Pass me down the wine

The number of letters published in The Guardian on the topic of the law on squatting has now reached two and can therefore be fairly described as an “exchange”.

We have already noted Mike Weatherley MP’s letter to The Guardian and I urge you all to read that post. It is a sensitive, sensible, passionate and highly informed piece of writing. What follows is almost certainly not. It should only be considered for a bit of weekend light relief, probably with a glass, or more, of wine to hand – it was certainly written that way.

With that caveat, our starting point has to be the letter published at … Read the full post

Squatting- A Reply to Mike Weatherley MP

The debate on squatting has become highly polarised and increasingly bad tempered. Mr Weatherley’s salvo is merely the latest in a range of unhelpful comments that make for good newspaper sales but achieve little. It falls to me to open the NL team’s reply.

In fairness to Mr Weatherley squatters sometimes fail to do themselves any favours. It is hard to find sympathy for those who gloat in the media about the places they have managed to live in for free. However, the media portrayal of squatters as unwashed freeloading hippies or trainee rioters is grossly inaccurate.

I have spent many years dealing with squatters. Mostly, in fact, for the … Read the full post

Back in the Consulting Room

The London Borough of Newham is holding a consultation on the introduction of selective licensing accross the whole borough. Selective licensing is a byproduct of the HMO licensing provisions in the Housing Act 2004. It permits a local authority to licence all landlords in a specific area where that area is one of low housing demand or anti-social behaviour, the local housing authority can show that there are problems which are in part due to poor housing management, and they can show that a licensing scheme will alleviate the problem. There is also an obligation to hold a consultation with stakeholders and affected parties.

However, it is not as simple … Read the full post

Morris dancing

Bah v The United Kingdom – 56328/07 [2011] ECHR 1448

This is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the regulations for eligibility for housing support, after the declaration of incompatibility in Westminster v Morris [2005] EWCA Civ 1184.

It is a very significant case, not least because it has a direct bearing on the ‘corrective’ amendment that the Government made 4 years later in response to Morris via Schedule 15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 and the possibilities of any challenge to that Schedule. It also has broader implications for differential conditions for access to social welfare benefits in general, where a child subject to immigration … Read the full post

Well he would, wouldn’t he?

The mass letter on misrepresentation of trespass will be going out this morning (Monday 26 Sept). The letter will be sent to all the major newspapers, and BBC and ITN news, probably before you read this.

The Guardian has what I think is a good article on the letter on the website here and hopefully also in today’s paper (Monday’s paper which I haven’t seen yet), headlined “Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers’ reforms, claim lawyers”. The Guardian also has an edited version of the letter on the Letters page and the full version with signatures on the website here.

If there is any further media reporting, … Read the full post

The assignment that wasn’t.

Haringey LBC v Theobald. Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court 7 April 2011

Hat tip to September’s Legal Action ‘Recent Developments in Housing Law’ for this County Court case, and Daniel Fitzpatrick at Hodge Jones & Allen. Not a very significant case but a good illustration of the unintended consequences of the ad hoc arrangements sometimes made by Local Authority housing offices.

Mr Theobald’s father was given a tenancy of a 4 bedroom property by Haringey in 1962. In 1993, the father, suffering from dementia, moved permanently into a care home. Mr T and his brother applied to succeed to what was now a secure tenancy.

Haringey purported to transfer … Read the full post

Service charges and reasonably incurred

Garside and another v RFYC Ltd and another [2011] UKUT 367 (LC)

By s.19(1)(a), Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, leaseholders are only liable to pay service charges to the extent that they are reasonably incurred.

The property in question has something of an unfortunate history. Following many years of neglect and poor management, the leaseholders successfully applied to the LVT for the appointment of a manager under Pt. 2, Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. The manager then issued large service charge demands which caused some disquiet amongst some of the leaseholders and, in turn, the manager applied to the LVT to determine whether the sums contained in the demands were … Read the full post

It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission

Westbrook Dolphin Square Ltd v Friends Provident Life and Pensions Ltd [2011] EWHC 2302 (Ch)

This is probably one of the most factually complicated collective enfranchisement cases imaginable. In outline, as you know, qualifying tenants of flats have the right to force their landlord to sell them the freehold of the property containing their flats. They have to appoint a nominee purchaser for this purpose, which, in practice, is usually a company formed by the leaseholders for this purpose. The process involves the leaseholders serving an initial notice, setting out why they say that they are entitled to acquire the freehold. The freeholder then has an option to serve a … Read the full post