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Social Housing case law update: May 2014

Titina Nzolameso v Westminster City Council [2014] EWHC 409 (Admin)

When deciding whether to exercise its power to provide a claimant with accommodation under the Housing Act 1996 s204(4) pending the outcome of her application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against a county court judgment, a local authority ought to form a view about the likely prospects of success on appeal, including whether or not permission to appeal would be granted.

Masih v Yousaf [2014] EWCA Civ 234

A notice seeking possession was valid where it had referenced the relevant ground in ground eight of the Housing Act 1988 Sch 2 and had referred to at least two months' rent being owed, even though it had not mirrored the statutory language.That was sufficient to give a tenant the information required to enable her to consider what action she should take.

(1) Kevin Cometson (2) Angela Tovey v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (Defendant) & R&M Williams Ltd (Third Party) [2014] EWHC 419 (Ch)

Where a local housing authority co-ordinating a group repair scheme under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 had entered into separate contracts with the property owners and the builders, the court made findings as to remedial work which ought to have been carried out and ordered that the property owners were entitled to recover as damages the reasonable cost of remedying specified defects.

R (on the application of MA & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions (Respondent) & Equality & Human Rights Commission (Intervener) [2014] EWCA Civ 13

The introduction in the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 of the "bedroom criteria", which reduced the eligible rent for the purposes of calculating housing benefit, discriminated against disabled persons on the ground of their disability. That discrimination was, however, justified, and the scheme was not unlawful.

R (on the application of SG &Ors) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions (Respondent) & (1) Child Poverty Action Group (2) Shelter Children’s Legal Service (Interveners) [2014] EWCA Civ 156

Although the benefit cap introduced by the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012 had a disproportionate effect on women generally, its imposition was not "manifestly without reasonable foundation" for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 14. The Government's fundamental objective of changing the welfare dependency culture was a reasonable basis for the cap.

Ceballos v Southwark LBC QBD (Lewis J) 07/03/2014

A recorder had erred in deciding a possession claim under CPR r.55.8(1) instead of giving case management directions, as there appeared to be substantial grounds on which the occupier of the property might have been able to resist the claim pursuant to r.55.8(2).

Naima Mohamoud v Birmingham City Council [2014] EWCA Civ 227

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 reg 8(2) had to be given a purposive interpretation. If an applicant plausibly claimed that she had been so confused at the time of the original decision that, had the decision-maker been aware of her confusion, the outcome might have been different, the reviewing officer had to find the original decision deficient.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council v Armour [2014] EWCA Civ 231

Where the tenant under an introductory tenancy breached the terms of his tenancy, but by the time of a possession hearing had complied with the terms for almost a year, the improvement in his behaviour could be taken into account when deciding whether it was disproportionate to make a possession order.

Islington LBC & 8 Ors v Mayor of London (Defendant) & Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (Interested Party) [2014] EWHC 751 (Admin)

Alterations by the Mayor of London to the spatial development strategy for London which prevented local authorities from imposing borough-wide caps on rent for affordable rented housing had not been contrary to the terms of the National Planning Policy Framework or otherwise unlawful.

Khadra Farah v Hillingdon LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 359

In conducting a review of an applicant's eligibility for accommodation under the Housing Act 1996 s202, a reviewing officer had failed to give reasons for accepting the correctness of a housing officer's conclusion that the applicant's accommodation had been affordable and that she had become homeless intentionally by failing to pay her rent when it fell due. The review decision was set aside and remitted for reconsideration by another housing officer.

Bristol City Council v DIGS (Bristol) Ltd [2014] EWHC 869 (Admin)

The word "storey" in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006 art 3 should ordinarily be understood as meaning the whole floor, namely the space on a given level within a building. Stairs between floors could not, in themselves, be "storeys" unless they were within art 3(3)(f) because they were used as living accommodation, or were used as an integral part of the house in multiple occupation.