Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

29th April 2015 Update


Policy Issues in Housing Law

Housing Allocation and Homelessness: all change in Wales
On Monday 27 April 2015 the new homelessness regime for Wales came into effect. It is contained in Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. For a copy of the Act, click here A small number of the provisions will be introduced later and there are transitional arrangements. The details are contained in a Commencement Order to be published later this week. The Act is accompanied by a new 350-page statutory Code of Guidance to be followed by local authorities in Wales. For a copy, click here Although the law relating to housing allocation has not changed in Wales, the Code gives updated guidance on lettings as well as guidance on the new homelessness provisions. Because the definition of 'threatened with homelessness' is now different in Wales, the Legal Aid Agency has modified its rules about legal advice in such cases. For the details, click here.

Anti-social behaviour
On 1 June 2015, the law relating to gang injunctions will be changed by the commencement of the Serious Crime Act 2015 section 51. The reasons for the change and their effect are explained in a new Home Officer Circular on the 2015 Act. For a copy, click here

Registration of private landlords
Part 1 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 includes a requirement for most residential landlords, letting agents and managing agents to be registered with, or to obtain a licence from, a designated licensing authority. The Welsh Government has designated the County Council of the City and County of Cardiff as the licensing authority for the whole of Wales for these purposes. For a copy of the regulations, click here

Homelessness – effects of street homelessness
A new report – issued last week – focuses on street homelessness and the need to help those without shelter or food. It describes homelessness as a public health issue and asserts that physical and mental health problems can be caused or exacerbated by homelessness. For a copy of the report, click here
Homelessness - exporting the homeless
Housing Act 1996 section 208 requires prompt written notice, containing prescribed details, to be given by a council which accommodates a homeless person outside its own district. The notice is to be given to the council for the area in which the person is placed. Recent results from Freedom of Information requests suggest that notices are either being given late, or not at all, or are given containing insufficient particulars. For further details, click here and here For a commentary, click here

Right to Buy
Nuffield and the Institute of Fiscal Studies have produced a new joint report – Extending Right to Buy: risks and uncertainties – considering the impact of proposals to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants. For a copy, click here. For further commentary on the proposals, click here

A new report from the campaign group SQUASH suggests that there have been at least 588 arrests, 200 prosecutions and 51 convictions since trespass in residential premises was made a criminal offence, with 75% of those arrests occurring in London. For the full report, click here

Rents and rent increases
The Welsh Government has published the latest data on what tenants in Wales are paying for their rented homes. For the figures, click here

Welfare reform
A new report analyses the impact of welfare reform on working age tenants in social housing.  For a copy of the report, click here.

Adaptations for the disabled
A new report from Leonard Cheshire Disability suggests that large numbers of applications for disabled facilities grants are not actioned and determined within the statutory maximum one year period. For a copy of the report, click here

Housing benefit
On 17 April 2015 the DWP issued its latest Housing Benefit General Information Bulletin (HB G4/2015) covering a variety of HB topics. For a copy, click here

The housing stock
The latest statistics on number of homes in England show that the only sector of the housing market in which figures fell over the last year was social housing. For the full statistical report, click here

Housing Laws in the Pipeline  

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 Wednesday 22 April 2015. 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 the evidence session, click here


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Homlessness Conference 2015: Law & Best Practice  
London, 19 June 2015
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(Housing Options Advisor past delegate)

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Wenman v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
21 April 2015
The claimant and his wife were Romany gypsies living in a mobile home. They had been unable to find a space on local gypsy sites. They wanted their son to attend local schools and have the benefit of growing up in an area where there is a community of gypsies. They had tried living in a house, but they found it too claustrophobic. They applied to the local council for planning permission to live in their mobile home, and to use the bathroom and kitchen facilities in a newly-built adjacent utility/dayroom while also keeping a touring caravan on the site. The council refused permission and served an enforcement notice. A planning inspector dismissed appeals against both decisions. The High Court set aside the inspector’s decision because the relevant planning policies had been misapplied. For the judgment,click here

Begum v Birmingham City Council
20 April 2015
The claimant bought her council home under the right to buy. The council's documents had failed to give the required notice of a serious structural defect. The claimant was awarded damages (based on the cost of remedial works) for breach of the council's statutory duty to notify the defect but she was ordered to pay the costs of a failed claim for misrepresentation and negligence. In October 2014 the Court of Appeal rejected an application by the council for permission to appeal on liability. But it has now allowed the claimant's appeal against the adverse costs order. For the judgment, click here

ASA Adjudication on Hamptons Estates Ltd t/a Hamptons International
22 April 2015
A property listing on Hamptons’ website described the letting as "£1,200 per Calendar Month + £216 incl VAT admin fee per property + other fees may apply". The text "+ £216 incl VAT admin fee per property + other fees may apply" was hyperlinked to further details about related fees. A user complained to the advertising standards authority that the charges were unclear. The ASA upheld the complaint. It found that there were other non-optional fees that consumers would have to pay if they rented the property. These fees were a referencing charge and a check-in charge, which would be combined with the administrative charge into an all-inclusive fee (at the Bristol branch). For other branches, the referencing charge was one of two fixed prices depending on whether the consumer was a tenant or a business, and the check-in charge varied depending on the size of the property. The advert was misleading. For the full adjudication, click here

Wood v Kingston upon Hull City Council
15 April 2015
There was inadequate fire separation between two flats in an HMO. The council served an improvement notice. That led to an appeal to the Upper Tribunal which raised the question “Where inadequate material separation exists between two flats in a house in multiple occupation and risks the spread of fire between floors, who should be required to carry out necessary improvements: the owner of a flat on the first floor whose tenant is at risk, but who could only provide the required protection by expensive and disruptive improvements carried out from that flat, or the owner-occupier of the ground floor flat where the same level of protection could be provided by relatively inexpensive works?” For the answer, given by the judgment, click here

Wall v Information Commissioner
13 April 2015
The applicant made a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for the names – and other details recorded on court records – of landlords convicted of offences under the Housing Act 2004.  The Information Commissioner upheld a decision by the MoJ to withhold the data on the grounds that disclosure would cause ‘harm and distress’ to those named. The Information Tribunal allowed an appeal and ordered disclosure. It was ‘satisfied that not only is the disclosure of this information in the substantial public interest, but also any reasonably informed data controller with knowledge of the social needs and the impact of such disclosure would so conclude.’ For the judgment, click here

Brent LBC v Douglas Gerard-Reynolds
14 April 2015
The defendant was a private landlord of a house which contained ten units of accommodation and was in a poor condition. Tenants had complained about inadequate heating facilities and water leaks and the landlord had failed to obtain an HMO licence. At Willesden Magistrates’ Court, the defendant was found guilty of renting an HMO without the required licence. He was fined £1,000, with costs of £1,457 and victim surcharge of £100. For details of the prosecution, click here

Botezatu v Republic of Moldova
14 April 2015
The applicant’s job qualified him for social housing. When the local council did not provide any, he took court proceedings and obtained a judgment ordering it to do so. When it failed to comply, he was awarded compensation for his injured feelings but not for the rent he was paying for alternative accommodation. He complained to the European Court of Human Rights. It found that the delay in enforcing the judgment and the inadequate compensation paid amounted to a breach of Article 6 and Article 1 Protocol 1. It awarded compensation relating to the amount of rent paid. For the judgment, click here  For a commentary, click here

Medway Council v Dennis Sullivan
9 April 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. Following an inspection of his property, council officers served an improvement notice in respect of failure to provide sufficient heating and failure to provide a safe method of opening a skylight window. The defendant did not carry out the work. At Medway Magistrates’ court, he pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with a notice under the Housing Act 2004 and was fined £1,500 with costs of £2,270 and a £100 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here 

Happi v France
9 April 2015
The applicant lived in grossly unsatisfactory accommodation and applied for social housing. She obtained a judgment in December 2010 requiring that she be rehoused but it had not been fully enforced over three and a half years later (even though the French courts had indicated that her case had to be resolved with particular urgency). A fine imposed in that judgment had been enforced and paid by the local council but it had no compensatory function and was not paid to the applicant but to a state-run fund. The European Court of Human Rights found that the failure to enforce the judgment could not be justified by relying on lack of funds or other resources and that there had been a breach of Article 6. However, the court held that the right to social housing did not constitute a ‘possession’ for the purposes of Article 1 Protocol 1. For the judgment (in French) click here   For an official summary (in English) click here  For a commentary, click here

Huzrat v Hounslow LBC
31 March 2015
The Supreme Court has refused an application by Ms Huzrat for permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold a finding that she had become homeless intentionally. The appeal had been intended to focus on the importance of the interests of the children under Children Act 2004 section 11. For the Court of Appeal judgment, click here

Clark v Manchester CC
27 March 2015
The appellant was a private landlord operating an HMO. He carried out works to the house and asked the council to vary his licence to increase the permitted number of tenants from 5 to 6. The council refused on the grounds that a bedroom in the house did not meet minimum space requirements. A tribunal upheld the council’s decision but the Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal. The lower tribunal had failed to conduct a complete rehearing of the issue as to whether the licence should be varied but had simply confined itself to a review of the council’s decision. The judgment also considers the minimum size issue. For a copy, click here

Waaler v Hounslow LBC
24 March 2015
This was a dispute between a council and its leaseholders about service charges. It turned on the correct approach to the test contained in section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (which limits the payability of service charge costs by reference to whether those costs have been reasonably incurred and whether the service or works are of a reasonable standard).The Upper Tribunal decided on 26 January 2015 that the approach is different depending upon whether the costs relate to works of repair or works of improvement. The Tribunal recognised that the issue is one of significance and importance with a potentially wide impact and granted the council’s application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. For the judgment on that application, click here

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Social Housing Law & Practice Conference 2015 
London, 25 June 2015
"I've worked in housing for many years and I've learned a lot today"
(Housing Manager past delegate)

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Leaseholder redress
On 26 March 2015, the UK Government launched a consultation exercise on including information about the right for residential leaseholders to seek redress against their property manager (from the government approved redress scheme to which their manager belongs), as part of the existing prescribed Summaries of Rights and Obligations sent to leaseholders with demands for service charges and administration charges. For the consultation paper, click here  Responses should be made by 22 May 2015.

Recognising Tenants' Associations
On 23 March 2015, the UK Government launched a consultation exercise to consider what more can be done through guidelines to assist the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal when considering an application for recognition of a tenants’ association.  For the consultation paper, click here   Responses should be made by 22 May 2015.
Stock increases and LSVT landlords
On 13 March 2015, the UK Government launched a consultation seeking proposals and ideas on how it can help stock transfer housing associations borrow more to build additional homes. For the consultation paper, click here Responses should be made by 31 May 2015.

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


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

The politics of private rents James Souter and Andrew Kafkaris [2015] Estates Gazette Issue No.1516 p83

Labour's rent control plans explained Rowena James [2015] Guardian 26 April. To read the article, click here

Possession and Discrimination (commentary on Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities) James Driscoll [2015] Estates Gazette Issue No.1516 p85

Going local (commentary on new arrangements for selective licensing) Laura Tweedy [2015] 165 New Law Journal Issue No.7649 p15. To read the article, click here

Liverpool selective licensing goes live Stuart Spear [2015] The EHN News Blog 22 April. To read the article, click here

Licensing Liverpool's landlords Lisa Evans [2015] 159 Solicitors Journal Issue No.15 p33. To read the article, click here

The wilful ignorance of politicians is lining landlords' pockets Hannah Fearn [2015] Guardian Housing Network 25 April. To read the article, click here

Why I would never buy my housing association home Rosa Ellis [2015] Guardian Housing Network 20 April. To read the article, click here

What is happening to discretionary housing payments? Megan Jarvie [2015] CPAG Blog 16 March. To read the article, click here

Part of the package (commentary on what constitutes rent for the purpose of exemption from VAT) Neil Warren [2015] 175 Taxation Issue No.4497 22 April.  To read the article, click here

Retaliatory evictions - predicting the effects of the Deregulation Bill Caroline Hunter [2015]18Journal of Housing Law p41

Service charge apportionment and the FTT Justin Bates [2015]18Journal of Housing Law p44

The Mental Capacity Act: a new approach to capacity in tenancy agreements? James Hurford [2015]18Journal of Housing Law p54

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms [2015] Landlord and Tenant Law blog (PainSmith Solicitors) 21 April. To read the article, click here



22 May 2015
Closing date for consultations on Leaseholder redress and on Recognising Tenant’s Associations (see above)

31 May 2015
Closing date for consultation on Enhancing stock for LSVT social landlords (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



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