16th March 2016
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Pay to stay
On 8 March 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which provides information on the ‘pay to stay’ scheme in England under which social landlords can charge tenants with an income of over £60,000 market or near market rents. To read the briefing, click here

Social housing rents
On 8 March 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which explains key policy developments in relation to setting social housing rent levels in England since 2002. For the briefing, click here

Help to Buy
On 10 March 2016 the DCLG released statistics showing cumulative sales since the launch of the Help to Buy (equity loan) scheme on 1 April 2013. In the first 33 months (to 31 December 2015), 73,813 properties were bought with the support of the Help to Buy: equity loan scheme. The majority of sales were to first-time buyers (59,871 representing 81% of total sales). For the full statistics, click here

Help to Buy – Wales
On 9 March the Welsh Government published an interim evaluation of the impact of Help to Buy – Wales on buyers and developers, considering how the existence of the scheme has influenced buyer and developer behaviour. For the report, click here For a summary of the report, click here

Housing needs for caravans and houseboats
On 11 March 2016 the DCLG published draft guidance showing how the government would want local housing authorities to interpret the changes to accommodation needs assessments relating to caravans and houseboats (if clause 115 of the Housing and Planning Bill should receive Royal Assent). For the draft guidance, click here

Sales of surplus property
In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced changes to the rules for use of ‘capital receipts’. Now for a 3-year period from the 1 April 2016, local authorities will be able to spend any revenues they generate from selling surplus assets – like property or shares and bonds – to fund the costs of improvements to services such as housing. On 11 March 2016 the DCLG published updated guidance to show how local authorities can use these powers. For the guidance, click here

Homelessness (1)
On 14 March 2016 the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee heard oral evidence in respect of its inquiry into homelessness. For the inquiry homepage, click here For associated coverage of the issue in The Guardian, click here

Homelessness (2)
On 9 March 2016 the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Is England Fairer?, an analysis of how people’s human rights have been realised in practice over the last five years. The report findings included that homeless people used hospital services between three and six times more often than the general population. Recent data show A&E visits per homeless person are four times higher than for the general public. The average age of death for homeless men was 48 years compared with 74 years for the general population. For homeless women it was 43 years compared to 80 for the general population. For the report, click here

Homelessness (3)
According to The Guardian, ‘ministers are considering changes to the law in an attempt to support the growing number of people on the brink of homelessness ... Options include introducing a new duty of prevention in England, which would force councils to provide advice and support for anyone at risk of homelessness, regardless of whether they are deemed to be in priority need under existing laws.” For the report, click here For coverage in Inside Housing, click here

Homelessness – London
Homelessness charities Crisis, St Mungo's, Centrepoint and Homelessness Link have welcomed the pledge in Sadiq Khan's London mayoral manifesto to build ‘genuinely affordable homes’ to rent as vital to arresting London's number one cause of homelessness, the end of a private tenancy. However, they say the manifesto falls short of the ambition and leadership needed. For the manifesto, click here For the comments of Crisis and others, click here

Rough sleeping
Biffa, the waste management company, has reported an increasing number of people sleeping rough in recycling bins. For the BBC News coverage of this issue, click here

Rough sleeping: England
On 11 March 2016 The House of Commons Library published a research briefing which analyses the trends in rough sleeping in England since 2010. For the briefing, click here

Domestic violence
On 8 March the government announced that it is to increase its committed funding to £80 million to protect women and girls from violence, as part of a new violence against women and girls (VAWG) strategy. The fund comes into effect in 2017 and will help provide specialist accommodation based on an assessment of local need. Citizens Advice has welcomed the announcement. For the press release announcing the fund, click here. For Citizens Advice’s response, click here

Private renting
Haringey Council has become the first local authority to set up a lettings agency to offer lettings and management services across the whole private rented sector. A not-for-profit body set up by the authority, Move 51° North, will match responsible landlords with tenants who might otherwise ‘face unwarranted rent hikes, exorbitant contract renewal fees and poor service from traditional lettings companies’. For Haringey’s press release, click here

Private renting and Housing Benefit
There is some evidence to suggest that private landlords are reluctant to let to prospective tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit. The House of Commons Library has published a note which explains the reasons for that reluctance and why it is not unlawful. For the note, click here

Right to Buy – Wales
Anglesey Council has become the latest local authority to ask the Welsh Government to suspend for five years tenants’ right to buy. Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Flintshire councils have already been granted the power to halt sales. For the BBC New report, click here

Housing associations and charities
On 14 March 2016 the think tank Civil Exchange published a report – Independence in Question – which finds that ‘a shift in the balance of influence over public policy and fresh controversies around charity behaviour have plunged the charity sector’s independence to a five year low.’ The report cites as an example of interference with the independent purpose of the sector ‘Government pressure on housing associations to make them sell off their assets by giving tenants a “right to buy.”’ To read the report, click here

Start Spreading The News
If your organisation has a success story such as the effective use of legislation or a new policy or practice initiative that may be of interest to other Housing Professionals then please send details to info@housinglawweek.co.uk so that we can consider including it in a future issue of HLW and bring it to the attention of fellow practitioners.

Housing and Planning Bill
This is a UK Government Bill about social and private rented housing, rogue landlords, estate agents, planning and compulsory purchase. It has completed all its House of Commons stages and is now passing through the House of Lords. The Bill entered Committee on 9 February 2016. For a copy of the Bill as presented in the Lords, click here For the Explanatory Notes, click here For the official Impact Assessment of the Bill, click here  To follow the progress of the Bill, click here . To read the debates at all stages of the Bill, click here. For the House of Lords Library research briefing on the Bill, click here For a comment from the National Federation of ALMOs calling for changes to the provisions in the Bill relating to HMRC data sharing (and relevant to ‘Pay to Stay’ proposals), click here For a letter to The Guardian, signed by more than 70 academics, objecting to the proposals in the Bill, click here

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 has progressed through the House of Lords. The third reading took place on 9 February 2016. The amendments made to the Bill in the House of Lords have been considered by the Commons under the ‘ping pong’ procedure. The most recent debate, in the Lords, was on 7 March 2016 when the Lords’ amendments (to which the Commons had objected) were not insisted upon. To read the proceedings, click here For minutes of the proceedings, click here A date for Royal Assent has yet to be set. For the Bill, as amended on Report, 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 For the debates at all stages of the passage of the Bill, click here For a House of Commons Library briefing published in advance of the Commons’ consideration of the Lords’ amendments, click here

Immigration Bill
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 and has entered the Report stage. For a copy of the Bill as amended in Committee, click here  For the Explanatory Notes for the Bill as it entered the Lords, click here  For the official Impact Assessment, click here  For the debates at all stages of the passage of the Bill, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here 

Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill 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 For a supplemental memorandum describing provisions in the Bill conferring power to make subordinate legislation which were either introduced to the Bill or amended at Stage 2, click here The Bill completed Stage 1 on 22 January 2016. For a report on the debate, click here Committee consideration of the Bill at Stage 2 took place during February 2016, with Stage 3 due to be completed by 17 March 2016. For a briefing on the Bill as it entered Stage 3, click here For the Bill as amended at Stage 2, click here For the evidence submitted to that Committee by the Chartered Institute of Housing (Scotland), click here

Housing (Amendment) Bill
This is a Bill introduced in the Assembly by the Northern Ireland Executive. It would make provision for the better sharing of information relating to empty homes or to anti-social behaviour and provide for the registration of certain loans as statutory charges. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the explanatory memorandum (listed under ‘All associated documents and links’), click here  For a commentary on the Bill, click here The Bill completed the Further Consideration Stage on 15 February. For an official report of the Further Consideration Stage, click here The Bill passed the Final Stage on 23 February and is awaiting Royal Assent. To read a report of proceedings (commencing at 3.30 pm), click here To follow progress of the Bill, click here

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. The Bill completed the Further Consideration Stage on 7 March 2016. For an official report of the proceedings, click here For a copy of the Bill as amended at Further Consideration Stage, click here For an Explanatory and Financial Memorandum at that stage, click here  

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 was again listed for a Second Reading on 11 March 2016 but was objected to and the Second Reading debate will resume on 22 April 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 in October 2015, click here

Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) Bill
This is a Private Members’ 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 is to be on a date yet to be announced. 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 Bill
This 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 was re-scheduled for 11 March 2016 but on that occasion was not moved for a Second Reading. 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


Lafferty v Newark & Sherwood DC [2016] EWHC 320 (QB)
Mrs Lafferty was the tenant of a property in Ollerton. Whilst hanging washing out in her back garden a hole suddenly opened up and she fell into it sustaining injuries.  She claimed damages against the Council under s.4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 (“the DPA 1972”).  Her claim was dismissed at first instance and her appeal was heard by Mr Justice Jay.  It was not disputed that the nature of the defect was such that no reasonable inspection of the garden could have discovered it.  The principal issue was whether the DPA 1972 imposed a form of strict liability on the Council or whether the liability was one “akin to negligence or the common duty of care under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957.”  Mr Justice Jay dismissed the appeal and held that there was no strict liability under s.4 of the DPA 1972 and that  s.4 (4) of the DPA 1972 acts only to extend those situations in which s.4 (1) of the DPA 1972 applies. For a commentary on the case click here. For the full judgment click here

Unsafe Asbestos Removal at Tenant’s Home
A gas engineer disturbed a quantity of asbestos board that surrounded the boiler at a tenanted property, thereby potentially putting both himself and others at risk from asbestos fibres.  The work had been undertaken without suitable safety precautions being taken.  The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted him and he was convicted and sentenced to a fine of £452 and ordered to pay costs of over £900.  HSE Inspector Simon Jones, speaking after the trial, is reported to have said, that the gas engineer, “should have realised that there is a very good chance that a 30 year old gas boiler could be insulated with asbestos insulation board but he made no checks before working around the material.  He then compounded matters by ignoring concerns raised the tenants that the material that he had disturbed was asbestos and carried on removing the material.” He went on to offer this advice, “Tradesmen should make enquiries as the presence of asbestos before starting work and if they suspect that they have come across asbestos during work they should stop work immediately and confirm what the material is and arrange for it to be dealt with by properly trained asbestos removers in a safe manner.’ For the full Press Release click here For further information about Asbestos Health & Safety click here

Closure Orders following ASB
Two buildings in Borehamwood were made subject to closure orders following anti-social behaviour including shouting and swearing which had been ongoing for over a year. Previous court injunctions had not been effective in putting a stop to the behaviour so that a combined effort involving ASB teams and the local police led to securing closure orders. For media commentary click here

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Pay to Stay: fairer rents in social housing
The DCLG consulted on how income thresholds should work beyond the levels set out at Budget 2015, the interaction with Housing Benefit, and sought evidence of likely administrative costs in operating the scheme. The government has now published a document which summarises the consultation responses and sets out its way forward as it seeks to implement the policy from April 2017. For the response document, click here

Homes and Communities Agency
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the national housing, land and regeneration agency; and the regulator of social housing providers in England. The DCLG is carrying out a review of the Homes and Communities Agency and has called for evidence from any interested stakeholders. Those wishing to respond are invited to complete a survey by 24 March 2016. For the survey, click here

Use of data in public sector organisations
The Cabinet Office has launched a consultation into the sharing and use of data in public sector organisations. One of the aims is stated as reduction “of the billions of pounds lost and cost to the taxpayer in preventing, detecting and dealing with fraud against the public sector.” For the press release click here For the consultation document and impact assessments, click here The consultation closes on 22 April 2016

McKenzie Friends in the courts
The Judicial Executive Board (JEB) has issued a consultation paper proposing reforms to the existing guidance for 'McKenzie Friends', ie non-lawyers who offer assistance and in some cases seek to appear as advocates on behalf of litigants-in-person (LiPs) in civil cases. The JEB has invited comments from court users to be submitted by 19 May 2016. For the consultation paper, click here

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

Is England fairer...for people who become homeless?
Preeti Kathrecha [2016] Homeless Link 14 March. To read the article, click here

A tale of two cities: winners and losers in London's social housing divide
Oliver Wainwright [2016] Guardian 14 March. To read the article, click here

To boost right to buy sales we need a better deal for council leaseholders
Harry Phibbs [2016] Conservative Home 14 March. To read the article, click here

Help to buy is riddled with loopholes that the privileged can easily exploit Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian 11 March. To read the article, click here

Empty homes and rough sleepers: the numbers Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian Housing Network 10 March. To read the article, click here

Water water everywhere ...
Sam Madge-Wyld [2016] Legal Action 9 March. To read the article, click here

The Guardian view on rough sleeping: an outrage that was predictable, and predicted
Editorial Guardian 9 March. To read the opinion, click here

More London solutions for the Government to ignore
Steve Hilditch [2016] Red Brick 9 March. To read the article, click here

When the housing crisis falls on our most vulnerable children
Kevin Garvey [2016] Shelter Policy Blog 9 March. To read the article, click here

17 March 2016
Proposed completion of Stage 3 of Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill 2015

24 March 2016           
Closing date for responses for the Homes and Communities Agency review (see Housing Law Consultations above)


Customer Solutions Manager (Job Reference: 5421)
Central Bedfordshire Council

The Council are looking to recruit a Customer Solutions Manager, responsible for developing and improving the Housing Solutions operating model where risk management, quality assurance and cost avoidance systems are inter-related.

The role is challenging but rewarding and will join up customer experience with service improvement and development. Responding to customer and stakeholder experience and challenge sits alongside implementing the learning for the Housing Service operations.
Team:  Housing Solutions
Salary: £43,852 - £46,786 pa
Hours: Full-Time, 37 hours per week
Closing Date: 28th March 2016
Interview Date: 13th April 2016

For further details click here
For an informal discussion about this position, please contact:
Nick Costin on 0300 300 5219 or email nick.costin@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

For any other recruitment related queries please contact: HR Services Recruitment Team on 0300 300 8157

Housing Options Officer Vacancy (Bournemouth Borough Council)

37 hours per week

We are looking for an experienced Housing Options Officer to deliver the challenging but very rewarding work to reduce homelessness in and around Bournemouth. With high levels of rough sleeping, expensive private rents and competition for social housing we are looking for someone to bring innovation and creativity to address these challenges.  The ideal candidate will have an excellent knowledge of the legal framework for the assessment of homelessness and the skills required to prevent homelessness wherever possible.

Responsible for homeless prevention, housing advice and homelessness applications, you will be making decisions about people’s housing circumstances and will be expected to work in partnership with a large variety of statutory and non-statutory organisations, internal departments, voluntary organisations, private sector landlords and housing benefit services.   The successful candidate will need to be able to demonstrate significant experience in these areas.
We offer a range of benefits which include flexible working, pensions, and a real opportunity to make a real difference to our local community.

Closing Date: 20 March 2016
For further details click here

For an informal discussion to find out more about the role and about Bournemouth as a place to work, please contact Claire Dyke, Homelessness Strategy Manager on 01202 454895 or email claire.dyke@bournemouth.gov.uk

Housing and Health Strategy Officer   (Vacancy ref H00014)                         
Lichfield District Council
£26,293 - £29,558 p.a.

Lichfield District Council is seeking to appoint to a new key post within its Housing Strategy team.  Working closely with the Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager and a broad range of partners, you’ll help develop and deliver principal strategies in a range of key areas from housing, to homelessness, to empty properties.  You will also work on enabling new affordable housing in the district and assessing housing need and demand. Responsible for developing and monitoring service level agreements with our partners you will ensure the successful delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants and the Council’s Housing Assistance Policy as well as the Council’s energy efficiency initiatives. You will also work on developing public health interventions and various public health initiatives and projects.

It is essential you have a relevant professional track record. Your experience in housing, public health or a related field will span partnership working; developing and monitoring contracts or service level agreements; writing reports and carrying out research. You will need to be both highly organised and an effective communicator.

Informal enquiries can be made to Lucy Robinson on 01543 308712 or by email: lucy.robinson@lichfielddc.gov.uk. Please quote vacancy ref H00014 with any enquiry.
For comprehensive further details and an application pack click here

Closing date: 29th March 2016

Homelessness Reviews Officer – Leeds

Housing Reviews Limited is an independent company providing a housing reviews (s166A & s202 Housing Act 1996) service to local authorities in England.
We are now recruiting a full time experienced Homelessness Reviews Officer for our office in Leeds. We are looking for an individual who is highly motivated, experienced and committed to providing high quality s202 Homeless review decisions on behalf of several local authorities throughout England.

Purpose of the Job:-
To receive, investigate and conclude s202 homelessness appeals on behalf of several local authorities.

Essential experience:-

  • The ability to write legally sound s202 review decision letters in the 5 areas of homelessness and suitability.
  • Excellent knowledge of homelessness legislation and case law including, current housing issues and current government homelessness policies.
  • Experience in working within a Housing Options/Homelessness department.
  • The confidence to liaise with homeless applicants and their legal representatives as well as other agencies on a daily basis.
  • Experience of using IT applications including, word processing, spreadsheets and databases.
  • Excellent verbal and written skills.
  • An effective problem solver with an organised and imaginative approach to their work and the ability to manage difficult situations.
  • Ability to work on own initiative, work well under pressure, prioritise work and meet strict deadlines.
  • Experience of case management.
  • An effective team player with a track record of developing positive relationships with colleagues and managers.

In return Housing Reviews Limited can offer you a competitive salary & benefits, plus the flexibility to work from home.
Please forward your Curriculum Vitae in the first instance to lucia@housingreviews.co.uk or call 0113 8160210 if you require more information.


Principal Housing Solicitor Vacancy - Brixton Advice Centre
Full-time position.
Salary up to £40,000 p.a.

Brixton Advice Centre seek a full-time Housing Solicitor to lead our experienced and dedicated Housing Team. This will be an external appointment. Although the post is full-time we may consider part-time (3 days per week minimum) depending upon the quality of the applicant.

Closing date: 31 March 2016 (5 pm)

For further details click here

For an applicant specification click here

For the job description click here


Housing Law Caseworker Vacancy

Sternberg Reed is a well established Lexcel Accredited law firm with offices in Essex and London A vacancy has arisen for a Caseworker 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 for 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:

  • Previous experience of working in Housing Law
  • Solid IT, drafting and research skills
  • Excellent communication & presentation skills - over the telephone and in person
  • Good time management
  • Ability to handle an extensive and varied workload
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines

Please apply to: julie.young@sternberg-reed.co.uk 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

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