This is the fourth of our series of quarterly housing law update blogs, which will enable readers specialising in housing law to catch up on the most important cases, issues or developments. The post looks at housing law developments from September 2013 to November 2013.
Please feel free to submit a comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any views on the developments that are covered or if you think we have missed something that should be brought to the attention of housing practitioners.
Council failed to consider direct let option in exceptional circumstances (Leicester City Council v Shearer  EWCA Civ 1467)
The Court of Appeal has held that a failure by Leicester City Council to offer a claimant a direct let (or inform her that this was a possibility), as provided for by its allocation scheme was unlawful. The Court held that the council could not rely on the applicant’s non-compliance with its procedural requirements when it has itself caused the non-compliance by failing to inform the claimant of the possibility of a direct let and what was required for such a letting.
DCLG proposes strengthening statutory guidance on social housing allocations
The DCLG has published a consultation on proposals to strengthen the existing statutory guidance on social housing allocations. Proposals being consulted on include encouraging local authorities to adopt a two-year residency test as part of their qualification criteria for social housing and to have (and publish on their website) a clear policy about the collection and publication of waiting lists and lettings information.
SOCIAL HOUSING RENT
Scottish First-tier Tribunal (Social Security) holds that “bedroom tax” breached applicant’s human rights (F v Glasgow City Council (SC100/13/11351))
The First-tier Tribunal (Social Security) has ruled that Glasgow Council should not have applied the “bedroom tax” deduction to the housing benefit of a disabled woman whose husband needed to sleep in a separate room, as it breached her human rights under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It should be noted that although the decision does not set a legal precedent, it may be influential in other challenges to the government’s “bedroom tax”.
DCLG consults on reforming the limits on social housing rents
The DCLG has published a consultation on reforming the existing limits on the social housing rent system to ensure that these limits do not apply to high earners (that is, those earning over £60,000 a year).
Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 brought into force
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 has been brought into force by the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud 2013 (Commencement) (England) Order 2013 (SI 2013/2622). The Act, among other things, creates new criminal offences of unlawful sub-letting by secure and assured tenants of social housing.
Housing (Wales) Bill introduced
The Housing (Wales) Bill has been introduced to the Welsh Assembly. Among other things, the Bill will require local authorities to carry out reviews of the level of homelessness in their areas and put together homelessness strategies for preventing homelessness and abolish the Housing Revenue Account subsidy.
Mobile Homes (Wales) Bill 2013 receives Royal Assent
The Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013 introduces an updated licensing, inspection and enforcement regime for residential mobile home sites in Wales and modernises a number of aspects of the contractual relationship between mobile home owners and site operators.
New practice direct on case management in right to buy cases published
A new practice direction on case management in cases involving solicitors’ negligence in right to buy cases has been published. The new practice direction sets out how new and existing claims in the High Court and county court should be dealt with and that once a right to buy claim has been assigned to the Chief Master, it will be automatically stayed until it is lifted by the courts.
European Court of Human Rights confirms it was proportionate for council to evict applicants following continued anti-social behaviour (Pinnock and Walker v UK  (Application no 31673/11))
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a Supreme Court decision ruling that it was proportionate for Manchester City Council to evict the applicants following continued anti-social behaviour in the social housing property that they occupied.
The Court held that the council had had regard to all relevant factors when making the possession order and had conducted a balancing exercise between the applicant’s interests in remaining in the property and its own interests in evicting him and his family. DCLG consults on proposals to protect local authority leaseholders from unreasonable service charges
The DCLG has published a consultation on proposals to protect local authority leaseholders from unreasonable service charges. The proposals include capping leaseholder works on homes outside London at £10,000 and on homes in London at £15,000 (these caps would also apply to funding awarded under the Decent Homes programme).
Guidance and updated manual on housing transfer published
Statutory guidance on the Housing (Right to Transfer from a Local Authority Landlord) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/2898) and an updated housing transfer manual to 31 March 2015 have been published. The guidance and manual cover how the housing transfer process works in practice and how houses are transferred from a local authority to a private registered provider.
Welsh Government launches equity loan Help to Buy scheme for 2014
The Welsh Government has announced the launch of an equity loan Help to Buy scheme for properties in Wales. The scheme will however, only apply to properties with a value of £300,000 or less (compared to the English Help to Buy scheme where the limit is £600,000).