7th September 2016
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Pay to Stay
On 29 August 2016 the Local Government Association urged new ministers to rethink the Pay to Stay policy which will require councils to charge some of their tenants higher rents from April 2017. The LGA cited new analysis, conducted on its behalf by Savills, which stated that more than 70,000 social housing tenants could face rent rise bills of an average £1,000 a year from next year under government plans to increase rents for those deemed to be earning high incomes. For more details of the research and the LGA’s press release, click here

Homelessness (1)
On 18 August 2016 the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee published a report on homelessness which concludes that a demonstrable increase in homelessness, driven by the cost and availability of housing, has pushed the problem to such a level that a renewed Government-wide strategy is needed. The Committee found that despite some examples of great work, it is not acceptable that the level of support offered to vulnerable people varies significantly across the country. Many people are badly treated by council staff and those who are judged not to be in priority need are often poorly served and sent away without any meaningful support or guidance. The report is complemented by the Homelessness Reduction Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline), a Private Members’ Bill presented by Committee member Bob Blackman MP and supported by the other members of the Committee. The Committee will take evidence on the Bill. For the report, click here

The Local Government Association said in response to the report: “Local government can succeed in reducing homelessness if given the funding and powers to bring together local housing, health, justice, and employment partners, to address the gaps between household incomes and spiralling rents, and to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes.” For the full response by the LGA, click here

Homelessness (2)

On 23 August 2016 the House of Lords Library published a briefing containing background information on homelessness, including causes, statistics and government and local authority policies in preparation for the forthcoming short debate in the House of Lords on 7 September 2016 on how the Government plans to deal with homelessness. For the briefing, click here

Homelessness – Wales
On 25 August 2016 the Welsh Government published its annual homelessness report which includes information on the number of households applying to local authorities for housing assistance under the Housing Wales Act 2014 and the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation. During 2015-16, 7,128 households were assessed as threatened with homelessness within 56 days and for 4,599 households (65%) homelessness was successfully prevented for at least 6 months. 6,891 households were assessed as being homeless and owed a duty to help secure accommodation during 2015-16. Of these, 3,108 households (45%) were helped to secure accommodation that was likely to last for 6 months, following intervention by the local authority. For the report, click here

Syrian refugees
On 4 September 2016 the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced that there have now been secured enough local authority places to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next four years. Ms Rudd said the UK was on track to deliver the promise made to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. For the BBC News reporting of the announcement, click here For the Local Government Association’s response, click here

Social housing – Scotland
On 31 August 2016 the Scottish Housing Regulator published its annual report which stated that Scottish social landlords are continuing to perform well across almost all of the standards and outcomes of the Scottish Social Housing Charter. The Regulator’s report shows that, overall, landlords continue to deliver good services and tenant satisfaction remains high, with nine out of ten social housing tenants satisfied with the overall service their landlord provides. For the report, click here For the response of CIH Scotland, click here

Right to Buy
On 31 August 2016 Camden New Journal reported that 14 Right to Buy deals for Camden Council homes have been halted by fraud investigators amid suspicions that they were set up by people looking to cheat the system. The newspaper says that the cases were revealed in a new report circulated within Camden Council, which also shows that the council has seen an increase in potential fraudulent applications over the last financial year. For the media report, click here

Discrimination in Housing
On 18 August 2016 the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Healing a divided Britain which represents the biggest ever review into race inequality in Great Britain. Section 2.5.1 of Part 2 of the report addresses substandard and overcrowded housing.  Section 2.5.2 concerns Gypsy and Traveller accommodation. For the report, click here On 27 August 2016 the Prime Minister launched an “audit of public services to reveal racial disparities and to help end the injustices that many people experience” which will be led by a new dedicated Whitehall unit situated in the Cabinet Office, reporting jointly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Minister for the Cabinet Office.  Whilst the announcement did not mention housing issues specifically, the Prime Minister did refer to EHRC report. For the Prime Minister’s announcement, click here

Help to Buy – Wales
On 25 August 2016 the Welsh Government reported that between 1 April and 30 June 2016, 568 property purchases were completed using a Welsh Government shared equity loan. This brings the total number of purchases under Help to Buy Wales since its introduction on 2 January 2014 to 3,655. 171 new applications were received during the quarter and 9 of these applications were also completed within the same time period. At 30 June 2016 there were 575 applications for loans still outstanding. For the more detailed figures, click here

‘Bedroom tax’
On 17 August 2016 g15, a group of London’s largest housing providers, published research which, it says, indicates that the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ welfare reform is failing in its aim of freeing up larger homes, highlighting the need for more affordable homes in the capital. The report reveals that the proportion of residents on housing benefit who had the “correct” number of rooms fell from 59% in 2013 to 52% in 2015. For more details, click here

Private renting
On 25 August 2016 the Office for National Statistics published figures for private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain for July 2016. They show that prices rose by 2.4% in the 12 months to July 2016, unchanged compared with the year to June 2016. Private rental prices grew by 2.6% in England, 0.2% in Scotland and were unchanged in Wales (0.0%) in the 12 months to July 2016. Rental prices increased in all the English regions over the year to July 2016, with rental prices increasing the most in the South East (3.5%). For the full statistics, click here

Possession actions

On 11 August 2016 the Ministry of Justice published statistics relating to possession claims in land and tenant, and mortgage cases for the period of three months to 31 June 2016. The figures show that landlord possession claims (34,008) and orders for possession (28,125) claims in county courts in April to June 2016 were down 6% and 4% respectively, compared to the same quarter in 2015. There was little percentage change in the number of warrants of possession (18,186) and repossessions by county court bailiffs (10,467) on the same quarter last year. The average time from claim being issued to repossession by county court bailiff is 41.0 weeks, compared to 39.6 weeks in April to June 2015.

All stages of the mortgage possession actions recorded in county courts in April to June 2016, have decreased when compared to the same quarter last year. Mortgage possession claims (4,430), orders for possession (3,106), warrants of possession (4,828) and repossessions by county court bailiffs (1,176) were down 9%, 9%, 14% and 14% respectively compared to the same quarter last year, continuing the long-term downward trend seen since January to March 2009. The average time from claim being issued to the repossession by county court bailiff is just over two years (116.3 weeks), compared to 107.1 weeks in the same quarter last year. For the full statistics, click here

Valuation Tribunal for England
On 5 September 2016 Gary John Richard Garland was appointed the new President of the Valuation Tribunal for England which considers (amongst other matters) appeals concerning council tax.

Housing associations – Wales
On 15 August 2016 Plaid Cymru representatives Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP said that the decision by the shareholders of Cantref housing association to merge with Wales and West housing association is "open to judicial review" and they are minded to support such action for “a catalogue of reasons”. For Plaid Cymru’s coverage of this issue, click here For a statement by Cantref’s Interim Chair, click here

Domestic abuse refuges
On 5 September 2016 Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid reported that 67% of refuges in England and 69% in Wales are facing closure because planned changes to the housing benefit cap mean that most will lose so much income that they cannot stay open. For more information, click here For a report in The Guardian, click here

Rent to Buy

On 3 September 2016 Renewal, a Conservative think tank, published Homes for All which advocates for, amongst other policies, the development of “Rent to Buy affordable homes: quality new homes with a fast track to ownership. They would represent a real and positive legacy that would improve the lives of many people who previously thought they were shut out from home ownership. These would be set at a rent level genuinely low enough to help people save up and buy the property. They would build on the government’s existing ‘Rent to Buy’ programme, but be significantly scaled up, made more affordable and aimed squarely at working people on low incomes.” For the report, 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

Crown Tenancies Bill

This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Commons by Wendy Morton which seeks to provide that ​Crown tenancies may be assured tenancies for the purposes of the Housing Act 1988, subject to certain exceptions; to modify the assured tenancies regime in relation to certain Crown tenancies; and for connected purposes. The Bill is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 16 December 2016. For progress of the Bill, click here

Homelessness Reduction Bill

This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Commons by Bob Blackman which seeks to amend the Housing Act 1996 to make provision about measures for reducing homelessness; and for connected purposes. The Bill is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 28 October 2016. For progress of the Bill, click here The Bill will be considered by the House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government from 5 September 2016. For details, click here

Housing (Tenants' Rights) Bill
This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Caroline Lucas which seeks to establish a Living Rent Commission to conduct research into, and provide proposals for, reducing rent levels in the private rented sector and improving terms and conditions for tenants; to require the Secretary of State to report the recommendations of the Commission to Parliament; to introduce measures to promote long-term tenancies; to establish a mandatory national register of ​landlords and lettings agents; to prohibit the charging of letting or management agent fees to tenants; and for connected purposes. The Bill is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 20 January 2017. For progress of the Bill, click here


Jack Jones v Luton Borough Council [2016] EWHC 2036 (Admin)
The Claimant challenged the Luton Borough Council’s (“the Defendant”) Housing Appeals and Review Panel (“HARP”) refusal of his appeal against the decision of the Housing Needs Review Panel (“HNRP”) not to offer the Claimant a new tenancy of a two bedroomed property (“The Property”) following the death of his father. A tenancy of the Property had been granted to the Claimant’s mother and father jointly in 1997 and the Claimant had moved into the Property in 1997 at the age of 14.

In 2011 the Claimant entered into a civil partnership with Philip Town.  Following his mother’s diagnosis with lung cancer the Claimant had given up work to care for his parents. The mother died in June 2012 so that the father became tenant of the property by survivorship.

In March 2015, the Claimant’s civil partner’s brother, Jake Town moved into the Property following a relationship breakdown and loss of his home. Jake has complex health issues.

The father died on 16 May 2015.  The Claimant had no statutory right of succession to the tenancy of the Property and the Defendant Council served a Notice to Quit which expired on 3 August 2015.  The Claimant provided medical evidence in relation to his own and his civil partner’s medical condition and the likelihood of eviction exacerbating their condition.  Subsequently, the Claimant provided further submissions including one from his partner’s brother Jake in which he stated he would be asking his GP to provide a letter.

The HNRP decided to allocate the Claimant a one-bedroom property and indicated that Jake “is not considered to be a permanent member of the household.”

The Claimant appealed to the HARP but the appeal was refused on the basis that the circumstances were not “exceptional” and that Jake was not a dependant of any of the members of the household.  The decision to offer the Claimant and his partner a one-bedroom property was upheld.

The judicial review application was heard by Mr Ter Haar QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court judge) who considered the Claimant’s contention that Jake should be treated as a dependant and regarded as part of the Claimant’s household.  The Claimant relied upon Article 8 of the ECHR.  The judge analysed the leading authorities and concluded that, “it was clear that in exceptional cases an adult living with other members of his or her family and dependent upon those other members of the family may be regarded as being part of a “family” so as to engage the protections granted by Article 8. Whether that is so or not will depend upon the particular facts of each case.”

The judge concluded that the HARP had been entitled on the evidence before it to take the view that Jake Town’s medical condition was not sufficient to qualify him to be a dependent member of the Claimant’s family.  Furthermore, Jake had only moved into the Property very shortly before the Claimant’s father died and the period of residence was so short that the HARP could fairly consider that Jake was not a member of the household.  The HARP’s decision was one it had been entitled to make on the evidence before it. For the full judgment click here.

YA v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham [2016] EWHC 1850 (Admin)
The Claimant, a former refugee, had been taken into care when he was 11 and granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2010.  He challenged by way of judicial review, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s (“The Defendant”) refusal to enter him on the Housing Register. The principal issue was whether the Council had been entitled to take account of the Claimant’s spent criminal convictions in relation to his application to join the Council’s housing register.

Mr Peter Marquand (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) reviewed the Defendant’s allocation scheme, the decision making process in relation to the application and the Defendant’s review as well as the statutory framework relating to allocation schemes. He also considered the Defendant’s discretion in relation to deciding what classes of person qualify for the allocation of accommodation. The Defendant maintained that the Claimant’s behaviour remained relevant even though his convictions were spent.

The judge analysed the relevant provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and, in particular, s.4 (1) in relation to “spent convictions” concluding that the purpose of that provision was “to seek to prevent the past offences coming to light and to ensure that the rehabilitated person is treated as not having committed the offence in question.”  He considered that it was not lawful for the Defendant to base its decision on the offences that he had been convicted of nor was it lawful to base its decision on the conduct constituting those offences because s.4 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 prohibits it where the convictions are spent and where s.7(3) is not applicable. 

The judge also found that the Defendant’s housing allocation scheme impacted upon “private life” and therefore comes within the ambit of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”).  Whilst entry on the Housing Register did not guarantee accommodation, there was a sufficient link to bring it within the scope of Article 8 “not least because not getting on the register has an impact on an applicant’s private life.” 

The judge also found that the indirect discrimination under Article 14 of the ECHR in the Defendant’s allocation scheme as applied to Care Leavers, such as the Claimant, was justified so that the claim under Article 14 failed. For the full judgment click here.

R on the application of Georgia Woolfe v London Borough of Islington [2016] EWHC 1907 (Admin)
The Claimant sought judicial review in relation to aspects of the London Borough of Islington’s (“The Defendant”) allocations scheme and in particular she asserted that: (1) an aspect of the Defendant’s scheme was unlawful in that it prevented applicants to whom reasonable preference must be given, but who have fewer than 120 points from bidding from all available properties; (2) additionally or alternatively, that points threshold for bidding for a property was unlawful because it breached s.11 Children Act 2004 and (3) that the Defendant had misapplied their own policy in failing to award her points to which she was entitled and which would have enabled her to qualify for the threshold for bidding.

Holman J heard the application and bracketed claims (1) and (2) together as “the Points threshold claim.”  His Lordship concluded that in relation to the first claim it had been lawful for the Defendant to decide that a threshold assists in managing the bidding process by limiting the volume of applicants bidding to those who had a realistic chance of being rehoused under the scheme. So far as the claim under s.11 Children Act 2004 was concerned, Holman J considered that, “provided the welfare of children can be sufficiently safeguarded and promoted in individual cases by the award of welfare points” there was no inconsistency between the setting of a points threshold and the statutory duty under s.11.

In addressing the claimant’s third ground His Lordship noted that the Defendant’s allocation policy provided that in certain circumstances points would be awarded under its “New Generation Scheme”. This scheme set out various criteria including a requirement that, “applicants must be living continuously as an agreed member of the household of an Islington resident for at least three out of the last five years.” The Defendant had refused the Claimant’s request for an additional 90 points stating that she “was no longer living with her parents” in the borough, that is, that she was no longer living in a social housing tenancy.  The Claimant had been temporarily rehoused by the Defendant in a private sector flat on a weekly assured shorthold tenancy. His Lordship considered this to be a “catch 22” situation for the Claimant.  He took the view that the words: “…continuously….for at least three out of the last five years…” considered in the light of the overall allocations policy was decisive and was capable of being interpreted as meaning “be living” and also “or have been living”.  He considered that the Defendant had misapplied its own policy and quashed the decision to refuse to award the New Generation points to the Claimant. His Lordship indicated that the Defendant would need to reconsider that decision but made the point that the Defendant would be entitled to investigate whether the Claimant did satisfy all of the criteria.  For the full judgment click here.

Leaseholders of Foundling Court and O’Donnell Court v The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Camden and others [2016] UKUT 366 (LC)
This judgment of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) clarifies whose obligation it is to “consult the tenant” under s.20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 in relation to proposed “qualifying works” or qualifying long term agreements.  The judgment confirms that the head landlord must consult and serve notice on each of its own tenants and in addition on its own tenants’ sub-tenants who are liable to contribute to the costs of the proposed works.  For the full judgment click here.

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Law Commission reform programme
The Law Commission has opened the consultation for its 13th Programme of law reform. The responses received will inform the majority of the Law Commission’s work from 2017 to 2020. The Commission is asking for the public’s help to identify areas of the substantive law of England and Wales that need reform, and to prioritise those reforms. It is also suggesting some potential projects that could form part of its Programme, and it would like to have views on these. Within these proposals is a suggestion that there might be areas of residential, commercial or agricultural landlord and tenant law which impose unnecessary restrictions, inefficiencies or costs. For more information about the Programme, including the criteria for project selection, click here For more details of the proposal concerning leasehold law, click here The consultation closes on 31 October 2016.


Allocation, Allocation, Allocation (Part 1) Arden Chambers [2016] Legal Action Group 1 August. To read this article, click here

Allocation, Allocation, Allocation (Part 2)
Arden Chambers [2016] Legal Action Group 15 August. To read this article, click here

Old repairing issues considered anew
Timothy Fancourt QC and Nathaniel Duckworth [2016] Solicitors Journal 15 August. Available on-line for subscribers. To read this article, click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law
Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2016] September 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

Vulnerability after Hotak/Johnson/Kanu
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 22 August. To read this article, click here

Landlords behaving badly
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 22 August. To read this article, click here

Remaining alive to landlord and tenant issues
Alec Samuels [2016] Solicitors Journal 23 August. Available on-line for subscribers. To read this article, click here

What do points mean? (No prizes)
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 29 August. To read this article, click here

What is pay to stay and who will be affected?
Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian 31 August. To read this article, click here

House building figures Dr Stephen Battersby [2016] UK Housing Professionals Forum 31 August. To read this article, click here

May is urged to consider policy of 'living rents' linked to wage levels
Anushka Asthana [2016] Guardian 1 September. To read this article, click here

'Pay to stay' is Robin Hood in reverse for thousands of hard-working people
Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian 2 September. To read this article, click here


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