More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
Allocation
ASB
Assured Shorthold tenancy
assured-tenancy
Benefits and care
Deposits
Disrepair
Homeless
Housing Conditions
Housing law - All
Introductory and Demoted tenancies
Leasehold and shared ownership
Licences and occupiers
Mortgage possession
Nuisance
Possession
Regulation and planning
right-to-buy
secure-tenancy
Succession
Trusts and Estoppel
Unlawful eviction and harassment

News bits – Renters (Reform) Bill ‘reformed’, HHJ Luba KC retirement.

28/03/2024

The disappearance of the Renters (Reform) Bill from the parliamentary timetable has been the subject of much speculation, with reports of it being held hostage by Tory backbenchers demanding landlord friendly changes, and the prospect of the Bill being lost.

But it is now being reported that the Bill is back, albeit with the prospect of amendments that give the backbenchers pretty much what they wanted. A letter from Gove to Tory MPS has been circulated on the social media app formerly known as Twitter.

The concessions/changes as described as follows (obviously we will have to see what the actual amends do).

  1. Tenants will not be able to give notice within an initial 6 months term. (There may be exceptions for death, domestic abuse or significant hazards to the property).
  2. The Lord Chancellor will be required to publish an assessment of the readiness of the courts before the abolition of section 21. (I’m not sure this has any real significance, as there would not be a further vote or approval required, but it is delay.)
  3. There will be a review of local authority selective and HMO licensing schemes, in the light of the property portal. This might make sense, but only if the portal requires the same standards.
  4. Student lets exception – there will be a mandatory ground of possession after 12 months for “any property let by (sic, presumably ‘to’) students”, rather than the existing and frankly all but pointless ‘students joint tenancy of an HMO’ one. The landlord will have to put an intention to use this ground of possession into the tenancy agreement. The text of this new amendment will have to be looked at very carefully, because the possibility of it being or creating a mess is large.
  5. Landlords prevented from re-letting for three months after using the new ‘sell/move in’ grounds will also  be prevented from letting on short lets during that period. (I thought this would be the case under the current wording, but the clarity is helpful.)
  6. Local authorities’ homeless prevention duty will start at service of a section 8 notice – this is a good addition.

There is no mention of the ‘use of hearsay evidence in ASB possession proceedings’ amendment that was being touted by the backbenchers. We will have to see if it surfaces, but it is a good thing if abandoned, as it was just silly.

As ever, the devil will be in the detail. And we are still left with complete uncertainty as to when section 21 will actually be abolished.

HHJ Luba KC

Last week saw the retirement of His Honour Judge Jan Luba KC, a titan of housing law.

I had the privilege of being asked to speak at his valedictory on behalf of the Law Society, along with Liz Davies KC for HLPA and Nick Grundy KC for SHLA.

It was a truly extraordinary occasion, taking place in the Lady Chief Justice’s courtroom in the Royal Courts of Justice, with a bench headed by the Master of the Rolls. There were many Court of Appeal and High Court judges, and seated in the courtroom were flotillas of Circuit Judges, District Judges, KCs and Baroness Hale, as well as family. The balcony was heaving with counsel. Everyone in full regalia. The regard in which HHJ Luba KC was held within the judiciary as well as by those in practice was very evident.

That said, addressing the Master of the Rolls, following after two KCs and in front of a large swathe of senior judiciary, from the front bench of the LCJ’s court in a hastily obtained robe, was not terrifying at all. No, no, not one bit. Thankfully it was a three minute slot, so my legs didn’t have time to give way.

This was the text of my address.

My Lords, my Ladies and your honours

It is my privilege to be asked to speak on behalf of the Law Society.

When I first began in a housing law practice, 19 years ago, it was an area of law already largely defined by His Honour. The foundational judgments of the field nearly all featured argument by Jan Luba QC (as was), the key textbooks were co-authored by him, and his addresses to the HLPA conference each year set the frame for the year to come.

Indeed, there can be very few housing solicitors practising today whose first day was not marked by being handed a well thumbed copy of Defending Possession Proceedings and told to read it.

Very early on, when I was still a paralegal, I had the good fortune of being sent to sit behind His Honour advocating for our client in the Court of Appeal. Then some 10 years later, now as a partner, and acting for an intervenor, I listened in the Supreme Court as His Honour, in one of his last appearances before being appointed to the bench, argued for one of the appellants. Each was a masterclass in advocacy and command of the law in depth, deployed in the interests of the client.

When he took his place on the bench, he continued to shape housing law. Indeed, a whole new category of judgment arose, the ‘it is County Court, yes, but an HHJ Luba KC judgment’.

From a solicitor’s viewpoint, knowing that your case was to be listed before or case managed by His Honour was both a pleasure and mildly terrifying. A pleasure because you could be wholly confident that the Judge would be entirely on top of the relevant law, and mildly terrifying for the same reason, because what if you weren’t?

And then there were the directions orders, with the narrative drive and unexpected plot twists of a novella.

His Honour expected high standards from those acting for the parties before him, because of his keen sense that this was what our clients deserved and should receive. It was a continuation of his practice at the Bar. Those he represented never had less than the best.

His commitment to the field of housing law extended to the education and encouragement of new entrants. The ‘Recent Developments’ monthly column in Legal Action was vital for all housing solicitors, and kept up over many years, a remarkable feat of disseminating knowledge.

The co-authored practice texts were and are absolutely central to what housing solicitors do. Having been a junior co-author with His Honour on Housing Conditions: Tenants’ Rights – an experience that was both a pleasure and mildly terrifying – I know that his twin goals were i) is it precisely right? And ii) will people understand how to use it?

If I might be permitted a personal thank you, His Honour’s support and encouragement of my own efforts at spreading knowledge of housing law have been very much appreciated, and wholly in character.

His Honour’s retirement is very well-deserved, but his legacy is a whole field of law. As long as there are housing law practitioners, there will be a Jan shaped presence in the law, and the law and our clients are very much the better for that.

Jan, I hope you enjoy your retirement hugely, but you will be much missed by housing lawyers.

Fittingly, on the day of his retirement, a judgment dismissing an appeal against one of HHK Luba KC’s judgments was handed down. I’ll have that written up shortly.

 

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.

2 Comments

  1. Neil Hickman

    “As long as there are housing law practitioners, there will be a Jan shaped presence in the law” Yes, indeed. Have a long and happy retirement, Jan. You have earned it.

    Reply
  2. Robert Mellors

    Jan’s wisdom and and reasoning are unsurpassed, and it is rare to find someone in the legal profession who is so passionate about defending the rights of their clients, and is able to do this with such competence and clarity.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jan at the West Midlands Housing Law Practitioner’s Association many years ago when he was still a QC, and over a pint in the pub after the event, I remember that we discussed the legality/illegality of LA’s housing waiting list criteria that excludes people under 18.
    Sorry, Jan, I never did manage to find you a test case to run on this point, but you made a great impression on me and I will always hold you in the highest possible respect.

    Reply

Leave a Reply (We can't offer advice on individual issues)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.