19th October 2016
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Allocations Conference 2016
Law, Policy & Best Practice
(London, Friday 4th November)

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Homelessness prevention
On 17 October 2016 the DCLG published the prospectus and application forms for local authorities to bid for funding to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping. To access the documents, click here To read the DCLG press release concerning the £40 million fund, click here

Homelessness Reduction Bill
On 14 October 2016 the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee published a report in support of the Homelessness Reduction Bill which it described as ‘aimed at reducing homelessness by ensuring that vulnerable people receive consistently high levels of service from local housing authorities across the county’. The report recommends changes to the Bill, which include adding domestic violence victims to the list of people for whose needs a local authority's advice must be especially designed to meet. The Committee also calls for consideration of a stronger duty for councils to accommodate certain groups within a reasonable distance of their last address, such as those with mental health conditions or with children in school. For the report, click here For the summary, click here For the report’s conclusions and recommendations, click here For the Local Government Association’s response to the report, click here

On 17 October 2016 the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee questioned senior representatives from home builders, providers and planners as part of its inquiry into the capacity of the housebuilding industry to meet demand for new homes. For more details of the inquiry, click here

Welfare benefits – Northern Ireland
On 12 October 2016 the Welfare Reform and Work (Northern Ireland) Order 2016 was made. The Order, which comes into force on a day or days to be appointed, makes provision in connection with social security in Northern Ireland. It amends the law relating to the benefit cap, employment and support allowance, payments to persons affected by social sector size criteria in calculation of universal credit or housing benefit, loans for mortgage interest and other liabilities. It also introduces a freeze on certain benefits and makes additional provision in relation to mitigation payments in connection with welfare reform. To access the Order, click here

Housing standards
On 17 October 2016 Shelter launched the Living Home Standard which it describes as ‘a robust but realistic measure which outlines for the first time what the British public feel everyone deserves from a home’. Research underlying the initiative reveals that four in ten people (43%) in Britain live in homes which fail to meet the Living Home Standard. Most homes fall below the standard due to the impact of high housing costs, with over one in four people (27%) in the UK living in homes which fail on the public’s definition of affordability. For more information about the Living Home Standard, click here

Private renting
On 17 October 2016 Countrywide PLC published its monthly lettings index for September 2016 in which it predicted that ‘on current trends, 2017 could be the first time since the 1930s that more homes are let than sold’. The index also revealed that rents are rising faster in Northern cities than those in the South. Over the last 12 months the cost of a new city let in the North grew 4.6% faster than in the South. Rental growth has slowed across most cities in Southern England over 2016. The average rent in the North of England now stands at £692 per month compared to £1,100 in the South. To read the index, click here

Social housing estates – improvement scheme
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has completed a two-year project to ‘climate-proof’ social housing estates in the borough. The council worked closely with residents and specialist charity Groundwork London to deliver the scheme to reduce flood risk and boost biodiversity. For more details of the scheme, click here

Tenancy deposits

Ajay Jagota, an anti-deposit campaigner, has reported that letting agents have been convicted of stealing £1,018,100 of deposits this year. He says that courts have found at least 14 letting agents guilty of illegally retaining tenants’ deposits in 2016, with the size of the thefts ranging from £500 to £400,000. For more details, click here

Troubled families
On 17 October the DCLG published several documents arising from research into the first Troubled Families Programme 2012 to 2015 which sought to produce real change in outcomes for families with multiple problems and to change the services that worked with them. The analysis concludes that ‘the key issue to emerge from the phase one programme evaluation … is the lack of evidence that it has had an impact on the outcomes that it seeks to affect for families.’ For an overview of the programme, click here For the full evaluation of the programme, click here For local authority data on the cost and potential fiscal benefits of the programme, click here For a ministerial comment on the programme, click here

Houses in multiple occupation – mandatory licensing
On 18 October 2016 the DCLG published its response to its technical discussion paper on extending the mandatory of licensing of houses in multiple occupation. The document summarises the responses to the key questions raised in the technical discussion paper on: extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation; raising standards in the HMO sector; and simplifying the licensing application process. In the light of the responses, the Government proposes to take forward the following measures: remove the reference to storeys from the prescribed description of large HMOs, so that all HMOs occupied by five or more people from more than one household, are included; include flats above and below business premises; and clarify that the minimum room size 6.5m² for sleeping accommodation does apply to all licensable HMOs. The DCLG has instituted a further consultation (see Housing Law Consultations) in that respect. For the response document, click here For a DCLG press release on the matter, 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 For a record of proceedings, click here The House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government has published a report following its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill: to read the report, click here On 14 October 2016 the Local Government Association published a response to the Select Committee’s report; for the LGA press release, 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


IN THE MATTER OF TWO APPEALS AGAINST DECISIONS OF THE FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL (PROPERTY CHAMBER) (Witalij Jarowicki v Freehold Managers (Nominees) Limited and Svetlana Prokhorova v Old Ford Housing Association) [2016] UKUT 435 (LC)

These appeals from the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chambers) (“FTT”) to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (“UT”) concerned disputes over the amount of service charges payable by the tenants of leasehold flats.  The UT heard both appeals together because in each case the FTT had not quantified the amount payable by the tenant to the landlord as a service charge.

Ms Prokhorova’s appeal
Whist the FTT had determined disputed issues between the tenants and their landlord in relation to the service charges it had not determined the amount payable.  The UTT allowed the appeal, concluding that where an application is made to the FTT under s.27A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for a determination of the amount of a service charge payable, it was incumbent on the FTT to determine that amount and it could not delegate its duty by directing one of the parties to determine the financial consequences of its decision.  The FTT’s decision was ordered to be remitted to it in order to quantify the service charge payable.

Mr Jarowicki’s appeal
The FTT had not quantified the amounts payable by the tenant in respect of the service charge.  The UT found that the FTT should have stated the sums payable as service charges as absolute figures rather than as percentages or proportions of unspecified sums.  If the FTT had found itself unable to do this on the basis of the information provided then the correct course was, “…likely to be to direct the landlord or management company to recalculate the service charge in light of the tribunal’s decision and then to submit it to the leaseholder for agreement, giving both parties the right to apply to the tribunal if agreement cannot be reached. In all cases, however, the final responsibility for determining the sum payable lies with the FTT.” Accordingly, the Deputy Chamber President, Martin Rodger QC set aside the FTT’S decision and required that the application be re-determined. He also directed that the circumstances required that the parties be given the opportunity to present their cases in full before either the same or a differently constituted tribunal.
For the full judgment click here.

Landlord Prosecuted following investigation by Council
Norwich City Council report that it has secured a conviction of a private landlord following an investigation by its housing enforcement team.  On 12 October 2016 Norwich Magistrates Court heard that the Defendant landlord had failed to provide the Council’s housing officers with safely certificates for electrical and gas installations for a property which was under the Defendant’s control.  Furthermore, there had been a failure to ensure that fire doors were properly maintained.  There were serious defects with the fire doors and electrical installations as well as inadequate lighting and broken windows.  There was also no HMO licence in place. The Defendant landlord pleaded guilty to 13 charges and received fines totalling £5,500 and was ordered to pay costs of £4600 and a £175 victim surcharge.  For the full report click here.

Forthcoming Case Alert

Cardiff County Council v Lee (Flowers) Court of Appeal, 18/19 October 2016
This appeal to the Court of Appeal concerns the issue of whether where the terms of a suspended order are alleged to have been breached, a landlord needs permission from the court before a warrant of possession can be issued. For an article by Andrew Lane, barrister, Cornerstone Chambers click hereFor a guest post on the Nearly Legal blog by Michelle Caney and Nicholas Towers both of St Ives chambers click here.  Once the Court of Appeal judgment is available it will be published in Housing Law Week.

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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.

Justice system reform
The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunal Service has published a consultation document outlining what the Ministry of Justice is doing to achieve reform of the justice system, and invites the public and interested stakeholders to give their views on certain specific measures. In respect of civil proceedings, the document proposes: introducing a new online process for resolving claims; encouraging parties to resolve disputes themselves where possible; extending the fixed recoverable costs regime; civil enforcement; and replacing statutory declarations in county court proceedings with a witness statement verified by a statement of truth. Where required, legislation will be introduced to implement those measures. To read the consultation document, click here The document was accompanied by a joint statement from the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, and the Senior President of Tribunals on their shared vision for the future of Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service: to read the joint statement, click here The consultation will be conducted by online survey: to access the survey, click here The consultation closes on 27 October 2016.

Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing
The DCLG has opened a consultation on extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation. The consultation seeks views on the Government’s proposed details for: the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation; the assumptions made in its associated impact assessment; national room sizes; the fit and proper person test; refuse disposal facilities; and purpose built student accommodation. For the consultation document, click here To respond online, click here  The consultation closes on 13 December 2016.


Housing and mental health Steve Battersby [2016] UK Housing Professionals Forum 10 October. To read this article, click here

London Living Rent – one piece of the housing crisis puzzle Vicky Pearlman [2016] Shelter Blog 12 October. To read this article, click here

Boundaries of the 'soft touch' approach
Mark Lowe QC and Rob Williams [2016] Local Government Lawyer 13 October.To read this article, click here

Permission for warrants of possession?
Michelle Caney and Nicholas Towers [2016] Nearly Legal 13 October. To read this article, click here

The role of social housing in Northern Ireland's divided communities
Paddy Gray [2016] Guardian 12 October. To read this article, click here

In the Tribunals
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 10 October. To read this article, click here

MPs warn against weakening the homelessness safety net Deborah Garvie [2016] Shelter Blog 14 October. To read this article, click here

There needs to be fairer funding for Right to Buy Rock Feilding-Mellen [2016] Conservative Home 14 October. To read this article, click here

Tory Contempt for those in need of Social Housing [2016] Morning Star 15 October. To read this article, click here

Britain's housing crisis is about more than bricks and mortar. People need homes
Campbell Robb [2016] Guardian 17 October. To read this article, click here

Ireland's scrapping of buy-to-let tax is 'warning to Britain' Olivia Rudgard [2016] Telegraph 17 October. To read this article, click here


27 October 2016        
Consultation on Justice system reform closes (see Housing Law Consultations)

28 October 2016        
Second Reading of Homelessness Reduction Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline)

31 October 2016        
Consultation on Law Commission reform programme closes (see Housing Law Consultations)

4 November 2016        
Lime Legal’s Allocations Conference


Lead Officer (Housing Standards) (Job Ref: EHD010)
Stafford Borough Council
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Housing Options Adviser (Job Ref: R0342)
St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council
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Accommodation Officer (Job Ref: R0341)
St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council
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Rent Officer (12 month fixed term contract) (Job Ref: EJR007156)
Ealing Council
(Insert Rent Officer in Job Title field).
Click here for details


Team Leader – Repairs (Job Ref: OCT20160812)
Wandle Housing Association
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Housing Officer (Temporary)
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council
Click here for details

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