20th April 2016
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Housing possession court duty schemes
On 5 April 2016 the Legal Aid Agency published an updated alphabetical list of all LAA funded Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes with the current organisation providing the service. To access the list, click here

Housing benefit spare room subsidy (‘bedroom tax’)
On 12 April 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions published HB Bulletin U1/2016: Court of Appeal judicial review decision concerning the maximum rent (social sector) [but dated 28 January 2016]. The bulletin notes the Court of Appeal judgment in the joined judicial review cases R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte Rutherford and R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte A and states that ‘[n]o action needs to be taken by local authorities following this judgment. It has not changed the applicability of the maximum rent (social sector) provisions and no action should be taken to re-assess the Housing Benefit of claimants in the appellants’ situation.’ To read the bulletin, click here

Right to buy (1)
On 13 April 2016 the House of Commons Library published a research briefing explaining the government’s proposals to extend the right to buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary basis. To read the briefing, click here

Right to buy (2)
On 15 April 2016 Inside Housing reported that less than 1% of the housing association tenants offered the chance to purchase their home under a pilot of the right to buy have so far made a formal application to buy. For the full report, click here

Right to buy (3)
In the course of the Report stage of the government’s Housing and Planning Bill the House of Lords has gained concessions in respect of the right to buy. For a report, click here

Landlord licensing

Brent Council reports that it recently carried out early morning raids on overcrowded properties in the borough as part of its enhanced enforcement activity to ensure that all landlords with unlicensed properties are held to account. The council says that in the last two months its increased enforcement activity has seen between two to five prosecutions per week and many more raids and prosecutions are expected in the coming months. Last month a couple letting out an unlicensed property in Wembley were ordered to pay £20,000. For Brent Council’s report, click here For a local media report, click here

Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme

On 13 April 2016 the Homes and Communities Agency published a prospectus for the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme. The programme aims to increase the supply of shared ownership and other affordable homes in England by March 2021. Full details of the programme and how to bid for funding are published in the prospectus. For the prospectus, click here

Private rents
On 14 April the Residential Landlords Association reported that a survey of its members found that 84% of private sector landlords are likely to consider increasing rents to cover increases in taxes in the buy-to-let sector. To read the news item, click here

Right to Rent checks
The Association of Residential Letting Agents has been working with the Home Office in respect of accommodation (usually arranged many months in advance) for those visiting on a time limited visa (most frequently student lets). The legislation will require that checks still need to be carried out and documented within the 28 days before the start of the tenancy, even if this means repeating a Right to Rent check carried out during the initial application. For details, click here

Equalities and human rights (1)
David Isaac has been proposed as the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He has been put forward for consideration at a combined hearing of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the Women and Equalities Select Committee. There has since been correspondence between the government and both committees regarding concerns of the committees about a potential conflict of interest. For the correspondence, click here

Equalities and human rights (2)
The House of Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability has published a report – The Equality Act 2010: The impact on disabled people – and concludes that the government is failing in its duty to disabled people. The Committee includes within its ‘five major issues’ the requirement of anticipatory reasonable adjustment in respect of buildings and the inadequacy of the means to enforce rights. For 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 has completed its Committee stage and entered the Report stage on 11 April 2016. For a copy of the Bill as amended in Committee, 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

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 where it has completed the Report stage. The Bill had its Third Reading on 12 April 2016. The Bill will return to the House of Commons as part of the ‘ping pong’ procedure. For the House of Lords’ amendments to the Bill, click here  For a House of Commons Library briefing paper explaining the amendments made in the House of Lords, 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 passed Stage 3 on 17 March 2016. The Bill is now in the 4 week reconsideration stage and if it not challenged by the Advocate General during that period will be submitted for Royal Assent. For the Bill as passed, 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 and Final Stage on 15 March 2016 and is awaiting Royal Assent. 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. However, the House is not expected to be sitting on that date and, unless it does so, the Bill will not progress in this session. 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 in October 2015, 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. Since there are no available dates for Second Reading of Private Members’ Bills in the current session, the Bill will not progress in this session. 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. Since there are no available dates for Second Reading of Private Members’ Bills in the current session, the Bill will not progress in this session. 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  


R (On the application of H and others) v Ealing London Borough Council [2016] EWHC 841 (Admin)
The claimants challenged the introduction of an amendment to Ealing London Borough Council’s housing allocations policy in October 2013 by which 20% of all available lettings would be reserved for “working households” (one where the applicant or a family member worked at least 24 hours pw) and “model tenants” (applicants who already had a Council secure tenancy but sought more appropriate accommodation and had complied with the terms of their tenancy). The aims of the amendment were to incentivise tenants to work or return to work and to encourage good tenant behaviour.

The Claimants alleged that the Scheme:

1. Indirectly discriminated against women, disabled and elderly people within the meaning of s.19(2) Equality Act 2010  (in relation to the working household element).

2. breached Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights because it fell within the ambit of Article 8 and discriminated against women, children, disabled persons, the elderly and tenants who do not hold Council tenancies and that the discrimination was not justified.

3. breached the Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty

4. breached the Council’s obligations in relation to the welfare of children under s.11 Children Act 2004.

His Honour Judge Waksman QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) concluded:

1. Indirect Discrimination -the Scheme indirectly discriminated against the disabled, the elderly and women. He considered that there was no reason why the Council could not have introduced a “safety valve” in the form of an exceptionality provision, perhaps by reference to an exceptional discretion so as to admit to the working household group some people who could not work, even if they might wish to do so.  This finding was sufficient to require the Council to amend the Scheme (if it chooses to continue it at all) but nonetheless the judge went on to address the Claimant’s other grounds.

2. Discrimination under Article 14 –HHJ Waksman QC considered that it could not be said that as against the aim of encouraging tenants to work and incentivising good tenant behaviour, the Scheme was the least intrusive method without unacceptable results or that a fair balance has been achieved.  Accordingly, the claimants’ Article 14 challenge succeeded as a whole

3. Breach of the Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty (“PSED”)– the Council had breached its PSED. The judge found that there had not been any real enquiry into and consideration of, the potentially discriminatory effects of the working households element of the Scheme (even though the need for this was highlighted by comparative figures for disabled applicants as between 2010 and 2015).

4. s.11 Children Act 2014 – HHJ Waksman QC found that those children with single parent carers who could not work would be adversely affected by the Scheme and that there has not been any real consideration of the interests of children in this context. The judge found that the Council had breached its s.11 CA 2004 duty.

For the full judgment click here

Criminal Behaviour Order made against Landlord
Wolverhampton Magistrates were satisfied by evidence that one of the city’s private landlords had caused harassment, alarm and distress to tenants through poor standards and management of properties he rented in the city. Accordingly, it made what is believed to be, the first ever criminal behaviour order. The order required the Landlord to reinstate a third party agent to manage the properties and to provide a list of all of his properties and his interest in them to City of Wolverhampton Council. Breach of the order could lead to a term of 5 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. For the full news item click here  For further comment click here

Fines for Disturbing Asbestos
Two employees of a maintenance services company disturbed asbestos insulating board in the course of works converting a property into flats in London. Investigations by the Health & Safety Executive indicated that the contractor had not been warned by their client of the presence of asbestos, despite prior knowledge.

The appropriate refurbishment and demolition survey had not been conducted to determine the presence of asbestos on the site prior to the commencement of the work.
The Health & Safety Executive confirm that asbestos can be found in buildings constructed prior to 2000 and that a refurbishment / demolition asbestos survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.
Unfortunately, the two workers stripped out the board without any effective precautions and received significant exposure to asbestos fibres.

Firestone Estates Limited, of Tolpits Lane, Watford, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10(1)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £10,000 and were ordered to pay £1020.64 in costs with a £1,000 victim surcharge.

24-Hour Maintenance Services Limited, of Linton Avenue, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £5,000 with £974.44 in costs and a victim surcharge of £500.  For the full report click here
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Warm home discount scheme
The Department of Energy and Climate Change proposes a number of changes to the Warm Home Discount Scheme including who will receive the rebate in future scheme years. The consultation is aimed at all those with an interest in fuel poverty policies, especially those interested in the Warm Home Discount, including affected individuals and organisations that represent low income and vulnerable households. For the consultation document, click here The consultation closes on 6 May 2016.

Land registration
The Law Commission is reviewing the legal framework that governs the registration of land in England and Wales. It has launched a consultation which asks how the Land Registration Act 2002 is working in practice and whether there are opportunities for the system to be clarified and updated. For the consultation and related documents, click here The consultation closes on 30 June 2016.

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

Affordable homes
The Communities Policy Commission, which leads the Labour Party’s policy development on local government, has launched a consultation entitled Housing: How can we increase the number of affordable homes to rent and buy? The Commission seeks the views of Labour members and affiliates, businesses and other organisations, and the wider public on this issue. The consultation ends on 8 June 2016. For the consultation document, click here

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

Household savings, income and debt in the UK by tenure
Marcus McPhillips [2016] National Housing Federation Blog 14 April. To read the article, click here

The rise of the mega-merger
Carl Brown [2016] Inside Housing 15 April. To read the article, click here

DHP (Dysfunctional Housing Payments)
Kevin Garvey [2016] Shelter Policy Blog 14 April. To read the article, click here

Housing staff face 'unmanageable' workloads – poll
Jane Dudman [2016] The Guardian 14 April. To read the article, click here

Without secure housing, how can vulnerable women begin to rebuild their lives?
Katharine Sacks-Jones [2016] The Guardian 13 April. To read the article, click here

What's the future for supported housing? Paul Anderson [2016] Homelessness Link 12 April. To read this article, click here

Income generation: housing delivery vehicles David Isaacson [2016] Local Government Lawyer 14 April. To read the article, click here

Homelessness 'rising twice as fast among ethnic minorities'
Jon Stone [2016] The Independent 15 April. To read the article, click here


22 April 2016        
Closing date for responses to the consultation on the use of data in public sector organisations review (see Housing Law Consultations above


Senior Housing Officer (Hightown Housing Association Ltd) Ref: SHO1080

Location: Hemel Hempstead
£30,156 p.a.
35 hours per week

Due to the nature of the role you must have a driving licence and access to a vehicle.
Hightown is a charitable housing association, providing affordable housing to families and single people across Herts, Beds and Bucks. 
We are looking for a Senior Housing Officer who will be responsible for providing a highly professional customer focused housing management service to Hightown’s residents in rented accommodation and for the first line management of housing administration staff.
Duties will include the tenancy management of a patch of properties including; tenancy sign ups, tenancy monitoring and reviews, taking appropriate action on breaches of tenancies, working in conjunction with the Income Recovery team to ensure appropriate action is taken to deal with arrears of rent and charges, allocating and letting properties, and ensuring that tenants are able to become involved in the management of their homes.  They will seek to improve the level of service in response to changing resident’s demands, regulatory requirements and best practice. Duties will also include the management of a team of administrative staff who are responsible for supporting the Housing team.

Pay and rewards
We offer a range of benefits which include:

  • Generous annual leave allowance of 25 days per year, rising with service, plus statutory bank holidays
  • Workplace pension scheme
  • Employee Assistance scheme to support your health and wellbeing
  • Life assurance of three times your annual salary

Closing date: 25th April 2016

Interview date: 4th May 2016

To apply, please click here and complete our online application form. Please make sure that you give examples of how you meet the essential requirements of the person specification.
Please be advised that this recruitment process will be carried out online and we would ask that you check your emails regularly. Please also quote the reference number of the job (SHO1080) when applying.

We are an Equal Opportunities Employer.


Housing Solicitor (Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre)

Salary: £30-£32,000 per annum
Working hours: 35 per week
Benefits include 30 days annual leave, the possibility of flexible working and significant opportunities for learning and development.
We have a 36 year history of providing an excellent service to the local community.
We have Housing and Immigration/Asylum contracts with the LAA and grant funding to cover out of scope work.

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

The successful candidate will conduct the housing and debt matter starts we have been allocated, be proactive in commencing and conducting certificated cases for clients and will participate in the court duty scheme, again looking to maximise certificated work from those cases.

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

For an application pack email: hflaw@hflaw.org.uk

Closing date: 29 April 2016


Housing Management Lawyer Vacancy (Croftons Solicitors LLP)

The Firm:  Croftons Solicitors LLP is a leading provider of legal services and solutions to the housing and regeneration sector, acting for over 45 registered providers, RSLs, ALMOs and Local authorities, and served by 27 specialist lawyers across legal disciplines (including all aspects of property, finance, housing management, governance and regulation).
Band one in Chambers and Partners for social housing and gold accreditation for Investors in People.

Housing Management team:  Our current team consists of a Partner, an Associate, and has support from 4 Trainee Solicitors and a Paralegal.

Post:  As a result of continued growth, we are creating a new position targeted at a qualified solicitor or FILEX up to 2 years pqe, or may equally suit a part qualified candidate with strong relevant experience.  Conducting hearings is key to this role.  Advocacy experience is an advantage therefore, but at the least, all applicants should have an interest in advocacy and a sound understanding of housing management.

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to Melanie Dirom:  Melanie.Dirom@croftons.co.uk.  Please ensure your application includes full details of your experience/passion in the housing and regeneration sector, your relevant legal competencies, and your current salary.

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