6th July 2016
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Rogue landlords
In the Housing Law Week of 29 June 2016 we reported that the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) has created a toolkit to help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents. The kit walks local authority enforcement officers step-by-step through the legalities and requirements for regulating letting agents. The kit is now on the NALS website. To access it, click here

Social housing stock
On 30 June 2016 the DCLG released annual tables setting out statistics on the sales of social housing stock – whether owned by local authorities or private registered providers. The most common of these sales are by the Right to Buy (and preserved Right to Buy) scheme and there are separate tables for sales under that scheme. In 2014-15 there were 20,454 sales of which 12,489 (12,304 Right to Buy and 185 other sales) were local authority sales and 7,965 (4,215 (preserved) Right to Buy, 2,803 sales to the private sector and 947 other sales to tenants) were registered provider sales. To access the tables, click here

On 30 June the DCLG published a release providing information on the number of households that reported being unintentionally homeless (or threatened with homelessness) to their local authority and were offered housing assistance. Local authorities accepted 14,780 households as being statutorily homeless between 1 January and 31 March 2016, up 2% on the previous quarter and 9% on the same quarter of last year. The total number of households in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2016 was 71,540, up 11% on a year earlier, and up 49% on the low of 48,010 on 31 December 2010. To access the release, click here For figures for individual local authorities, click here

Homelessness – Wales
On 30 June 2016 Carl Sargeant, the Communities and Children Secretary in the Welsh Government, said in a speech to Shelter Cymru’s annual conference that he is determined to do everything in his power to address the problem of homelessness. This would be a key priority for the current Parliament.

Right to Buy
On 30 June 2016 the DCLG published a release presenting official statistics on the number of sales of dwellings under the Right to Buy scheme between January and March 2016, as well as providing statistics on receipts resulting from those sales and starts on site as part of the one-for-one additions policy. During that period local authorities sold an estimated 3,276 dwellings under the Right to Buy scheme. This is a decrease of 1% from the 3,321 sold in the same quarter of 2014-15. Local authorities in London accounted for 26% of those sales; 8 percentage points lower than the 34% recorded in the same quarter last year. For the release, click here

Right to Buy – Barking and Dagenham scheme
The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has introduced Right to Invest which enables tenants to buy a stake in their council property, while ensuring the council retains its housing stock. The scheme will give council tenants the opportunity to purchase a share of between 25% and 70% of their property, while also benefiting from their Right to Buy discount. For more information about the scheme, click here For press coverage of the scheme, click here

Help to Buy – equity loan scheme

On 30 June 2016 the DCLG announced that during the three years of Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme (to 31 March 2016), 81,014 properties were bought with an equity loan. For more details, click here

Help to Buy – ISAs
On 30 June 2016 HM Treasury and the DCLG announced that over 500,000 people have opened Help to Buy: ISAs, which offer government bonuses of up to £3,000, as they save towards buying a home. Over 160,000 completions under the schemes have taken place, with 80% having been made by first time buyers. For more details, click here

Help to Buy – mortgage guarantee scheme
On 30 June 2016 HM Treasury published official statistics on the government’s Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme. It presents statistics on the number of mortgage completions, types and values of properties, borrower incomes and breakdowns by various geographical areas. It is the ninth official statistics release concerning the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme and covers the period from its launch on 8 October 2015 to 31 March 2016. For details, click here

Housing in the courts
On 30 June 2016 the Ministry of Justice published legal aid statistics for the period of January to March 2016. The volume of legally-aided housing cases halved between July to September 2012 and July to September 2013 (in April 2013 the LASPO Act substantially reduced the scope of legal aid for housing issues). In January to March 2016 there was a 17% decrease in legal aid spent on housing cases compared to the same quarter the previous year. Workload figures in this category of law are driven by legal help, which comprises more than 80% of overall housing legal aid volume. For the figures in detail, click here

Housing in the courts – Wales
On 30 June the Welsh Government published more detailed information about possession claims in the courts in Wales during January to March 2016. There were 1,420 landlord possession claims made, a decrease of 12% on the same quarter of 2015. There were 1,136 landlord possession orders made during the quarter, down by 13% compared with the same quarter in 2015. During January to March 2016, 74% of claims and 76% of orders were made on behalf of social landlords. For more details (including the figures for mortgage possession actions), click here

Private renting

On 4 July 2016 Saga Home Insurance reported that a poll had revealed that a third of people aged 50 and over currently live in rented accommodation; this, it says, is up from just over a quarter (26%) in 2011. The biggest increase is amongst those aged 50-54. For more details, click here

Private renting – Northern Ireland
The Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland) 2016, which comes into force on 1 August 2016, increases the rents registered with the rent officer for Northern Ireland under Part IV of the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 during the period beginning on 2nd April 2007 and ending on 3rd April 2016 by 1.3%. A landlord must give a tenant at least 4 weeks’ notice of the increase in accordance with Article 49 of the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006. To access the 2016 Order, click here

Private renting – Finance Bill
Kevin Hollinrake MP is tabling an amendment to clause 72 of the Finance Bill, first mooted by the Residential Landlords Association, that would extend the new 20% Capital Gains Tax rate to private landlords when they sell their rented property to a sitting tenant. For more details of the proposal, click here

Affordable housing
On 30 June 2016 the Chartered Institute of Housing published the latest edition of its UK Housing Review which states that figures collated by CIH reveal “for the first time the extent to which government investment is being directed towards the private market and home ownership, with very little now directed towards helping the eight million households who will not be able to get onto the home ownership ladder”. To access the Review, click here

Registered providers of social housing

On 1 July 2016 the Homes and Communities Agency published an updated list of registered providers of social housing as at that date. To access the list, click here

Supported housing
On 4 July 2016 the National Housing Federation launched its Starts at Home campaign. To coincide with the campaign launch, NHF noted that more than 2,500 people with a learning disability and/or autism who display challenging behaviour are currently being forced to live in hospital settings because of a lack of supported housing. It said that around 872 people have been in hospital settings for over five years; 365 have lived there for over 10 years; and 170 of them are children under 18 years old. For more information about the campaign, click here

Landlord registration scheme – Northern Ireland
The Landlord Registration Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016, which come into force on 1 September 2016, amend the Landlord Registration Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 to require that information held by the registrar and not included in the register of landlords shall, on request from an authorised officer, be disclosed to the Department for Communities for certain purposes. To access the regulations, click here

Renters’ Rights Bill
This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Grender which seeks to provide tenants and prospective tenants with certain rights, including affording access to a local housing authority’s database of rogue landlords, ending certain letting fees and providing for certain mandatory electrical safety checks. The Bill had its Second Reading on 10 June 2016 and will enter the Committee stage on a date to be announced. For the Bill as introduced, click here To read debates at all stages of the Bill’s passage, click here For progress of the Bill, click here

Gill v Birmingham County Council [2016] EWCA Civ 608
The appellant appealed against a committal order by which Her Honour Judge Wall had sentenced him to be imprisoned for fourteen months and twenty three days for breach of an anti-social behaviour injunction (“ASBI”). The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal relying upon the following grounds of appeal:

  1. That the evidence against him was flimsy and should not have been believed
  2. That the county court judge should not have sentence him at all in respect of two of the breaches of the ASBI because he had already pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court to criminal offences relating to those matters.
  3. That the sentence was excessive.

The Court of Appeal (Lady Justice Gloster delivered the leading judgment) concluded that:

  1. There were no grounds for challenging HHJ Wall’s findings of fact. She had weighed up each allegation and considered it against the appellant’s counter-allegations.
  2. The approach to be taken where there are concurrent criminal and committal proceedings in respect of the same incident(s) was clearly set out in Lomas v Parle (Practice Note) [2003] EWCA Civ 1804 and Slade v Slade [2009] EWCA CIV 748. HHJ Wall had been entitled to sentence the appellant for the two breaches of the ASBI even though the appellant had pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court (but had not been sentenced).
  3. Whilst the appellant’s appeal against the judge at first instance’s determination that he had been liable for breaches of the injunctions would be dismissed, his appeal against sentence would be allowed to the extent that the sentence would be reduced to one of 12 months. Her Ladyship considered that the sentence had been “manifestly excessive.” Insufficient credit had been given to the appellant for his guilty plea in the Magistrates’ Court to the two most serious offences and the fact that the appellant had been deeply frustrated about his inability to see his son and his genuine attempts to turn his life around and had obtained a job.

For the full judgment click here.

Former Senior Housing Needs Officer Jailed for Social Housing Fraud
Birmingham City Council reports that a former senior Housing Needs officer has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. The offences are reported to comprise of one count relating to social housing fraud and two counts relating to offences concerning job references. A council officer had identified serious concerns in relation to the Defendant’s role in relation to a homelessness application. An investigation was undertaken which revealed that the Defendant had submitted and processed three fraudulent homeless applications between 2011 and 2014, three of which had resulted in tenancies being granted.  She was dismissed and criminal proceedings followed which led to her conviction. For the full report click here. For the full report click here.

Tenant Harassment Conviction
On 4 July Birmingham Magistrates convicted a landlord for harassing a tenant in breach of s.1(3) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Birmingham News reports that the landlord attended the tenanted property with a large group of men and a portable speaker and that they proceeded to play loud music, banging on doors and make threats. The Council’s Private Rented Services team investigated and prosecuted the landlord who was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of £1000, compensation of £1000 and a victim surcharge of £100.  For the full report click here.

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Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2016] June issue of Legal Action. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. For the latest issue, click here For back-issues, click here

Where next for supported housing agenda post-Brexit? Paul Anderson [2016] Homeless Link 1 July. To read this article, click here

Latest homelessness numbers underline the challenge to keep housing on the agenda in post-Brexit England Martin Reed [2016] Homeless Link 30 June. To read this article, click here

Geographical Distribution and Characteristics of Long-Term International Migration Flows to the UK Dr Carlos Varga-Silva [2016] The Migration Observatory 28 June. To read this article, click here

Housing associations keen to keep calm and carry on building Luke Cross [2016] Guardian Housing Network 29 June. To read this article, click here

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 – Tackling Rogue Landlords Robert Mullarkey [2016] Anthony Gold Solicitors Blog 1 July. To read this article, click here


Housing Solicitor Vacancy

Burke Niazi Solicitors is seeking to recruit a housing solicitor to join their team at the South London office in Catford.

We have an established and respected Housing department and are seeking +3 years PQE housing solicitor who is already a LAA supervisor or meets the required standard.  Other property experience is a distinct advantage.

Salary according to experience.

Apply with covering letter and CV to harrietkaiser@burkeniazi.com

Closing date – 15th July 2016.

No agencies.

Website – www.burkeniazi.com


Henry Hyams

Housing Lawyer - Full or Part-Time

We are seeking a Housing Lawyer with at least 3 years’ relevant experience (preferably to meet legal aid supervisor requirements) to work with a small but dedicated team on predominantly publicly funded cases.

We have contracts with the LAA to provide Legal Help matter starts in housing from both our main and branch offices in Leeds City Centre. We are one of three organisations providing representation under the Housing Duty Solicitor Scheme at a very busy Leeds County Court.

Much of our work is court based and the successful candidate will be a confident advocate able to deal with a mixed housing law caseload including possession claims, homelessness, disrepair, anti-social behaviour, unlawful eviction and judicial review. The position would suit either a solicitor or experienced caseworker preferably with knowledge of legal aid funding and CCMS.

In return we offer a competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with qualifications and experience. We are committed to publicly funded work and foster a caring and compassionate ethos in which to work. Please apply with your CV and covering letter to Caroline Clarke c.clarke@henryhyams.com stating your salary expectations


Housing Solicitor/Caseworker
Ealing Law Centre

Salary: According to experience

Working hours: 35 per week

Benefits include 22 days’ annual leave, the possibility of flexible working and significant opportunities for learning and development.

We require a solicitor/caseworker for our Housing team. At least 2 years’ experience of Housing law is required.

Ealing Law Centre has recently secured grant funding to allow us to expand our range of work to include out of scope housing work and welfare benefits advice. We are looking for an enthusiastic housing caseworker/solicitor who can help us grow and expand the services to local residents and assist our current housing supervisor with housing work which is still within scope for Legal Aid. The Law Centre also has a Legal Aid contract for Immigration Work and grant funding for Welfare Benefits advice.

This is an exciting time for the Law Centre. We have got new grant funding secured and we are looking for someone who is keen to develop their housing work in Law Centre environment. The post holder will be expected to be proactive in developing community links and training first tier advice agencies in the area.

The successful candidate will conduct out of scope housing work and assist with the housing and debt matter starts we have been allocated and be proactive in commencing and conducting certificated cases for clients.

Ealing Law Centre is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from all candidates who meet the person specification regardless of age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or race.

For an application pack email: info@ealinglaw.org.uk

Closing date: 5 pm 8 July 2016
Interviews: TBC

Lime Legal Limited, Greengate House, 87 Pickwick Road, Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13 9B