above)
9 October 2015
Lime Legal’s Social Housing Tenancy Agreements Conference 2015 in London. For details click here
16 October 2015
Lime Legal’s Allocations Conference 2015 in London
For details click here
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For an informal discussion please contact Stuart Hearne on 0207 358 7025 or email@example.com
Three Rivers District Council
Housing Allocations Officer
(2 year fixed term contract to end on 18 August 2017)
£21,077 to £23,036 pro rata
16 Hours per week.
Three Rivers District Council in South West Hertfordshire wants to recruit an enthusiastic professional to provide housing advice to customers approaching our Housing Needs service, including customers at risk of homelessness.
Following the Council’s Housing Allocation Policy, the successful candidate would be expected to maintain the Housing Needs Register of applicants. This would include banding applicants on the register, creating and checking advertisements to be advertised on the Herts Choice Homes website and liaising with Registered Providers regarding potential nominees.
Closing Date: - 19 August 2015 at 5.00pm
Interview Date: - 25 August 2015
To apply go to www.threerivers.gov.uk to download an application pack
For an informal discussion please contact Alan Marsden on 01923 776611
(Applicants selected for an interview will normally be notified within one month of the closing date, and invited for an interview. Unfortunately, due to the administrative costs involved, it will not be possible to notify those not selected for interview.)
Community Care/Housing Solicitor Vacancy
TV Edwards Solicitors LLP are recruiting someone of 0-3 years’ PQE. This vacancy is in our Whitechapel office, we have 3 other offices across London. Experience in advising clients on all areas of community care, court of protection and homelessness advantageous.
Hours - 9.30 - 5.30 Mon – Fri.
Salary according to experience.
Download an application pack at: http://www.tvedwards.com/site/careers/opportunities.
Closing date - 17th August 2015
Completed applications together with equality monitoring data must be sent by email to: Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org
Vacancy – Paralegal/Trainee Solicitor
Hopkin Murray Beskine, a long established North London firm of solicitors is looking for two paralegals to assist in our busy housing, public law and/or family teams.
We are looking for candidates with an interest in and enthusiasm for public law and housing work and/or family law work. We provide a collaborative workplace where you will be well supported and supervised by experienced lawyers and have the opportunity to work on a variety of different cases.
You will be expected to work hard, be flexible, produce excellent written work and establish relationships with a range of clients, from privately paying clients to vulnerable homeless people. We expect applicants to have a law degree or to have completed the CPE/GDL. Previous relevant experience is desirable but not essential.
The appointments will be for a fixed term of one year. For candidates who have completed the Legal Practice Course, this will be with a view to a training contract commencing after a year if performance meets expectations.
Closing date: Tuesday 1st September
We expect to interview shortlisted applicants on Tuesday 22nd September.
To apply to join our enthusiastic and successful team, download our application pack at www.hmbsolicitors.co.uk
Edwards Duthie is a large, well respected firm with a number of offices in East London and Essex. Named in the Legal 500, we have a diverse range of both privately and publicly funded work
Our Community Law Team has expertise in all areas of social welfare law, including housing & debt, welfare benefits, community care and mental health. The team has a particularly strong reputation for housing law and has brought a number of significant cases in recent years. The team is proud to hold Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme contracts with the Legal Aid Agency at Bow, Edmonton and Romford County Courts.
We now wish to recruit experienced housing caseworkers or solicitors to join our Community Law Team. Successful applicants will have a sound knowledge of housing law and litigation and ideally will have experience of acting as a duty advisor under the LAA’s Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes.
We have dedicated Human Resources, IT and Facilities Teams to develop and support all our legal teams.
Salary according to experience.
Applications by CV and covering letter to:
Coral Joyce, Human Resources Manager, at Bank House, 269-275 Cranbrook Road, Ilford IG1 4TG
or by email to email@example.com
No Agencies please
Housing Team Leader vacancy
Avon and Bristol Law Centre are looking for an experienced Solicitor / Caseworker with a proven track record in income generation under an LSC/LAA contract to lead the Housing Team as part of our dedicated and friendly staff in our thriving city centre office.
35 hours per week
30 days’ leave per year and 7% employer pension contribution
For an application pack go to www.ablc.org.uk or telephone 0117 924 8662
Deadline for receipt of applications: 12 noon Monday 24 August 2015
Interviews: Wednesday 2 September 2015
Housing/Community Care Solicitor/Caseworker
Avon and Bristol Law Centre is looking to appoint a Housing/Community Care Solicitor/Caseworker
35 hours per week
We will also consider applications for part-time working in either the housing or community care team.
We are looking for an experienced Solicitor / Caseworker with a proven track record in income generation under an LSC/LAA contract to be part of our dedicated and friendly team in our thriving city centre office.
Salary £30,011 pro-rata
30 days’ leave per year pro-rata and 7% employer pension contribution
For an application pack go to www.ablc.org.uk or telephone 0117 924 8662
Deadline for receipt of applications: 12 noon Monday 24 August 2015
Interviews: Wednesday 2 September 2015
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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