Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

4 March 2015 Update


Policy Issues in Housing Law
Housing Ombudsman
The UK Government has appointed Denise Fowler to be the Housing Ombudsman for England following the retirement of Dr Mike Biles. Ms Fowler was most recently employed in the Government Legal Service having previously practised as a legal aid housing lawyer. For the announcement, click here  For her CV, click here

Homelessness in England
The DCLG has published the latest statistics on rough sleeping by the homeless. These official figures reveal a 37% increase in rough sleeping in London. For the full report, click here 

The key social indicators on homelessness are captured in a new House of Commons Library dataset. For a copy, click here

Private Renting
The Property Ombudsman has reported that two thirds of complaints made to him (by landlords and tenants) against letting agents are being upheld. For the detailed breakdown, see the Ombudsman’s press release for 23 February 2015, available here

The Association of Residential Letting Agents has produced a new free guide for students thinking about renting in the private sector. For a copy, click here

Right to Buy
The latest official statistics show that sales of social housing under the right to buy were running at over 1,000 per month in England from October to December 2014. That is 15% up on the same period in 2013. For the full statistics, click here For a commentary on the figures, click here

Housing in England
The Office for National Statistics and DCLG have published the headline results of the English Housing Survey for 2013/14. The data deal with tenure, rents and housing conditions across the housing stock in England. For the headline report, click here 

Housing Fraud

A London borough is introducing Identity Scanners in its Housing Service offices to deter and detect fraudulent housing applications and address unlawful subletting of social housing. The ID scanners will be used to read the machine readable zones found on passports, European Identity Cards and driving licences. The scanners will capture visible, infra-red and ultra violet images which will help validate identification. For more details, click here 

Housing & Anti-social behaviour
The House of Commons Library has produced a new briefing on the latest tools and powers to control anti-social behaviour which confirms that the injunction provisions will come into force on 23 March 2015. For a copy of the updated briefing, click here  For its companion briefing note relating to anti-social behaviour in privately owned and privately rented housing, click here

A parliamentary committee has reviewed draft regulations under which councils will be able to authorise housing associations to issue community protection and fixed penalty notices. For the text of the committee’s debate, click here

Rent arrears and welfare reform
The shortfall between social housing rent and reduced housing benefit (resulting from the ‘bedroom tax’) can be made good by a successful claim for a discretionary housing payment. The Scottish Government has published a new statistical report indicating that it has released funds in 2014/15 to enable all councils to award sufficient DHPs to make good all shortfalls. 100,000 DHP awards worth £46m have already been made this year to reduce impact on tenants. For the details, click here 

Housing in Northern Ireland
The latest Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin (covering July – Sept 2014) was published on 25 February 2015. It reports that the number of homeless households accepted by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as owed the main housing duty was 2,912 for the quarter, an increase of 31% compared to the previous quarter. For a copy of the Bulletin, click here

Housing Laws in the Pipeline  
Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill
This private members Bill would introduce a requirement that a functioning carbon monoxide detector be installed in all newly built and all rented residential properties. A second reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015. For a copy of the Bill, click here.

Private Rented Sector (Decent Homes Standard) Bill
This private members Bill would require private landlords to ensure that any property they let meets the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard. It is moved by Conservative MP Laura Sandys. For her description of the Bill’s proposals, click here  For the debate on its introduction, click here  For more details of the Bill itself, click here The Second Reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015.

Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector) Bill
This private members Bill is also expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 6 March 2015. It would provide that people in receipt of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit and accommodated in the social housing sector should be entitled to an additional bedroom related to caring responsibilities or overnight care. For a copy of the Bill, click here. 

Consumer Rights Bill
This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) repealing and replacing laws dealing with unfair terms in tenancy agreements and other contracts; and (2) requiring letting agents to publish their fees. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here

The bill has completed its House of Lords stages and the consideration of Lords Amendments by the House of Commons took place on 12 January 2015. The Commons disagreed with Lords Amendment 12 and have returned the Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill now travels back and forth between the two Houses, until both agree on the text of the Bill. A motion to extend the carry-over period of the bill by 67 days until 30 March 2015 was agreed on 12 January 2015 following the consideration of Lords amendments. The Bill is scheduled to receive further Parliamentary consideration in the House of Commons on 9 March 2015. If passed, the Act is then expected to come into force in October 2015. The UK Government is consulting on the draft guidance it proposes to issue on the new unfair terms provisions. For the consultation papers, click here  

Deregulation Bill
This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) reducing the qualifying period for right to buy; (2) removing the power to require preparation of housing strategies; and (3) amending the law on tenancy deposits. The bill has completed its House of Lords Committee Stage and Report Stage and is scheduled to have its Third Reading on 4 March 2015. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here  For the Government amendments passed on 11 February 2015 designed to insert provisions relating to retaliatory eviction into the Bill (and to achieve the other changes described above), click here For the Bill as it appears with the amendments included, click here

Renting (Homes) Bill
This is a Welsh Government bill introduced in the Welsh Assembly. For a copy of the Bill, click here   For the Explanatory Memorandum, click here To monitor the progress of the Bill, click here . There is a consultation exercise associated with the content of the Bill, see below.


R v Rosemary Hill
27 February 2015
The defendant was a private landlady. She let a property to tenants but later subjected them to harassment after they asked for defects to be repaired. She was convicted after a jury trial. At Norwich Crown Court, she was fined £2,000 with £2,500 costs and made subject to a 10 year restraining order which prohibits her from engaging in further harassment. For details of the sentencing hearing, click here  

Dudley Council v Latif Rehman
27 February 2015
In February 2014 the defendant landlord had pleaded guilty to 14 offences of failing to comply with the Housing Act 2004. The offences included failing to ensure fire escapes were not obstructed and failing to ensure fixtures, fittings and electrical appliances were safely maintained. He was fined £6,000 for not being licensed to let his property and £400 each for the remaining 13 offences with £725 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge, making a total of £12,045.  The council then applied for a rent repayment order. A Birmingham First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) took into account the court fines but ordered further payment of £3,483 – equivalent to a third of the total housing benefit received during the 12 month period prior to the prosecution. For further details, click here

X & Y v Leeds City Council
26 February 2015
The council used its powers under Local Government Act 1972 section 122 to obtain an injunction against “persons unknown” preventing anyone from “sitting or loitering on a thoroughfare or Leeds City Station with any article to be used for begging, such as caps, hats, boxes or similar receptacles.” Mr X and Mr Y were both served with the injunction and applications were later made to commit them to prison for breaching it. In the High Court, the council conceded that the injunction should be discharged against Mr X and Mr Y and that the committal applications should be dismissed with costs but asked for the remainder of the injunction to remain in place. The judge decided to discharge the injunction entirely. For the details, click here 

Health & Safety Executive v Topflite (North West) Ltd
26 February 2015
The defendant company undertook loft conversion building works on a house. The house shared a common flue with an adjoining property. A steel beam installed in the new loft had broken through the flue and caused it to become blocked. The neighbours later suffered the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. At Liverpool Magistrates’ Court, on pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the firm was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,276 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Southend on Sea BC v Armour
25 February 2015
Mr Armour was an introductory tenant. During his ‘trial period’, the council served notice and sought possession. The court decided that although the notice and review process had been correctly conducted, an eviction would infringe the right to respect for a home (Article 8) and dismissed the possession claim. The council’s appeal to the High Court was dismissed. The council’s appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed. The Supreme Court has now refused the council’s application to bring a further appeal. For the Court of Appeal’s decision, click here For a commentary, click here

Morgan v Warwick District Council
25 February 2015
Mrs Morgan owed council tax for periods before 1 April 2013, when the modern schemes for council tax support and discretionary relief were introduced. She applied to the council to grant her discretionary help to reduce her bills to nil. The council said that the power could not or would not be exercised in relation to periods before April 2013. Mrs Morgan appealed but the council contended that the Valuation Tribunal had no jurisdiction. After a hearing on 11 February 2015, the Tribunal (the President presiding) held that it did have jurisdiction and gave directions for a hearing of the appeal on its merits. For information relating to the appeal, click here 

Home Group Ltd v Matrejek
23 February 2015
A social landlord began a possession claim against a tenant based on anti-social behaviour. The claim was struck-out when the landlord failed to attend a directions hearing. It applied for relief from that sanction and a judge re-instated the claim. The tenant appealed. The High Court rejected the appeal. The judge had not wrongly exercised his powers in re-instating the claim. For the judgment, click here 

Medway Council v Gareth Davies
20 February 2015
Following complaints of noise nuisance, resulting from the repeated playing of loud music, the council served an abatement notice. The nuisance continued and the council returned to seize £3,000 worth of equipment from the defendant’s home. At Dartford Magistrates’ Court, the defendant was found guilty of seven breaches of the noise abatement notice. The court ordered the equipment be forfeited and imposed a fine of £50 on each of the charges with £500 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here 

Oldham Council v Mohammed Aslam
20 February 2015
The defendant was the owner of a former pub. He had poorly partitioned-off the ground floor to make bedrooms. There was no heating. The only washing facilities were the original pub toilets and there were no bathing facilities. There were no fire precautions. The fire exits and the means of escape were blocked. The defendant was using the premises as living accommodation for his migrant labour workforce. Council officers found several men living in the property and served a prohibition notice. The defendant failed to comply. He later pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the Housing Act 2004 and the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. He was fined £2,200 with £2,600 costs. For details of the prosecution, click here

Salford Council v Tapiwa Madovi
18 February 2015
The defendant was a private landlord of a property in an area of selective licensing. He failed to get a licence despite being sent application packs and numerous warning letters. At Manchester City Magistrates' Court, he admitted failing to have a licence as required under the Housing Act 2004. He was fined £1,200 with costs of £963 and a victim surcharge of £120. For details of the prosecution, click here

Samuels v Birmingham City Council
27 January 2015
Ms Samuels had a shortfall of over £150 a month between her rent and housing benefit. When she lost that accommodation, and applied as homeless, the council decided that she had become homeless intentionally. An appeal to the county court was dismissed. The Court of Appeal has granted permission for a further appeal on three grounds: (1) the council erred in its approach to ‘affordability’; (2) the judge had wrongly relied on an e-mail from the reviewing officer produced at the hearing which for the first time set out the number of children that he had included in her family; and (3) inadequate reasons were given as to how the accommodation was ‘affordable’ and what expenditure had been excessive when Ms Samuels was entirely reliant on state benefits. The appeal will be heard on 6 or 7 October 2015. For more details, click here

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The Welsh Government has initiated a consultation on the future of the Right to Buy in Wales. The consultation runs until 16 April 2015. For the consultation arrangements, click here

For the consultation paper itself, click here

The Competition and Markets Authority is seeking views on draft guidance relating to the new unfair terms provisions of the Consumer Rights Bill (see above) currently being debated in Parliament. For the consultation documents, click here  Responses should be made by 5pm on 30 March 2015.

The Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee of the Welsh Assembly is consulting on the contents of the Welsh Government’s Renting Homes (Wales) Bill. For the consultation documents and details, click here Any submissions should arrive by 27 March 2015.

The Welsh Government has published its consultation draft of its new statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness & Allocations. For details of the consultation exercise and arrangements for responses, click here The deadline is 23 March 2015.  


The scandal of councils turning away the homeless is finally being exposed Hannah Fearn [2015] The Guardian Housing Network 27 February. To read the article, click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law. Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2015] February issue Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line. To read the article, click here

What the latest statistics tell us about housing – in six charts Liam Kelly [2015] The Guardian Housing Network 26 February. To read the article, click here

Charities say homeless being let down as rough sleeping rises again  Patrick Butler [2015] The Guardian 26 February. To read the article, click here

Six ways landlords can help social housing tenants to move home Charlotte Smith [2015] The Guardian Housing Network 24 February. To read the article, click here

Are Council Tax hardship funds an effective means of support? Sam Aston [2015] Z2k Blog 26 February. To read the article, click here

Easing the renting pain Alex Hilton [2015] Inside Housing 27 February. To read the article, click here

Ready, set, go (social landlords and the new regulatory framework) Gemma Bell [2015] Inside Housing 27 February. To read the article, click here

Retaliatory evictions and proposed changes to the law Sarah Cummins [2015] Anthony Gold Blog 23 February 2015. To read the article, click here

Repair despair Julie Cameron [2015] 175 Taxation No.4490. To read the article, click here 


4 March 2015
Scheduled House of Lords Third Reading of the Deregulation Bill (see above)

6 March 2015
Scheduled House of Commons Second Readings for Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill, Private Rented Sector (Decent Homes Standard) Bill and the Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector) Bill (see above)

9 March 2015

Final stages (‘ping-pong’) for the Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Commons (see above)
Supreme Court to consider whether an Austrian national was ineligible for housing assistance in the UK. For the details, click here  

17 March 2015
Supreme Court to hear appeal about out-of-borough placement of homeless households. For the Court of Appeal judgment, click here

23 March 2015
Consultation closes on draft Code of Guidance on Homelessness & Allocations for Wales (see above)

27 March 2015
Consultation closes on the contents of the Welsh Government’s Renting Homes (Wales) Bill (see above)

30 March 2015
Consultation closes on draft guidance relating to the new unfair terms provisions (see above)


Housing & Property Disputes Solicitor

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP, a leading firm of solicitors based in London NW1 has an exciting opportunity for a solicitor with a minimum of 2+ years PQE to join their dedicated social housing and property disputes team.   

It is essential that you have good social housing law experience in addition to property litigation experience in a variety of residential property disputes. 

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 able to work under pressure.

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 Joe Cooper at the following email address

Closing date for applications is 5 March 2015. Interviews are planned to take place in the week commencing 9 March 2015.

For full details click here

Housing Solicitor Vacancy (locum maternity cover)

Greenwich Housing Rights seeks a 3+ years PQE Housing Solicitor to join its specialist casework team to provide locum maternity cover. 

Fixed-term 9 month contract which will ideally start before 17 April 2015 (possibility of extension)

Experience of running a busy publicly-funded caseload is essential.  Experience of community care and public law will be an advantage.
Salary: £31,000 p.a. + 5% pension contribution

Closing date
for applications: 27 March 2015
Apply by email to  or call 020 8854 8848 to request an application pack. 

For full details click here


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