Housing Law Week
General Editor: Jan
10th June 2015 Update
Last Chance to Book
Homelessness Conference 2015
Law & Best Practice
London 19 June 2015
This year’s conference will be very special. Some of the country’s leading experts delivering presentations on the latest developments you really need to know about.
Book now or you will miss out!
Click here for details
For the full downloadable conference brochure click here
Book online now – just click here
POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
Housing & Anti-social Behaviour
Golding Homes, a social landlord, has been granted an injunction under Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which includes positive requirements in addition to restrictions. It took action against a tenant who had repeatedly disturbed neighbours through drunken outbursts, noise nuisance and swearing. The injunction prohibits him from causing further nuisance or annoyance but also requires him to attend a specific community detox programme to deal with alcohol addiction. For further details of the case, click here The first positive requirement in an injunction is believed to have been obtained by Regenda Homes and was noted in the case summaries in the last issue of this bulletin.
Housing for NRPF families with children
A new report from COMPAS explores the tension between the requirement in immigration law that some families be excluded from welfare benefits (‘no recourse to public funds’, or ‘NRPF’) and a provision in the Children Act 1989 (section 17) that requires local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of any child ‘in need’ (including by the provision of accommodation). For a copy of the executive summary, click here
Housing for young homeless people
An analysis of official statistics for the BBC’s File on 4 programme has found that local councils in England are housing vulnerable teenagers in Bed & Breakfast accommodation despite statutory guidance intended to end – or at least heavily restrict – the practice. For more details, click here
Last month, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) found that a trade association (of estate and lettings agents in Hampshire), three of its members and a newspaper publisher had infringed competition law in relation to estate and lettings agency services. The CMA imposed penalties totalling over £735,000. It has now written to every letting agent in England setting out the measures it has taken and will take to secure fair competition in the letting agency business. For a copy of the letter, click here For details of the May 2015 decision, click here
Right to Buy
On 3 June 2015 the Minister with responsibility for housing policy in Wales announced that she is taking immediate action to reduce the Right to Buy (RTB) discount this summer and has started the development of legislation to end RTB in Wales, for consideration by the Welsh Government in the next Assembly term. For the announcement, click here For the consultation summary on which the announcement was based, click here
Rent to Buy
On 5 June 2015 the UK Government re-issued its prospectus inviting applicants to bid for up to £200 million of recoverable loans to support building of ‘affordable’ homes for fixed term lettings between 2015 and 2017. For further details, click here
The DWP has published the June issue of its Housing Benefit Direct newsletter (Issue 159, June 2015). It covers fraud, error, subsidy and other operational aspects of the HB scheme. For a copy, click here
Social Housing Law & Practice Conference 2015
London 25 June 2015
Brand new programme includes:
- The Housing Manager in Court - rights of audience, evidence, adjournments, costs and appeals
- Tenancy Fraud :The Housing Manager’s role
- Thorny Problems and Solutions: succession, joint tenancy problems, safety inspection difficulties and possession cases
- ASB Update: the new cases and legislation you need to know
- What’s been Happening and what’s on the Horizon?
- Ask the Experts: 2 Q&A panel sessions to raise questions
Expert speakers: Jan Luba QC (Garden Court Chambers), Peter Marcus (Zenith Chambers), Katrina Robinson (Viridian Housing) and Michael Owen (Capsticks Solicitors)
Don’t miss out - book now whilst there are still some places available:
For further details click here
For a full downloadable conference brochure click here
To book online click here
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
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
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 began its deliberations on the Bill on 22 April 2015 when it heard evidence from Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Simon White, the Bill manager in the Welsh Government and Neil Buffin, senior lawyer in the Legal Services section of the Welsh Government. For the transcript of that evidence session, click here The Minister subsequently wrote to the Committee to provide additional information. To read the letter of the 7 May 2015, click here and scroll to the foot of the page where it is listed under ‘Documents’. On 30 April 2015, the Committee heard evidence from the Law Society and the National Union of Students. For their evidence, click here On 6 May 2015 evidence was given by the Chartered Institute of Housing, Community Housing Cymru, Welsh Local Government Association, Cymorth Cymru, Tai Pawb and the Residential Property Tribunal (Wales). For that evidence, click here On 14 May 2015 the Committee heard from the Country Land and Business Association, Guild of Residential Landlords, National Landlords Association, Residential Landlords Association, Association of Residential Letting Agents, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Citizens Advice Cymru and Shelter Cymru. For that evidence, click here On the same date, the Minister wrote to the Committee addressing a number of issues raised by the Bill, including its compatibility with Articles 6 and 8 of Human Rights Act 1998 Sch 1. For that letter, click here and scroll to the foot of the page where it is listed under ‘Documents’. For the evidence submitted by the Housing Law Practitioners Association, click here To watch Justin Bates presenting HLPA’s evidence on 20 May 2015, click here and to read the transcript of his evidence, click here On 20 May 2015, at the final evidence session, the Committee heard again from the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty. For that evidence session, click here
HOUSING LAW CASES
Johnston v Westminster City Council
3 June 2015
Mr Johnston lost his tenancy in Eastbourne and moved to London, where he slept rough. He applied as homeless to Westminster. It accepted that he was owed the main housing duty but made a referral to Eastbourne. That council accepted the referral and offered to provide accommodation if Mr Johnston presented himself to them. He did not go back and later made a further application to Westminster, It decided that he was ‘not homeless’ as he had accommodation available to him from Eastbourne Council. The Court of Appeal held that decision to be wrong. Mr Johnston remained homeless, unless and until he actually had accommodation. However, it dismissed his appeal because the council could and should have simply decided that it owed no further duty to Mr Johnston. For the judgment, click here
Newark & Sherwood Homes v Gorman
3 June 2015
In 1997, the council elected to adopt the introductory tenancy regime for new lets in its housing stock. In 2011, it let a property to the defendant but he fell into rent arrears. Possession was sought on the basis that he was an introductory tenant. He took a point that the council had adopted the scheme for only one year, not indefinitely. The Court of Appeal held that, although the minutes of the committee meeting could support that inference, all the surrounding circumstances showed that the adoption had not been limited to one year. The judgment is noted on LAWTEL.
Dudley Council v Balwinder Singh Dhadwal
28 May 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. Council officers inspecting his properties found mould on the walls of flats, electrical problems and premises not having smoke detectors fitted. The council served improvement notices and a prohibition order. At Dudley Magistrates’ Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Housing Act 2004 and to failing to adhere to the order preventing a property being re-let. He was fined £1,065 for each offence with £1,190 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here
Guinness Partnership Ltd v David Atkins
27 May 2015
Guinness obtained an injunction requiring Mr Atkins to remove all dogs and cats from his home and to allow the landlord access on 24 hours’ notice in writing. On an application to commit for contempt, he was found to be in breach of both requirements. The punishment imposed for each breach was 28 days imprisonment suspended for 12 months on condition that (1) he removed the dog(s) by 4pm on 3 June 2015; (2) he does not bring any other dog or cat onto the premises without obtaining prior written consent; and (3) he allows access on 24 hours’ notice in writing. For the formal order, click here
Hillingdon Council v Javeed Hossain
19 May 2015
The defendant landlord had obtained an HMO licence, limiting the maximum number of people at his property to six, and requiring him to install a fire warning and protection system. An inspection by council officers found that not only had he breached the licence by permitting 10 tenants to occupy the property, but he had failed to install the required fire alarm system. There were inadequate fire doors, a lack of smoke and heat detectors and no emergency illuminated exit signs on the stairs. A pregnant woman and her partner were found living in a room in the roof space that was unfit for use, due to its restricted size. At Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, the defendant was found guilty of failing to comply with the terms of the licence. He was fined £11,000 with a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £884. For details of the prosecution, click here
Islington Council v Thierry Doudrich
18 May 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. A spot check by council officers uncovered health and safety hazards at two self-contained flats he had let. The tenants were at risk from damp and mould, cold conditions, poor fire precautions, carbon monoxide, asbestos, falls, and electrical safety hazards. The council served two improvement notices, under the Housing Act 2004 section 11, but the defendant failed to comply with them. On guilty pleas, he was fined £5,000 with costs of £3,394.56 and a victim surcharge of £120. For details of the prosecution, click here
Ashfield District Council v Kevin Mason
15 May 2015
The council obtained an injunction prohibiting the defendant from entering a specified area. Within 72 hours of an earlier breach, he again entered the area. He was sentenced to 14 days immediate imprisonment for his contempt. For the judgment, click here
Islington Council v TheCityRooms.com Ltd and Jason Zhou
14 May 2015
The council found that a property in its area, which was suitable for occupation by three people, was being occupied by five tenants. One room measured just 6.1sq.m. The defendant company was served with a notice requiring that the undersized room not be occupied once the tenant occupying it left. When the tenant left, it was let to another person. At Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, the company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the notice. It was fined £850 for that offence and a further £400 for failing to reply to a section 16 notice (which required it to confirm the ownership of the property). It was also ordered to pay costs of £910 and a victim surcharge of £85. In addition, company director Mr Jason Zhou (also known as Xingjian Zhou) was fined £850 in relation to the overcrowding notice and ordered to pay £455.50 costs and a victim surcharge of £85. For details of the prosecution, click here
Redditch Borough Council v Wayne Salter
6 May 2015
The council obtained an injunction excluding the defendant from entering a particular area, even though it was where his mother lived. He breached the injunction twice because he wanted to visit his mother and he considered the exclusion zone to be unfair. He was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment for the contempt, suspended on condition of his future compliance with the order. For the judgment, click here
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A new Ombudsman?
On 25 March 2015, the UK Government launched a consultation exercise about proposals to absorb the roles of the Housing Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman into the jurisdiction of a new Public Service Ombudsman for England. For the consultation paper, click here. For the Gordon report, on which the proposals are based, click here Responses should be made by 16 June 2015. For initial responses to the consultation from the housing sector, click here
ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge  June issue Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. To read the article, click here.
Courts enjoy greater powers to grant injunctions Nigel Law  159 Solicitors Journal No.21 page 27, 2 June 2015. To read the article, click here
Housing has lost a good friend! Pat Reddin 1947-2015 Andrew Arden QC and Jan Luba QC  19 Landlord & Tenant Review 85.
Deregulating deposits: further regulation of the protection of tenancy deposits and section 21 notices in the Deregulation Act 2015 Toby Boncey  19 Landlord & Tenant Review 90
An end to retaliatory evictions? New measures on repossession by private sector landlords. Jan Luba QC and Justin Compton  19 Landlord & Tenant Review 113
Questions and answers: rising damp – meaning of repair – s.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Mark Pawlowski  19 Landlord & Tenant Review 123
Councils should help rough sleepers, not fine them Jon Sparkes  Guardian Housing Network, 3 June 2015. To read the article, click here
The reduced benefit cap could be the killer blow for social housing Colin Wiles  Guardian Housing Network, 2 June 2015. To read the article, click here
8,000 people at risk of losing their housing every week Hilary Osborne  Guardian, 5 June 2015. To read the article, click here
They want to kill off our way of life, says London commune facing eviction Jamie Doward  Observer, 6 June 2015. To read the article, click here
Day in the life of an ASB intern Steve Sampson  Inside Housing 4 June. To read the article, click here
A new direction? (ASB injunctions) Alex Turner  Inside Housing 5 June. To read the article, click here
THE HOUSING LAW
10 June 2015
The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment in Britton v Arnold (dispute over service charges between leisure site landlord and the tenants of chalets). To access the judgment and summary, click here
16 June 2015
End of consultation on new Ombudsman proposal (see above)
19 June 2015
Homelessness Conference 2015: Law & Best Practice (Lime Legal) in London – for further details click here
25 June 2015
Social Housing Law & Practice Conference 2015 (Lime Legal) in London – for further details click here
EDITORIAL NOTE: The next issue of Housing Law Week will be published on 24 June 2015
Housing Solicitor/Senior Caseworker (full time) - The Community Law Partnership
Community Law Partnership is seeking to appoint a full time Housing Solicitor/Senior Caseworker.
We have a Legal Aid Agency Contract for Housing work. The post holder will be giving advice and assistance on housing law to tenants, homeless people and others in housing need, including casework and litigation. No advice is given to Landlords. You must be able to maintain files and to manage cases effectively.
For full details of the vacancy, salary scale and application form click here
Location: Birmingham City Centre, 4th Floor, Ruskin Chambers, 191 Corporation Street, Birmingham, B4 6RP
Closing date for applications is Friday 12th June 2015.
Vacancy for a Locum Housing Solicitor/Caseworker
Lambeth Law Centre is recruiting for a locum housing solicitor or caseworker to cover maternity leave. This would be preferably for 5 days a week, although 4 days a week will be considered. The locum post is likely to be for 12 months with the possibility of extension.
Lambeth Law Centre is committed to providing high quality legal advice and representation. Applicants 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.
Salary offered will be in the range of ca. £30,000-£32,300 p.a. for a full-time appointment.
For queries or to request an application form, please email Tara at 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.
Lambeth Law Centre is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
Closing date for applications: Friday, 12th June 2015
For details click here
Vacancy for Principal Solicitor – Housing
Brixton Advice Centre (London) is seeking an experienced housing solicitor with at least 3 years PQE and with experience of supervising and managing casework under an LAA contract in Housing and Community Care.
Hours: Full-time (part-time considered)
Salary: Up to £37,330 (incl ILW) depending on experience
30 days annual leave a year plus bank holidays.
The role requires the supervision and professional development of qualified and non-qualified legal advisors in the Housing and Community Care team. The Solicitor will be report to the Director and will play an active role in the leadership and future strategy of the Centre.
Please contact Patrick Torsney by email email@example.com for an application pack
Brixton Advice centre is an equal opportunities employer.
Closing date: 5 pm, 19 June 2015
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