General Editor: Jan Luba QC
16th December 2015 Update
many of you will know, our General Editor Jan Luba QC has been appointed a
Circuit Judge with effect from 21 December. Jan has made an invaluable
contribution to Housing Law Week as its General Editor and to
This marks an exciting time in the development of Housing Law Week. Your next edition, with a new look and new contributors – but the same commitment to quality, will arrive on your screens on Wednesday 27th January 2016.
Thank you to all of our conference delegates and HLW subscribers.
Have a very Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year!
POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
UK Government Policy on Housing
On 7 December 2015, the Prime Minister made a speech covering the UK
Government’s proposed measures to achieve a shift from renting to home
ownership. The three measures are: (1) extending right to buy to all
housing association tenants; (2) abolishing council powers to require
new build private housing developments to contain properties for
affordable rent; and (3) removing certain qualifying conditions for
applicants wanting shared ownership homes. For the speech,
click here For the
consultation paper issued on 8 December 2015 dealing with the amendments
to planning policy designed to achieve the second of those objectives,
On 10 December 2015, new clauses 89-90 were added to the Housing &
Planning Bill (see Housing Laws in
the Pipeline below). They prevent the grant of new periodic secure
tenancies by council landlords and replace them with fixed term
tenancies of between two and five years. There are corresponding changes
to succession rights. For the Public Bill Committee debate on the new
click here For a legal commentary on the changes,
The UK Government is increasing its drive to promote take-up of the
Right to Buy in England among tenants of councils and housing
associations. It has appointed new Right to Buy Advisers and made a
short series of promotional videos. For an example,
click here On 10
December 2015, the latest official statistics on Right to Buy sales were
published. They show that RTB sales in England increased from 5,944 in
2012-13, to 11,261 in 2013-14 and, again, to 12,304 in 2014-15.
There were a further 5720 sales in the first two quarters of the
current financial year. For the full figures,
In a speech delivered on 7 December 2015, the UK Minister with
responsibility for Homelessness said that “over the next 4 years, we
will increase central funding by making £139 million available for
innovative programmes to prevent and reduce homelessness”. For the full
A new report from the UK Statistics Authority concludes that the DCLG’s Homelessness Prevention and Relief and Rough Sleeping statistics do not currently meet the standard to be accorded National Statistics status. For the DCLG Rough Sleeping statistics, the report concludes that there is work to be done in respect of the three pillars of National Statistics – trustworthiness, quality and value. For the UKSA report, click here
On 8 December 2015, the UK Government issued a revised form UC47 for use
by social landlords (Landlord
request for a managed payment or rent arrears deduction). For that
document, and a suite of other DWP publications designed to help social
landlords deal with the impact of Universal Credit,
On 10 December 2015, the House of Lords Committee which scrutinises new
regulations issued a report on the proposed new rules to reduce the
backdating of housing benefit claims – the
Housing Benefit (Abolition of the
Family Premium and Date of Claim Amendment) Regulations 2015. The
Committee considered that the explanatory material laid in support of
the new regulations provided insufficient information to gain a clear
understanding about the instrument’s policy objective and intended
implementation. For the report,
On 10 December 2015, the DWP published the latest analysis of local
authorities' use of Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) funds from April
to September 2015. For the figures,
click here For
the full list of officially available DHP statistical data,
On 9 December 2015, the House of Commons Library published a new
briefing paper on the challenges of providing housing for older people
in the midst of both a growing population and a still recovering housing
market. It covers: housing stock; adaptations; retirement housing and
asset release. For a copy of the briefing,
This month, the charity CRISIS has published
The homelessness monitor: Scotland
2015. The report contains an academic analysis of all the available
data on homelessness in Scotland. For a copy,
On 1 December 2015, a new duty on private sector landlords to carry out
electrical safety inspections came into force in Scotland. For the
official guide to the new provisions,
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
Housing and Planning Bill
This is a UK Government Bill about social and private rented housing,
rogue landlords, estate agents, planning and compulsory purchase. The
Bill only applies to housing in England. It started in the House of
Commons and has just completed its Commons Public Bill Committee Stage.
For a copy of the Bill, as amended in Committee,
click here For the
click here For the
official Impact Assessment of the Bill,
click here To
follow the progress of the Bill,
click here The
Bill will have its Report Stage in the House of Commons on
5 January 2016.
Welfare Reform and Work Bill
This UK Government Bill makes provision about: the benefit cap; social security and tax credits; loans for mortgage interest; and social housing rents. It has completed all its House of Commons stages and is now passing through the House of Lords. For the Bill, as amended in the Commons, click here For the Explanatory Notes for that version of the Bill, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here. For the documents relating to the Bill (including several impact assessments), click here Detailed examination of the Bill in the Lords Committee is underway.
This UK Government Bill would create four new offences to target those landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to comply with the ‘right-to-rent scheme’ by letting to tenants subject to immigration restrictions or who fail to evict tenants who they know or have reasonable cause to believe are disqualified from renting as a result of their immigration status. The Bill has completed its House of Commons stages and has now moved into the House of Lords. For a copy of the Bill as presented in the Lords, click here For the Explanatory Notes for that version of the Bill, click here For the official Impact Assessment, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here The Bill will have its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 22 December 2015.
This is a Government Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 7 October 2015. For a copy of the Bill, the Explanatory Notes and related official documents, and to follow the progress of the Bill, click here For the final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment on the Bill, click here For the Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment on the Bill, click here For the final Equality Impact Assessment for the Bill, click here For the Briefing on the Bill produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, click here The Bill is now awaiting the report of Lead Committee on the Bill, the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee. For the evidence submitted to that Committee by the Chartered Institute of Housing (Scotland), click here
Housing (Amendment) Bill
Houses in Multiple Occupation Bill
This is a Bill introduced in the Assembly by the Northern Ireland Executive. It would make provision for and in connection with the licensing of houses in multiple occupation in Northern Ireland. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the explanatory memorandum, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here A Second Stage debate took place in the Assembly on 7 December 2015. For the record of that debate, click here The Bill now stands referred to the Committee for Social Development.
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. For a copy of the Bill, click here It had its Second Reading on 16 October 2015 but was talked-out. It is again listed for a Second Reading on 29 January 2016. For details on the (unlikely) future progress of the Bill, click here For a lawyer’s commentary on its content, click here For the Shelter Blog on the Bill and its importance, click here For a commentary from Dr Stephen Battersby, click here For the House of Commons Library Briefing on the Bill, click here For the MP’s own perspective on her Bill being talked-out, click here For the response of the MP who talked-out the Bill, click here
Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) Bill
This is a Private Member’s 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. For a copy of the Bill, click here It had a First Reading on 24 June 2015 and its Second Reading has been re-scheduled for 22 January 2016. For details on the progress of the Bill, click here For the Briefing Paper prepared by the House of Commons Library, click here
Crown Tenancies BillThis is a Private Members Bill introduced by Mark Pawsey MP but which now has UK Government support. It would provide that Crown tenancies (mainly of properties owned by Government Departments) may be assured tenancies for the purposes of the Housing Act 1988, subject to certain exceptions, and would modify the assured tenancies regime in relation to certain Crown tenancies (including by provision of a new ground for possession). It had a First Reading on 24 June 2015 and its Second Reading has been scheduled for 22 January 2016. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the Explanatory Notes, click here For details on the progress of the Bill, click here For the House of Commons Library Briefing note that has been prepared for the Second Reading, click here
NEW HOUSING CASES
Flintshire Council v John Russell Brown and Hyperion Investments Ltd
10 December 2015
A multi-agency operation, including police and council officers, took place at an address owned by the defendants. The officers found 107 Eastern European migrants living in the property. The building was at “imminent risk of fire” due to defective electrical installations and there were just six toilets and six showers, with no heating or hot water. Septic tanks were overflowing with sewage, lighting was poor, just one of three cookers was working and washing lines were hanging up in corridors. At Wrexham Magistrates’ Court, the defendants both pleaded guilty to 12 offences under the Housing Act 2004. Mr Brown was released on unconditional bail to await sentencing on 14 January 2016. For details of the prosecution, click here
Brighton & Hove Council v Sarah Jordan and Gagandeep Sethi
4 December 2015
Each of the defendants was the owner of an unlicensed HMO being rented to tenants in the council’s area. They were prosecuted for failing to license their properties. At Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court, neither defendant attended for trial. Ms Jordan was fined £20,000 with £750 costs. Mr Sethi had submitted a guilty plea by post but no mitigation. He was fined £14,000 with £750 costs. Both were also ordered to pay a criminal courts charge of £150 and a £120 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecutions, click here
Birmingham City Council v Direct Housing Ltd
4 December 2015
The defendant was a private lettings agency specialising in student rental properties. It did not comply with proper arrangements for disposing of the waste paper generated by its business. Council officers found 25 bin bags and carrier bags dumped on the pavement. One of the bags was found to contain commercial waste – lists of property addresses – linked to Direct Housing Ltd. At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, the defendant pleaded guilty and was fined £4,000 with £766.50 costs, a £180 criminal court charge and a £120 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here
R v Peter Wardle
30 November 2015
The defendant was an unqualified accountant. He was in charge of accounting for North East Property Buyers and Newcastle Home Loans Ltd. Their buy and lease-back arrangements were reported to have left hundreds of people bankrupt and homeless. The defendant had earlier pleaded guilty to furnishing false information. At Teesside Crown Court, he was given an 18 month sentence of imprisonment (suspended) and a curfew order. For more details of the sentencing, click here
Broxtowe Borough Council v Suranjan Mohindra
23 November 2015
The defendant was a private landlady. The council served her with a community protection notice ‘CPN’ (under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014). The notice required her to carry out specified works to a property that she rented to tenants, within 21 days, so as to minimise disruption to the adjoining neighbours. At Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, she pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the notice. The court ordered that she complete the outstanding work in the CPN by 25 January 2016. It fined her £100 with £500 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here
Queensbridge Investments Limited v Lodge
19 November 2015
A group of tenants applied to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) to appoint a manager to take over their landlord’s management of a five storey building which included three residential flats on the first, second and third floors and a commercial unit on the ground and lower ground floor. The LVT appointed a manager and its order conferred on her extensive management powers, including powers relating to the commercial letting. The landlord appealed against the scope of the order. The Upper Tribunal held that the LVT had been empowered to make an order of the breadth it had made and had not erred in doing so on the particular facts. For the judgment, click here
Newcastle City Council v Carl Murtha (Senior)
16 November 2015
A family court made an order to protect a vulnerable, elderly man from being visited at home by the defendant. The visits were made for the purposes of taking the man’s money, albeit in small tranches, and his food. The defendant even began turning up on ‘meals on wheels’ day in order that he might take the man’s daytime meal. Breaches of the order led to the imposition of suspended prison sentences. On a committal for further breaches, the judge said: “There is an element of calculation, it seems to me, about his attendances and there is no doubt in my mind that he fully understands the potential consequences of a breach of this order.” The defendant was sentenced to six months immediate imprisonment. For the judgment, click here
HOUSING LAW CONSULTATIONS
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Private renting in Northern Ireland
Council Housing Finance
NEW HOUSING LAW ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Repairing the caselaw on disrepair (commentary on Moorjani v Durban Estate Limited)  Nearly Legal Housing Law Blog 12 December. To read the article, click here
Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge  December issue of Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. To read the article on-line, click here For back-issues of this series of articles, click here
How I helped a man with a degenerative spinal disease beat the bedroom tax Sanela Cox  Guardian Housing Network 10 December. To read the article, click here
Young people learning to avoid eviction: 'I thought rent wasn't a priority' Louise Tickle  Guardian Housing Network 8 December. To read the article, click here
UN envoy: Europe faces daunting task on refugees but housing is a human right Jane Dudman  Guardian Housing Network 5 December. To read the article, click here
It’s a mad mad mad housing world Dr Stephen Battersby  UK Housing Professionals Forum Blog 7 December. To read the article, click here
Road testing Right to Buy – what happens next Catherine Ryder  National Housing Federation blog 27 November. To read the article, click here
Changes to housing benefit for social tenants will hit young people Pippa Bell  National Housing Federation blog 7 December. To read the article, click here
A bitter pill to swallow (Housing & Planning Bill) Steve Hilditch  Red Brick Blog 11 December. To read the article, click here
Money, money, money (the Autumn Statement and its implications for Housing) Sam Madge-Wyld  LAG Housing Law Blog 10 December. To read the article, click here
'Sometimes lifetime tenancies are much more appropriate' David Pipe  CIH Blog 10 December. To read the article, click here
Rogue landlords prey on middle class Andrew Ellson  The Times 11 December. To read the article, click here
People Keep Getting Evicted From This Housing Estate Because Of Rent Increases Patrick Smith  BuzzFeed News Blog 11 December. To read the article, click here
How to reform London’s private rental sector Dan Wilson  The Capx Blog 9 December. To read the article, click here
THE HOUSING LAW DIARY
18 December 2015
22 December 2015
5 January 2016
22 January 2016
22 January 2016
27 January 2016
29 January 2016
5 February 2016
Barrister of over 7 year’s call wanted to join housing and community care team
1MCB Chambers of John Benson QC is a progressive and multi-disciplinary London set, committed to providing excellent representation to the most vulnerable members of society.
We are actively seeking a barrister of over seven years call to join our expanding housing and community care team. Successful applicants should expect to help with Chambers’ increasing workload alongside their existing practice and should be willing to assist in the continued growth of the team.
1 MCB offers a cost-effective working environment and competitive terms for high earners. Applicants with a similar ethos are encouraged to apply.
Applications (a covering letter and CV) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Chambers of John
Hopkin Murray Beskine
Vacancy – Paralegal/Trainee Solicitor
Hopkin Murray Beskine are looking for a paralegal to assist in our busy housing, public law and/or family teams.
We are a long established North London firm with clients from across London, who come to us because of our expertise in family, housing and public law. We have a thriving legal aid practice in all our areas of work together with an increasing volume of privately funded cases. We are recommended by the Chambers UK Guide and Legal 500.
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.
Paralegals in our housing and public law team have an important role in supporting solicitors in a varied and interesting range of work: from high profile strategic litigation to complicated land law disputes; from assisting with the County Court duty possession scheme to preparing cases for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
The work carried out by the family law team includes privately funded financial remedy proceedings, contact and residence disputes, care proceedings, and international child abduction in the High Court. Paralegals work in both our public law and private law teams and on legally aided and privately funded cases.
Paralegals in the family law team also play a key role in running our busy domestic violence injunction service. As well as working with a number of local and national referral agencies we provide a fortnightly drop in session at a local dedicated domestic violence service.
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: Monday 4th January 2016
We expect to interview shortlisted applicants in the week commencing 18th January 2016.
To apply to join our enthusiastic and successful team, download our application pack at www.hmbsolicitors.co.uk
Pro bono opportunity in Leeds for housing lawyers
BPP University Law School Legal Advice Clinic in Leeds operates weekly on a Tuesday evening. Clients are offered appointments depending on their legal issue and meet with student advisers working in pairs, who conduct a fact finding interview.
Student advisers are supervised before and after the interview by a qualified lawyer from practice. The client receives a comprehensive written advice from the Clinic within 10 working days of the initial meeting.
The Clinic deals with a variety of legal issues but has seen an increase in demand for advice on housing law matters. As a consequence, the Clinic is looking to recruit volunteer lawyers with a specialism in housing law and/or welfare benefits who could support the Clinic service.
The supervisor’s role is to discuss the case with the student advisers before the client meeting. The supervisor is not required to attend the client meeting itself. The supervisor reviews the file note of the meeting with the student advisors, together with the outline letter of advice they prepare and provides guidance and support in terms of the appropriate areas for the student advisers to research, drafting and the content of the final letter of advice. It is the student advisers’ responsibility to draft the letter of advice. The supervisor oversees that the legal content of the letter is accurate.
The supervisor can expect to deal with three to four cases across the academic year, with an estimated 3 hours of supervision time per case. It is entirely up to the supervisor to decide whether they are able to take a case, should a request be made for supervision. The Clinic appreciates the daily demands of practice and endeavours to ensure that all volunteer lawyers enjoy their supervision experience, which allows them to support the learning experience of our law students and engage in pro bono work from their office.
If you would like to find out more about this volunteering opportunity or you would like to join our database of Clinic supervisors, please contact the BPP Pro Bono Manager, Emma Blackstone on 0113 868287 or email email@example.com.
Graduate Paralegal – Social Housing (This is a 12 month temporary contract to cover maternity leave)
Stephensons is an award-winning top 150 law firm, with over 470 staff based in ten offices across the country. We are a national, full-service firm, providing legal services to individuals, businesses and government organisations. We work alongside our clients, whether it’s helping them out of a tight corner or assisting them to fulfil their aspirations. We have adapted to suit our clients’ needs including 24-hour telephone helplines and online innovations. We apply our expertise in publicly funded work to all areas of the firm, which translates to efficiencies for each of our clients. We’re proud of our firm, improving access to justice wherever possible. We’re sustainable, ethical and socially responsible.
We have an opportunity at our Altrincham office for a highly motivated law graduate with excellent client care skills and an interest in progressing your skills in Social Housing. The role will involve attending and advising clients in order to take initial instructions and assisting the Solicitor. You will have excellent client care skills, excellent IT skills and want to be part of a demanding challenging firm, where there are career opportunities and room to progress. You will also have a Law degree with at least a 2.1. Having completed the LPC and having experienced working in a Law firm will also be an advantage.
Closing date is 11th January 2016.
Solicitor Vacancy with Stephensons Solicitors LLP
Stephensons is an award-winning top 150 law firm, with over 470 staff based
in ten offices across the country.
We are a
national, full-service firm, providing legal services to individuals,
businesses and government organisations. We apply our expertise in publicly
funded work to all areas of the firm, which translates to efficiencies for
each of our clients. We’re proud of our firm, improving access to justice
wherever possible. We’re sustainable, ethical and socially responsible.
We have an
opportunity in our Social Housing team based at our
Closing date: 16th December 2015
Housing Law Paralegal Vacancy
Sternberg Reed is a well established
Lexcel Accredited law firm with offices in Essex and
A vacancy has arisen for a Paralegal to join our Housing Law Department to support and assist the fee earners in the preparation and conduct of cases. The role will include undertaking administrative tasks.
This position will be based in our Barking office but the successful candidate may be expected to work from any of our other offices as and when required
The job would offer excellent experience of working in a busy legal practice to a Paralegal or Law Graduate who has passed the LPC and has a keen interest in making a career in this area of law.
The successful candidate will have the following attributes:
Please apply to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV and a covering letter stating why you are interested in this role and how your experience and skills match the requirements for this role.
We are an Equal Opportunities Employer
Edwards Duthie is a large, well respected firm with a number of offices in
East London and
Our Community Law Team has expertise in all areas of social welfare law, including housing & debt, welfare benefits, community care and mental health. The team has a particularly strong reputation for housing law The team holds Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme contracts with the Legal Aid Agency at Bow, Edmonton and Romford County Courts.
We now wish to recruit experienced housing caseworkers or solicitors to join our Community Law Team. Successful applicants will have a sound knowledge of housing law and litigation and ideally will have experience of acting as a duty advisor under the LAA’s Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes.
We have dedicated Human Resources, IT and Facilities Teams to develop and support all of our legal teams.
Salary according to experience. .
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