Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

18 February 2015 Update


Policy Issues in Housing Law

Eviction of tenants
The latest official statistics show that in the three months October to December 2014 there were 10,380 repossessions by county court bailiffs in England and Wales in claims brought by landlords. That is up 8% on the same period in 2013. The total number of repossessions in the year 2014 was 41,965. That is up 11% on 2013. For the full figures, click here

Private rented sector: new statutory controls

On 11 February 2015, the UK Government successfully promoted amendments to the Deregulation Bill to make a series of changes to the law relating to private sector tenancies in England. For the debate on the amendments, click here
For a briefing on these private renting provisions of the Bill submitted by Citizens Advice, click here For the relevant briefing note prepared by the House of Commons Library on Retaliatory eviction in the private rented sector, click here For the DCLG policy paper explaining the changes, click here  For an environmental health perspective on them, click here
Private renting: tenant safety
The Chief Fire Officers Association has called for the mandatory installation and repair of smoke alarms in rented dwellings and the introduction of mandatory annual electrical safety checks by landlords. For more details, click here
Private renting: the CAB perspective
Citizens Advice is campaigning for better protections for private renters. For details of its objectives and its campaign activities, click here
Housing disrepair
The regulator of social housing in England has issued a regulatory notice to the housing association Circle Anglia Limited indicating that it failed to meet the Home Standard and that as a consequence of this breach there was the potential for serious detriment to tenants. The risk of serious harm was evident because a large number of tenants, including vulnerable tenants, have been, and continue to be, affected by the failure to complete emergency and urgent repairs on time. The regulator is considering what further action should be taken, including whether to exercise any of its powers. For a copy of the notice, click here
Housing and anti-social behaviour
The procedures for serving closure notices and then obtaining closure orders, in respect of properties that are the source of nuisance and other anti-social behaviour, are not as often used as might be expected. However, one London council reports that it has issued seven notices and secured three closure orders in just three months. For the details, click here
Short-term lets in London

The UK Government has published a paper setting out its policy on short-term use of residential property in London. The paper explains the intentions behind the provisions of, and amendments to, the Deregulation Bill (see below) that the Government promoted at Lords Report Stage on 11 February 2015. For a copy, click here
 For the Housing Minister’s statement to Parliament on the policy, click here


The NSPCC has published a new report on homelessness which deals with the prospects for babies living in homeless households. For a copy of An unstable start - All babies count: spotlight on homelessness, click here

Housing law reform

The Welsh Government has introduced at Renting Homes (Wales) Bill in the Welsh Assembly which will reform the legal basis for renting a home from a private landlord or community landlord, including local authorities and registered landlords. The Bill, based on Law Commission regulations, is dealt with under ‘Housing Laws in the pipeline’ (below)

Housing & Mental Health
The National Housing Federation has published The Mentally Healthy Society - the report of the taskforce on mental health in society. For a copy, click here

Shared ownership
The London Assembly is conducting an investigation into shared ownership in the capital as part of which it is undertaking a survey on Londoners' experiences of shared ownership. For the survey form, click here  Orbit HA and CIH have jointly published Shared ownership 2.0: towards a fourth mainstream tenure: final report. For a copy, click here

Housing Benefit
The DWP has just published the latest findings from its survey of local authority activity on Housing Benefit fraud and error. For a copy, click here  A new study from Sheffield University entitled Direct Payment of Housing Benefit: Are Social Landlords Ready? has been published. For a copy, click here

Financing for council housing
A new briefing note from Commons Library has been published: Local housing authorities: the self-financing regime, progress and issues. For a copy, click here 

Housing Laws in the Pipeline  
Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill 2015
This private members Bill would introduce a requirement that a functioning carbon monoxide detector be installed in all newly built and all rented residential properties. A second reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015. For a copy of the Bill, click here.

Private Rented Sector (Decent Homes Standard) Bill
This private members Bill would require private landlords to ensure that any property they let meets the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard. It is moved by Conservative MP Laura Sandys. For her description of the Bill’s proposals, click here  For the debate on its introduction, click here  For more details of the Bill itself, click here The Second Reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015.

Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector) Bill
This private members Bill is also expected to have its second reading debate on 6 March 2015. I would provide that people in receipt of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit and accommodated in the social housing sector should be entitled to an additional bedroom related to caring responsibilities or overnight care. For a copy of the Bill, click here. 
Consumer Rights Bill
This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) repealing and replacing laws dealing with unfair terms in tenancy agreements and other contracts; and (2) requiring letting agents to publish their fees. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here  The bill has completed its House of Lords stages and the consideration of Lords Amendments by the House of Commons took place on 12 January 2015. The Commons disagreed with Lords Amendment 12 and have returned the Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill now travels back and forth between the two Houses, until both agree on the text of the Bill. A motion to extend the carry-over period of the bill by 67 days until 30 March 2015 was agreed on 12 January 2015 following the consideration of Lords amendments. The Bill is scheduled to receive further Parliamentary consideration on 24 February 2015. If passed, the Act is then expected to come into force in October 2015. The UK Government is consulting on the draft guidance it proposes to issue on the new unfair terms provisions. For the consultation papers, click here  

Deregulation Bill

This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) reducing the qualifying period for right to buy; (2) removing the power to require preparation of housing strategies; and (3) amending the law on tenancy deposits. The bill has completed its House of Lords Committee Stage and Report Stage and is scheduled to have its Third Reading on 4 March 2015. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here  For the Government amendments passed on 11 February 2015 designed to insert provisions relating to retaliatory eviction into the Bill (and to achieve the other changes described above), click here For the Bill as it appears with the amendments included, click here
Renting (Homes) 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. There is a consultation exercise associated with the content of the Bill, see below.


Health and Safety Executive v HIS Energy Ltd
13 February 2015
A householder agreed to have cavity wall insulation work carried out by the defendant company as part of a scheme subsidised by energy suppliers. The company’s employees drilled holes through the house bricks, before using a machine to blow thousands of insulation beads into the cavity between the outer and inner walls. A pile of beads lodged in the back of a gas boiler. When it was used a few hours later, the blockage caused the death of the homeowner and injury to her son by carbon monoxide poisoning. At Manchester Crown Court, the company was found guilty of a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and fined £500,000 with £24,968.44 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here

Health & Safety Executive v Andrew and Deborah Hopkinson
12 February 2015
The defendants were private landlords. An HSE investigation found six instances of the gas safety checks not taking place within the maximum 12 month period, with checks ranging between five days and 15 months overdue. A gas boiler had not been serviced for 18 months when it was isolated for safety purposes and found to be producing high levels of carbon monoxide.  At Truro Magistrates’ Court, each defendant pleaded guilty to two breaches of gas safety regulations.  They were each fined £7,000 with £209 costs each.
For details of the prosecution, click here
R (Kent County Council) v The Secretary of State for Health
11 February 2015
A disabled man had lived in two London boroughs before being provided – in 2009 – with NHS accommodation in Kent. In 2010, NHS funding was withdrawn and the two councils could not agree which of them had to fund his further accommodation under National Assistance Act (NAA) 1948 section 21. On being invited to settle the dispute, the Secretary of State decided Kent was responsible. It sought a judicial review. The Court of Appeal dismissed the claim. The pre-amendment version of section 24(6) of the NAA only deemed NHS hospital patients not to be residing in the area of a hospital. It did not exempt residents of other NHS accommodation (although it has since been amended). For the judgment, click here

Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
and linked appeals
10 February 2015
The claimants were "Zambrano carers" i.e. non-EU citizens responsible for the care of an EU citizen child. They sought to establish that they were entitled to access to social housing and homelessness assistance on the same basis as EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK. The Court of Appeal rejected their claims and held that they were only entitled to be given as much assistance under Children Act 1989 section 17 as would enable them to support themselves in order to be the carer for the EU citizen child within the EU. Regulations made in November 2012 to prevent their access to social housing and homelessness assistance had been lawfully made. For the judgment, click here  For a commentary on the decision, click here

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea v Doveplay Limited
10 February 2015
The company was the owner of a building with planning consent for use as an HMO.  Council officers discovered that the property had been converted without planning permission into studio apartments for tourists and issued an immediate planning contravention notice. In January 2015 the council served a planning enforcement notice giving the company six months to convert the property back into 13 HMO units and two months to stop using it as temporary sleeping accommodation and revert it back to permanent residential use. At Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court, the company pleaded guilty to not responding to a request for information from the council and was fined £800 for non-compliance with the planning contravention notice with £3,214.60 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here

Graham-York v York 

10 February 2015
A mortgage borrower died. His estate did not meet his mortgage repayments or defend a claim for possession. When the lender sought to execute the warrant for possession, the borrower’s former cohabitee, who was living in the house, applied to be joined in the proceedings and to be granted a beneficial interest. A judge awarded her 25% of the proceeds of sale after the mortgage had been cleared. She appealed, contending that 25% was too little and in any event should be paid out to her before the lenders were paid. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. For the judgment, click here

Aylesbury Vale District Council v Kamran Qurban
10 February 2015
The defendant was a private landlord of a three storey, seven-bedroom HMO. He had no HMO licence. The property had no smoke alarms, fire doors or fire extinguishers and the kitchen and refrigeration facilities were inadequate for the amount of people living in the house. At Aylesbury Magistrates’ Court, he was fined £15,000 for failing to register the property as an HMO and £1,000 each for breaching four HMO regulations. He was also ordered to pay £5,521 costs and a £120 victim surcharge, taking the total to £25,521. For details of the prosecution, click here

R(James) v HMP Birmingham
9 February 2015
The defendant had been made subject to a gang injunction prohibiting him from entering a prescribed area. He was arrested for breach of the injunction, remanded in custody, and later committed for his contempt of court for a period of three months. The Court of Appeal dismissed a claim for judicial review relating to the period for which he had been detained and gave guidance as to how periods spent on remand are to be discounted from sentences for contempt. For the judgment, click here

Lambeth LBC v Dr Enamuna Enobakhare
6 February 2015
The defendant was a council tenant. He applied to exercise the right to buy (with a maximum discount of £100,000). Council enquiries established that he was actually living in Romford at a property owned by his wife, was registered to vote there and was also registered there with the NHS, insurance companies, various government agencies and his employer. The RTB claim was rejected and his council property repossessed. He pleaded guilty to failing to disclose that he was not living in the council property. At Blackfriars Crown Court, he was sentenced to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work with costs of £3,000 and a £60 victim surcharge. (This is in addition to £7,321 costs awarded against him in the possession proceedings).  For details of the prosecution, click here

Swindon Council v Bakara Joseph Shem
6 February 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. He granted a six month fixed term tenancy but, after a few months, told the tenants he wanted them to leave because he had found other tenants willing to pay a higher rent. They returned home at 8pm one evening to find the door blocked by three men, one of whom was so aggressive that he was arrested. On entry, the tenants found all their belongings had been removed and the locks had been changed. They were too scared to remain. The defendant failed to appear at court to answer a charge of illegal eviction contrary to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and an arrest warrant was issued. He was arrested on returning to the UK. At Swindon Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 weeks immediate imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here

Hackney LBC v Desmond Rodney
3 February 2015
The defendant preyed on vulnerable tenants. He would befriend them and abuse that relationship by taking over their home, using it as his own. In 2012 he was made subject to an ASBO preventing him from entering parts of the council’s area. He appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court for breaching his ASBO after he was caught in a part of the borough from which he was banned. He was also charged with possession of Class A drugs. As part of his sentencing, he was made subject to a Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from residential properties indefinitely. For details of that hearing, click here

Mark v City of Edinburgh

20 January 2015
The applicant had been tenant of a council flat. He had to be decanted from it as a result of serious disrepair. He was eventually offered a secure tenancy of the alternative flat to which he had been temporarily decanted and he accepted it. Later, he exercised the right to buy. While he had been decanted, the law had changed in relation to the maximum discount allowed. He applied to the Lands Tribunal for a declaration that he was entitled to a higher discount based on the tenancy from which he had been decanted. The application failed. The discount had been correctly calculated based on the date of grant of the most recent tenancy. For the judgment, click here

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service v Eli Zohar

19 January 2015 
The defendant was a private landlord. Following an inspection of his rented property, Fire Service officers issued an enforcement notice requiring him to ensure the adequacy of fire precautions, and to maintain emergency lighting. At Preston Crown Court, following a guilty plea, he was fined £6,000 for failure to comply with the enforcement notice and £4,500 for failure to ensure that the emergency lighting was subject to a suitable system of maintenance. In addition to the £10,500 in fines, £12,000 costs were ordered and a £120 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here 

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The UK Government has issued proposals for another significant increase in civil court fees, including the costs of issuing possession claims. For the consultation paper, click here  For the impact assessment on the increase to possession claim fees, click here Responses should be made by  27 February 2015.   For details of how to respond, click here
The Welsh Government has published its consultation draft of its new statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness & Allocations. For details of the consultation exercise and arrangements for responses, click here 
The deadline is 23 March 2015.
The UK Government has launched a consultation exercise seeking views on changes to the Homes and Communities Agency guidance on shared ownership and on the terms of the model shared ownership leases. The options include changes to the operation of the pre-emption right in shared ownership standard leases and other proposals to streamline the resale of shared ownership properties. For the consultation details, click here
Responses should be made by 28 February 2015.
The Welsh Government has initiated a consultation on the future of the Right to Buy in Wales. The consultation runs until 16 April 2015. For the consultation arrangements, click here

For the consultation paper itself, click here
The Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee of the Welsh Assembly is consulting on the contents of the Welsh Government’s Renting Homes (Wales) Bill. For the consultation documents and details, click here
Any submissions should arrive by 27 March 2015.
The Welsh Government has initiated a consultation on the provisions of new regulations relating to aspects of the handling of homelessness applications made to local councils in Wales. The consultation runs until 26 February 2015. For the consultation arrangements, click here
For the consultation paper itself, click here 


Recent Developments in Housing Law. Jan Luba QC  & Nic Madge [2015] February issue Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line. To read the article, click here

Town halls struggle with 'bureaucratic' homelessness scheme Heather Spurr [2015] Inside Housing 12 February. To read the article, click here 

Thumbs down to the horizontal effect of article 8
Sarah Nield [2015] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer p77

Reversal of possession order: tenant's remedy Ying Hu [2015] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer p88

Determining validity (of notices served between landlord and tenant) Belinda Walkinshaw [2015] 159 Solicitors Journal Issue No.5 p33 To read the article, click here 

Judge rules that Mr Pickles unlawfully discriminated against Gypsies and Travellers
Marc Willers QC [2015] Garden Court Chambers Blog 11 February. To read the article, click here

Powers to bring empty houses into use 'ignored'
Hilary Osborne [2015] The Guardian 11 February. To read the article, click here

UK housing is increasingly a postcode lottery. Where's the safety net?
Hannah Fearn [2015] The Guardian 13 February. To read the article, click here

Francis v Phillips: putting the pin back into the valedictory hand grenade
Kester Lees [2015] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer  p67


26 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on homelessness regulations in Wales (see above)

27 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on increases in court fees for possession cases (see above)

28 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on shared ownership (see above)



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Housing Law Solicitor Vacancy

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