A person holds the silhouette of a family house in their hands

Social Housing Case Bulletin – April 2014

Clarke Willmott LLP’s social housing team are delighted to provide you with our monthly case law update which includes cases within the last month from the higher jurisdiction courts in England and Wales that are relevant to the affordable housing sector.

We trust that this update will be helpful and we welcome any queries or further help that we can provide by contacting either Kary Withers, Head of Housing Management.

Keeping abreast of the latest case law is an important aspect of advice to our clients in delivering the highest quality legal services and we trust you will find this a useful update within your business.

Bhatia Best Ltd v Lord Chancellor

[2014] EWHC 746 Queen’s Bench Division
17 March, 2014

Legal Aid – Appeals – Homelessness

This appeal is on the issue whether the Claimant is entitled to receive civil legal aid funding for its work while acting for clients in appeals against homelessness decisions under s.204 of the Housing Act 1996. The Legal Aid Agency, confirmed by letter that s.204 appeals do not fall within the new Public Law Category introduced as a result of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2013. Claim dismissed.

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Bloor Homes East Midlands Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

[2014] EWHC 754 Administrative Court
19 March, 2014

Town and country planning – Residential development – Five-year supply of land

A variety of developments on land next to a cemetery had been refused planning permission. This appeal is against the decision of the Inspector, which dismissed the Appellant’s challenge to the refusal of planning permission to build ninety-one houses on the site. There were five grounds for appeal, one of which partially succeeded, namely whether the inspector had failed to understand, and consider the evidence and submissions on, the five-year supply of housing land. The application succeeded in part, the inspector’s decision quashed and the appeal remitted to the Secretary of State for redetermination.

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Bristol City Council v Digs (Bristol) Ltd

[2014] EWHC 869 Administrative Court
27 March, 2014

Housing – Houses in Multiple Occupation – Licences

This is an appeal from an order dismissing a summons brought by the Appellant Council against the Respondents, who they alleged had failed to obtain a licence in respect of a maisonette as required by the Housing Act 2004 and the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006. The question was whether the house fell within the description of HMOs which the statutory scheme required to be licensed. The Council’s case was that a licence was required as the maisonette comprised four storeys; the Respondent’s was that it comprised of only two. The lobby and landing on the private staircase from the ground floor to the upper maisonette did not count as “storeys”. Appeal dismissed.

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Ceballos v Southwark Borough Council

Queen’s Bench Division
7 March, 2014

Housing – Possession – Civil procedure

This appeal is against a decision granting possession of a flat to the Respondent local authority. A third party had been granted a secure tenancy of the flat and the Claimant had moved into the flat with them. The third party had moved away the following year, but did not express an intention to stay away permanently. The Respondent issued a notice to quit and claimed possession against the Claimant on the grounds of trespass. The Claimant argued there were grounds for remitting the claim and that the recorder had erred in ordering possession instead of giving case management directions. Appeal allowed. The case was remitted to the county court for case management directions.

No transcript yet available.

Farah v London Borough of Hillingdon

[2014] EWCA Civ 359 Court of Appeal
26 March, 2014

Housing – Intentional homelessness – Calculation of income and expenditure

The Appellant is disabled and separated from her husband. She moved with her children into a private property and applied for and received welfare payments. The Appellant fell into arrears with her rent, was served a notice for possession and was duly evicted. The Council decided that it had no duty to secure accommodation because, although eligible and in priority need, the Appellant had become intentionally homeless. The Appellant explained that she had been unable to pay because her expenses exceeded her income. The appeal was allowed and the case remitted to the Council for reconsideration.

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Mohamoud v Birmingham City Council

[2014] EWCA Civ 227 Court of Appeal
7 March, 2014

Local authorities powers and duties – Housing – Homelessness

This appeal is against a decision that the Council had discharged its duty under s.193 of the Housing Act 1996 to “secure that accommodation is available for occupation”. The Appellant was notified of the decision, but no “minded to find” notice was given. Challenge made on the basis that the Appellant’s confusion led to a refusal of accommodation in circumstances where she would have accepted. Ordered that the Council’s review decision be quashed because a “minded to find” notice should to have been served. The judgment did not mean that the Appellant would receive a further offer of accommodation.

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Preston v Area Estates Limited and another

Administrative Court
26 March, 2014

Rent – Fair rent – Tenants’ improvements

The Appellant repaired and improved what would have been an uninhabitable property. The Respondent landlord served a notice proposing a rent increase from £338 per month to £1,050 per month. The Appellant appealed to the Rent Assessment Panel. The Panel adjudged that the rent that could reasonably be expected would be £1,020 per month. The Appellant appealed that decision on the grounds that the Panel had erred in its approach to the improvements. The appeal would be allowed and be remitted to the First-tier Tribunal for redetermination.

No transcript yet available.

Da Rocha-Afodu & anor v Mortgage Express Ltd & anor

Court of Appeal
20 March, 2014

Conversion – Chattels – Involuntary bailment

The Claimants had been in mortgage arrears when an order for possession was made and a warrant for execution was granted to the Defendant lender. A notice of eviction was served requiring vacant possession by a certain date, warning the Claimants to leave with all of their belongings. They did not do so and, on the fourth time the Claimants returned, they found that the Defendant’s sub-contractor had removed and destroyed the remaining property. They issued proceedings seeking damages for conversion of personal chattels. The claim was dismissed and is now appealed. Appeal dismissed.

No transcript yet available.

Ramdhun v Valuation Tribunal of England

Administrative Court
6 March, 2014

Council tax – Meaning of ‘self-contained unit’ – Doors

This appeal is against a decision that a property contained two self-contained units chargeable to council tax. Although not separated from the rest of the house by a door, an adapted second floor of a terraced house with kitchen facilities was “constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation” and therefore a “‘self-contained unit” under the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1992 and, therefore, liable to tax. How the second floor was used, the lack of intention to create a separate living area and the absence of a door were not relevant factors. Appeal dismissed.

No transcript yet available.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council v Armour

[2014] EWCA Civ 231 Court of Appeal
12 March, 2014

Housing – Possession – Anti-social behaviour

The issue in this appeal was whether an insufficiently rigorous test was applied by the trial judge in deciding that the making of a possession order against a tenant was not proportionate. The Appellant Council had warned the Respondent tenant of his anti-social behaviour, but fresh evidence had become available as to the tenant’s position and, as such, further proceedings constituted a second appeal. This case was consistent with the test in CPR part 52.13, in that there must be a compelling reason for the court to hear a second appeal if it does not raise an important point of principle or practice. Appeal dismissed. Clarke Willmott LLP, who act for Southend Borough Council in this case, have now lodged a petition with the Supreme Court, asking for permission to appeal the decision of the High Court.

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