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.
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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 »

 

Homelessness

March 5th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The Homelessness (Review Procedure etc) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/223, set out the procedure to be followed by a local housing authority (“LHA”) when issuing a notice to bring their duties to an end in cases of an applicant’s deliberate and unreasonable refusal to co-operate. An applicant is a person who applies to a LHA for accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation and the authority have reason to believe they may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days and eligible for assistance. The Regulations revoke and replace the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 and sets out provisions for completing reviews, and specify the public authorities that will have a duty to refer people in England they consider may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days to LHAs.

The Legislative Context is that the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”) introduces duties on LHAs to intervene at earlier stages to prevent homelessness and to take reasonable steps to relieve homelessness by helping those who are homeless to secure accommodation (the “prevention” and “relief” duties). It also requires LHAs 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. Read more »

 

HMOs

March 5th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018, laid before Parliament on 23 February 2018, and coming into force on 1 October 2018, SI 2018/221 (“the 2018 Order”), changes the prescribed description of houses in multiple occupation (“HMOs”) that are required to be licensed by a Local Housing Authority (“LHA”) in England. The instrument replaces the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006 (S.I. 2006/371) (“the 2006 Order”), which it revokes. This instrument has the effect of extending the scope of mandatory HMO licensing in England to certain HMOs of less than three storeys. 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 »

 

Homelessness

February 26th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

CLG has issued Guidance on 22 February 2018 on how local authorities should exercise their homelessness functions in accordance with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 from 3 April 2018. Local housing and social services authorities must have regard to this guidance when exercising their functions relating to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This guidance will be in force from 3 April 2018 when the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

Chapter 1 states the purpose of the Code and the relevant equality duties that housing authorities need to consider in carrying out their duties.  Chapter 2 gives guidance on housing authority duties to carry out a homelessness review and publish a homelessness strategy. Chapter 3 gives guidance on housing authority duties to provide free advice and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness, and to ensure they design advice to meet the needs of particular vulnerable groups. Chapter 4 gives guidance on the duty on specified public bodies to refer service users that may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to a local housing authority. Chapter 5 gives guidance on contracting out homelessness functions. Chapter 6 gives guidance on how to determine whether a person is homeless or threatened with homelessness according to legislation. Chapter 7 gives guidance on the provisions relating to an applicant’s eligibility for homelessness services. Chapter 8 gives guidance on the categories of applicant who have a priority need for accommodation if they become homeless. Chapter 9 gives guidance on determining whether an applicant has become homeless intentionally under homelessness legislation. Chapter 10 gives guidance on the provisions relating to an applicant’s local connection with an area and explains the procedures for referring an applicant to another housing authority. Chapter 11 gives guidance on the initial assessments required to determine the duties owed to a person applying for homelessness assistance; personalised housing plans and the reasonable steps to be taken to prevent or relieve homelessness. Chapter 12 gives guidance on duties owed to applicants who are threatened with becoming homeless, to try and prevent their homelessness. Chapter 13 gives guidance on duties owed to applicants who are homeless, to try and relieve their homelessness. Chapter 14 gives guidance on how the prevention and relief duties come to an end. Chapter 15 gives guidance on housing authority duties and powers to secure accommodation for applicants; how they arise and are brought to an end, including under the main housing duty. Chapter 16 gives guidance on the various ways in which housing authorities can secure suitable accommodation for applicants. Chapter 17 gives guidance on housing authority duties to ensure that accommodation secured for homeless applicants is suitable. Chapter 18 gives guidance on procedural requirements related to homelessness applications and the notification of decisions. Chapter 19 gives guidance on the procedures to be followed when an applicant requests a review of decisions reached on their homelessness application. Chapter 20 gives guidance on the duties and powers housing authorities have to protect the personal property of an applicant who is homeless. Chapter 21 gives guidance on providing homelessness services to people who have experienced or are at risk of domestic violence or abuse. Chapter 22 gives guidance on providing homelessness services to care leavers. Chapter 23 gives guidance on providing homelessness services to people with an offending history. Chapter 24 gives guidance on providing homelessness services to former members of the armed forces. Chapter 25 gives guidance on providing homelessness services to victims of modern slavery. Annex 1 gives guidance on considering housing applications from persons who are subject to the habitual residence test.

CLG has also published the Government response to the Consultation on the Code of Guidance.https://local-government-law.11kbw.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=readygraph-app

 

Selective Licensing Area

February 26th, 2018 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The appeal in Brown v Hyndburn Borough Council (2018) EWCA Civ 242 raised a question of general importance as to the extent of the powers conferred on local housing authorities under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 (respectively “Part 3” and “the 2004 Act”) to include as part of the licence required in the case of any house to which that Part applies conditions regulating the management, use or occupation of the house concerned. The issue is one of statutory interpretation of Section 90 of Part 3, and requires review of the statutory architecture and objectives of the 2004 Act, and, in particular, its Parts 1 and 2.

The context in which the question arose was that the Appellant is a private sector landlord acting in conjunction with 346 other property owners who are all members of the Hyndburn Landlord Association, the representative body for landlords in the Hyndburn area founded by the Appellant and other landlords. The Respondent, Hyndburn Borough Council, is the local housing authority for the district. Read more »