25th May 2016
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Homelessness Conference 2016
Law & Best Practice
Wednesday 22 June 2016, London

This year’s programme includes:
  • The Latest Policy Picture on Homelessness
  • The Threshold Issues: Where are we now?
  • Eligibility, Homelessness, Priority Need and Intentionality
  • A New Preventing Homelessness Duty in England?
  • Allocations after the Ealing judgment
  • Panel Q&A sessions : Ask the Experts
  • Special Feature: Homelessness Reviews and Appeals: A View from the County Court Bench presented by HHJ Jan Luba QC
Click here to book your place.

Queen’s Speech – Homelessness
Whilst homelessness had been identified (by a House of Commons Library briefing published on 17 May and by various news media) as a subject that might receive legislative attention in the Queen’s Speech, there was no mention of it in the Speech itself although, in accordance with convention, allowance was made for further unspecified Bills. For the House of Commons briefing mentioned above, click here For an article in the Guardian (published on the day of the Queen’s Speech) click here For the response to the Queen’s Speech of Homeless Link click here

Queen’s Speech – Home building

The Queen’s Speech stated that the government ‘is delivering a step change in housing supply and extending the dream of home ownership to those who aspire towards it. Our policies have already seen the largest annual growth in housing for 28 years, and will reverse the decade-long decline in home ownership levels.’ For details of the strategy, as set out ( from page 64) in the Queen’s Speech briefing, click here In the Queen’s Speech the government also announced its intention to introduce  a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill which would ‘support the government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes‘ (see page 19 of the Queen’s Speech briefing).

Queen’s Speech – Bill of Rights
The government restated its plans to bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights. According to the government's briefing on the Queen's Speech, the main benefits of the Bill would be to continue protecting fundamental human rights. It would also better protect against abuse of the system and misuse of human rights laws and would restore common sense to their application. To read the briefing (at page 48), click here To read a recent House of Commons Library briefing on the subject, click here

Discretionary housing payments
On 19 May 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions published updated guidance for local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales who are responsible for administering discretionary housing payments. This 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: application of the benefit cap; removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector (‘bedroom tax’); and reductions in local housing allowance. To read the guidance, click here

Housing benefit
On 18 May 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions published summary tables showing the number of housing benefit claimants and average weekly spare room subsidy amount withdrawal by: region and local authority; region and local authority by tenure and passported status; region and local authority by spare room subsidy; tenure; average weekly award by tenure; passported status; average weekly award by passported status; average weekly award by age group; age group and family type; and average weekly award by age group and family type. To access the data, click here

On 18 May 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper outlining the legal framework contained in Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended) within which English local authorities allocate their housing stock. To read the briefing, click here

Right to Buy
On 16 May the Housing (Right to Buy) (Designated Rural Areas and Designated Regions) (England) Order 2016 was made. It comes into force on 20 June 2016. The order designates certain parishes as rural areas under section 157(1)(c) of the Housing Act 1985 and provides for certain regions to be designated regions under section 157(3) of that Act in relation to dwelling-houses in the designated rural areas falling within the district. Where a dwelling-house in a designated rural area is sold under the right to buy, the vendor may (a) impose a covenant requiring its consent to any further disposal (unless it is an exempted disposal under section 160 of the Act); or (b) reserve a right of pre-emption if the Secretary of State or, if the vendor is a housing association, the Regulator of Social Housing, consents. For the Order, click here

Pay to stay
On 23 May 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing 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

Housing health and safety
On 20 May 2016 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper giving an overview of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The HHSRS is a risk based assessment tool which is used by environmental health officers to assess the risk (the likelihood and severity) of a hazard in residential housing to the health and safety of occupants or visitors. The paper looks at some of the reviews and reports into the operation of the HHSRS. It also looks briefly at wider housing conditions and standards. To read the briefing, click here

Private rents
On 19 May 2016 the Valuation Office Agency released statistics (updating a previous release last published on 10th December 2015) on the private rental market for England. The data show that median monthly rent recorded between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016 in England was £650. London had the highest median monthly rent at £1,452, and North East had the lowest median monthly rent at £475. These regions are consistently the highest/lowest across all bedroom categories. The second highest median monthly rent is South East at £845. To access the data, click here

Houses in multiple occupation
Nottingham City Council is to apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against an order of  the Upper Tribunal in Nottingham City Council v Dominic Parr Trevor Parr Associates Ltd [2016] UKUT 71 dismissing its challenge to terms of Houses in Multiple Occupation licences that restricted the occupation of bedrooms to a particular type of occupier. For more details, see the article in Local Government Lawyer by clicking here

Housing – Northern England
On 17 May 2016 the NHC Commission for Housing in the North released its Interim Report setting out the findings from six months of evidence gathered from NHC members, wider stakeholders, partners and investors. To read the report, click here

Homelessness – Scotland
On 17 May 2016 the Scottish Institute published a report entitled Housing Costs, Poverty and Homelessness in Scotland. The report notes that while Scotland had almost one million social rental homes in 1990, this had dropped to 600,000 by 2010 and increasing rental costs have seen 210,000 Scots fall into poverty simply due to the extra burden of housing costs, with 120,000 of these renting in the private sector. To read the report, click here

Homelessness and mental health
On 18 May St Mungo’s published a report – Stop the scandal: an investigation into mental health and rough sleeping – which is based on analysis of data on people sleeping rough, a national street outreach survey and interviews with homelessness and mental health professionals. To read the report, click here

Service charges
The Approval of Code of Management Practice (Residential Management) (Service Charges) (England) Order 2016 was laid before parliament on 11 May 2016 and comes into force on 1 June 2016. By the order the Secretary of State approves, subject to a stated exception, a code of practice relating to the management of residential property by landlords and others who discharge the management function. The approved code is the “Service Charge Residential Management Code” by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. For the order, click here

Travellers’ caravans
On 19 May the DCLG released its latest twice-yearly count of traveller caravans in England which took place in January 2016. The total number of traveller caravans in England was 21,306, which was 1,183 more than in January 2015. 7,046 caravans were on authorised socially rented sites, an increase of 179 since the January 2015 count. The number of caravans on authorised privately funded sites was 11,454, which was 869 more than in January 2015. To access the date, click here

Just Published:

Commons and Greens - The Modern Law (2nd edn)
Angela Sydenham, Solicitor
Everyone advising on the acquisition, sale, development or management of rural land will need to know about the implemented and prospective changes to the law relating to common land, and town and village greens. Written by one of the leading experts in the field, this new edition has been substantially expanded so that in addition to offering a detailed commentary of the legislation, it explains all subsequent developments, providing a comprehensive text on the subject.

Just £65 + £4.50 p&p.

Order your copy here

Housing and Planning Act 2016
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has now been published. To access the statute, click here

Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016
The Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016 and has now been published. To access the statute, click here

Renters’ Rights Bill

This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Grender. It will have its Second Reading on a date to be announced.

Syed Balkhi v Southern Land Securities Ltd [2016] UKUT 239 (LC)
This decision of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) concerned a dispute as to the recoverability of service charge payments.  The Landlord, Southern Land Securities Ltd held a property under a headlease and sought to recover service charge payments from Mr Balkhi, a residential tenant holding his flat from the landlord upon an underlease. The amounts the landlord sought to recover from the tenant included sums which the landlord had paid to the freeholder.  The Upper Tribunal [para 41] made it clear that, where the tenant (as here) produces material suggesting that the amount claimed by the landlord may not be reasonable then the landlord would need to justify the reasonableness of what was claimed which may involve seeking assistance from the freeholder or its managing agent to justify the reasonableness of the sum paid. In this case the Upper Tribunal found that the amounts claimed by the landlord were unreasonably high and reduced the amount that the landlord could recover by £3,821.23. For the full judgment click here

Prison Sentence for Illegal Gas Worker
Teeside Magistrates’ Court
The Health & Safety Executive report the conviction of a Darlington based man who undertook gas work using an alias of a legitimate, Gas Safe registered engineer, thereby deceiving customers.  He also falsely signed official records in the name of that engineer.  He was convicted of breaches of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; Regulations 3(3) and 3(7) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was sentenced to prison for eighteen months. For the full report click here

Anti-Social Behaviour Eviction Order
Reading County Court, 11 May 2016
A joint operation involving Bracknell Forest Homes, Thames Valley police and Bracknell Forest Council led to a closure order in relation to a property in Bulbrook.  It is reported that the tenant and visitors to the property caused nuisance and disturbance and that there had been drug related activity at the property. Evidence gathered by working with the police, the Council and residents convinced a judge sitting at Reading County Court to make an immediate eviction order. Bracknell Forest Homes had sought possession following the closure order based on the mandatory ground for possession (Ground 7A ) inserted into Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 by section 97 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. For the full report click here For media coverage click here

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Recovery of capital grant
The principles governing grant recovery and recycling of social housing assistance (capital grant) are set out in the Recovery of Capital Grants and Recycled Capital Grant Fund General Determination 2015. The changes proposed through this consultation are subject to the passing of deregulatory measures in the Housing and Planning Bill. Should there be any material change during the passage of the Bill through Parliament, the HCA reserves the right to further consult on any such material change. For the consultation document, click here The consultation closes on 27 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.

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 the extended date of 9 June 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] May 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

Forget 'social cleansing' - the problem in London is poverty
Dave Hill [2016] Guardian 23 May. To read this article, click here

How you can start preparing for Voluntary Right to Buy – advice from the pilots Tony Quigley [2016] NHF Blog 23 May. To read this article, click here

Home and away: What do we know about the rise in homeless families moved away from their local area? Jenny Pennington [2016] Shelter Blog 23 May. To read this article, click here

Labour calls for councils to help first-time buyers Rowena Mason [2016] Guardian 21 May. To read this article, click here

The price of ambiguity (Littlestone v Macleish) Forsters LLP [2016] Property Law Journal 20 May. To read this article (subscription required), click here

Legacy of Cathy Come Home should fuel fury over homelessness Dawn Foster [2016] Guardian 20 May. To read this article, click here

London housing: the rising costs of temporary accommodation Dave Hill [2016] Guardian 19 May. To read this article, click here

27 May 2016        
Closure of Recover of Capital Grant consultation

9 June 2016        
Closure of consultation on McKenzie Friends in the courts

22 June 2016        
Lime Legal’s Homelessness Conference 2016: Law & Best Practice (click here for details)


Oliver Fisher Solicitors

Property Solicitor - Permanent - Full-time - 0 - 2 PQE

Oliver Fisher’s highly regarded social housing & private residential property team is seeking an enthusiastic solicitor to deal with property transactions and general Landlord Tenant Litigation. 

The successful candidate, will have experience of residential conveyancing and Landlord & Tenant work for legal aid & private clients. 

Knowledge of residential landlord and tenant work is essential.  Excellent organisational and communication skills will be required, as well as the ability to manage your own caseload with little supervision but within a supportive team environment.

Applications are by personal covering letter and CV to be sent by e-mail to Russell Conway: recruitment@oliverfisher.co.uk.


Housing Homelessness & Resource Officer

Temporary Post Per Week Ending on 31.3.2017

Salary Scale:  £21,530 to £23,698   Grade E

Housing Services provide a range of solutions for people who are seeking suitable affordable housing or who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

We are seeking to appoint  applicants who are enthusiastic and versatile,  have worked in a social housing or related environment ,have  a detailed working knowledge of the Housing Act 1996 as amended (Allocations and Homelessness) and other related legislation.

You will need to have excellent communication skills both oral and written, ability to work on own initiative and as part of a customer focused front line team.
Informal enquiries for this post to Ashley Bayliss on 01452 396737

For a job description and person specification click here

For the links for the Job Advertisement and Job Application form click here (and scroll down to this vacancy click here

Closing date: 25th May 2016

Interview date: w/c 30th May 2016
Lime Legal Limited, Greengate House, 87 Pickwick Road, Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13 9B