20th July 2016
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Department for Communities and Local Government
On 14 July 2016 Sajid Javid MP was appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Greg Clark MP. Mr Javid was formerly Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. On 17 July 2016 Gavin Barwell MP was appointed the new Housing Minister in place of Brandon Lewis MP who has moved to the Home Office. For Mr Barwell’s biographical details, click here. For the Guardian’s ‘quick guide to new housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell’, click here.  

Housing supply (1)
On 12 July 2016 the National Audit Office published a report stating that the Department for Communities and Local Government has made progress in setting up its new programme to release enough public sector land for 160,000 homes by 2020, but so far only land with capacity for an estimated 8,580 homes has been disposed of. The report says that the Department has, however, committed to monitor the progress of land development including the number of homes built. To access the report, summary and press release, click here

Housing supply (2)
On 14 July 2016 the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Chartered Institute of Housing published a report, Investing in council housing: The impact on HRA business plans, which examines the 2012 'self-financing settlement' that put in place a long-term plan for council house building. The report states that the plan had the potential to build over 500,000 new homes over thirty years but has been undermined by successive government policies. The settlement encouraged councils to take on £13bn extra debt to finance building against the promise of future rental income. However, successive policy changes have cut rental income so that today just 45,000 new homes are expected. For the report, click here For an analysis of the report by John Perry, policy adviser at CIH, click here For the associated press release, click here

Housing supply (3)
On 15 July 2016 the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in its report Building more homes strongly recommended that the government must lift its target by 50% and build 300,000 homes each year to tackle the housing crisis. It also suggested that local authorities and housing associations must be freed to build substantial numbers of homes for rent and for sale. To read the report, click here For Guardian coverage of the report, click here

Housing statistics
The House of Commons Library has published a research briefing, listing the sources (with links) of housing statistics, commonly monitored at local authority level, on building, stock, prices, rents, homelessness and repossessions. For the briefing, click here

Households in temporary accommodation
On 13 July 2016 the House of Commons Library published a research briefing paper providing background information on the increase in the number of homeless households placed in temporary accommodation by English local authorities and outlining various initiatives and issues associated with the increased use of temporary accommodation. For the briefing paper, click here

Right to Buy
On 13 July 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper comparing Right to Buy policies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the briefing paper, click here

Housing Benefit (1)
On 15 July 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions published the latest housing benefit bulletin, G7/2016. It contains information about: benefit cap use of current guidance and template; HB fraud and error good practice workshops; cases with the Upper Tribunal; and statutory instruments. For the bulletin, click here

Housing Benefit (2)
On 14 July 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions published the latest adjudication circular providing an update to the Housing Benefit guidance manual for local authority staff. For the circular, click here

Social housing sales – Wales
On 14 July 2016 the Welsh Government published information on the number of social housing sales in Wales and their impact on dwelling stock. It includes sales of local authority dwellings and sales of registered social landlord (RSL) dwellings. The overall number of social housing sales has been increasing annually since 2009-10, though numbers remain well below the levels seen in the years prior to 2008-09. During 2015-16, the number of sales increased by 17% compared to the previous year, to 638. This varied by landlord type, with sales of RSL dwellings up by 28% (to 447 dwellings), and local authority sales down by 2% (to 191 dwellings). For the report, click here

On 18 July 2016 the Resolution Foundation published Stagnation Generation: the case for renewing the intergenerational contract. The report states that a ‘baby boomer’ at age 30 was 50% more likely to own their own home than a ‘millennial’ at the same age. ‘Millennials are spending an average of £44,000 more on rent in their 20s than baby boomers did.’ That figure is greater than the average first time buyer deposit today. However, families themselves often step in, using private intergenerational transfers to ameliorate the worst effects of housing scarcity. To read the report, click here

Supported housing
On 12 July 2016 the House of Commons debated supported housing. The purpose of the debate, secured by Peter Aldous MP, was both to obtain a progress report from the government as to how the review of secured housing was faring and to ‘re-emphasise the vital importance of putting the funding of supported housing on a sustainable long-term footing’. To read the Hansard record of the debate, click here

Housing – London
On 14 July 2016 Peabody published The Business Case for Affordable Housing, which shows that the capital’s social housing residents make a contribution that is five times greater than the housing benefit bill for social housing residents in London in the same year. The report notes that with rents outstripping wages in every London borough and a severe shortage of new affordable homes being built, vital workers are being forced out of the city. This, it concludes, creates a real risk of damaging London's economy. To read the report, click here

Possession proceedings: water bills claim
Following a decision on 7 June 2016 that it would pay to tenants refunds of water and sewerage charges totalling £28.6 million, Southwark Council has notified Lambeth County Court that it will be seeking to adjourn all possession claims affected by this decision (according to Deighton Pierce Glynn, solicitors for the tenants). The refunds relate to the period 1 April 2001 to 28 July 2013, during which Southwark was found to have breached the Water Resale Orders by a High Court judge in March 2016: Kim Jones v London Borough of Southwark [2016] EWHC 457 Ch. For a summary of that judgment, click here  For details of Southwark’s decision, click here

Rough sleeping – London
On 17 July 2016, writing in the Guardian, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that he would be launching a ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce with prevention central to its approach. For the article, click here

Armed forces accommodation
On 13 July 2016 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published a report which concludes that the Ministry of Defence and contractor CarillionAmey are ‘badly letting down service families’ by providing them with poor accommodation and often leaving them without basic requirements. The Committee describes CarillionAmey's performance as ‘totally unacceptable’ and says it is right that the MoD is considering terminating the contract. For the report, click here For a summary, click here For the Guardian’s coverage, 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

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


R (on the application of Jennifer Hoyte) v London Borough of Southwark [2016] EWHC 1665 (Admin)
The claimant challenged a decision by the London Borough of Southwark (“the Council”) not to accept a further application from her for priority housing as a homeless applicant under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 (“the Act”).

Her application was made on 1 March 2016 and it was the third application for priority housing she had made within a year; the previous applications being made in June 2015 and October 2015. The claimant had requested a review by the Council of its decision relating to the October 2015 application.  That review decision was notified on 3rd February 2016 and concluded that she was not in priority need. It was accepted that the Council had followed the correct process before lawfully deciding that the claimant did not have a priority need for housing in respect of her first two applications.

In relation to her March 2016 application, it was not disputed that the claimant was homeless but the Council refused to accept the claim concluding in a letter dated 2nd March 2016 that there had been no material change in circumstances and the facts which led to the decision that she was not in priority need.

The claimant had a long history of mental health problems and had been diagnosed as suffering from depression.  She had been sleeping on sofas on a temporary and insecure basis.
It was argued on behalf of the claimant (inter alia) that there were clearly new facts as well as assessments by the claimant’s treating clinicians (her GP and a psychiatric nurse) indicating that there was “clear suicidal ideation” and “active suicidal thoughts with plausible evidence of plan and intent.”

The claim for judicial review of the decision by the Council was heard by Amanda Yip QC (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court).  The judge considered s.189(1)(c) of the Act and the test of “vulnerability” which was set out in Hotak v London Borough of Southwark et al [2015] 2 WLR 1341 confirming that the correct approach was to ask, “Is the applicant significantly more vulnerable” than an ordinary person would be if made homeless?”  The judge highlighted a housing authority’s duty under s.184 (1) to make inquiries to establish whether the applicant is eligible for assistance and if so whether any duty, and if so what duty was owed.
The judge noted that there was no statutory limit on the number of times an applicant could make a Part VII application but acknowledged that it would be unreasonable for a housing authority to face repeated applications based on the same facts.  She traced the case law dealing with the “exactly the same facts” test.

However, in this case there had clearly been a new development resulting in new medical evidence from those responsible for the claimant’s primary healthcare.  Those events and the new medical evidence meant that no reasonable housing authority could have considered the March 2016 application to have been based on “exactly the same facts” as the previous one.  It had been irrational and unreasonable for the Council to take the view that the circumstances when the claimant made her March 2016 application were exactly the same as those which had led to the earlier decision.  Accordingly, the claim for judicial review was granted.  It would be necessary for the Council to make the statutory inquiries and to notify the claimant of the outcome and, in the event of a refusal, to give reasons.
For the full judgment click here.

Huda v London Borough of Redbridge [2016] EWCA Civ 709
The appellant appealed the decision of HHJ Hand QC dismissing his appeal under s.204 Housing Act 1996 (“the Act”). The case concerned the issue of whether accommodation which was occupied by the appellant and his family pursuant to a licence with a private landlord, procured by the Respondent Council, was “settled” accommodation. The Respondent Council contended that it was not settled accommodation which meant in turn that the appellant continued to be “intentionally homeless” and as such the appellant was ineligible for social housing under the Act.

The Court of Appeal reviewed the relevant case law authorities and in particular Lord Justice Ackner’s judgment in Din v Wandsworth LBC (23 June 1981) and confirmed that whether accommodation is “settled” is a question of fact and degree.
In this case the Council had arranged for a landlord to accommodate the appellant only on a temporary basis under ss. 188 and 190 of the Act but because of an internal error by the Council no steps were taken to evict the appellant for two years.  The appellant continued to occupy the property by a written licence which had never been varied.

The Council’s final review decision concluded that the appellant’s occupation of the property “did not break the chain of causation between the intentionality of his homelessness and a new application treated as made after service of the notice to quit.”

The reviewing officer had found that the appellant’s continued occupation resulted from an administrative error and not a decision to allow him to remain.  The appellant had a mere licence and not a tenancy.  He did not enjoy exclusive possession and the licence was not a sham.  The property had been provided under s.190(2) of the Act and was not capable of being “settled.”  His occupation was “precarious” with “little security of tenure.”

The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal, concluding that the reviewing officer had considered all of the relevant facts and had correctly applied the test in Din v Wandsworth LBC. The decision reached by the reviewing officer was one which on the facts as found it had been open to him to reach.  For the full judgment click here.

Brent Council prosecutes for illegal eviction
A Wembley landlord who illegally evicted tenants and who failed to hold a licence for a House in Multiple occupation was convicted at Willesden Magistrates Court of multiple offences and sentenced to a custodial sentence of four months’ imprisonment, an order to pay £11,000 compensation to the tenants as well as costs of £9,000.  For the full report click here. (The landlord who pleaded guilty to all charges has appealed the custodial sentence and been granted bail pending the appeal hearing.)

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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.

Giving renters back control over their lives John Bibby [2016] Shelter Blog 18 July. To read this article, click here

Bank of Mum and Dad is now paying the rent, too Jamie Doward [2016] Observer 16 July. To read this article, click here

Vilifying the asylum seeker next door is just plain racist
Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian 15 July. To read this article, click here

Getting Noticed
[Edwards v Kumarasamy [2016] UKSC 40] [2016] Nearly Legal 14 July. To read this article, click here

How much does it cost UK councils to take in refugees? Tamsin Rutter [2016] Guardian 14 July. To read this article, click here

Three reasons Brexit makes this the absolute worst time to implement Right to Buy 2
John Bibby [2016] Shelter Blog 14 July. To read this article, click here

Lessons to be learned from North of the border?
Poppy Terry [2016] Shelter Blog 13 July. To read this article, click here

Anti-Social Behaviour & Sentencing for Contempt: A Recap
Arden Chambers [2016] Legal Action 13 July. To read this article, click here

Is ‘pop-up’ the answer to London’s homelessness crisis?
Kevin Garvey Shelter Blog 14 July. To read this article, click here

The fall and rise of the council estate Andy Beckett [2016] Guardian 13 July. To read this article, click here

Wrong warrants? Issues in N325 compliance
Jonathon Holt [2016] Nearly Legal 13 July. To read this article, click here

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


Housing Management Team Leader

Berneslai Homes

Salary:  £33,106 to £36,019
Working Arrangements: Full Time
Hours of Work: 37 hours per week                                                                
Status of Employment:  Permanent

Closing Date: 29 July 2016 at 11.59 pm

Join us and you will manage a team of Housing Management Officers, ensuring that they deliver the most proactive, reassuring, practical and visible service to our customers. Combining key elements of housing and environmental management with community building and safety, you’ll pull out all the stops to beat KPI targets by developing new, continuously improving, ways of working.  

You’ll need to be an inspirational leader with a wealth of experience in social housing, not to mention a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing or relevantly qualified equivalent to NVQ level 5.  

Interviews will take place w/c 8 August 2016  

Job Description and Employee Specification: Housing Management Team Leader JD and ES.pdf


Housing Solicitor (SCP 33-36)

Citizens Advice Walsall  

Registered charity no:  1067723

“Providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice

£28,746 (starting salary) to £30,978 pa - plus 6% pension supplement

Full-time: 36 hours per week

We have a contract with the Legal aid Agency to deliver housing advice across Walsall and Sandwell and to run a Court Duty Scheme at Walsall County Court.

You must have:

A minimum of three years’ experience of housing litigation, including representation in court on behalf of people at risk of homelessness and people in housing need. You will be an authorised litigator and meet the criteria to be a housing supervisor.

The candidate will be expected to travel and deliver services from Citizens Advice Walsall and Citizens Advice Sandwell.

You will have substantial experience of handling a wide range of housing cases (public and private sector) on issues such as homelessness, security of tenure, possession proceedings, disrepair and anti-social behaviour.

You will understand and be committed to the aims and principles of the of the Citizens Advice service.

Closing date: 12.00 midday, Thursday 4th August 2016

Interviews will be held on: Monday 8th August 2016
For an application pack please contact phone the administration team on 01922 700600 or email office@cab.walsall.org.uk. with your full name and contact details for electronic format.

Citizens Advice Walsall is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from all applicants who meet the person specification irrespective of sex, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, age, or disability.


Housing Solicitor Vacancy

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP: A Leading Firm of Solicitors Based in Euston, London NW1

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a solicitor (0 - 4 years PQE) to join our award winning, dedicated and dynamic social housing team.  To be successful in this role it is essential that you have good experience and working knowledge of social housing law.

You will be expected to be competent in litigation with excellent client care skills.  In addition, you will have excellent communication and written skills, be a good team player, be able to manage a varied caseload and work well under pressure. 

Ideally the successful candidate is likely to have previous experience and good knowledge of legal aid funding in the context of social housing law. Experience with property litigation would be desirable.

The firm offers a competitive salary & benefits, as well as excellent career prospects, broad training, first-class IT facilities and comprehensive administrative support.
Please apply by sending a covering letter and CV to Emma Antoniades at the following email address eantoniades@hja.net

Closing date for applications: 27 July 2016


Henry Hyams

Housing Lawyer - Full or Part-Time

We are seeking a Housing Lawyer with at least 3 years’ relevant experience (preferably to meet legal aid supervisor requirements) to work with a small but dedicated team on predominantly publicly funded cases.

We have contracts with the LAA to provide Legal Help matter starts in housing from both our main and branch offices in Leeds City Centre. We are one of three organisations providing representation under the Housing Duty Solicitor Scheme at a very busy Leeds County Court.

Much of our work is court based and the successful candidate will be a confident advocate able to deal with a mixed housing law caseload including possession claims, homelessness, disrepair, anti-social behaviour, unlawful eviction and judicial review. The position would suit either a solicitor or experienced caseworker preferably with knowledge of legal aid funding and CCMS.

In return we offer a competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with qualifications and experience. We are committed to publicly funded work and foster a caring and compassionate ethos in which to work. Please apply with your CV and covering letter to Caroline Clarke c.clarke@henryhyams.com stating your salary expectations

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