General Editor: Jan Luba QC
18th November 2015 Update
This year’s programme includes:
This year’s programme includes:
Speakers - an outstanding line-up of some of the country’s top experts:
Jan Luba QC, (Garden Court chambers) Chairman and lead speaker, Peter Marcus, barrister, Zenith Chambers, Jonathan Hulley, Clark Willmott LLP Solicitors, Ben Taylor, WTB Solicitors LLP
POLICY ISSUES IN HOUSING LAW
Landlord Possession Claims
On 12 November 2015, the latest official statistics for county court possession claims were published, covering the three months July, August, and September 2015. In that period, 38,662 landlord possession claims were issued. Although the bulk was social landlord cases, the proportion has fallen from 83% in 1999 to 61% now. Over the three months, 11,267 actual repossessions were carried out by county court bailiffs in landlord cases, up 1% on the same period last year. For the full figures, click here
Execution of Possession Orders
Having obtained possession orders in the county court, some landowners and landlords seek to transfer their cases to the High Court for enforcement. A firm of solicitors in Birmingham has drawn attention to the use of this practice by Birmingham City Council. For the press release, click here For a legal commentary on the practice of seeking High Court enforcement in these cases, click here or click here
Imprisonment for Breach of Injunction
All orders made in the civil courts for committal for contempt of court are published. For the database, click here The most common order results from breach of an injunction obtained by a council or housing association. Those repeatedly breaching such injunctions are receiving significant sentences. In the most recent example, an immediate custodial sentence of 70 days was imposed for a repeat breach involving threatening residents. For the details, click here In another case, an immediate custodial sentence of three months was imposed for a repeat breach which involved harassing and causing nuisance to a neighbour (loud music and shouting). For more detail, click here
Council Enforcement against Bad Landlords
On 11 November 2015, the UK Government announced a new £5m fund to enable local councils to increase inspections of properties, carry out more ‘raids’, initiate more enforcement action, bring more prosecutions, and demolish sheds and buildings that are unlawfully used as accommodation. It has written to the 65 local authorities eligible to apply for the additional funding, inviting them to set out the action they propose to take with the additional money. For more details, click here In Manchester, the city council has published an updated database of the local landlords it has already successfully prosecuted. For the details, click here For the equivalent Liverpool City Council list, click here
Housing Benefit Backdating
As announced in the Summer Budget, from April 2016 the maximum period for which a Housing Benefit claim can be backdated will be reduced from six months to one month, even in the most exceptional cases. In October 2015, the Social Security Advisory Committee had suggested that the period should be three months. For the UK Government’s response published on 9 November 2015, rejecting that recommendation, click here For a short briefing on the likely impact of this change on some housing providers, click here For the regulations which make the change, click here For the memorandum, which explains them, click here
Private Renting in England
On 11 November 2015, the UK Government published a collation of the responses received to its technical discussion document Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector. That document covered a range of measures designed to help improve standards in the private rented sector and received over 500 responses. The new publication summarises the views expressed and outlines the Government’s response. For a copy, click here
Redress against Letting Agents
Two more agents, A S Moon & Partners, a sales and letting agent based in Northumberland, and CityWest.co.uk Limited, a sales and letting agent based in Hounslow, have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme for a minimum of two years. Both had failed to comply with parts of the TPO Codes of Practice, failed to co-operate fully with the Ombudsman’s investigations following complaints, and failed to pay awards made. For more details, click here
Sales of Social Housing
On 12 November 2015, the UK Government published the latest statistical tables providing data on the sales of social housing stock – both for local authorities and private registered providers. The most common sales are by operation of the Right to Buy (and Preserved Right to Buy) scheme and there are separate tables for sales under that scheme. For access to the tables, click here
Helping Gypsies and Travellers
The Gypsy and Traveller National Advice Line is now back in action on 0121 685 8677. Monday to Friday. 9am to 5pm. For more details, click here
Regulation of Social Landlords
Fiona MacGregor has been appointed as permanent Director of Regulation for the Homes & Communities Agency, which regulates social landlords in England. She took up her role with immediate effect, having been interim Director since August 2015. For more details of the appointment, click here
Right to Buy & Housing Associations
On 12 November 2015, the House of Commons Library issued a new briefing which explains the proposals to extend the Right to Buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary basis. For a copy, click here
On 11 November 2015, the UK Government announced that it has awarded a new contract to the Deposit Protection Service to continue providing a custodial tenancy deposit scheme from 1 April 2016. It has also awarded contracts to the Dispute Service Ltd and Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (trading as MyDeposits) to run two new custodial deposit protection schemes in England and Wales from 1 April 2016. For the announcement, click here and scroll to the foot of the announcement.
A new free briefing - A 1% Rent Cut, the Privatisation of Social Housing & a Redefinition of Supported Housing: Challenges & Opportunities – has been published by Support Solutions. For a copy, click here
On 11 November 2015, the DWP released the latest Housing Benefit caseload statistics. They offer data up to August 2015 covering the number of HB claims, tenure of tenants, and amounts paid. The figures are broken down by local authority and region. To access the statistics, click here
Finding a Housing Lawyer/Adviser
The GOV.UK web service provides a dedicated portal to help members of the public find a Housing solicitor or adviser. Results are sorted by geographic location and then by proximity. Click “Housing” under the “Category of Law”. To access the portal, click here Members of the public wanting to go direct to a barrister can use the Advanced Search facility to get the “Housing” category for barristers by clicking here For an updated alphabetical list of solicitors’ firms and advice agencies undertaking legal aid and Housing work, click here For a list of Housing Law Practitioner Association members undertaking legal aid housing work, click here
Private renting in Northern Ireland
On 12 November 2015, the Minister for Social Development in the Assembly Government launched a discussion document as the first step in a consultative process which forms part of the Department’s fundamental review of the private rented sector. For the announcement, click here For details of how to respond to the consultation, see Housing Law Consultations (below).
HOUSING LAWS IN THE PIPELINE
Housing and Planning Bill
This is a UK Government Bill about social and private rented housing, estate agents, rentcharges, planning and compulsory purchase. For a copy of the Bill, which only applies to housing in England, click here For the Explanatory Notes, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here The Bill passed its Second Reading on 2 November 2015. To read the debate, click here For the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper for Second Reading, click here The official Impact Assessment of the Bill is also now available. For a copy, click here For a media commentary on the Impact Assessment, click here For the CIH briefing on the Bill (members only), click here For the Local Government Association’s briefing on the Bill, click here For a summary from Citizens Advice, click here For the LAG Housing Law commentary on the Bill, click here For a commentary by Dr Stephen Battersby, click here
The Bill is now being scrutinised in a Public Bill Committee. That Committee has issued an invitation for evidence on the Bill and will receive written evidence until 10 December 2015. For details of how to submit evidence, click here To see the record of the public proceedings of the Public Bill Committee - including the two evidence sessions with witnesses on 10 November 2015 – and to access all the written evidence the Committee has received, click here
Welfare Reform and Work Bill
This UK Government Bill makes provision about: (1) the benefit cap; (2) social security and tax credits; (3) loans for mortgage interest; and (4) social housing rents. It has completed all its House of Commons stages and is now passing through the House of Lords. For a commentary on the final Commons Stage, click here A Second Reading in the Lords was scheduled for Tuesday 17 November 2015. For the Bill, as amended in the Commons, click here For the Explanatory Notes for that version of the Bill, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here. For the documents relating to the Bill (including several impact assessments), click here For a briefing for Lord’s Second Reading prepared by the National Housing Federation, click here For the House of Lords Library Note providing background reading in advance of the Lords Second Reading, click here
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 fail to evict tenants who they know or have reasonable cause to believe are disqualified from renting as a result of their immigration status. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the Explanatory Notes on Clauses, click here For the official Impact Assessment, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, click here The Bill is now completing its Commons Public Bill Committee Stage. For the schedule of evidence received, meeting dates and debates for that Committee, click here The Housing Law Practitioners Association has prepared a briefing on clauses 13 and 14 which deal with repossession of tenanted homes. For a copy of that briefing, click here
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, 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 the Committee considering the Bill has issued a call for written evidence to be submitted by 19 November 2015. For the details, click here For the Briefing on the Bill produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, click here
Housing (Amendment) Bill
Houses in Multiple Occupation Bill
This is a Bill introduced in the Assembly on 7 September 2015 by the Northern Ireland Executive. It would make provision for and in connection with the licensing of houses in multiple occupation in Northern Ireland. For a copy of the Bill, click here For the explanatory memorandum, click here To follow the progress of the Bill, 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 is again listed for a Second Reading on 29 January 2016. 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, click here For the response of the MP who talked-out the Bill, click here
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 has been re-scheduled for 22 January 2016. 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 BillThis is a Private Members Bill introduced by Mark Pawsey MP. 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 had been scheduled for 11 September 2015 but was objected-to and has now been put back to 22 January 2016. 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
NEW HOUSING CASES
R(Omar) v Wandsworth LBC
11 November 2015
The claimant was a single woman in part-time work. Her asthmatic condition had led to recent in-patient treatment for an asthma attack and she was taking medication. On her homelessness application, the council decided that she was not ‘vulnerable’. She sought a review and asked for accommodation to be provided pending the review. That was refused. The High Court refused an application for an injunction requiring accommodation to be secured. The grounds for obtaining such an injunction has not been made out. The judgment is noted on LAWTEL and on WESTLAW.
AI v Crown Prosecution Service
10 November 2015
The owner of a house had been convicted and imprisoned for drug-dealing. The CPS obtained a confiscation order for his assets, which included a matrimonial home. His wife and three children faced the seizure of their home and applied for an order transferring it from the husband’s name to the wife’s. The application was refused. The Family Court found that: (1) it was bought in the sole name of the husband with the intention that it would be treated as his; (2) it is highly probable that it was bought with a deposit that was tainted (i.e. funded) by his drugs related offending; (3) the wife knew from the word ‘go' that the household was being funded at least in part by the husband's criminal activity; and (4) the mortgage payments were made from money tainted by the husband's criminal activities. For the judgment, click here
Toogood v McCourt and others
6 November 2015
The claimant landlord let a house to five students for a fixed term. After one of the students was found dead in the house, some of the others were too traumatised to continue in occupation and moved out. The landlord brought a claim against the tenants and their parents (as guarantors) for the unpaid rent for the remainder of the term of the lease. In the County Court at Medway, the claim failed. In a reserved judgment, the judge held that by his action in renovating and re-letting the property after the tenants had moved out, but before the expiry of the term, the landlord had accepted the tenants’ implied offer of surrender. For news coverage of the case, click here and for reporting of the judgment, click here
Southwark LBC v Clark
6 November 2015
In 2003, Mr Clark bought his council flat under the right to buy. In 2006 he was served with an interim demand to pay estimated service charges relating to the cost of major works. He did not pay. In 2008, he transferred the flat to his daughter. The council sent her a final demand for over £6,000 for her share of the actual cost of the works. When that was not paid, the council sued. The claim was transferred to a Tribunal. It held that the demand was not payable because of the terms of the lease and the effect of the interim demand. The council’s appeal was allowed by the Upper Tribunal and the final demand was upheld. For the judgment, click here
R (MG (Iran)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
5 November 2015
The claimant was a failed asylum seeker. He successfully applied to the Secretary of State for accommodation and support because he was destitute. He was found accommodation in Portsmouth. His child (and the child’s mother) lived in Canterbury. He asked to be moved nearer to Canterbury or for money to cover the expenses of visiting his child. Both requests were refused. In a claim for judicial review based on the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 section 55 (welfare of children) and the Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 Article 8 (right to respect for family life), the High Court held that the decisions of the Secretary of State were unlawful. Given the real practical difficulties in finding accommodation nearer to Canterbury, only the decision to refuse travel costs between Portsmouth and Canterbury was quashed. For the judgment, click here
N J Rickard Ltd v Holloway
3 November 2015
A landlord sued for unpaid rent. The tenant counterclaimed for breach of covenant and disrepair. The matter culminated in a trial and a consequential appeal about legal costs. While the Court of Appeal judgment is primarily concerned with which party should pay the costs and the effect of an intended Part 36 offer, it is noteworthy not least because the landlord and tenant said that they had incurred costs of £85,000 and £100,000 respectively. The judgment is noted on LAWTEL and WESTLAW. For a legal commentary, click here
Watford Council v Zuo Jun He
2 November 2015
The defendant was a private landlord with a licence to operate a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in a flat above a Chinese restaurant. The licence contained a condition restricting the number of occupiers to five. Up to 12 were occupying. At Watford Magistrates’ Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the Housing Acts, including two of allowing more people to live in the property than permitted. He was fined £30,000 with £5,326.54 costs, a criminal court charge of £150 and a £120 victim surcharge. For details of the prosecution, click here For media comment on it, click here
Brent LBC v Vijay Kara
29 October 2015
The defendant was a private landlord. Without planning consent, he converted two properties into flats and let them. Planning enforcement notices, which required him to restore the properties to their original condition, were served by the council. On a prosecution for non-compliance, the defendant pleaded guilty. At Harrow Crown Court, he was fined £10,000 with costs of a further £10,000. A confiscation order was made for £187,600, representing the rental income made from both properties. For details of the prosecution, click here
William P Harrison v HM Revenue & Customs
28 October 2015Mr Harrison owned two farms. He lived in the farmhouse on one of the farms. He claimed tax relief on the gains he had made from buying, letting and re-selling other properties. He claimed that he was entitled to ‘principal private residence’ relief because each of them was his ‘second home’. A Tribunal found that only the farmhouse was his principal private residence. None of the other properties met that definition. Imposing penalties of £7,246.23 for 2009/10 and £7,683.07 for 2010/11 (in addition to the liability to tax), the Tribunal said “Mr Harrison is an articulate and intelligent businessman with multiple and extensive property experience over numerous years. There is considerable information available to the general public on, for example, HMRC’s website, explaining precisely what does, or does not, constitute a principal private residence. Looking at the totality of the evidence we find that Mr Harrison has not behaved as a prudent and diligent taxpayer in submitting his returns with so many PPR elections.” For the judgment, click here
HOUSING LAW CONSULTATIONS
Renting Social Housing
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Private renting in Northern Ireland
NEW HOUSING LAW ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge  November issue of Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. To read the article on-line, click here For back-issues of this series of articles, click here
Protecting tenants from serious disrepair: the use of injunctions Natalie Wilkins  Garden Court North Housing Team’s November Bulletin. To read the article, click here
The rogue landlords exploiting the deepening UK housing crisis Rupert Jones  Guardian Property 13 November. To read the article, click here
How are children affected by poor housing? Dawn Foster  Guardian Housing Network 11 November. To read the article, click here
Vulnerable people will be hardest hit by social housing rent cut Denise Hatton  Guardian Housing Network 12 November. To read the article, click here
The economics of scale: how housing became Britain’s biggest political issue Andy Beckett  Guardian Housing 9 November. To read the article, click here
Report backs community control of Hammersmith and Fulham council homes Dave Hill  Guardian UK 13 November. To read the article, click here
Housing associations are seeing tenants move from exclusion to real poverty Kim Thomas  Guardian Housing Network 27 October. To read the article, click here
Government proposes minimum bedroom size for rental properties Patrick Collinson  Guardian Money 6 November (revised 13 November). To read the article, click here
National minimum bedroom size could be implemented to stop overcrowding Nicola Harley  Daily Telegraph 7 November. To read the article, click here
Home-grown council Private Rented Sector Alex Peace  Estates Gazette Residential 7 November. To read the article, click here
Give away now, pay later (shared ownership) Kate Webb  Shelter Blog 12 November. To read the article, click here
Affordability of previous accommodation Jonathan Manning and Emily Orme  Local Government Lawyer, 5 November. To read the article, click here
New regulations on heating provision in HMOs David Smith  RLA Blog 10 November. To read the article, click here
Social landlords in the firing line: rent reduction and the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015 Nick Billingham  18 Journal of Housing Law 106
Access to justice - mobility, cost and patience Justin Bates  18 Journal of Housing Law 103
Two rare sightings: disrepair in the Court of Appeal Andrew Brookes  18 Journal of Housing Law 112Haile v Waltham Forest LBC - Intentional homelessness, queue jumping and the "I would have been homeless anyway" argument Matthew Hutchings  18 Journal of Housing Law 116
THE HOUSING LAW DIARY
19 November 2015
20 November 2015
23 November 2015
9 December 2015
10 December 2015
18 December 2015
Hodge Jones & Allen
Vacancy for a Social
Housing Law Solicitor
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a solicitor with up to 2 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 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 and be able to 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.
The firm offers a competitive salary & benefits, as well as excellent career prospects, broad training, first-class IT facilities and comprehensive administrative support.
Closing date for applications: 30 November 2015
Please apply by sending a covering letter and CV to Jinal Patel at email@example.com.
SOUTH WEST LONDON LAW CENTRES
Vacancy for Housing Caseworker / Solicitor
South West London Law Centres (SWLLC), one of the largest and most progressive Law Centres in the country, is seeking a Housing Solicitor/Caseworker to be based in our Wandsworth Branch with some outreach in our other offices.
There is considerable demand for housing work. There are currently 10
solicitors in the housing team and one trainee. We run a wide range of
housing cases covered by Legal Aid including a significant amount of
representation work as part of the housing court duty schemes. We are
considering looking further at a range of fixed fees and conditional fee
agreements for areas that have now gone out of scope of Legal Aid. We are
also interested in candidates that can combine their housing experience with
any of community care, public law or welfare rights.
Up to £33,510 p.a.
according to experience (NJC Scale 35)
Housing Law Paralegal Vacancy
Sternberg Reed is a well established
Lexcel Accredited law firm with offices in Essex and
A vacancy has arisen for a Paralegal to join our Housing Law Department to support and assist the fee earners in the preparation and conduct of cases. The role will include undertaking administrative tasks.
This position will be based in our Barking office but the successful candidate may be expected to work from any of our other offices as and when required
The job would offer excellent experience of working in a busy legal practice to a Paralegal or Law Graduate who has passed the LPC and has a keen interest in making a career in this area of law.
The successful candidate will have the following attributes:
Please apply to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV and a covering letter stating why you are interested in this role and how your experience and skills match the requirements for this role.
We are an Equal Opportunities Employer
Edwards Duthie is a large, well respected firm with a number of offices in
East London and
Our Community Law Team has expertise in all areas of social welfare law, including housing & debt, welfare benefits, community care and mental health. The team has a particularly strong reputation for housing law The team holds Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme contracts with the Legal Aid Agency at Bow, Edmonton and Romford County Courts.
We now wish to recruit experienced housing caseworkers or solicitors to join our Community Law Team. Successful applicants will have a sound knowledge of housing law and litigation and ideally will have experience of acting as a duty advisor under the LAA’s Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes.
We have dedicated Human Resources, IT and Facilities Teams to develop and support all of our legal teams.
Salary according to experience. .
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