On the Naughty Step: Incredible Landlords and the buzzy DCLG

It is hard for a civil servant, with a predisposition to reticence, obfuscation and paper, to know what to do in an age where ‘amazeballs’ and ‘bedroom tax’ have entered the Oxford English Dictionary, and even the dictionary is only available online. How, the poor bewildered apparatchiks wonder, can we get a message across in a time of kitten pictures, selfies and LOLZ.

Alas, their befuzzled, fustian earnestness leaves them prey to every peak-bearded, artisanally trousered, new media guru able to crank open a MacBook Air and seduce them with talk of clickthroughs, heat maps and the ecstasies of virality. Things Buzz, things that they do not understand, … Read the full post

Indecent homes and major works charges

The DCLG has released the “Social landlords reduction of service charges: mandatory and discretionary directions 2014“, in force as of today, 12 August 2014.

The upshot of the mandatory directions is that a social landlord which undertakes “repair, maintenance or improvement” wholly or partly funded by

(a) the Decent Homes Backlog Funding provided through the 2013 Spending Round; and
(b) any other assistance for the specific purpose of carrying out works of repair, maintenance or improvement provided by—
(i) any Secretary of State; or
(ii) the Homes and Communities Agency.

is limited in the amount of service charge or major works charge it can levy on its leaseholders … Read the full post

Reasons, reasons, reasons

This slipped under my radar, but thanks to @RichGreenhill on twitter for pointing to Section 7 of The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, in force as of 6 August 2014.

Section 7 provides:

7. (1) The decision-making officer must produce a written record of any decision which falls within paragraph (2).

(2) A decision falls within this paragraph if it would otherwise have been taken by the relevant local government body, or a committee, sub-committee of that body or a joint committee in which that body participates, but it has been delegated to an officer of that body either—

(a) under a specific express authorisation; or

(b)

Read the full post

DHP not enough to remedy?

We’ve received an interesting First Tier Tribunal (so not binding) appeal decision from Wakefield, thanks to Kirklees Law Centre. A copy of the statement of reasons is here (not anonymised as the appellants consented to it being used largely unredacted).

Mr G was the tenant, occupying a two bedroom property with his wife, Mrs G. Mrs G has severe disabilities following a fracture to her back and the couple had been moved to the property, a bungalow, to which substantial adaptations had been carried out by the local authority landlord. Asa result of Mrs G’s disabilities, Mr G was not able to share the bedroom and there was no space … Read the full post

Help me make it through the night

We have the first (to the best of my knowledge) Upper Tribunal decision on a bedroom tax appeal, and therefore one binding on First Tier Tribunals. While it is not on one of the large scale issues, such as room size, it is nonetheless potentially important for a number of tenants and offers a view of the Upper Tribunal approach to the Regulations.

SD v Eastleigh Borough Council (HB) (Housing and council tax benefits : other) [2014] UKUT 325 (AAC)

The issue here was whether the appellant met the requirements for an additional bedroom for an overnight carer under Reg B13(6)(a).

The property is a three bed house. The appellant … Read the full post

Bedroom tax ‘lead case’ in Upper Tribunal?

Some bits on the bedroom tax and room size

First, a new FTT decision from Rochdale (Reasons here ). A room of 64 square feet was too small for a lodger and had not been used as a bedroom since the appellant’s son moved out in 2010. The room was instead used to store the appellant’s belongings, which she could not reasonably store in the loft due to her medical conditions. Also cites Bolton MBC v BF – the UT definition of a bedroom case – to find the room was not a bedroom because not used as such.

Secondly, (and thanks Joe) I have been sent a copy … Read the full post

Extremely loud and incredibly close

This is about loud and disturbing noises.

I was going to write up Coventry & Ors v Lawrence & Anor [2014] UKSC 13 when it came out in February, given that it made some significant changes to common law nuisance claims. But it was 249 paragraphs and some 68 page long, so though I read it, it went on the ‘to do sometime’ pile. Then along came Coventry & Ors v Lawrence & Anor (No 2) [2014] UKSC 46 on 23 July. And, while that ostensibly dealt with a point on a landlord’s liability in nuisance, it also contained some hugely explosive decisions on costs.

So, this post will be … Read the full post

More on post possession order disrepair counterclaims

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This is an issue we’ve looked at before, bringing a disrepair counterclaim after a possession order has been made. Now the Birmingham County Court has dealt with the issue on an appeal from the decision of a District Judge.

Midland Heart Ltd v Idawah [2014] EW Misc B48 (11 July 2014)

In this case, a possession order had been made in November 2002 (apparenly an SPO). There had subsequently been some seven stays of warrant on terms, in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012. In February 2014, the Defendant made an application for a further stay of warrant and permission to bring a counterclaim for disrepair, supported by an … Read the full post