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31/03/2010

Events, dear boy, events…

A couple of bits of news.

First, John Healey, the shy and self-effacing Housing Minister, announced his intention to make unlawful sub-letting a criminal offence. That said, the DCLG press release rather jumps the gun by describing the sub-lettings as fraudulent. In the smaller print, the ‘shop a sub-let and win £500‘ campaign and the £4 million of Govt support for Councils to ‘crack down’ on sub-letting appear to be less than dramatically successful. Precisely one ‘reward’ has been handed out, in West London, although we are assured that ‘further claims are in the pipeline’. The overall crackdown has resulted in Councils and PRPSHs (nee RSLs) recovering 350 properties nationally, ‘nearly half of which’ have been allocated to new tenants. Still, a further 27,000 ‘leads’ have been passed on to housing bodies by the Audit Commission and DCLG through matching tenancy records with electoral rolls, HB claims, etc..

Secondly, the great Crown Estate sell off may have hit a road bump or several. Not only has the Treasury Estate Committee been more than a little critical of the Estate’s handling of the consultation process, but a Judicial Review pre-action protocol letter has been sent on behalf of two of the tenants setting out the failings of the consultation process and asserting that to go ahead with the sale would be unlawful. It starts with R (Wainright) v Richmond upon Thames LBC [2001] EWCA Civ 2062 on the principles of fair consultation, and goes on in detail and at length from there. The solicitors, Hansen Palomares, have issued a press release. We have a copy of the press release and the pre-action letter [links to PDFs].

Oh, and for anyone waiting on tenterhooks for our report on Salford City Council v Mullen [2010] EWCA Civ 336 (AKA the Famous Five), it is coming shortly, honest, but there is a lot to digest and, in the case of Manchester CC, a certain amount of bewilderment as to just what the hell they thought they were doing to get through.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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