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Social housing case law update: December 2013

Isaac Odeniran v Southend on Sea Borough Council QBD (Admin) (Collins J) 22/11/2013

An improvement notice had been invalid as the date specified on it for remedial action to commence was less than 28 days after the notice had been served and therefore failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of the Housing Act 2004 s13(3).

Noel & Anor v Hillingdon London Borough Council (2013) CA (Civ Div) 21/11/2013

A local authority had been entitled to find that a person had become intentionally homeless following his eviction for rent arrears where he had deliberately selected a property for which the rent was greater than his income, and had not obtained employment, or applied for an extension of his housing benefit, despite having been eligible.

Huzrat v Hounslow London Borough Council CA (Civ Div) 21/11/2013

The duty under the Children Act 2004 s11 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children did not affect decisions taken under the Housing Act 1996 s191 on whether an individual had become intentionally homeless, as any relevant considerations would have formed part of the assessment as to whether it was reasonable to have continued to occupy the premises.

Leicester City Council v Shearer [2013] EWCA Civ 1467

A local housing authority had acted unlawfully in deciding to commence possession proceedings against an individual without giving proper consideration to the option of granting her a direct let of the relevant property.

Mahendra Shah v Croydon London Borough Council [2013] EWHC 3657 (Admin)

A magistrates' court should have concluded on the correct interpretation of the tenancy agreements in issue that an appellant's property was not a house in multiple occupation for the purposes of the Council Tax (Liability for Owners) Regulations 1992 reg 2.

Haringey London Borough Council v Katia Goremsandu QBD (Admin) (Ouseley J) 08/11/2013

A magistrates' court had erred in concluding that a property owner had held an honest but mistaken belief, that she had an extension of time to comply with an improvement notice, which was capable in law of amounting to a reasonable excuse pursuant to the Housing Act 2004 s30(4), for not complying with the improvement notice.

NJ v Wandsworth London Borough Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1373

A victim of domestic violence who had resided in a refuge had done so of her "own choice" for the purposes of the Housing Act 1996 s199(1). She had had the right to apply to any other local authority for accommodation, but had voluntarily chosen to seek help from the charity which found the refuge for her.

Robert Smart v Lambeth London Borough Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1375

A claim for adverse possession had been rightly dismissed on the basis that the claimant knew that he was among the classes of people intended by a local authority scheme to be permitted to occupy the premises.

Poorsalehy v Wandsworth London Borough Council [2013] EWHC 3687 (QB)

A judge could not be criticised for dismissing a homelessness appeal under the Housing Act 1996 s.204(2A). Although there was no general rule of law in statutory appeals which fixed a party with the procedural errors of his solicitors, there had been no evidence why there had been a profound and prolonged delay in applying for an extension of time to appeal, and the appellant was not able to show that he had relied on incompetent legal advisers.

R (on the application of JS & ors) (Claimants) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Defendant) & (1) Child Poverty Action Group (2) Shelter Children’s Legal Service (Interveners) (2013) [2013] EWHC 3350 (QB)

The imposition of the benefit cap introduced by the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012 had a sufficient impact on the enjoyment of family life to bring it within the ambit of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 8; however, the particular circumstances of an individual complainant would have to be typical of a class of case before it could be said that the scheme itself required amendment. Whilst recognising the genuine hardship that the cap would cause for certain groups, its imposition could not properly be described as "manifestly without reasonable foundation" for the purposes of art 14.

Purewal v Ealing London Borough Council CA (Civ Div) 05/11/2013

Following the quashing of a homelessness review decision concluding that a claimant, who was seeking to leave her existing accommodation following her complaint of rape by a near-neighbour, was intentionally homeless, the judge had erred in varying the decision so as to find that she was unintentionally homeless, rather than remitting the matter for reconsideration by the local authority on the basis of all available evidence.

Unichi v Southwark London Borough Council [2013] EWHC 3681 (QB)

An appellant who had withdrawn an appeal against a homelessness decision because the local authority had agreed to carry out a fresh review in light of a psychologist's report was entitled to her costs. The local authority had been aware at the time of the first review that a future report might affects its decision, but had proceeded regardless.

John Daniel Simon v Denbighshire County Council [2010] UKUT 488 (LC)

A residential property tribunal erred in finding that a local authority had withdrawn an improvement notice served on a property owner, thereby preventing his appeal from proceeding. The Housing Act 2004 contained a transparent procedure permitting a notice to be suspended, revoked, amended, quashed or confirmed with clear consequences, and introducing an informal concept of "withdrawal" without statutory foundation created uncertainty and confusion.

Nottingham City Council v Michael Tyas [2013] UKUT 492 (LC)

A residential property tribunal had been wrong to extend time under the Housing Act 2004 Sch 1 Pt 3 para.14(3) to bring an appeal against an improvement notice where the reason given by the proposed appellant for the delay was that he had not received the notice, and the tribunal stated that it could not assume that the notice had been received. Provided that the tribunal was satisfied that the notice had been properly posted, the local authority would have the benefit of the statutory presumption of service under the Interpretation Act 1978 s 7.