On 8 September 2015, Thomson Reuters was delighted to host a Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) London Housing and Regeneration group seminar (headed by Alexander McDowall, a lawyer in Legal Services at the London Borough of Camden). The group provides a focus of professional expertise with a view to developing networking, training and best practice and contributing to development of the area of law. Thomson Reuters is currently a LLG corporate partner.
Lawyers in Local Government: background
LLG was formed in April 2013 by the merger of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS) and Solicitors in Local Government (SLG). LLG members include local government legal or governance officers, Monitoring Officers and their deputies, solicitors, barristers, legal executives, licensed conveyancers and trainees.
What was discussed at the event?
Over 40 housing and property lawyers attended the afternoon seminar (including several heads of legal) listening to presentations from Andrew Lane and Dean Underwood of Cornerstone Barristers discussing:
- The Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 with particular focus on civil injunctions and the new possession grounds introduced under the Act.
- Extending the right to buy: proposals, prospects and politics.
- The assets of community value regime under the Localism Act 2011 and how it is working in practice.
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
The new possession grounds were a particular topic of interest, with queries regarding whether it was possible to prevent a person who was likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, from visiting a property and potentially evict the secure tenant as a result of the visitor’s behaviour under the new mandatory possession ground under section 84A of the Housing Act 1985.
Andrew also asked whether any of the local authority attendees had included positive requirements in the injunctions for which they applied. No-one in attendance had. This could be due to the requirement that an individual or organisation must be responsible for supervising compliance or due to the cost for the local authority in ensuring compliance with the requirement (for example, requiring attendance at a dog training class).
Right to buy extension
There was a lot of discussion by those attending about the government’s plans to extend the right to buy to assured tenants of housing associations and the financial viability of these plans (for more on this, see the Practical Law blog post on the subject). The way that the government intends to fund the scheme was particularly contentious (that is, as Dean explained, by requiring councils to sell off their “most expensive” properties when they become vacant). The values of the properties in London which are likely to be considered “most expensive” could mean that some local authorities are forced to sell a significant part of their housing stock to fund the extension.
Assets of community value
Attendees also shared their experiences of nomination, listing, moratorium periods and challenges relating to assets of community value (ACV). A question was asked by one of those attending about whether it was sensible to have council members involved in ACV listing decisions, in the light of the fact that this could potentially lead to a council officer reviewing a member’s decision.
Thomson Reuters looks forward to building on its existing partnership with LLG and this month will also be hosting a seminar for the LLG London Partnership & Procurement group.