House In Multiple Occupation (“HMO”)

August 13th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

R ( Gaskin ) v Richmond upon Thames LBC ( 2018 ) EWHC 1996 ( Admin ) concerned a narrow, but important, issue, namely whether the owner of a HMO provides a “ service “ for the purposes of the EU Services Directive and the lawfulness under EU law of the fee demanded by the Council for a renewed licence. The Divisional Court held that in letting and managing private residential accommodation for profit Mr Gaskin did provide a “service” within the scope of the Directive, where the term is used in a very broad sense; and that the licensing provisions of Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 are an authorisation scheme for the purposes of the Directive and Regulations. Therefore the Council was not entitled to demand payment of a licence renewal fee which infringed the Directive because it was not limited to the costs of the procedures and formalities of the authorisation scheme.

 

Homelessness

August 8th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The issue on the appeal in Lomax v Gosport Borough Council (2018) EWCA Civ 1846 was whether the Council correctly applied Sections 175 and 177 of the Housing Act 1996 in concluding that it was reasonable for a severely disabled applicant for housing to continue to occupy her accommodation. In concluding that the Council’s conclusion was erroneous, the Court of Appeal said that in determining whether it is reasonable for a particular applicant to continue to occupy her current accommodation the same approach should be adopted as to reasonableness as in the case of the question whether an applicant has unreasonably refused an offer of suitable accommodation. The decision maker must have regard to all the personal characteristics of the applicant, and then take into account of those individual aspects. This includes subjective factors and an objective test. The test is with respect to the particular applicant and the particular accommodation, including its location.

 

Qualifying Persons For Provision Of Social Housing: Local Connection/Long-Term Residents Priority

July 26th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In R (Gullu) v Hillingdon LBC [2018] EWHC 1937 (Admin) Mostyn J said, at paragraph 22:-

“… this case concerns the provision of social housing by a local housing authority. In my opinion there is … in this field a generous margin of appreciation. The court should be very cautious indeed when faced with a claim to strike down a measure which seeks to parcel out fairly a local authority’s housing stock at a time where there is a national housing crisis and where the demand for public housing vastly exceeds the supply. Were the court to afford an advantage to a class of claimants … then it will be at the expense of another group who will find themselves jumped in the queue. When it comes to housing local authorities have to make hard political judgments of a macro-economic nature which the courts are ill-equipped to second-guess. These judgments are the expression of the local democratic process. Hence the need for there to be a strong and obvious case before the court will interfere.”

The Judge found that, if there were any discrimination in the Council’s allocation scheme, it was justified, and there was no failure to comply with the PSED.

 

Allocation Policy

July 16th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In R (TW, SW and EM) v Hillingdon LBC [2018] EWHC 1791(Admin) the Claimants challenged the Social Housing Allocation Policy (December 2016) (“the Allocation Scheme”) of the London Borough of Hillingdon (“the Council”) in so far as it provides: (1) a condition that only households with at least 10 years’ continuous residence in-borough qualify to join the three welfare-based bands (A-C) of its housing register (“the residence qualification”); (2) additional preference for such households who are in Bands C and B of the housing register (“the residence uplift”), and (3) additional preference for those in Bands C and B who are working households on low income (“the working household uplift”). Choudhury J granted permission on three grounds. First, that both the residence qualification and the residence uplift discriminate indirectly and unlawfully under Sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010 (“EA”) against persons with the protected characteristic of “race” and that, as Irish Travellers, the Claimants have such a characteristic (Ground 1). Second, that the working household uplift discriminates indirectly and unlawfully under the same statutory provisions against persons with the protected characteristics of “disability” and “sex” (Ground 2). Third, in formulating the three provisions under challenge the Defendant acted in breach of its obligations under Section 11(2) of the Children Act 2004 (“CA”) (Ground 3).

Read more »

 

Homelessness Review

July 13th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The three appeals [2018] EWCA Civ 1616 raised a common issue concerning what is required of local housing authorities in order to comply with the Review Regulations which apply to a review under Section 202 of the Housing Act 1996 when a reviewing officer sends out a minded-to letter indicating an intention to make a decision contrary to the interests of the applicant for homelessness assistance. In short, the question is whether the letter must specify in terms that the applicant (or a representative) may make representations to the reviewer orally at a face-to-face meeting. The Court of Appeal holds that there is no such requirement.   No more is required for an effective notification than to state that the applicant “may make representations to the reviewer orally or in writing or both orally and in writing”. Nothing more is required in order to conform with the principle of legality and the fundamental requisite of the rule of law that the law should be made known and that individuals must be able to know of their legal rights and obligations. Patten LJ, with whom David Richards LJ agreed, said, at paragraph 24:- Read more »

 

HMOs

June 21st, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

MHCLG has issued detailed non-statutory Guidance for Local Housing Authorities, “Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reform”, on the implementation of requirements set out in 2018 Statutory Instruments on the licensing of HMOs. The scope of mandatory licensing has been extended so that properties used as HMOs in England which house 5 people or more in two or more separate households will in many cases require a licence. The minimum size to be applied to rooms used for sleeping accommodation has been deferred.  Requirements have been added relating to the provision of refuse disposal in licensed properties.

Chapter 2 of the Guidance relates to the extension of mandatory HMO licensing, including implementation and transitional provisions. Chapter 3 relates to new mandatory licence conditions, that is mandatory sleeping room sizes and waste disposal requirements, including sanctions.

 

Allocation and Homelessness

June 19th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/730, coming into force on 9 July 2018, amend the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 in order to make a new category of persons eligible for an allocation of social housing and homelessness assistance. They make provision for persons who have been transferred to the United Kingdom under the Immigration Act 2016 s.67 and have limited leave to remain under para. 352ZH of the Immigration Rules to be eligible for an allocation of social housing and homeless assistance if they are “habitually resident” in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.
Read more »

 

Damages

June 15th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In XPQ v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC (2018) EWHC 1391 (QB) Langstaff J held that Directive 2011/36/EU on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings does not enable a trafficked person to claim damages for any failure by a local housing authority to provide accommodation that is safe and appropriate.

 

Possession Order

March 8th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Davies v Hertfordshire County Council (2018) EWCA Civ 379 the Court of Appeal considered whether a failure by the Council to comply with its statutory duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 could provide a defence to a claim for possession.  Sharp LJ said:-

“17.    The obligation imposed on those who are subject to the statutory duty under section 11 is not confined to the making of strategic arrangements: it is to ensure that decisions affecting children have regard to the need to safeguard them and promote their welfare. That does not mean however that the particular function being carried out is redefined, and the reach or impact of the section 11(2) duty is qualified both by the nature of the function being carried out, and what the particular circumstances require: …” Read more »

 

Housing

March 5th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The Housing (Management Orders and Financial Penalties) (Amounts Recovered) (England) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/209, coming into force on 6 April 2018, set out how a local housing authority (“LHA”) must deal with any surplus monies recovered under management orders under Sections 110(5A) and 119(4B) of the Housing Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) and any financial penalties received under Section 23(8) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”). The Legislative Context is that Section 26 of, and Schedule 3 to, the 2016 Act amend Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the 2004Act to enable interim or final management orders to be made to be made in respect of property let in breach of a banning order made under Section 16 of the 2016 Act. A banning order is an order that may be made by the First-Tier Tribunal where a landlord or property agent has been convicted of a banning order offence specified in Regulations under Section 14(3). The effect of a banning order is to ban a person from letting housing in England and/or engaging in English letting agent or property management work. Under a management order the LHA takes over the management of a property and receives any rent paid by its occupiers in place of the landlord. Under Sections 110 and 119 of the 2004 Act the LHA is entitled to retain monies to cover relevant expenditure related to the management of the property and any compensation payable to third parties. These Regulations make provision about how a LHA must deal with the amount of rent recovered under a management order made under Sections 107(2A) or 113(3A) or (6A) of the 2004 Act (management orders relating to property let in breach of a banning order) after relevant expenditure and any required compensation has been deducted (“the surplus”). The surplus may be retained by the LHA to fund its enforcement functions connected with the private rented sector. If the surplus is not used for that purpose the LHA must pay it into the Consolidated Fund. Read more »