14th April 2021
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HOUSING LAW NEWS & POLICY ISSUES
 

Benefits system and homelessness: Homeless Link report
On 9 April 2021 Homeless Link published a report looking at the links between the benefits system and homelessness, with a particular focus on London. It concludes that a lack of available, affordable accommodation will make it difficult to move people on from emergency accommodation after the pandemic. A combination of the frozen Local Housing Allowance and the benefits cap means that people simply cannot afford the property that is available. The report calls on the government to: 

  • Continue to link the LHA to the 30th percentile of rents in the private rented sector 
  • Extend the Universal Credit uplift for the next financial year at a minimum 
  • Reform the benefits cap so that it does not put anyone at risk of homelessness inside or outside of London 
  • Invest in sufficient new affordable housing and move on accommodation in London   
  • Ensure work coaches are able to have more tailored communication with individuals and develop a more personalised approach to their needs
  • Explicitly recognise homelessness within the welfare benefit system so that people can benefit from personalised support plans that are appropriate for their situation. 

For the report, click here.

Housing Possession Mediation Service: guidance
On 7 April 2021 the HMCLG published guidance for the Housing Possession Mediation Service. In February 2021, a new mediation pilot was introduced as part of the current court process for housing possession cases. The mediation pilot is free to use for landlords and tenants involved in a housing possession court case and helps resolve cases without the need for a face to face court hearing. For the guidance, click here.

Housing Ombudsman’s Resident Panel
On 8 April 2021 the Housing Ombudsman announced that it had set up a pool of 600 members who will be able to take part in a range of activities. It had initially been planned that there would be 100 members of the Resident Panel but the response exceeded expectations. There will be two full meetings a year focused on key areas of work such as the Ombudsman’s corporate plan and business plan together with special interest discussions on awareness raising, service development and learning at smaller meetings. Panel members will also be asked for their views through surveys and questionnaires. For more details, click here.

Asylum accommodation: use of military sites
On 31 March 2021 the Commons Home Affairs Committee published correspondence from the Home Office in relation to the use of former military sites, notably at Napier and Penally, for asylum accommodation. In response to the correspondence from the Home Office, the Committee Chair, Yvette Cooper, said:

“It is unacceptable for the Home Secretary to claim that the sites were set up ‘in such a way as to be safe’ when we know that there was an outbreak of 197 Covid cases in one of these sites during the winter and that clinically vulnerable people were being housed in dormitory accommodation during a public health crisis.”

For the correspondence and Ms Cooper’s full response, click here.

Private rented sector: Commons Select Committee report
On 31 March 2021 the Commons Housing Communities and Local Government Committee published a report finding that repeated, last minute extensions to the ban on evictions must be replaced by a coherent exit plan to help the private rented sector emerge from lockdown. The government, it said, will need to establish a system of financial support for renters who have amassed significant rent arrears during the covid-19 pandemic, and should bring forward its preferred model for doing so as soon as practicable. For the report, click here. For a summary, click here. For the report’s conclusions and recommendations, click here. For the response of Crisis, click here.

Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act
On 7 April 2021 the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill received Royal Assent. The new Act amends the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 to provide greater security for people who rent their homes in Wales. This will particularly affect those who live in the private rented sector and occupy their homes under a ‘standard occupation contract’, the equivalent to the current assured shorthold tenancy, after the 2016 Act comes into force. This additional security will primarily be achieved by extending the minimum notice period for issuing a section 173 notice under the 2016 Act (the equivalent of the current section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988) from two months to six months. Landlords will also be prevented from issuing such a notice until at least six months from the date of occupancy. Further provisions will also ensure that landlords are unable to issue rolling ‘speculative’ notices on a ‘just in case’ basis. For the Act, click here. For progress of the legislation through the Senedd, click here.

Social Housing Lettings: April to September 2020 – England
On 31 March 2021 the MHCLG published data on new social housing lettings in England from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020. During that period:

  • There were 76,000 new social lettings, a decrease of 49,000 or 39 per cent compared with the same months of the previous year.
  • The number of new social lettings in April 2020 decreased to a quarter of the number seen the previous April. Then they rebounded in summer 2020 but to lower levels than in summer 2019.
  • First lets of new properties decreased slightly. They comprised 41 per cent of new Affordable lets, compared to 44 per cent in the same period of the previous year.
  • Properties were vacant for longer, with an average of 29 vacant days, compared to 17 days the previous year.
  • The length of time households were on the waiting list before getting a new tenancy was stable.
  • Domestic abuse was the primary reason for leaving last home for 7 per cent of households (1 percentage point increase). Those asked to leave by family and friends increased from 10 per cent to 12 per cent.

For the full data, click here.

Promoting vaccination among traveller and houseboat communities – Wiltshire
On 7 April 2021 the Local Government Association published a case study showing how Wiltshire Council targeted groups at risk of low uptake of the Covid vaccine, including homeless, traveller and houseboat communities. For the case study, click here.

Domestic Abuse Bill: Progress of the Bill
On 15 April 2021 the House of Commons is due to consider Lords amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill. The full list of amendments is available on the Parliament website – for which, click here – together with Explanatory Notes; for which, click here. The House of Commons Library has published a briefing providing full background to the Bill. To view the briefing, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here.

‘Londoners need a Mayor for Rent Controls’: Generation Rent
On 1 April 2021 Generation Rent published analysis finding that rent on a typical two-bedroom home in London costs some 45 per cent of a full-time salary. On the same date the organisation published a manifesto for London which called on the winning Mayoral candidate to commit to:

  • Build 60,000 new homes to house people currently in temporary accommodation
  • Regulate illegal year-round holiday lets that take homes out of the long term market
  • Take action with the Metropolitan Police to tackle illegal evictions
  • Join the campaign for reform of the private rented sector by the government in Westminster.

For the manifesto, click here. For more details of Generation Rent’s analysis, referred to above, click here.

Help to Buy – Wales: property information form
On 9 April 2021 the Welsh Government published an updated version of the property information form for Help to Buy applications. For the form, click here.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry
On 1 April 2021 the Grenfell Tower Inquiry published its March Newsletter proving a digest of: resumption of limited attendance hearings; Inquiry team diversity statistics; disclosure figures; support arrangements during Easter period; contact information; and drop-in sessions. For the newsletter, click here.

Rogue landlords and banning orders
On 5 April 2021 the Guardian reported that a Freedom of Information request to the MHCLG had revealed that only 39 landlords and agents have received banning orders under measures introduced three years ago which empowered local authorities to issue such orders to the most serious offending landlords and agents operating in their communities. For the report, click here.

Vagrancy Act reform
On 11 April 2021 i news reported that the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick had confirmed in a letter to Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP, that the government would not make any changes to the Vagrancy Act until later this year at the earliest. He said: “[T]he Vagrancy Act needs to be considered carefully to assess whether more appropriate legislation could be brought forward to preserve elements of the act that if removed, may otherwise hamper the ability of the police to deal with certain behaviours. We need to ensure that legislation creates the right environment in which to deliver effective services and engage with vulnerable people constructively.” For the report, click here. For an article calling for the abolition of the Act, click here.
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
 

Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act
This Act amends the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 to provide greater security for people who rent their homes in Wales. This will particularly affect those who live in the private rented sector and occupy their homes under a ‘standard occupation contract’, the equivalent to the current assured shorthold tenancy, after the 2016 Act comes into force. This additional security will primarily be achieved by extending the minimum notice period for issuing a section 173 notice under the 2016 Act (the equivalent of the current section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988) from two months to six months. Landlords will also be prevented from issuing such a notice until at least six months from the date of occupancy. Further provisions will also ensure that landlords are unable to issue rolling ‘speculative’ notices on a ‘just in case’ basis. Royal Assent was given on 7 April 2021. For the Act, click here. For impact assessments, click here. For progress of the legislation through the Senedd, click here.

Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill
This Government bill would amend the electronic communications code set out in Schedule 3A to the Communications Act 2003; by doing so, it would address one stated policy barrier: making it easier for telecoms companies to access multi-dwelling buildings (such as blocks of flats) where a tenant has requested a new connection, but the landlord has not responded to requests for access rights. Both Houses have agreed on the text of the bill which now waits for the final stage of Royal Assent when the Bill will become an Act of Parliament. Royal Assent is yet to be scheduled. For the bill, as amended by the Lords, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here. For a briefing, prepared by the House of Commons Library after second reading in the House of Commons, click here.

Mobile Homes Act 1983 (Amendment) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope, seeks to amend the Mobile Homes Act 1983. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been yet further postponed to a date to be announced. For the bill as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Fire Safety Bill
This Government bill would make provision about the application of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises; and would confer power to amend that order in future for the purposes of changing the premises to which it applies. The bill completed its final stages in the House of Commons on 7 September 2020. It received its first reading in the House of Lords on 8 September 2020 and its second reading on 1 October 2020. The committee stage was completed on 29 October 2020. The report stage took place on 17 November 2020. The third reading took place on 24 November 2020. The House of Lords returned the Bill to the House of Commons with amendments. The House of Commons considered the Lords Amendments on the floor of the House on 24 February 2021. The House of Lords considered the Commons amendments to the Bill on 17 March 2021. Outstanding issues on the bill were returned to the Commons for consideration. The Commons considered the Lords message on the Bill on 22 March 2021 and have returned the Bill to the Lords as they disagreed with certain Lords amendments. The Lords will next consider the bill on 19 April 2021. For the bill, as amended on report, click here. To read debates on all stages of the bill, click here. For a briefing paper, published by the House of Commons Library on 19 March 2021, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Housing and Homelessness (Local Accommodation Duty) Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Karen Buck, would place a duty on local authorities to ensure that persons for whom a homeless duty has been accepted are accommodated in the local area, including on discharge into private rented accommodation; and would require local authorities to publish annual reports on steps relating to housing demand and supply taken or intended to be taken to meet that duty. The bill had its first reading on 8 March 2021 and is due to have a second reading on a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Supported Accommodation Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Steve McCabe, would require developers to disclose for planning purposes an intention to use a building for supported housing or other accommodation that is specified for the purposes of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit; establish a suitability test for accommodation proposed for such use; and make provision about the fitness of persons to be landlords or managers of supported or other specified accommodation. The bill had its first reading on 18 November 2020 and is due to have its second reading on a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Supported Housing (Regulation) Bill
This private member's bill, sponsored by Kerry McCarthy, would regulate supported housing; make provision about local authority oversight and the enforcement of standards of accommodation and support in supported housing; and prohibit the placing of children in care in unregulated accommodation. It received its first reading on 11 November 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Domestic Properties (Minimum Energy Performance) Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Sir David Amess, would require the Secretary of State to ensure that domestic properties have a minimum energy performance rating of C on an Energy Performance Certificate; to give the Secretary of State powers to require persons to take action in pursuance of that duty. The first reading was on 14 July 2020 and the second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Sublet Property (Offences) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope, would make the breach of certain rules relating to sub-letting rented accommodation a criminal offence and would make provision for criminal sanctions in respect of unauthorised sub-letting. The bill is being prepared for publication. It received its first reading on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been yet further postponed to a date to be announced. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Mobile Homes and Park Homes Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope, would require the use of published criteria to determine whether mobile homes and park homes are liable for council tax or non-domestic rates; make provision in relation to the residential status of such homes; and amend the Mobile Home Acts. The bill is being prepared for publication. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been yet further postponed to a date to be announced. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Houses in Multiple Occupation Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Ian Levy, would amend the law relating to the licensing of houses in multiple occupation and increase penalties for the contravention of such licences. The bill received its first reading on 9 September 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Homeless People (Current Accounts) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Peter Bone, would require banks to provide current accounts for homeless people seeking work. The bill is being prepared for publication. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Caravan Sites Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope, would amend the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 to remove planning permission requirements for caravan site licence applicants. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. For the bill as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Asylum Seekers (Accommodation Eviction Procedures) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Chris Stephens, would make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal and would establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities. The first reading was on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been postponed to a date to be announced. The bill is being prepared for publication. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Layla Moran, would repeal the Vagrancy Act 1824. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 18 March 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. For the bill as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Lord Foster of Bath, would require the Secretary of State to ensure that domestic properties have a minimum energy performance rating of C on an Energy Performance Certificate; to make provision regarding performance and insulation of new heating systems in existing properties. The first reading was on 8 January 2020 and the second reading on 7 February 2020. The committee stage will commence on a date to be appointed. For the bill, as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Rented Homes Bill
This private member’s bill, sponsored by Baroness Grender, would amend the Housing Act 1988 to abolish assured shorthold tenancies; and to extend the grounds upon which landlords of residential housing may recover possession. First reading took place on 22 January 2020. The second reading will be on a date to be announced. For the bill, as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Evictions (Universal Credit Claimants) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Chris Stephens, seeks to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears. The bill is being prepared for publication. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

Housing Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill
This private members’ bill, sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope, seeks to amend Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 to provide that any selective licensing scheme for residential accommodation extends to social housing. The bill is being prepared for publication. It received its first reading on 10 February 2020. The second reading has been further postponed to a date to be announced. To follow progress of the bill, click here.

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NEW HOUSING CASES
 

Ibrahim v London Borough of Haringey & Anor [2021] EWHC 731 (QB)

Allowing an appeal against the decision of the county court, Mr Justice Lane, sitting in the High Court, held that the judge at first instance was wrong, when deciding an application for interim relief, to make a finding that disposed of the Claimant's entire substantive case.

Facts

The Claimant was a rough sleeper in London. He approached the First Defendant in order to seek accommodation. He had signed what purported to be an agreement for the provision of "Temporary Accommodation provided under Licence to an Occupier for Homelessness Assistance under s. 188(1) or s. 190(2) Housing Act 1996 Part VII Homelessness". Amongst other matters, the agreement specified a £45 charge per night, that it was a licence to occupy for as long as the local authority permitted on a temporary B&B type basis, and that the Claimant agreed the local authority was not required to obtain a court order to evict him.

It was common ground, however, that the flat provided under the agreement was not temporary accommodation pursuant to s.188(1) or s.190 Housing Act 1996 as the Claimant did not have status in the UK and might have remained eligible for asylum support accommodation.

The county court proceedings

The Claimant brought a claim asserting that he had been granted either a tenancy or a licence of the flat, and in either case, under sections 79 to 81 of the Housing Act 1985, the agreement of 12 May 2020 created a secure tenancy or secure licence. He also claimed damages in respect of an alleged attempted illegal eviction on 14 May 2020 and an interim injunction for re-admittance to the flat and preventing any further eviction attempt.

At a first ex-parte hearing, the injunction was granted forbidding the Defendants from excluding the Claimant from the property or in any way interfering with his quiet enjoyment of it. At the return on notice hearing, the circuit judge dismissed the interim injunction application, holding that there was no serious issue to be tried, and in so doing found that there was no intention to create legal relations between the Claimant and the local authority. The order recited the court's finding “that the parties did not enter into any legal relationship".

The appeal

The central question on appeal was whether the judge was entitled to frame the recitals to the order in such a way that he had, in fact, disposed of the substantive claim.

On appeal, the First Defendant contended in favour of the effect of the judge’s order on the basis that applying the overriding objective, courts should be readier to make substantive decisions without a full trial.

Lane J, however, noted the essence of the overriding objective was dealing with cases justly. In cases where the court considered it possible that "final" findings might be made on an interim application, it had to ensure that the parties and their representatives "squarely grasped" that possibility and had the opportunity to address it [at 42]. In the present case, neither advocate had embarked upon the injunction hearing with such an expectation.

Moreover, whilst the test for summary judgment and interim relief might appear similar (no serious question to be tried/ no real prospect of succeeding on the claim or issue), there existed a number of important features in the summary judgment procedure that were not present in the interim relief procedure [at 52]. In the circumstances, Lane J found that there was real procedural unfairness to the Claimant, the breach of which itself was such as to require the lower court’s dismissal of the substantive claim to be set aside.

Lane J then went on to consider whether the judge at first instance had erred in concluding that there was no serious issue to be tried. Lane J was firmly of the view the judge did so err and considered that there was potentially a serious question to be tried on the issue of the intention to create legal relations [at 55]. There was also an argument as to whether R(N) v Lewisham [2014] UKSC 62 applied to accommodation not self-evidently provided pursuant to s.188 Housing Act 1996. Thus, the judge was alternatively wrong to find that there was no properly arguable case to go to trial.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed and the part of the lower order that had the effect of dismissing the Claimant’s case was set aside.

Summary by Henry Percy-Raine, barrister, Trinity Chambers. For the full judgment, click here.

 

Imam v London Borough of Croydon [2021] EWHC 739 (Admin)

This was a judicial review regarding the Defendant’s failure to provide suitable accommodation for the Claimant pursuant to its duty under section 193(2) of the Housing Act 1996. The Defendant admitted that it was in breach of its statutory duty.

The issues raised by the Grounds upon which the Claim was brought were as follows:

i.          Ground 1: What relief should be granted to the Claimant in respect of the Defendant’s admitted breach of its statutory duty?.

ii.          Ground 2: Was the Defendant in breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments for the Claimant as a disabled person, contrary to the relevant provisions of Equality Act?

iii.         Ground 3: Had the Defendant unlawfully failed to consider the Claimant for Band 1 priority under its housing policy and/or a direct offer on a discretionary basis?

The Claim succeeded on Ground 3. The court made a declaration that the Defendant unlawfully failed to determine the Claimant’s request that she be given Band 1 priority within its Part 6 Scheme.

Background

The claimant is a wheelchair user in priority Band 3 for permanent housing. She lives in an adapted property allocated to her as temporary accommodation in 2014.

Soon after moving in the Claimant requested a review of the suitability of the property, contending that it was not suitable for a wheelchair user as the bathroom was not adapted and she was unable to manoeuvre around the property, amongst other reasons. The Claimant had continued to be offered assurances regarding the provision of suitable property; however, two other properties she had viewed did not meet her particular needs.

The Defendant relied upon the statement of an experienced housing operations manager which set out their efforts to assist the Claimant and concluded ‘the only way of solving the problem in the Claimant’s case is for the Defendant to commit significantly more resources to delivering an increased supply of housing, something which he describes as “ultimately a political question”, or for the Claimant to be prioritised over other applicants’ [21(xi)].

Judgment

Ground 1

The court found that there had not been a breach of the PSED. The Defendant’s disability had been at the heart of the Defendant’s decision-making and its policies gave due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity [58].

It found that although the Defendant was in breach of its statutory duty in exercising its discretion, a mandatory order should not be made for the following reasons:

i.          There is a spectrum of seriousness in terms of the range of possible breaches of the duty under section 193(2). The court referred to the House of Lords decision in Birmingham City Council v Ali & Others [2009] UKHL 36 in this regard. It found that the property has many features which make it suitable for the Claimant. There was no evidence before the court of the effect upon the Claimant of her current living conditions. This was needed despite the breach being admitted, as it is relevant in determining relief. 

ii.          The Defendant had continued to attempt to comply with its statutory duty and considered ways in which it could remedy the breach.

iii.         The fact that the housing shortage makes it unlikely a property will be found soon enhances the case for a mandatory order (M v Newham at [119]).

iv.         The effluxion of time is not of itself determinative. All circumstances should be considered, including the impact of the accommodation on the claimant.

v.         The resources of the Defendant are relevant. There was no challenge here to the budgeting decisions of the council. The court in making an order would be requiring the Defendant to spend money it did not have or divert funds from other services.

vi.         Though this Claimant was not seeking an order under part 6 of the Act, the court considered this and found that granting such an order would have the impact of displacing an applicant higher up on the waiting list and would be unfair.

vii.        Requiring the Defendant to provide a property to the Claimant under part 7 of the act (temporary accommodation) would similarly impact others who are waiting.

viii.       The case can be distinguished from M v Newham as the Defendant had provided detailed evidence of their ongoing efforts and limited resources, and there is a lack of information regarding the impact upon the Claimant.

The court referred throughout to the failure of the Claimant to evidence any hardship, or fully detail the current impact that her housing situation was having upon her. The clear indication for future applicants to the court is that the case will have significantly more force where such evidence is made available.

Ground 2

The duty to make reasonable adjustments under section 20 of the Equality Act arises, in this context, from the application of a provision, criterion or practice (“PCP”). The Claimant took issue with the allocations scheme for temporary and permanent accommodation and the procurement of accommodation for use as temporary accommodation.

The court found that the scarcity of suitable housing and lengthy delay were found not to, in and of themselves, demonstrate any substantial disadvantage resulting from the application of the PCPs that are relied on, when compared to a non-disabled housing applicant.

Ground 3

In light of the two viewings the Claimant had attended, it was found that the Defendant had considered making a direct offer to the Claimant.

However, the court noted a lack of evidence that the Defendant had given any consideration to the Claimant’s requests to be considered for Band 1 priority made in 2018 and 2020 and post-dated by several years the Defendant’s decision, made in 2015, to place the Claimant in Band 3.

Whilst the court did not express any view on the merits of the Claimant’s request, it was clear that the Defendant had acted unlawfully in failing to consider it.

Summary by Parissa Najah, barrister, Trinity Chambers. For the full judgment, click here.

R (On the Application of Imam) v The London Borough of Croydon [2021] EWHC 736 (Admin)

In this case, linked to the case of Imam v London Borough of Croydon [2021] EWHC 739 (Admin) (see above), the court considered the Claimant’s application under CPR 39.2(4) that her name be anonymised in these proceedings by using a cipher and that restrictions should be imposed on the reporting of her identity.

This judgment was handed down at the same time as the trial judgment and should be read in conjunction with it. The Claimant made the application on the basis that she did not wish to be caused embarrassment by details of her difficulties with continence and resulting requirement for a downstairs bathroom being published. The Defendant maintained its position that it was neutral on the issue.

The court highlighted that such an order should not be made simply because the parties to the litigation consent to it, with reference to the specific wording of the CPR [9-10].

The court considered the case of XXX v Camden [2020] EWCA Civ 1468 in which the Court of Appeal considered the protection for freedom of expression within section 12 of the Human Rights Act and the fundamental rule of common law that proceedings must be heard in public, and the balancing of these principles against the interests of the parties. At [25], Dingemans LJ rejected the Claimant’s argument that section 166(4) of the Housing Act 1996, which provides that “the fact that a person is an applicant for an allocation of housing accommodation shall not be divulged (without his consent) to any other member of the public”, mandated a different result in housing cases from that arrived at by the application of the principles which he had already discussed.

The court was also directed to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Moss v Information Commissioner [2020] EWCA Civ 580, in which the court assessed the balance between the right to respect for private and family life protected by Article 8 of the ECHR, and Freedom of Expression, protected by Article 10.

Judgment

The court accepted that an application under CPR39.2(4) could be made at any time in proceedings, including after publication of the judgment, though it found that the stage proceedings had reached might be a factor considered when conducting the balancing exercise and was found to be relevant here [35].

The court was clear that the burden would be upon the party making the application and noted that here there was no evidence in support of the application, with no statement from the Claimant and nothing from any medical or expert witness. It was noted that the case was therefore based on general submissions regarding the humiliation the Claimant might face and there was no suggestion of any impact upon her health [29-30].  

The court found that the fact of there not being media interest in the case, did not diminish the importance of the fundamental principle of open justice [33].

The court further found it to be relevant that the Claimant had brought the claim, and thereby could be taken to have accepted the public nature of proceedings. The submission that this discriminates against disabled applicants was rejected on the basis that claimants can adduce evidence to displace the general rule that proceedings are public [34].

The court therefore concluded that it was not necessary to make an order under CPR39.2(4).

Summary by Parissa Najah, barrister, Trinity Chambers. For the full judgment, click here.

HOUSING LAW CONSULTATIONS
 

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 Draft Regulations
The Welsh Government is consulting on:

  • draft model written statements regulations, including the design, structure and order of the model written statements
  • draft explanatory information regulations for written statements.

The consultation ends on 16 June 2021. For the consultation document, click here. For the draft regulations, click here.

NEW HOUSING LAW ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
 

Housing case law update – March 2021 Paul Lloyd, Helen Gascoigne and Catherine Craven Local Government Lawyer 30 March 2021 – to read the article, click here

UK housing crisis: how did owning a home become unaffordable? Lydia McMullan, Hilary Osborne, Garry Blight and Pamela Duncan Guardian 31 March 2021 – to read the article, click here

Too soon? Asserting a tenancy should not have been dismissed at interim injunction Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 4 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Between repairs and structural defects Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 4 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

A bundle of case notes Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 5 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

CPR 81: the new contempt of court rules [including coverage of ASB]
Aston Kazlauskas Devonshires 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Dealing with Hoarding during the Coronavirus crisis Anna Bennett Devonshires 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Flexible tenancies appear decidedly inflexible following recent Court of Appeal decision Rebecca Brady Devonshires 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Better late than never: round two Alexander Campbell Local Government Lawyer 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Changes to the Notices of Seeking Possession Donna McCarthy Devonshires 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Alternative dispute resolution and the Housing Ombudsman Matthew Lake Local Government Lawyer 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) Anna Bennett Devonshires 6 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Too much, too soon Justin Bates Local Government Lawyer 7 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Demand fair renting for Bristol Daisy Picking Shelter Blog 7 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Landlord power is not just bad for tenants. It harms homeowners, too David Renton Guardian 10 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Housing as a human right Callum ChomczukCIH Blog 12 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Hackney temporary accommodation residents come together to call for change Tyrone Scott Shelter Blog 12 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Scrap the Vagrancy Act Sue Christoforou Homeless Link 12 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Local and mayoral elections: is the government listening? Paul Hackett CIH Blog 13 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

How can London’s next mayor tackle housing market inequality? Reshima Sharma Shelter Blog 13 April 2021 – to read the article, click here

Housing: recent developments (April 21) Jan Luba QC and Sam Madge-Wyld Legal Action February 2021 – to read the article (subscription required), click here
HOUSING LAW DIARY
 

15 April 2021                                        
The House of Commons will consider Lords amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill (see Housing Law News and Policy Issues)

19 April 2021                                        
The House of Lords will consider amendments made by the Commons to the Fire Safety Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline)

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RECRUITMENT


Featured Job of the Week

Housing Options Officer
Central Bedfordshire Council

In Housing Solutions, we deliver Housing Options services to people, in particular the vulnerable and homeless, whilst helping the Council meet its statutory duties. 

You will be providing a comprehensive and specialist housing advice service to members of the public.  Duties will include:

  • making use of all available housing resources to advise customers of all their housing options as well as their legal rights
  • assessing applications in accordance with the homelessness legislation and all the available resources to discharge the council’s statutory homelessness duties
  • develop personal housing plans
  • conducting robust enquiries to establish the housing duties owed to customer
  • negotiating with landlords, helping applicants find alternative housing options, identifying support needs and putting practical measures in place to find solutions for customers who are homeless or threatened with homelessness


Planning and organisational skills are essential and the ability to effectively plan, prioritise and organise a case load is required.  Experience of assessing applications under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and part 7 of the 1996 Housing Act is desirable. 
 
To find out more contact niasia.blair@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk 

To apply, click here

 
 
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Great Yarmouth Borough Council
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London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
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Income Recovery – Apprentice
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Housing Options & Homeless Prevention Officer
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Principal Private Sector Housing Practitioner
Hillingdon Council
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Hillingdon Council
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Senior Housing Standards Officer
South Kesteven District Council
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Lettings Officer
South Kesteven District Council
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