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Social housing case law update: July 2013

R (on the application of CN) (Appellant) v Lewisham LBC (Respondent) & Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (Interested Party): R (on the application of ZH (A child by FI, his litigation friend)) (Claimant) v Newham LBC (Defendant) & Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (Interested Party) [2013] EWCA Civ 804

The decision in Mohamed v Manek (1995) 27 H.L.R. 439 that the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 s3 did not apply to temporary accommodation provided by a local authority on the basis of homelessness pursuant to an interim duty pending enquiries, and the decision in Desnousse v Newham LBC [2006] EWCA Civ 547, [2006] Q.B. 831 which held that that was not inconsistent with an occupier's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 8, remained binding on the Court of Appeal.

Peake v Hackney LBC (2013) QBD (Lewis J) 11/07/2013

The requirement under the Housing Act 1996 s204(2A) that there be good reasons for delay in bringing an appeal against a refused housing application within the 21-day time limit was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 6. Whether a reason was good was a question of fact so that it was inappropriate to assess the matter in terms of objectivity or subjectivity.

Dawkins v Central Bedfordshire Council (2013) QBD (Griffith Williams J) 04/07/2013

Where an appeal against a local authority's homelessness review decision had been struck out and an extension of time refused on a factual basis which it was later accepted was incorrect, the case had to be remitted to the county court for reconsideration.

Imran Malik v (1) Keith Fassenfelt (since deceased) (2) Joseph McGahan (3) Persons Unknown [2013] EWCA Civ 798

A possession order requiring the removal of squatters from private land onto which they had trespassed and established a home was not disproportionate. Whilst the majority of the Court of Appeal declined to comment on the issue, the minority suggested obiter that the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 8 was capable of application where squatters had trespassed onto a private landowner's land and established a home there, though it would only be in exceptional circumstances that the squatters' eviction would constitute a disproportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of enforcing the landowner's property rights.

Zak Johnson v Lord Mayor & Citizens of Westminster [2013] EWCA Civ 773

The Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to entertain an individual's application for an order that a local authority provide him with temporary accommodation pending his application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal against a county court's decision that he had intentionally made himself homeless.

John Boyd v Incommunities Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 756

A judge determining a possession claim had not erred in making findings of anti-social behaviour in reliance on three anonymous witness statements from the tenant's neighbours. Although the judge had not expressly identified the considerations set out in the Civil Evidence Act 1995 s4(2), he had clearly had regard to all the circumstances from which any inference could reasonably be drawn as to the reliability of the evidence.

Wendy Ann Holt v Reading Borough Council [2013] EWCA Civ 641

The expression "suitable alternative accommodation" in the Housing Act 1985 s84(2)(b) and s84(2)(c) and Sch 2 Pt IV was broad enough to encompass accommodation identified by reference to its essential characteristics and did not require the identification of a specific property. The court considered the circumstances in which it might be appropriate to make an order for possession conditional upon an offer of suitable accommodation being made, and outlined the desirable content of such orders.

Craig Johnson v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council [2013] EWCA Civ 752

There was no error in a local authority's review decision that a homeless man, who was a heroin addict and persistent offender, was not vulnerable under the Housing Act 1996 s189(1)(c) or by virtue of the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England Order 2002 art 5(3) and hence was not in priority need of housing.

Caroline Francis v (1) Brent Housing Partnership Ltd (2) London Borough of Brent (3) Vinette Williams [2013] EWCA Civ 912

A judge had erred when determining that a local authority housing tenant did not have a secure tenancy of a flat following a possession order issued against the tenant, as a subsequent agreement between the parties showed an unequivocal intention on both sides to create, or to recognise, a secure tenancy.

R(on the application of MA & Ors) v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Birmingham City Council (Interested Party) and (1) The Equality and Human Rights Commission (2) Shelter (Interveners) [2013] EWHC (2213)

The court rejected the judicial review challenge to the 2012 housing benefit changes (i.e. the bedroom tax) and the primary arguments that the new measures were unlawfully discriminatory by failing to provide for the needs of people in the position of the claimants (article 14) and were a violation of the public sector equality duty provided for at section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.