Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

8th July 2015 Update

Lime Legal ’s
Social Housing Tenancy Agreements Conference 2015

London , Friday 9 October 2015

conference for everyone who has to draft, administer, interpret or enforce social housing tenancy agreements.

For details click here


Homelessness (1)
On 29 June 2015, when responding to questions about homelessness in England, the Under-Secretary for Communities said that, in relation to the use of B&B accommodation, “a small number of authorities—about 5%—account for 80% of the breaches. We are taking this very seriously and are absolutely clear that the long-term use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for families with children is unacceptable and unlawful.” Later he said: “Some excellent work is going on, with some authorities helping [private tenants] to avoid homelessness. I want to build on the good work that has been done, to ensure that nobody is made homeless as a result of an assured shorthold tenancy.” For the exchanges, click here  Earlier the same Minister had said: “The homelessness legislation in England provides one of the strongest safety nets in the world for families with children and vulnerable people who become homeless through no fault of their own” (Written Question UIN 488, answered on 3 June 2015)

Homelessness (2)
New research commissioned by the homelessness charity CRISIS shows that tackling homelessness early could save between £3,000 and £18,000 for every person helped: At what cost? An estimation of the financial costs of single homelessness in the UK. For a copy of the research report, click here

Homelessness (3)
A newly updated Commons Library Briefing Note explains how each of the four UK countries responds to homelessness. For a copy, click here.

Housing Lawyers
On 1 July 2015, at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards, the Housing category was won by solicitor Jayesh Kunwardia of Hodge Jones and Allen. For his details, click here   The Newcomer category was won by Housing Rights barrister Connor Johnston of Garden Court Chambers. For his details, click here

Right to Buy
On 29 June 2015, when responding to questions about the use of right to buy receipts in England to fund replacement social housing, the Secretary of State said: “Local authorities have three years from the date of sale of each home to replace the property. In the first year following the reinvigoration of the right to buy, there were 3,053 additional sales. Within two years—by the end of 2014-15—3,337 replacements were started or acquired.”  For the exchanges, click here  A few days earlier, the Housing Minister had explained that: “Statistics on quarterly Right to Buy replacement starts of dwellings for each local authority district in England are published in the Department’s live table 693 (to access that click here).The estimates of ‘replacement’ starts on site and acquisitions are a proxy for the number of replacement homes delivered using Right to Buy receipts.” (Written Question UIN 3462, answered on 25 June 2015)

Extending the Right to Buy
There has been considerable speculation as to the legal basis on which the Government will be able to compel housing associations and housing trusts to sell their homes at a discount. Pressed to disclose the legal advice that the Government had received, the Housing Minister said: “The Government’s legal analysis surrounding the extension of the right to buy for housing association tenants will be explained when its legislative proposals are brought before the House.” (Written Question UIN 1060, answered on 8 June 2015). News reports suggest that Guinness Housing, the Peabody Trust, Affinity Sutton and Southern Housing met recently with housing lawyers to understand how the policy would affect their historic charitable stock. For further details, click here

Private Sector Rents
Data captured in the course of rent officers’ statutory responsibilities in functions related to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit – on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions – is used to produce the official statistics on rents in the private rental market. For the statistics covering 2014/14, click here

‘Bedroom Tax’
Asked about the impact of the social rented sector size criteria, a UK Government Minister said on 16 June 2015: “Across the seven months between May and December 2013, around 22,000 households affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy either moved to the private sector or downsized within the social rented sector. The final independent evaluation report will be published later this year. This will provide more up-to-date information on how people are responding to the policy.” For the exchanges, click here

Housing & Children
On 1 July 2015, the four United Kingdom Children’s Commissioners published their joint report for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s examination of the UK’s Fifth Periodic Report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It reports that “in some parts of the UK there is insufficient affordable decent housing which has led to poorer children living in inadequate housing and in temporary accommodation” and it spells out the housing circumstances of children in the UK. For a copy of the report, click here

Shared Ownership
Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Kent and York have produced a new report “Exploring experiences of shared ownership housing (July 2015)” For a copy, click here

Tenancy Deposits
Even MPs can find it difficult to recover deposits from former landlords or their letting agents. Local press reports suggest that a landlord’s refusal to return a tenancy deposit led to Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams having her office credit cards temporarily suspended by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. For more details, click here

Housing Benefit
The July issue of the DWP’s Housing Benefit Direct covers Housing Benefit subsidy, Personal Independence Payments and Single Fraud Investigation Service. For a copy, click here

Discretionary Housing Payments
A newly updated Commons Library Briefing Note explains the facts about DHPs. For a copy, click here

Property Disputes
The Civil Justice Council has set up a new working group on property disputes – chaired by Siobhan McGrath, President of the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. For details of the terms of reference and membership of the group, click here

Involvement in Housing Policy Issues
A new report from Housing Rights sets out fresh thinking on including ‘easy to ignore’ groups in housing policy and strategy development. For the Executive Summary, click here  For the full report click here

Housing & the Disabled
The organisation Habinteg has published a free briefing note explaining the important changes taking place to Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funding. For a copy, click here. For the record of the Commons Parliamentary Debate on welfare reforms and people with disabilities held on 30 June 2015, click here  For the briefing note provided for the debate by the Commons Library, 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

Housing Bill
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’.

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



Complaint against Exeter City Council
31 March 2015 (published 1 July 2015)
The complainant (Ms J) left the family home with her two sons and stayed in a women’s refuge. When asked to leave, she applied to the council as homeless. A council officer interviewed her and decided she was not homeless, because she had a home she could return to. The officer printed off a decision letter and gave it to Ms J, together with a leaflet about sleeping on the street. The Ombudsman found that the Council: did not make enquiries before issuing its ‘not homeless’ decision; did not make enquiries when it began to review this decision; closed the case prematurely when Ms J did not attend an interview, without considering her known temporary absence from the area or her vulnerability; did not identify Ms J’s sons as children ‘in need’ or make a referral to local children’s services; took too long to complete its review of the homelessness decision; and did not seek or take account of all relevant information when carrying out this review. The Ombudsman recommended that the council pay Ms J £1600 with a further £200 to each of her sons. For the report, click here

Complaint against Herefordshire Council
30 March 2015 (published 1 July 2015)
The complainant (Mr X) was given notice to leave his private rented sector accommodation and approached the council for assistance. The Ombudsman found that there was no fault in the council advising him to stay in his flat until his landlord got a possession order. But the council failed to clearly explain to him he might have to pay his landlord’s costs. This was a fault. For the report, click here  

Complaint against Haringey LBC
31 March 2015 (published 1 July 2015)
The complainant was homeless and was owed the main housing duty. She bid under the council’s choice based letting scheme but was not successful. The council then auto-bid for her and offered her a property as a direct let. She accepted it reluctantly and immediately applied for a review. The Ombudsman found that the council delayed unreasonably in dealing with a review of the suitability of the accommodation (and in identifying a suitable alternative property when the review succeeded). The complainant lived in unsuitable accommodation for seven months longer than necessary. The Council agreed to pay £1,400 to recognise this injustice. For the report, click here

Brent Council v Douglas Gerard-Reynolds
23 June 2015
The defendant was a private landlord operating a house in multiple occupation. Council officers found that there were 16 tenants living at the property. It was in a bad condition with dangerous electric wiring and an unsafe ceiling which could have collapsed. The defendant did not have an HMO licence for the property. At Willesden Magistrates’ Court, a £6,500 fine was imposed. The total, with costs added, was £8,643 For details of the prosecution, click here  For a prosecution, earlier this year, of the same landlord in respect of another of his properties, click here  

Linda Noyes v Medway Council
June 2015
The appellant landlord owns 270 properties managed by HRH Estates, a company owned by her husband. As reported in Housing Law Week (25 March 2015) she was convicted in her absence and fined for multiple breaches of improvement notices served by the council. At Maidstone Crown Court, her appeals against conviction and sentence were allowed. The notices had been invalid. For further details, click here

Oxford City Council v Letting Centre Oxford Ltd
8 June 2015
The defendant was an Oxfordshire property letting company. A council inspection found that it was managing an HMO that was unlicensed and which failed to comply with fire safety requirements. The property had a missing fire door and locks on doors that could stop occupants escaping if there was a fire. Darren Hazell, a director of the company, pleaded guilty to being in control of an unlicensed HMO and was fined £5,000 for failing to obtain a licence. He also pleaded guilty to one breach of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and received a fine of £2,000. The Council was awarded its full costs of £1,140. For details of the prosecution, click here

Healy v Revenue & Customs [No.2]
28 May 2015
The taxpayer was an actor living in Cheshire. He was commissioned to appear in a London play until September 2005. In April 2005 he took an assured tenancy of a three bedroom flat near the theatre. He claimed that the rent was a tax deductible business expense. HMRC disagreed. An appeal tribunal allowed an appeal, but was reversed by the Upper Tribunal. A fresh tribunal held that the flat had not been wholly and exclusively taken for business purposes. The actor had a dual purpose in incurring the expenditure.  One purpose was a business purpose.  The other purpose was a non-business purpose of having accommodation space in which he could receive visitors.  The “wholly and exclusively” test was therefore not satisfied.  For the judgment, click here

Fernhill Properties (NI) Ltd v McCambridge
13 May 2015
The company bought a plot of land and built on it a block of 117 apartments. In 2007, at the height of the property boom, the flats were sold “off plan” with purchasers contracting to take a lease and paying significant deposits. Following the banking crisis in 2008, and the plunge in property values, a number of purchasers declined to complete. The company sued for damages. The defence pleaded that the block was not of the promised character because at least two floors had been let to a housing association and were occupied by social tenants. The High Court upheld the company’s claim. There had been no covenant or clause in the sale contracts limiting disposals to private purchasers rather than housing associations. No such term would be implied. For the judgment, click here

R v Olufolake Opaleye
11 May 2015
The defendant applied to Barking and Dagenham Council for accommodation and obtained a council flat. She failed to declare that she had a tenancy of a housing association property in Tower Hamlets. Council officers in the two boroughs worked together to recover both the properties and gather evidence for a criminal prosecution. At Wood Green Court, the defendant was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on conviction of two offences under the Theft Act 1968 and a further offence under the Fraud Act, in relation to her tenancy fraud. An application for a confiscation order was due to follow. For details of the prosecution, click here

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A new 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



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

12-month social housing bar "unlawful" [2015] New Law Journal 29 June. To read the article, click here

Shared ownership homes leave buyers frustrated and out of pocket Hannah Fearn [2015] Guardian Housing Network 3 July, To read the article, click here  

Osborne and IDS conspire to kill social housing with ‘welfare’ changes says BBC Joe Halewood [2015] Welfarewrites Blog 2 July. To read the article, click here

Student accommodation, the NPPF and housing supply Charles Banner [2015] Local Government Lawyer 18 June. To read the article, click here

Who will speak out for those hammered by housing benefit cuts? Owen Jones [2015] Guardian 3 July, To read the article, click here  

Case study: pregnant woman saved from street homelessness Sonya Clarke [2015] Z2K Blog 3 July. To read the article, click here

Dramatic rise in families illegally housed in B&B Marc Francis [2015] Z2K Blog 26 June. To read the article, click here



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October 2015
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October 2015
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Apply with CV and salary expectations to Helen Butterworth, Lester Morrill, 27 Park Square West, Leeds, by email to
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Closing date: 10 July 2015.

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