Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

29 October 2014 Update


Policy Issues in Housing Law

Social housing fraud

On 23 October 2014 the Audit Commission has published its latest (and last) annual report on action against fraud in local government. It reveals a 15% increase, since last year, in the number of social housing properties recovered from fraudsters. The total number of detected cases of housing tenancy fraud has increased by 92% since 2009/10. For a copy of the report, click here

Housing & anti-social behaviour (1)
On 20 October 2014 most of the new tools and powers introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour etc Act 2014 came into force (but not the new provisions relating to injunctions). For a copy of the official Home Office guidance on the Act, issued to frontline ASB practitioners, click here

For the new material relating to dangerous dogs, click here. For an introduction to the new provisions, written by the CIH’s ASB consultant, click here. For a summary of the new legal tools, click here.

Housing & anti-social behaviour (2)
On 24 October 2014 the Scottish Government published the responses received to its consultation on technical changes to help ASB practitioners use existing anti-social behaviour legislation and systems more effectively. For access to those responses, click here

On 22 October 2014 the House of Commons Library published the latest updates to its two key briefing notes on homelessness. For a copy of Homelessness in England, click here.  For a copy of Homeless households in temporary accommodation (England), click here

Private Renting (1)

On 22 October 2014 Salford Council called for improved sentencing guidance for Magistrates Courts when dealing with prosecutions of rogue private sector landlords. The call followed the imposition of a fine of only £150 on a landlord guilty of serious failures to maintain one of his properties. For more details, click here.

Private Renting (2)

On 24 October 2014 the UK Government published the latest official annual statistics on private sector rents. They show that in Great Britain such rents rose by 1% in the 12 months to September2014. For the full statistical report, click here 

Private Renting (3)

On 21 October 2014 the Welsh Government published the latest official annual statistic on private sector rents in Wales. For that report, click here

Possession Claims
The Supreme Court has been asked to grant permission to appeal from a Court of Appeal judgment which decided that the ‘right to respect for a home’ in Article 8 could not be used to argue that an eviction sought by a private landlord or landowner would be disproportionate. For that judgment, click here. On 16 October 2014, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke, the supervising Lord Justice dealing with appeals to the Court of Appeal from the county court, directed that three similar appeals to the Court of Appeal be stood out of the list pending the decision of the Supreme Court. There are likely to be many other cases similarly stayed in the High court and county courts.

Legal aid for housing cases
On 21 October 2014 a team of housing lawyers, including Connor Johnson (Garden Court Chambers Housing Team), Sara Stephens (Housing Law Practitioners Association) and John Gallagher (Solicitor, Shelter) gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons about the impact of legal aid cuts on access to justice in Housing cases. To watch the evidence session, click here. For further details of the Committee’s inquiry into the legal aid cuts, click here

Social housing tenants
On 20 October 2014 new research was published indicating that, contrary to widespread public perceptions, 74% of social housing tenants who are able to work are in employment. For further details, click here

Housing Benefit (1)
On 17 October 2014 the DWP published its latest General Information Bulletin (HB G10/2014) covering issues and developments relating to Housing Benefit. For a copy, click here.

Housing Benefit (2)
On 22 October 2014 the organisation Rightsnet added digests of five recent ‘bedroom tax’ appeals to the Upper Tribunal to its ‘briefcase’ information service, with links to the judgments. For more details, click here

Discretionary housing payments

The charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) has been granted permission by the High Court to seek a judicial review of the practice of Westminster City Council in making awards of discretionary housing payments subject to conditions relating to work-seeking and finding alternative housing. For more details, click here.

Housing Laws in the Pipeline  

Affordable Homes Bill
This Private Members Bill would (1) introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit) for claimants who are deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes and (2) secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing by the Secretary of State. The bill is currently in its House of Lords Committee Stage which resumed on 29 October 2014. For more details about the bill and its progress, 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. The bill is currently in its House of Lords Committee Stage which resumed on 27 October 2014. For more details about the bill and its progress, 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 is currently in its House of Lords Committee Stage which resumed on 28 October 2014. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here 

Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014-15
This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Sarah Teather MP. Its purpose is to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction and to amend the law on notices requiring possession relating to assured shorthold tenancies. The government has stated that it supports the principles of the Bill which will have its second reading on 28 November 2014. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here.  The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has launched a consideration of the Bill’s proposals and issued a call for the submission of evidence. For more details, click here

Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector) Bill

This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Barbara Keeley MP. Its purpose is to provide that people living in the social housing sector, who are in receipt of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, be entitled to that benefit based on needing an additional bedroom related to caring responsibilities or overnight care. For a copy of the Bill, click here  The Bill’s Commons Second Reading is scheduled for 21 November 2014. For further details, click here.

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Morris v Blackpool Borough Council
24 October 2014
This was an appeal brought by one of over 400 homeowners holding right-to-buy leases granted by the council. The issue was whether the council was entitled to charge certain management and administration charges as part of the service charge recoverable under those leases. The charges related to the services provided by an ALMO. The homeowners had won at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal and lost at the Upper Tribunal. The Court of Appeal rejected a further appeal and upheld the interpretation of the leases advanced by the council. For the judgment, click here

Nzolameso v City of Westminster

22 October 2014
The appellant applied to the council when she became homeless from her private rented home in Westminster. Her five children attended schools and colleges in Westminster and she had a local support group of friends in the council’s area able to assist her when her disabilities prevented her caring for the youngest children. The council accepted the main housing duty and offered her accommodation near Milton Keynes. When it was refused, the council ended its duty. A review and a county court appeal failed. The Court of Appeal dismissed a further appeal. Notwithstanding the Code of Guidance and Housing Act 1996 section 208(1), the council’s decision had not been unlawful. For the judgment, click here 

or a commentary on the judgment, click here

Scott v Southern Pacific Mortgages
22 October 2014
Homeowners each agreed to sell their homes for less than the market price, on terms that they would be granted long term tenancies by the purchasers. The purchases were funded with buy-to-let mortgages. The new owners granted the promised tenancies but some then defaulted on their mortgage repayments. The lenders sought possession. The Supreme Court held that the mortgages took priority over the tenancies. The tenancies had only been granted after the loans and purchases had taken place. For the judgments, click here 

R(Cotton) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
22 October 2014
The claimants received housing benefit. Each had shared care of a child who stayed with them for about half the time (and the other half of the time with the other parent). They retained a bedroom for the child’s use. Each was then affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ rules on benefits for spare bedrooms. They sought a judicial review, contending that the benefit rules breached Articles 8 and 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 and/or were irrational. The High court dismissed the claim. For the judgment, click here . For a commentary on the judgment, click here

JL v United Kingdom
30 September 2014
The applicant faced eviction from her home.  She had no security of tenure and her right to occupy had ended. Her Article 8 right to respect for that home was not considered at the trial and possession was ordered.  She sought judicial review of the decision to seek to enforce the possession order. The High Court held that she could, exceptionally, raise her Article 8 rights at the enforcement stage but it found that her claim failed on the facts. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal.  The European Court of Human Rights ruled that her application to it was inadmissible. The lack of a proportionality assessment at the possession order stage had been made good at the later stage. For the judgment, click here

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Local welfare provision in 2015 to 2016
Parts of the discretionary Social Fund were abolished by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the new local welfare schemes adopted by local authorities replaced Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans. On 10 October 2014 DCLG and the DWP opened a consultation seeking views on how local welfare provision should be funded in 2015 to 2016. Closing date: 21 November 2014. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here 

The DCLG is consulting on new planning restrictions which will affect gypsies and travellers without authorised sites. In addition to the formal consultation paper, there is an easy read version and an equality assessment. Closing date: 23 November 2014. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here 

Consultation on a New Tenancy for the Private Sector
The Scottish Government is consulting on new arrangements for security of tenure and/or rent control in the private rented sector. Closing date: 28 December 2014. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here



Watchdog fines council £1000 for pregnant woman ‘gatekeeping’ by Heather Spurr Inside Housing 21 October 2014. To read the article, click here

The private rented sector divide
by Pete Apps Inside Housing 23 October 2014. To read the article, click here 

Lower benefit cap would ‘push affordable rents out of reach’
by Pete Apps Inside Housing 23 October 2014. To read the article, click here 


29 October 2014
The Supreme Court will hand down its judgment in R(Moseley) v Haringey LBC concerning consultation requirements for local authorities (about the adoption of a council tax reduction scheme). For more details, click here.

31 October 2014
The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) Regulations 2014 come into force in Wales. For a copy of the regulations, click here


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