17th February 2016
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Landlord possession claims
On 11 February 2016, the latest official statistics for county court possession claims were published, covering the three months October, November and December 2015. In that period, 36,601 landlord possession claims were recorded. Although the majority were social landlord cases, the proportion has fallen from 83% in 1999 to 62% now. There were 28,476 orders for possession, down 6% on the same quarter last year. Over the three months, 9,975 actual repossessions were carried out by county court bailiffs in landlord cases, down 6% on the same period last year. For the full figures, click here

Housing associations and right to buy – parliamentary report
The House of Commons Communities & Local Government Select Committee has published its report into Housing Associations and Right to Buy. It has concluded: ‘The Government proposes to fund the Right to Buy discounts for housing association tenants with the proceeds from the sale of high value council homes. However we believe that public policy should usually be funded by central Government, rather than through a levy on local authorities.’ The Committee has also found that the robustness of the funding model for the RTB discounts is extremely questionable, calling on the Government to set out the fully costed evidence for the proposals. For the report, click here

Housing associations and right to buy – responses to the report
The Local Government Association agrees that the Right to Buy extension to housing association tenants should ‘absolutely not be funded by forcing councils to sell off their homes’. For the LGA’s press statement, click here The Chartered Institute for Housing (whose analysis is quoted in the report) commented: ‘Our research shows that almost 7,000 council homes a year could be lost when right to buy is extended to housing associations if no extra funding is provided by central government.’ For more details, click here For a news report outlining the response of housing associations in the North East of England, click here For the BBC News report of the exchange on the issue between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at Prime Minister’s Questions, click here

Housing associations
The NHF has updated its free Local Economic Impact Calculator which allows an organisation to estimate the economic impact of building new affordable homes in its area and day-to-day activity (either in terms of number of homes managed or in terms of turnover). For more details of this tool, click here

Discretionary Housing Payments
The Department for Work and Pensions has published updated guidance for local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales who are responsible for administering Discretionary Housing Payments. The guidance includes advice on how Discretionary Housing Payments can be used to provide support to claimants affected by some of the main welfare reforms, including: introduction of benefit cap; removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector; and reductions in Local Housing Allowance. For the guidance, click here

Housing policy
On 9 February 2016 the Liberal Democrats had an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons on Housing Policy. To read the speeches, click here In advance of the debate the House of Commons Library published a background briefing of the issue. For the briefing, click here

Housing cases in the courts
The Ministry of Justice has announced that 86 courts and tribunals in England and Wales will close. The announcement was made as the MoJ published its response to a consultation on its original proposal to close 91 courts and tribunals. For the MoJ’s response document which sets out details of the courts to be closed, click here

The Residential Landlords Association has published its response to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s inquiry into homelessness. For the response, click here For the webpage of the inquiry (for which the closing date for written submissions has now passed), click here

Help to buy
On 15 February 2016 the DCLG announced that new research has found that 43% of new homes built under the Help to Buy equity loan scheme would not have been built without introduction of the scheme. To read the report, click here To read the departmental press release, click here

Adult safeguarding in London
LondonADASS has published its London Multi-Agency Adult Safeguarding Policy and Procedures. Since the earlier policy and procedures, progress has been made to improve practice, through learnt experience, feedback and translating policy and procedures so that there is a shared approach to adult safeguarding. To access the document, please click here

Cost of renting
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) have launched a Cost of Renting report which looks into the lifetime cost of renting for current and future first time buyers. The report analyses regional differences in the costs of renting and reveals that the average first time buyer in England this year will have already spent £52,900 on housing through rent. It also states that 21% of those renting in the UK do not expect to afford to buy a home. To read the report, click here

Northern Ireland quarterly housing bulletin
The Northern Ireland Department for Social Development has published its latest quarterly bulletin containing information on new housing starts and completions, homelessness, the Residential Property Price Index and new dwelling sales and prices. The bulletin states that more new homes were started during July to September 2015 than at any time over the previous five years. For the bulletin, click here For the CIH response, click here

Buy to let in Scotland
The Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee has expressed its support for the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill which, if enacted, would introduce a supplement on purchases of additional residential properties in Scotland (such as buy-to-let properties and second homes) over £40,000. The committee has emphasised the need to balance the interests of first time buyers with the needs of those who rent their homes and with the interests of house builders and investors. For more details, click here

Housing services in Rotherham
The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that responsibility for the running of a limited number of services, including housing services, has returned to Rotherham Council as of 11 February 2016. Since the findings of reports into failings in Rotherham, all executive functions of the council had been exercised by government-appointed commissioners. For the DCLG press release, click here

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

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 will be considered by the Commons under the ‘ping pong’ procedure on 23 February 2016. For the Lords amendments to the Bill, click here 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 

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 Committee. For minutes of proceedings of Committee on 9 February, click here 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  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 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 will take place over February 2016, with the Stage 3 Debate expected to take place mid-March 2016. For a marshalled list of amendments for 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 has completed its Committee Stage. For the Committee report, click here For an official report of the Consideration stage commenced on 1 February 2016, click here The Bill was scheduled for the Further Consideration Stage on 15 February 2016 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. 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 is now being considered by the Committee for Social Development. For a report of the Committee, click here For an executive summary of the report, 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 is again listed for a Second Reading, now scheduled for 11 March 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 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 has been re-scheduled (again) for 26 February 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


Jockey Club Racecourse Limited v Willmott Dixon Construction Limited
[2016] EWHC 167 (TCC)

In (a dispute concerning the design and construction of a roof on a grandstand) the Claimant made a Part 36 offer (pursuant to the Civil Procedure Rules 1998) in relation to liability only, to settle its claim on the basis that the Defendant would accept liability to pay 95% of its damages claim (such damages to be assessed).  The judge, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart concluded that a Part 36 offer can still be effective even where, as here, it did not reflect a possible outcome at trial. The offer was to be treated as a genuine offer to settle and the 5% discount could not, in the circumstances, be regarded as “derisory.”  The offer had been made at the same time as the Defendant was served with details of the full extent of the claim (by Amended Particulars of Claim). In those circumstances, His Lordship ordered the Defendant to pay the Claimant’s costs on a standard basis up until 4 months after the date of the offer and thereafter on an indemnity basis. For the judgment click here

Substantial fines for HMO Breaches
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea reports securing convictions of a property company which was an HMO licence holder and a director of that company in respect of a six storey property in the Borough which had been converted into 35 lettings. The Defendants were both convicted of failing to comply with a Housing Act 2004 prohibition order prohibiting use of one of the rooms as living accommodation and with breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.  The property company was fined £47,900 and the director was fined £21,870 and ordered to pay the Council’s costs in the sum of £7,709.75 and each was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120. For the full report click here.

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Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is holding a joint pre-appointment hearing of the Government’s preferred candidate for the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) with the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee in March 2016. By 18 February 2016, the Committees welcome submissions on the following: the effectiveness of the EHRC and the role of the Chair; the most important issues the Chair of the EHRC is likely to face during their term; and the most important qualities needed by the Chair of the EHRC. To send a written submission, click here

National Planning Policy
On 22 December 2015, the UK government launched a consultation seeking views on specific changes to national planning policy to support delivery of new homes, including low cost homes for first time buyers. The closing date for comments is 22 February 2016. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. For the online response form, click here


Our support for vulnerable tenants will be destroyed by this benefits cap Tony Stacey [2016] Guardian 16 February. To read the article, click here

Housing legislation to escalate “social cleansing” of UK cities Barry Mason [2016] World Socialist Web Site 15 February. To read the article, click here

How to better help PRS tenants? Dr Stephen Battersby [2016] UK Housing Professionals Forum Blog 15 February. To read the article, click here

EU ineligibility for housing Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 14 February. To read the article, click here

Failing on systematic failings Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 14 February. To read the article, click here

Fear and fury of tenants who say ‘pay to stay’ policy punishes them for working Yvonne Roberts [2016] The Observer 13 February. To read the article, click here

High Court enforcement [of possession orders] continued Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 13 February.  To read the article, click here

High Court enforcement of possession orders Amy Just (née Knight), barrister, Arden Chambers. To read the article click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2015] December / [2016] February 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

Under-35s in the UK face becoming permanent renters, warns think-tank
Larry Elliott and Hilary Osborne [2016] Guardian 13 February. To read the article, click here

Rootless and ruled by the landlord class – the future for young adults
Dan Hancox [2016] Guardian 12 February. To read the article, click here

Anti-social behaviour policy is still not putting victims first Vicky Heap [2016] LSE Blog 12 February. To read the article, click here

Councils step up housing enforcement Corin Williams [2016] EHN Online 10 February. To read the article, click here

Bedroom tax challenge success
Michael Deacon [2016] Local Government Lawyer 10 February.  To read the article, click here

We are on the brink of a homelessness crisis among young people Emma Jackson [2016] Guardian 9 February. To read the article, click here

'Age of legal aid has passed' delegates told
[2016] Legal Action February. To read the article, click here


18 February 2016        
Deadline for submissions concerning the appointment of a Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (see Housing Law Consultations above)

22 February 2016          
Close of consultation on the national planning policy (see Housing Law Consultations above)

26 February 2016          
Adjourned Commons Second Reading of the Crown Tenancies Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline above)


Housing /Civil Solicitor Vacancy
Mayflowers Solicitors

Mayflowers Solicitors are looking for a self-motivated Housing/Civil solicitor (0 - 5 years PQE) interested in taking on a lead role in the challenge of building a sustainable legal practice with us. You should have a working knowledge and experience of Housing Law.
Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate experience of general Civil Work, in particular, Litigation. There is the possibility for future progression in alternative practice areas, including Employment law and Commercial law.

Closing Date: Friday 4 March 2016

Further details click here


Housing Options Officer (Private Rented)
Royal Borough of Greenwich

Grade: S02
Salary: £29,727 - £31,368
Full time: 35 hours per week

This post provides housing options advice, assessment and support to people and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The role includes office based assessment as well as some work at court and site visits.

The successful candidates will have a good knowledge of housing and homelessness legislation. They will need to be committed to joint working and have a person-centred approach to assessment, and have the flexibility to work in a fast-paced and dynamic service.  They will work closely with colleagues in a number of departments to achieve the best possible outcomes for customers.

For further details click here
Closing Date: 19th February 2016
Interview Date: 1 March 2016


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


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