POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
Homelessness: Temporary Accommodation
On 17 August 2015, the House of Commons Library published an updated briefing on the use of B&B and other temporary accommodation for the homeless in England. For a copy, click here
On 24 August 2015, solicitor Giles Peaker produced a useful guide to the complex law relating to tenancy deposits for assured shorthold tenancies, by reference to when the deposit was taken. For his analysis, click here
Private Renting and Crime
On 20 August 2015, the Police Foundation published Safe as Houses? Crime and changing tenure patterns. Based on surveys in Luton and Slough, its analysis suggests that housing factors, particularly the prevalence of lower quality, privately rented accommodation, were relevant to understanding the contemporary drivers of the crime problems being faced in those areas. For a copy of the report, click here
Right to Buy
An investigation by the journal Inside Housing has found that nearly 40% of all council flats sold under the Right to Buy in England are no longer being occupied by their purchasers. Figures obtained from 91 councils under the Freedom of Information Act show councils sold 127,763 leasehold properties, with 47,994 leaseholders now living at another address. For the full data-set, published on 21 August 2015, click here
Housing & Welfare Reform 1
The Northern Rock Foundation has funded research designed to develop a robust understanding of the administration and impact of benefit sanctions in relation to vulnerable people in the North East, and develop an alternative vision for the benefits system which both supports people into work and prevents homelessness. For the outcome of that work, click here
Housing & Welfare Reform 2
The National Housing Federation has published Universal Credit One Year In: The experiences of housing associations. For a copy, click here
Rents in Social Housing
On 18 August 2015, the House of Commons Library published a new briefing on the issue of market rents for higher income tenants in social housing. For a copy, click here
Hoarding in Social Housing
The National Housing Federation has published a new report on hoarding by tenants in social housing called Key considerations and examples of best practice. For a copy, click here
Housing Support & Domestic Violence
In the July 2015 UK Budget, a £3m fund was announced for 2015/2016 to address gaps in the provision of specialist accommodation-based support for victims of domestic violence, and provide support for victims seeking to access these services. On 24 August 2015, the UK Government announced that the fund is now inviting bids for work in 2015/2016, to be led by local authorities working in partnership with service providers. For the prospectus for potential applicants, click here The deadline for bids is 1 October 2015.
Private Renting in Wales
The Welsh Government is taking considerable steps to provide training and information to landlords and letting agents in Wales ahead of the roll-out of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 provisions relating to private renting which are coming into force this autumn. To access the materials, click here For a copy of the Update on new legislation for private sector landlords and agents, click here
Private Renting in Scotland
On 24 August 2015, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a draft statutory code of practice and training requirements for letting agents in Scotland. Responses are sought by 15 November 2015. For details of the consultation exercise, click here
On 17 August 2015, the DWP released its latest General Information Bulletin on Housing Benefit covering a range of current issues. For a copy, click here
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
Allen v Secretary of State for Communities
19 August 2015
The claimant wanted to continue use of his land as a site for accommodating gypsies and travellers. Bedford Council refused planning permission. With the site included, the Council had identified an adequate supply of pitches in its district. Without it, the Council had not done so. The Secretary of State upheld the refusal of planning consent. The High Court overturned that refusal. The Secretary of State had failed to give adequate reasons for his decision. He had failed to grapple with a principal issue adequately. For the judgment, click here
Health & Safety Executive v Mears Ltd
17 August 2015
In 2012, 67 properties had been refurbished as part of a large project undertaken by Mears Ltd for a social housing landlord. Engineers later found that the gas-powered warm air unit at one of the properties had been left in a dangerous condition because the essential combustion ventilation required for the unit had been cladded over, the flue removed, and the roof fitted over the top, leaving it to discharge into the loft. At Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £15,000 with costs of £3,587 after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. For details of the prosecution, click here
Warwick District Council v Manjit Chima
17 August 2015
The defendant was a private landlord of a two storey house split into seven bedsits. A fire at the property led to an investigation by the local Fire Service and the Council’s Private Sector Housing Team. Fire officers found that the fire had started in the communal kitchen. Both of the doors leading from the kitchen had previously been removed by the landlord, leaving any fire in the kitchen open to the hall, stairs and ground floor rear bedrooms. A garage and outbuilding had also been converted into bedsits without being fitted with fire escape type windows. Council officers found that the fire alarm system failed to operate properly, and when asked for servicing records, the defendant was unable to provide any. Nor was he able to produce any gas or electrical inspection reports. Magistrates at Nuneaton Justice Centre imposed a fine of £10,744.45 for failure to properly manage the property. For details of the prosecution, click here
Ealing LBC v Gunapalan Vamathevan, also known as ‘Mr Bala’
6 August 2015
The defendant was a private landlord letting several properties in the council’s area. Inspections revealed them to be unlicensed HMOs offering poor quality accommodation. He was invited to apply for licences and to address conditions which were made subject of statutory notices. He took no action. At Ealing Magistrates’ Court, he was convicted of failing to: license four properties; protect tenants; comply with improvement notices; and comply with prohibition orders. For nine offences he was fined almost £70,000 with costs of £5,395 and a victim surcharge of £120, a total penalty of £75,215. For details of the prosecution, click here
Newham LBC v Mubato Nzabi
6 August 2015
The defendant was a council tenant. He falsely declared to the council and to the Department of Work and Pensions that he lived at the property with his daughter. In fact, he had moved out and sub-let the property. He failed to notify a change of circumstances. While living elsewhere and renting his property to a subtenant, he continued to claim both housing and council tax benefits. He was prosecuted for benefit fraud, council tax evasion and illegally subletting under the Fraud Act and the Social Security Administration Act. At Wood Green Crown Court, he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. For details of the prosecution, click here
Cash v Secretary of State for Communities
4 August 2015
The claimant sought planning permission for the stationing of 22 mobile homes on his land for residential purposes. Wokingham Council refused permission and served enforcement notices. The Secretary of State’s inspector dismissed an appeal. The claimant challenged the decision, primarily on the ground that the inspector had failed to have sufficient regard to the best interests of the 23 children living on the site, contrary to Children Act 2004 section 11. The High Court rejected the claim. The inspector had started with an acknowledgment of the importance of the interests of the children and then made an individual assessment of each household. For the judgment, click here
Six Town Housing v Kelly Ramshaw
15 June 2015
Complaints received about the behaviour at the defendant tenant’s home included drug dealing and misuse of drugs in and around her property, prostitution, noise nuisance, fighting and criminal damage. In addition, there were reports of numerous rowdy visitors congregating at the defendant’s home. The landlord and Greater Manchester Police applied for and were granted a closure order in April 2015. The landlord then relied on that order to claim possession under the new ‘absolute’ grounds for possession. A judge at Bury County Court made that order and the defendant was evicted. For further details, click here
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Landlord border guards Seb Klier  Environmental Health News Blog 19 August. To read the article, click here
So many reasons why turning landlords into immigration officials is a bad idea Usman Sheikh  Our Kingdom Blog 19 August. To read the article, click here
Banks may face duty of care over evictions in buy-to-lets Kitty Holland  The Irish Times 24 August. To read the article, click here
Banks have treated our housing market like a Ponzi scheme, and it's about to bust Lindsay David  The Guardian 20 August. To read the article, click here
Right to buy: aspiration or social cleansing? Sophie Bell and Bhaskar Banerjee  Hodge Jones & Allen Blog 17 August. To read the article, click here
Pace of rent rises quickens as average UK rent reaches £937 a month Sarah Butler  The Guardian 24 August. To read the article, click here
Dawn raids: A look at the underbelly of Britain’s housing crisis Charlie Stong  Property Industry Eye News 20 August. To read the article, click here
'Affordable' shared ownership flat in Hackney on the market for £1m Hilary Osborne  The Guardian 24 August. To read the article, click here
Sky-high London rents prompt calls for new controls on landlords Lisa O'Carroll  The Guardian 19 August. To read the article, click here
Homeless people discharged from hospital had nowhere to go – until now Sarah Johnson  The Guardian 19 August. To read the article, click here
Generation rent v the landlords: 'They can't evict millions of us' Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett  The Guardian 22 August. To read the article, click here
Need to find a ‘cheap’ London flat? Beware the agents asking for upfront fees Emma Lunn  The Observer 23 August. To read the article, click here
Where is the housing sector now? Greg Campbell  Campbell Tickel Blog 21 August. To read the article, click here
Vacancies with Ealing Council
Job Opportunities- Fixed term posts, for 12 months only, Housing Demand Service, Ealing Council, in West London. All Grade 9 c£31,368 pa
Some exciting opportunities have been funded, for motivated and creative staff, who both understand the legal and financial framework and are excellent communicators, able to deal confidently with a range of people from vulnerable customers to landlords and solicitors.
The following fixed term posts have been funded for 12 months only, to work together as a small, focussed team to deliver on stringent targets to reduce the use and cost of temporary accommodation. A good understanding of homelessness legislation, an ability to manage a high workload and excellent written and verbal communication skills are needed for all the roles
The roles are:
1 x Housing Solutions Officer. Grade 9
Focusing almost exclusively on working with families in high-cost temporary accommodation, who can no longer afford their housing costs, this post-holder will work within homelessness legislation to move people to suitable and affordable accommodation. This is a very customer-focussed role and strong knowledge of the Housing Act 1996, Part VII is required.
1 x Suitability and Refusals Officer. Advisory Grade 9
This role also requires an excellent knowledge of the law, case law and the homelessness Code of Guidance, with particular reference to the suitability of offers of accommodation. The officer will be expected to apply the law robustly, often because the only affordable and suitable accommodation for some households will be in areas they do not wish to live in. It is essential that candidates can write a carefully reasoned statutory decision letters as well as being able to show empathy to customers who may be distressed at their limited housing choices.
3 x Acquisitions Officer. Grade 9
This role will be required to work alongside existing Officers to acquire new accommodation in the private rented sector. The Officer will need to show high levels of initiative, negotiations and brokering agreements with a wide range of private landlords and agents, developing new relationships in new geographical area and have a solid understanding of how the private rented sector works.
1 x Relocation Officer. Advisory Grade 9
This role will work with existing households in temporary accommodation, especially those accommodated outside of the Borough to find alternative suitable housing. Initially, the post holder will work with a cohort of households in temporary accommodation in East London, then with other areas inside and outside of London. The post holder will have an understanding of Council’s duties to homeless household and be able to develop creative solutions to meeting individual housing needs
If you would like to apply for any these posts, please contact :
Gill Reavey, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Lorna Anderson, email@example.com or
Jack Dempsey, firstname.lastname@example.org,
by Tuesday 1st Sept, specifying which post(s) you are interested in and your relevant experience.
Senior Solicitor (Housing)
Lambeth Law Centre is committed to providing high quality legal advice and representation. It is now recruiting for a full-time Senior Solicitor (Housing).
You will need to have experience of managing a client caseload, providing housing advice and conducting litigation, and a track record of billing legal aid certificated and legal help work, provide overall direction to the legal work of the Law Centre; and to develop, with the Director, new strategies for raising the profile of the Law Centre and its role in the community; take a leading role in developing the community work of the Law Centre; provide line management to the Law Centre’s Caseworkers directly and through a system of team leaders and provide advice and casework in housing and/or community care, with the possibility of combining this work with one of the other areas of Law conducted by the Law Centre, and represent clients in courts and tribunals.
Salary offered: £40,807 full-time.
For queries or to request an application form, email Tara Malcolm at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once completed, send your application to the same email address or by post to:
Tara Malcolm, Lambeth Law Centre, Unit 4 The Co op Centre, 11 Mowll Street, London SW9 6BG.
If you wish to discuss this vacancy, please email the director Michael Tarnoky at email@example.com with your name and telephone number to request a call.
Alternatively, the website link is here
Closing date for applications: 5pm on Monday 7th September 2015.
Lambeth Law Centre is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
Requires a committed Solicitor/authorised litigator
(up to) 37 hours per week
Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau, requires a committed solicitor/authorised litigator to join its expanding specialist casework team. The primary purpose of the role is to undertake delivery of advice and representation under our Legal Aid Agency Contract for Housing & Debt.
The post holder will be required, in particular, to initiate and maintain a significant caseload - to include “certificated” work - with a focus on repossession, disrepair and homelessness challenges, as well as acting as a general source of support to colleagues within the team and the wider organisation. Strong preference will be given to candidates with recent experience of Legal Aid contracts.
- Work in a fast paced but collegiate atmosphere - as part of a team of paid caseworkers , most possessing legal qualifications
- Opportunities , within the scope of legal aid, to help shape/challenge local policies - through the application of legal advice/representation
- An opportunity to work with a growing community of “pro bono” associate solicitor/legal professionals with whom the bureau is working
A full driving licence and own transport is required, or otherwise be able to commute between our branch offices.
For an informal discussion, please feel to contact Martin Lord (Chief Executive) on 01604 235080
Address: Town Centre House, 7-8 Mercers Row, Northampton - NN1 2QL
Salary: £25-28,000 p.a. (pro rata) depending on length of relevant experience.
Closing date: Friday 28th August 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
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
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