12th July 2017
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Grenfell Tower – legal aid for victims
On 7 July 2017 the Law Society published a briefing document comprising: guidance from the Legal Aid Agency for providers who wish to access legal aid for victims of major incidents; a Law Society update regarding the impact of lump sum payments from government on legal aid eligibility; and information regarding pro bono advice and pro bono cost orders. For the briefing, click here

Grenfell Tower – handling immigration cases
On 5 July 2017 the Home Office published guidance telling UK Visas & Immigration and Immigration Enforcement staff how to consider the immigration status of those directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire who need to regularise their immigration status in the UK or obtain a change in the conditions of their existing leave, or whose existing leave to remain is due to expire within 12 months of the publication of this policy. This policy is intended to assist those directly affected by the fire. For the guidance, click here

Grenfell Tower – Public Inquiry consultation
On 5 July 2017 the Grenfell Tower Inquiry invited those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and others with an interest to help shape the work of the Public Inquiry into the fire. The Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, launched a consultation into its terms of reference which will set out what the Inquiry will cover. Anyone can submit written views online or in writing. For the consultation document in a variety of languages, click here For the Inquiry website, click here

Grenfell Tower – support for people affected
On 7 July 2017 the DCLG and Home Office updated the webpage containing advice on where to seek urgent assistance and information, including the official helplines for this incident. It also provides guidance on support services available for victims and all those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. For the webpage, click here

Kensington and Chelsea – appointment of Independent Recovery Taskforce
On 5 July 2017 the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced in a written statement to Parliament that he had appointed an independent Recovery Taskforce with the experience and skills to advise the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) on longer term recovery needs. The remit of the Recovery Taskforce is to provide advice and practical and strategic support to RBKC. The Taskforce will consider all aspects of the recovery operation but will have a special focus on housing, regeneration and community engagement. For the written statement, click here

Combustibility tests on cladding and insulation
On 6 July 2017 the independent expert panel on safety advised further testing as the next step to be conducted in helping landlords to ensure the safety of their buildings. These large scale tests will help establish how different types of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panels in combination with different types of insulation behave in a fire. The tests will be undertaken by the Building Research Establishment and will not require any new samples from buildings. Landlords will be expected to take their own professional advice on what is required for their buildings in the usual way. For further details, click here

Fire safety in tower blocks – Brent
On 10 July 2017 Brent Council announced that it had earmarked £10 million for a package of enhanced fire safety measures for high rise blocks following a vote of Brent’s full Council. A range of fire safety improvements, such as sprinklers, smoke detectors and fire alarms, is set to be rolled out in high-rise tower blocks across the borough. For more details, click here

Homelessness – England
On 7 July 2017 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing statistics on statutory homelessness in England and explaining local authorities' duties to assist homeless households. The paper includes an overview of, and comment on, Government policy in this area. To access the briefing, click here

Refugees and homelessness
On 9 July 2017 Refugee Action published new research showing that a failure by the Home Office to follow its own guidance for supporting those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom is making vulnerable people homeless and leaving them unable to feed their families. The report – based on analysis of more than 300 cases – shows that some of the most vulnerable people seeking protection are being wrongly denied assistance or are suffering long delays to get the support they are entitled to. To read the report, click here To read Refugee Action’s press release, click here

Rural homelessness
On 10 July 2017 the Institute of Public Policy Research published a report – Right To Home? Rethinking homelessness in rural communities – stating that many households in rural areas are threatened with or experience homelessness. The report says that: in 2015/16, 6,270 households were accepted as homeless in England’s 91 mainly and largely rural local authorities (LAs); in 16 of these predominantly rural LAs, at least two in every 1,000 households were accepted as homeless; in 2015/16, mainly and largely rural areas in England reported making 12,977 decisions on homelessness approaches (11 per cent of local authority decisions, nationally); from 2010 to 2016, mainly rural local authorities recorded a rise from 191 to 252 rough sleepers (an increase of 32 per cent – in largely rural areas there has been a leap of 52 per cent); the peculiarities of rural areas can make delivering services to prevent and relieve homelessness particularly difficult. To read the report, click here To read the executive summary, click here For coverage in Huffington Post, click here

Housing homeless families locally
On 9 July 2017 The Observer reported the results of a Freedom of Information request which revealed that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had the worst record in England for finding local homes for its homeless families before the Grenfell Tower disaster. The response covers 273 of England’s 326 councils, including 29 of London’s 33 boroughs. Newham has the highest number of people in short-term housing in the country: 4,404 households. For the report, click here

Households in temporary accommodation – England
On 7 July 2017 the House of Commons Library published a 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. To access the briefing, click here

Universal Credit
On 6 July Citizens Advice published a report stating that Universal Credit, which is currently being rolled out across the country, is already failing many people. It is forcing people into debt and leaving them without the means to make ends meet. Citizens Advice says that if the problems with Universal Credit are not fixed, 7 million households will face serious financial risk. To read the report click here To read the summary, click here

Right to Buy for housing association tenants – England
On 6 July 2017 the House of Commons Library published a briefing which explains proposals to extend the Right to Buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary basis. No implementation date for full roll-out has been announced. A large regional pilot scheme was announced for 2017/18. To read the briefing, click here

Private renting – energy performance
On 7 July 2017 the Residential Landlords Association reported that the Government had confirmed at a meeting at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that changes to rules preventing landlords from renting out inefficient homes will be introduced in April 2018. On introduction, all privately let homes must have a minimum energy performance certificate rating of E. The rule applies to new tenancies and renewals only, but will be extended to existing tenancies by 2020. For more details, click here

Tenancy deposit schemes
On 5 July 2017 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper explaining the duty on private landlords to protect tenants’ deposits and summarising how the schemes operate. To read the briefing, click here

Affordable housing – Scotland
On 7 July 2017 the Scottish Government announced that the number of affordable homes being approved is at its highest level since the 1980s. It said that it has committed more than £1.75 billion over the next three years to enable local authorities to plan and deliver the affordable housing needed in their communities, delivering the “ambitious” target of at least 50,000 affordable homes by 2021. There has been a 29% increase in approvals this year compared with last, with 10,276 affordable homes being approved in 2016-17. For the announcement, click here

Local Housing Authority Debt Bill
This Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Lords on 4 July 2017, seeks to replace the current regime of limits on local housing authorities’ debt with limits determined by the existing prudential regime for local authority borrowing for non-housing-related purposes. The second reading is yet to be scheduled. For the Bill as introduced, click here To follow progress of the Bill, click here

Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill
This Bill seeks to abolish the right of eligible secure tenants to buy their home at a discount under Part 5 of the Housing Act 1985 (Right to Buy); abolish the preserved right of eligible former secure tenants to buy their home at a discount under section 171A of the Housing Act 1985 (Preserved Right to Buy); abolish the right of eligible assured or secure tenants of a registered social landlord or private registered provider to acquire their home at a discount under section 16 of the Housing Act 1996 (Right to Acquire); and encourage social landlords to build or acquire new homes for rent, the Right to Buy, Preserved Right to Buy and Right to Acquire will not be exercisable by tenants who move into new social housing stock more than two months after the Bill receives Royal Assent, subject to certain exceptions. The Bill is currently at Stage 1 in the Welsh Assembly. The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the general principles of the Bill. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee considered the Bill on 3 April 2017. For progress of the Bill (including the Committees’ scrutiny), the text of the Bill itself and explanatory memorandum, together with proceedings of the ELCG Committee and correspondence arising from them, click here and scroll down.

Trindade v London Borough of Hackney
[2017] EWCA Civ 942

Ms Trindade previously lived with her partner and disabled daughter in an apartment on an island off the west coast of central Africa. On 2 February 2013, she left that accommodation and moved in with her sister in the UK, in part to secure medical treatment for her daughter. Ms Trindade’s partner then gave up the tenancy of the apartment in which they had previously resided.

In September 2013, Ms Trindade and her sister were evicted from the sister’s property. They applied separately to Hackney LBC for homelessness assistance.

On 14 April 2014, the authority decided that they owed no duty to accommodate Ms Trindade because her sister’s property was not her last settled address and she had made herself intentionally homeless by leaving the apartment in Africa because the decision to come to the UK and live with her sister “had the seeds of its own destruction” and because Ms Trindade left her African apartment “on a wing and a prayer”.

On 22 December 2014, the authority upheld that decision on review, concluding that the when Ms Trindade left her African apartment she had not been unaware of any relevant fact and that the act of leaving it had not been taken in good faith.

On 29 July 2015, HHJ Wulwik dismissed Ms Trindade’s appeal. The judge held that the review decision identified the relevant act with sufficient clarity and upheld the review decision on the issue whether Ms Trindade had acted in ignorance of a relevant fact. He held that it was unnecessary to consider the question of good faith.

Before the Court of Appeal, Ms Trindade argued that she had been unaware of a relevant fact (namely that her sister could be evicted) when she had left the apartment in Africa, and that she had acted in good faith because she had come to the UK to secure medical assistance for her daughter.

In relation to the first ground, the Court of Appeal, upholding the decision in Najim v Enfield LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 319; [2015] HLR 19, held that the question of ignorance of a relevant fact is directed to ignorance of a fact existing at the time of the deliberate act/omission, and does not cover mistakes about future events which may or may not occur. An applicant whose future has not worked out as she expected has to show that at the time of her action/omission, she had an active belief that a specific state of affairs would arise or continue in the future based on a genuine investigation about those prospects.

In relation to the second ground, the Court of Appeal held obiter that the question of good faith has to be judged by reference to an applicant’s housing position and requirements for accommodation. Good faith does not turn on whether the applicant has acted/omitted to act with a laudable motive insofar as that motive has nothing to do with her housing requirements.

The appeal was dismissed. The authority had been entitled to conclude that Ms Trindade’s ignorance of the fact that her sister could be evicted was not ignorance of a relevant fact currently existing, and the fact that she had come to the UK without any intention to exploit the homelessness legislation was not the relevant question in considering good faith.

Summary by Riccardo Calzavara, barrister, Arden Chambers (who together with Toby Vanhegan, also of Arden Chambers, appeared for the appellant). 

For the full text of the judgment click here.

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Enforcement of suspended orders: alignment of procedures in the County Court and High Court
In Cardiff v Lee (Flowers) [2016] EWCA Civ 1034 the claimant landlord had obtained a possession order against the defendant secure tenant on the grounds of breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement prohibiting anti-social conduct. The order was suspended for two years on condition that the tenant complied with the provisions of his tenancy agreement, which contained covenants against causing a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours. Following further complaints from neighbours of the tenant, the landlord applied for the issue of a warrant of possession. It did so by lodging form N325, following the administrative procedure set out in CPR 83.6. The warrant was issued and the bailiff served notice of the date of intended eviction. The tenant’s application to stay execution of the warrant was dismissed by the district judge and his subsequent appeal was dismissed by the circuit judge. On appeal to the Court of Appeal it was common ground that the landlord ought to have sought permission to apply for the issue of the warrant as required by CPR 83.2. In short, CPR 83(2) states that a ‘relevant writ or warrant’ (which includes a warrant of possession) must not be issued without the permission of the court in any of the circumstances specified in CPR 83.2(3)(a)-(f). This consultation seeks views on whether amendments are required to rules and forms in light of the judgment. The consultation closes on 30 August 2017. For more details and all relevant documents, click here

A variety of housing management models Eamon McGoldrick [2017] National Federation of ALMOs 10 July. To read this article, click here

Grenfell Tower— a different perspective Theo Huckle QC [2017] New Law Journal 7 July. To read this article, click here

Education and out of borough homeless accommodation Giles Peaker [2017] Nearly Legal 6 July. To read this article, click here

When someone is sleeping rough they need help – not deportation Dawn Foster [2017] Guardian 7 July. To read this article, click here

Phantom Homes – where are the homes we need going? Robin White [2017] Shelter Blog 7 July. To read this article, click here

How Denmark has helped its homeless young people Britta Martinsen [2017] Guardian 10 July. To read this article, click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2017] June issue of Legal Action. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. For the latest issue, click here
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