Shortfall in supply

November 27th, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that housing applications should be considered in the context of the (paragraph 14) presumption in favour of sustainable development and that policies for housing supply should not be regarded as up to date if the Local Planning Authority is unable to demonstrate a five-year supply.

In Hallam Land Management Ltd v SoS for CLG and Eastleigh Borough Council (2017) EWHC 2865 (Admin) Supperstone J ruled (paragraphs 22/23) that where there is a shortfall the SoS is not required in every case to determine the precise extent of the shortfall.  The key question is whether the housing land supply is above or below five years. Read more »

 

Agency

November 22nd, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Haringey LBC v Ahmed (2017) EWCA Civ 1861, where the Council claimed possession of a property, the Court of Appeal held, in allowing the Council’s appeal against the dismissal of its claim, that a Judge had been wrong to find that a husband who had taken sole responsibility for securing accommodation for his family had acted as agent for his wife when entering into a secure tenancy in their joint names. The Judge’s finding that the wife had not been involved in, or informed about, the tenancy meant that the usual characteristics of an agency were absent, in the absence of agency, the husband had been the sole tenant.  Therefore, when he left the property, the wife could not defend possession proceedings on the basis that she was a joint tenant. Read more »

 

Homelessness

October 20th, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Hotak v Southwark LBC (2016) AC 811 the Supreme Court ruled that “vulnerable” for priority need purposes connotes “significantly” more vulnerable than ordinarily vulnerable as a result of being rendered homeless.  But what is meant by “significantly” in this context?  The Court of Appeal has attempted to answer that question in joint appeals Panayiotou v Walsham Forest LBC and Smith v Haringey LBC, (2017) EWCA Civ 1624.  It means “at risk of more harm in a significant way”. That is an evaluative judgment in relation to any given set of facts: paragraph 64. Read more »

 

Secure Tenancy

October 6th, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The Court of Appeal has held in Harris v Hounslow LBC (2017) EWCA Civ 1476 that a secure tenant was not entitled to a statutory review of the local housing authority’s decision to apply for an anti-social behaviour  possession order, because he had applied outside the 7 day period laid down by Section 85ZA(2) of the Housing Act 1985.  Nor can the 7 day period be extended or waived.  The purpose of this mandatory ground for possession (the most serious cases of anti-social behaviour) is swifter relief for victims, witnesses and the community. In the public interest speedy relief is of the essence.  Lewison LJ added (para 27) that “the general application of public law principles must not be allowed to undermine the legislative scheme of this mandatory ground of possession”.

 

Homelessness

August 18th, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Protection from eviction legislation applies when accommodation is occupied “as a dwelling”. When an applicant for homelessness assistance is being housed by a local authority pursuant to its interim housing duty the occupation of the premises provided is not occupation “as a dwelling”. However, as has been held in Dacorum Borough Council v Bugnall (2017) EWHC 2094 (QB), once the (same) accommodation comes to be provided (even temporarily) in fulfilment of the full housing duty it becomes occupied “as a dwelling”.

 

 

Housing

July 31st, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The appeal in Ealing LBC v R (H) (2017) EWCA 1127 concerned the lawfulness of the Council’s housing allocation policy insofar as it set aside a small but not insignificant proportion of letting for working households and model tenants. It had been alleged that the former unjustifiably discriminated, indirectly, against women, the elderly and the disabled, and that the letter discriminated, directly, against non- council tenants. The claim was based on ss 19,29 and 149 of EA 2010, Arts 8 & 14 of ECHR and s 11 of CA 2004. The Court of Appeal allowed the Council’s appeal.

 

 

Intentional Homelessness

July 7th, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

 

The case of Alfonso-da-Trindade v Hackney LBC (2017) EWCA Civ 942 concerns becoming becoming homeless intentionally and Section 191 of the Housing Act 1996, which provides (emphasis added):-

“(1)     A person becomes homeless intentionally if he deliberately does or fails to do anything in consequence of which he ceases to occupy accommodation which is available for his occupation and which it would have been reasonable for him to continue to occupy. Read more »

 

Allocation

June 1st, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In R (C) v Islington LBC (2017) EWHC 1288 (Admin) Jeremy Baker J has held that the Council’s local lettings policy is lawful. It is not unlawfully discriminatory contrary to the ECHR (paragraphs 64-94) : it is proportionate and justified. For the same reason it is not contrary to Section 29 of the Equality Act 2010 (paragraphs 95-98). The Council had complied with the PSED when it introduced the policy (paragraphs 99-105). Introducing and maintaining the policy was not in breach of Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 (paragraphs 106-115).

 

Improvement notices

May 22nd, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Wood v Kingston Upon Hull City Council (2017) EWCA Civ 364 concerns an Improvement Notice served by a local housing authority under the Housing Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”). The appeal to the Court of Appeal, by the authority, arose in the following way.

Mr Wood is the freehold owner of a first floor flat (Flat 4) at 141 Princes Avenue in Hull. Ms Peacock is the freehold owner of the ground floor flat immediately below. The vertical boundary between the two flats is at the mid-point of the joists between the ceiling of the ground floor flat and the floor of Flat 4. Hull City Council took the view that there was inadequate fire resistance between the two flats, and served notice under Section 12 of the 2004 Act on both Mr Wood and Ms Peacock requiring remedial works to be carried out. The notice stated that the ground floor flat had a section of original lath and plaster ceiling which was in very poor condition with some sections missing. That lack of material separation increased the likelihood of unchecked spread of fire into Flat 4 from the ground floor flat in the event of a fire occurring within the ground floor flat. The notice specified two alternative schemes: Read more »

 

Homelessness

May 2nd, 2017 by James Goudie QC in Housing

On 27 April 2017 the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 received the Royal Assent.

It makes changes to the current homelessness legislation contained in Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (“the 1996 Act”), and to the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012. It places duties on local housing authorities to intervene at earlier stages to prevent homelessness and to take reasonable steps to help those who become homeless to secure accommodation. It requires local housing authorities to provide some new homelessness services to all people in their area and expands the categories of people who they have to help to find accommodation.

The Act introduces requirements for local housing authorities to carry out homelessness prevention work with all those who are eligible for help and threatened with homelessness. The Act changes the point at which a person is classed as being threatened with homelessness. The Act requires local housing authorities to carry out an assessment of the applicant’s needs, and set out the steps to be taken by both the local housing authority and the applicant in a written personalised plan. New duties are placed on local housing authorities to take steps to prevent and relieve homelessness by helping any eligible homeless applicant to retain or secure accommodation. A new duty is introduced which will be owed in cases where an applicant has deliberately and unreasonably refused to co-operate with local housing authorities. The Act specifies that specified public authorities refer those who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local housing authority housing teams. Provision is also made for certain care leavers, to make it easier for them to show they have a local connection with both the area of the local authority responsible for them and the area in which they lived while in care if that was different.