Sunday, 27 July 2008



I have moved to HERE.

Hopefully you can join me in my move :)

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Shooting myself in the foot?

As another week of seeing homeless clients who have been told utterly the wrong thing by the various Local Authorities goes by I was pondering the fact that around 70 pct of my cases come from clients dissatisfied in one way or the other with the assistance provided to them by the Local Authorities in my area.

I think it's rather ironic (I hope, not wishing to be compared to Alanis Morissette in not being able to actually define irony, or maybe it was a double bluff) that should I be free to actually complain about the Local Authority and be free (for I'm not working at a CAB) to formulate social policy attacks on the Local Authority then by making the Local Authority do the right thing then I might well find myself out of a job. Without all the dissatisfied customers the CAB wouldn't have enough matter starts!

Just imagine a world where the DWP runs like clockwork, where LA's take approaches from all, where Landlords know the difference between on and after. What would we do!?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Slacking, sort of.

Apologies for the slack nature of my posting lately. I'm attemping to train for the London Triathlon in a few weeks time so this has rather eaten into my spare time.

I shall attempt some further random pondering posts when I get back from the gym later but I may be unwell as I'm attempting 80 lengths swimming, 6 miles running and then preventing my body collapsing on the floor in a heap.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Handy Tip and Shelter where are you!

Tip for day. If you are dialling from a phone that withholds your number dial 1470 as before calling your client. I find a lot of clients will not pick up withhelds as they think they are debt collection agencies.

Also it appears calling Shelter's specialist support line at 13.04 is not between the hours of 10.00 and 16.00 as that's when they are open according to the nice automated lady telling me they were closed. Odd!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Quick question

Where do the 20,000 families go once they are evicted?

Presumably they then make a homeless approach. Now if it was perhaps the dependent son or daughter of the applicant that caused the applicant to get evicted then they may well not be intentionally homeless. They then all get put into emergency accommodation together and then wait for a Part VI offer of accommodation should a duty have been accepted to them under 193.

What has this solved exactly?

Has it helped an already dysfunctional family unit?

Any CLAC workers here?

I would love to hear from any workers in CLAC's in regard to their experiences and how they might be better or worse than the pre CLAC days.

I know it's a bit of a long shot as this blog is probably only read by about 20 people.

Ho hum :)

A4e vs The CAB, round 1

'Since 1991, A4e has touched the lives of over one million people, helping them to improve their circumstances and realise their potential.'

Well it appears that A4e won't be touching the lives of any more inmates in Kent having announced announced that it cannot continue to run the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service from August 2008 to July 2009. According to this months LAG this is due to the fact it stands to make a loss of some £892,000.

With the aid of some random Google browsing A4e certainly seems to have 'touched' the lives of some other people to.

Take some lives 'touched' as part of their Gateway to work programme

This months LAG also has a very interesting article on A4e and the possible arrival (if it isn't already here of 'Tesco Law'. Read all about it here. 'Tesco Law' = cheap, filling, but not particularly good?

It's also interesting to note that A4e who are now the second largest provider (who's the largest?) advertised for telephone advisers at a less than confidence inspiring £16.5k a year with no experience necessary.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Well I told the MP's that most my time was spent dealing with the increasing use of gatekeeping practices and how the LA's were not doing what they were lawfully required to do most the time.

Safe to say the MP's weren't very interested...

Ho hum. At least I told em!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

On the fiddle!

Good lord Lindon is claiming £256 a week in benefits whilst he might be working!

Instead of watching another programme about benefit cheats why can't we have a programme where an undercover team of investigators follow MP's and MEP's as they repeatedly make 'dubious' expenses claims.

For instance it would, I reckon, be so much more fun to have someone tail the Commons Speaker's wife when she gets a taxi to see just where she's going.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Storing trouble for later, another sign of the times?

In my experience of mortgage possession cases the mortgage company have always been pretty quick in applying for a warrant for possession and getting the former owner out pretty quick in order to sell the property.

However I had an interesting case recently where the mortgage company (one of the biggest subprime lenders) had informed the former owner that they wouldn't actually be applying for a warrant for at least 6 months knowing full well that the former owner couldn't pay a penny towards the mortgage.

As the property had no equity (an increasingly common phenomena it seems) it perhaps wasn't surprising in the current market as one can only presume the subprime lender would be hoping that the housing market turns around. It also made making a 'homeless approach' based on not reasonable to continue to occupy a little trickier than usual.

One wonders (for I have no clue at all) how this particular mortgage and presumably many others appear on the balance sheets of the mortgage companies involved (as one thinks they might be rather optimistic in their forecasts in order to show smaller future losses) and just what happens if the market doesn't turn around.

It should be said that the last paragraph was mainly the result of a chat with my brother in the pub so is probably not based on any actual real knowledge of subprime balance sheets at all.

Moral dilema for the day, CABx lack of independence strikes again

My manager has just informed me that he would like me to give a little talk to our local MP's about the housing problems that I face as they are coming to our bureau in a few days.

Now in my opinion if our CAB was independent and impartial as we claim to be then I would tell them about our Local Authority's obsessession with statistics, its gatekeeping practices, the fact they have had 1 homelessness forum meeting in 2 years, the fact they are understaffed, the fact they take weeks to respond to even simple requests, the fact that they are therefore screwing over the homeless of our Borough.

However as we wouldn't want to kick up a fuss it has been made clear that this wouldn't be appreciated by 'el boss'.

Should I or shouldn't I ignore 'el boss's' request?!

CLAC's and CLAN's

A thought provoking post here on CLAC's and CLAN's.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Landlords, got to love them

I think the favourite part of my poorly paid and probably soon to be non existent job (go go LSC and CLAN's) is helping clients who come in with notices from their landlord. I hesitate to use the word notice as they seem to take all sorts of rather strange forms.

Most of the tenants I see are statutory periodic assured shorthold tenants. Amusing mistakes (yes my job IS that dull) range from the common section 21 4a 'I require possession on X date' rather than after X date fatality to 'here is your 4 weeks notice to quit I'll be around on X date to pick up the keys'.

By far the best was a landlord who made the same mistake (requiring possession after X date where X date was in fact 1 day to late) TWICE. Having been to Court they proceeded to do the same thing again. They spent about a year trying to get rid of their tenant :).

I do actually feel sorry for you landlords who decide not to get any sort of legal advice before issuing a notice but I have to say thank you for brightening up my day.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Stupid days?

Does anyone else have days where they just can't seem to remember fairly basic housing stuff? Days where you just sit there and think doh I really shouldn't have advised the client to do that, better ring them up and somehow retract the advice...

Lying bastards

Further proof that Local Authorities are lying bastards comes from the release of the Statutory Homeless figures for the first quarter of 2008 (hat tip to Smoking Gun). My Local Authority made ONE! homeless but not in priority need decision. Fortunately for my semi pretence at anonymity quite a few LA's had just one :)

Now to me that means that either they found that every single homeless person bar one had a priority need for accommodation or are adept in telling single homeless people to fug off.

Take a case I had recently. Single homeless person under 25. Little support in the area, only on JSA, and just released from prison. They had been to the LA for help with their homelessness only to be told to bugger off. Had they accepted a 184, were they considering whether they had a priority need as per 10.24 and 10.33 of the Code? Had they shit, I bet they are trying to get down to 0. I bet they were really angry about that 1 bastard who had ruined their stats.

The amusing thing is that in the pursuit of reducing these magic figures my LA do odd things. Four times in those same 3 months my LA,where they could have taken a homeless approach and just come to a reasoned not in priority decision after my threat of JR etc, just randomly rehoused my client straight into permanent (my clients having previously had bugger all points on the register) thus avoiding having been 'homeless' altogether. In all 4 cases my clients had of course been told to bugger off before coming to me.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Something useful for a change

Stumbled upon THIS quite handy link for Court Desk advisers and other housing bods

It's a little old but helpful I reckon.

Are subprime solicitors very stupid?

Every Monday morning I help run our CABx Court Desk scheme.

Every week I seem to have a mortgage possession case in which there is plenty of equity in the property that involves me making an offer of repayment that would clear the arrears in about 3 to 5 years where on average there is about 20 odd years remaining on the term as the defendant would prefer to clear them much sooner than the whole of the term.

However every week having put this reasonable offer to the claimant's representative the rep will call the claimant's Legal Department and some cretin will say the offer is unacceptable as they want the arrears cleared in a year or two. WHY! WHY! WHY do they do this? Have they never ever heard of Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society v Norgan [1996]. Are they just being deliberately obnoxious and / or stupid or am I missing something?

I've never ever seen a Judge agree with the claimant in respect to the repayment of the arrears so why do claimant's solicitors persist?

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Gas, we're all doomed

Crapita are furthering world domination with the announcement that they are to replace CORGI from 1st April 2009.

thanks to red40 at LLzone.

Must resist bribery innuendo...

Another Biggy, Lewisham v Malcolm

Looks like Nearly is in for no sleep tonight!

Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lewisham (Appellants) v Malcolm (Respondent)

Very very briefly as I'm at work and have only read some parts as it's a very lengthy judgement, it appears Lewisham's appeal has been upheld.

Very interesting case I think, having suffered from a disability myself. A lot to read after the footy ;)

Also have to love a case where a Lord (LORD SCOTT OF FOSCOTE) says

'The problem, I repeat, was the dog'

Am pondering whether McCann (if it had been out) could have helped Macolm as he was back living in the property.

Apologies for the editing. I thought I had some grasp of what constitutes indirect discrimination. Now I realise I have none and look forward to reading some sort of an 'idiots guide to discrimination' :)

Until it's published I shall continue to stare at 35 in the hope that I can make sense of it. Perhaps I will dream of blind people having to leave their dogs outside the pub. What happens if he can't leave it outside the pub because it's really cold and the dog will die of hypothermia? Should the blind person tell the pub owner he's blind and needs his dog and that his dog will die of hypothermia if left outside?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Oh, oh they are, I think! For now...

R (Weaver) v London & Quadrant Housing Trust
[2008] EWCA 1377 (Admin), 24 June 2008,

Taken from eflash 308 at Arden Chambers.

'The Administrative Court has held that a registered social landlord was a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 in respect of the management and allocation of its housing stock (including the termination of a tenancy) and accordingly also amenable to judicial review on conventional public law grounds'

Hopefully L and Q might think a bit more and dust off their Housing Corporation's guidance 02/07 before they just throw ground 8's at people.

Am sure Nearly will be busy this evening.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Happy birthday Garden Court bulletins!

Garden Courts 100th Housing bulletins are 100 today. Happy birthday Mr Bulletin.

Lots of interesting stuff (for housing nerds), including more on the are they or aren't they Public bodies and RSLs debate. As seems commonplace in housing law no one really has a clue.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Website help needed!

I've been thinking about making a little housing resource web page. Just a place with handy links to all sorts of different websites and also a place with links to different court cases which I would find extremely handy when doing reviews etc. It would also be a place where I could 'store' the answers to weird and wonderful problems that some clients seem to have so I can quickly refer to them again if necessary (obviously just the generally gist of the problem not the actual client!)

I've been trawling through website editors and free hosting programmes for about the last 6 hours and it's doing my head in.

I'd like an idiot proof editor where I can make my own page and then easily upload it so that I can view it as a web page. I don't really want a cool web address and I don't mind an advert or two if necessary. I don't mind paying a few pounds a month if I get something that even I can use.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

Pretty please!

Can giving a toss ever cost to much?

Nice to see Mr Flack with another thought provoking post over at on his blog.

It reminded me of an incident last week. I was flicking through the local papers job section as I usually do each week in the vain hope of trying to find a better job. I saw a job as a Homeless Assessment manager at a nearby Local Authority and it got me thinking and that thinking got me rather depresssed.

I believe I'd make a great Homeless Persons Manager.

If I got an interview for the job I'd state that I would make sure every Homelessness officer was fully up to speed on the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities. I'd make sure they knew that any homeless prevention should go hand in hand with seeing what duties might be owed to them should the homelessness officer have reason to believe the client might be homeless or threatened with homelessness in 28 days. I would make sure that I took the views of the applicant's GP's and specialists into proper consideration. I'd make sure the Housing department had proper joint assessment protocols in place with Social Services.

Then I snapped back to reality and remembered that I was a homeless officer once. I gave a stuff as William politely put it. I was fair and open minded. I didn't last that long. My manager who was also the reviewing officer used to tell me to find people not to have a priority need where I believed after having come to a reasoned decision that they were.

Why should Local Authority homeless officers and social workers give a stuff? They are actively dissuaded from doing so. When it comes to promotion I would put my money on the Homelessness officer who has 'prevented' applications by any means necessary getting the job over the caring, law abiding officer who then probably quits.

Local Authorities receive money for reducing the number of Homeless cases. Can you blame them therefore in this statistic obsessed society for preventing such cases by any means necessary? If one Local Authority manager starts gatekeeping and thus reducing their departments spend can you really blame the next door Local Authority manager who does the same in order to stop their costs spiralling due to helping all the homeless people who have come from the adjoining LA?

I'm not condoning the actions of any LA's such as Hounslow in X v Hounslow [2008] All ER 337 I'm just wondering how much it would cost if every Council started obeying the spirit and wording of such acts as the Childrens Act 1989 and the Housing Act 1996.

Perhaps every CLS advice worker should spend a year in a Local Authority to see just why they don't seem to give a stuff!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Is the Pope Catholic?

In a shocking development The Carsberg Review of Residential Property, Standards, Regulations, Redress and Competition in the 21st Century found that Letting Agents and Estate Agents should be better regulated and better trained!

Although if they were then my matter starts would go right down the proverbial toilet.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

House in Paris for the week

House is off to study the suitability of Parisian Hotels and whether or not it is reasonable to continue to drink large amounts of wine.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Question for the day.

Is a joint secure tenant who moves out of their accommodation, leaving the other secure tenant in occupation, into accommodation provided by 188 and then by 193 still considered a secure tenant in respect to the exemptions as set out in sec 159 (5) of the HA 1996 (as ammended)?

Answers on a postcard please :)

Monday, 9 June 2008

Single Parents, work and poverty

'Well if you stop smoking, stop buying any magazines or papers, get rid of your pet, don't go out ever, get rid of your phone and don't ever buy any presents for your children then you might be able to pay your rent'

Going through income and expenditure forms with single parents who are trying to work is an increasingly depressing task.

Today I had 3 single parents who all worked as carers. All needed a car for their job and I wondered why any of them bothered working at all.

Housing benefit can disregard up to £45 of weekly income, over what the law allows you to live on, before it starts knocking off 65p for every £1 you earn from your housing benefit award and also reducing your Council tax award. As it's likely that your paying tax on that £1 then until you get to zero housing benefit your not really actually any better off by working more hours, that is presuming you can work more hours.

All of my clients were paying far more than £45 a week on petrol and on their car (insurance, tax, MOT, maintenance etc, HP etc). In fact their expenses more than consumed all of the working tax credits they got.

So there I was looking at the income and expenditure sheets saying to the client that in fact they should in effect pretend they were on benefits when it came to what they could spend. The fact that I'm even writing that is thoroughly depressing. Should a single parent in these sorts of situations need to have a partner just to make it worth while working?

As a taxpayer supporting all those who don't work I would hope the answer is no, but from my experience it's a yes!

I appreciate that the clients I saw were on low incomes but then it shouldn't really matter should it?

Additionally the rapid increase in petrol prices over the last few years, from 77.9p in 2003 per litre to 103.9 per litre (and rising quickly) in 2008 seriously effect clients such as those I saw today who already have no spare income. A pound a week on fuel is either a pound less on food or a pound more in debt. Can one blame such clients if they decide to give up their car and go back to income support.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Adding a Local Authority as a party to costs.

I'm sure many CLS advisers here have trouble with Local Authorities who totally ignore the Code of Guidance and the Housing Act 1996 in advising clients that they must remain in their accommodation till evicted even when issued with section 21 notices to which there is no defence and having been told that the landlord will be taking possession. In such cases the Local Authority won't even consider whether or not it is reasonable for the tenant to continue to occupy the property.

This sort of practice is damaging for so many reasons. To name a few it causes landlords who might otherwise rent to people on Housing benefit (as often it is those on HB that have had to approach the LA having not been able to find alternative privately rented accommodation) to decide they don't want to in the future as understandably they don't want to go through lengthy possession proceedings. In the last month or two I've had 4 or 5 landlords tell me that because of such advice they won't be renting to tenants on Housing benefit again.

Such advice also causes a great deal of stress and uncertainty to both landlord and tenant. It also adds extra burden to already overstretched Courts and clients often then have to be assisted by at yet more public money by people like me.

Whilst the threat of Judicial Review and Judicial review can be very useful there may be another tool that can be used to get the Local Authority to do what the law requires.

With the kind permission of its author Mr Tony Ross at 1 Pump Court Chambers, London EC4Y 7AB 02078427070 I have copied in some advice I received regarding having a Local Authority joined as a party to an order for the costs of the possession proceedings. This is pretty uncharted territory but Pump Court have had success in obtaining such orders but have stated they don't receive many instructions regarding such action (perhaps because it's something new to consider). I ended up not pursuing the action as the client was assisted before it became necessary.

I'm not a solicitor and this is something I would refer out but I think it would be a handy action that could possibly go hand in hand with JR where appropriate.

I look forward to any comments on what uses people think this might or might not have.

I have of course edited the advice where appropriate in order to keep the LA and my client anonymous.

The Facts

Bobtown Council, the local housing authority, apparently have a practice of refusing to accept homelessness applications from Assured Shorthold Tenants until at or very close to the date of eviction, on the basis that the applicants are not homeless. The effect of this "gate keeping" is that the cost of providing s.188 interim accommodation is avoided.

A further consequence, however, is that the tenant has to wait for the landlord to obtain a possession order before he is re-housed. This will usually result in the landlord obtaining a costs order against his tenant.

Those instructing me seek advice on what can be done to prevent the housing authority continuing to act in a manner which is contrary to the policy and express terms of the Housing Act 1996, and the Code of Guidance. It is suggested that a costs order could be obtained in the possession proceedings against the housing authority.

Legal Background:

Homelessness applications and the Housing Act 1996 ("HA")

Whenever a person approaches a local housing authority for accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation, and the local housing authority has reason to believe that he may be homeless or threatened with homelessness, then he has made a homelessness application: s.183 HA. Applications for assistance under Part 7 HA 1996 do not need to be in any particular form, nor do they need to be explicitly expressed to be seeking assistance under Part 7: see Paragraph 6.6 of the Code of Guidance.

9. Where a housing authority has reason to believe that an applicant may be homeless or threatened with homelessness, they shall make such inquiries as are necessary to satisfy themselves whether he is eligible for assistance, and if so, whether any duty, and if so what duty, is owed to him: s.184(1).

10. An early assessment will be vital to determine whether the housing authority has an immediate duty to secure accommodation under s.188. Housing authorities are obliged to begin inquiries as soon as they have reason to believe that an applicant may be homeless or threatened with homelessness and should aim to carry out an initial interview and preliminary assessment on the day the application is received: Para 6.16 Code.

11. On completing their inquiries the authority must notify the applicant of their decision and, so far as any issue is decided against his interests, inform him of the reasons for their decision: s.184(3) HA.

12. The threshold for the duty of councils to act is a low one since it arises if they have reason to believe the applicant may be homeless or threatened with homelessness: R (Aweys and others) v. Birmingham City Council [2007] EWHC 50, [2007] HLR 27, at para 8.

Reasonable to Continue to Occupy

13. The relevant parts of the Code of Guidance are:

"Tenant given notice 8.14. With certain exceptions, a person who has been occupying accommodation as a tenant and who has received a valid notice to quit, or notice that the landlord requires possession of the accommodation, would have the right to remain in occupation until a warrant for possession was executed (following the granting of an order for possession by the court). The exceptions are tenants with resident landlords and certain other tenants who do not benefit from the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. However, authorities should note that the fact that a tenant has a right to remain in occupation does not necessarily mean that he or she is not homeless. In assessing whether an applicant is homeless in cases where he or she is a tenant who has a right to remain in occupation pending execution of a warrant for possession, the housing authority will also need to consider whether it would be reasonable for him or her to continue to occupy the accommodation in the circumstances (see paragraphs 8.30-8.32 below).

8.15. Some tenants may face having to leave their accommodation because their landlord has defaulted on the mortgage of the property they rent. Where a mortgage lender starts possession proceedings, the lender is obliged to give written notice of the proceedings to the occupiers of the property before an order for possession is granted. The notice must be given after issue of the possession summons and at least 14 days before the court hearing. As for tenants given notice that the landlord requires possession of the accommodation (see paragraph 8.14 above), authorities will need to consider whether it would be reasonable for a tenant to continue to occupy the accommodation after receiving notice of possession proceedings from the lender.

8.30. In cases where the applicant has been occupying accommodation as a tenant and has received a valid notice to quit, or a notice that the landlord intends to recover possession, housing authorities should consider the scope for preventing homelessness through consulting the landlord at an early stage to explore the possibility of the tenancy being allowed to continue or the tenant being allowed to remain for a reasonable period to provide an opportunity for alternative accommodation to be found. If the landlord is not persuaded to agree, the authority will need to consider whether it would be reasonable for the applicant to continue to occupy the accommodation once the valid notice has expired.

8.31. In determining whether it would be reasonable for an applicant to continue to occupy accommodation, the housing authority will need to consider all the factors relevant to the case and decide the weight that individual factors should attract. As well as the factors set out elsewhere in this chapter, other factors which may be relevant include the general cost to the housing authority, the position of the tenant, the position of the landlord, the likelihood that the landlord will actually proceed with possession proceedings, and the burden on the courts of unnecessary proceedings where there is no defence to a possession claim (see paragraphs 8.14 and 8.15 above for guidance on the right to occupy where notice of possession proceedings has been given).

8.32. Each case must be decided on its facts, so housing authorities should not adopt a general policy of accepting – or refusing to accept – applicants as homeless or threatened with homelessness when they are threatened with eviction but a court has not yet made an order for possession or issued a warrant of execution. In any case where a housing authority decides that it would be reasonable for an applicant to continue to occupy their accommodation after a valid notice has expired – and therefore decides that he or she is not yet homeless or threatened with homelessness – that decision will need to be based on sound reasons which should be made clear to the applicant in writing (see Chapter 6 for guidance on housing authorities’ duties to inform applicants of their decisions). The Secretary of State considers that where a person applies for accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation, and: (a) the person is an assured shorthold tenant who has received proper notice in accordance with s.21 of the Housing Act 1988; (b) the housing authority is satisfied that the landlord intends to seek possession; and (c) there would be no defence to an application for a possession order; then it is unlikely to be reasonable for the applicant to continue to occupy the accommodation beyond the date given in the s.21 notice, unless the housing authority is taking steps to persuade the landlord to withdraw the notice or allow the tenant to continue to occupy the accommodation for a reasonable period to provide an opportunity for alternative accommodation to be found."

Costs: CPR 48.2 Costs Orders in favour of or against non-parties
14. CPR 48.2 provides:
Costs orders in favour of or against non-parties:
(1) Where the court is considering whether to exercise its power under section 51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 (costs are in the discretion of the court) to make a costs order in favour of or against a person who is not a party to proceedings—
(a) that person must be added as a party to the proceedings for the purposes of costs only; and
(b) he must be given a reasonable opportunity to attend a hearing at which the court will consider the matter further.
(2) This rule does not apply—
(a) where the court is considering whether to—
(i) make an order against the Legal Services Commission;
(ii) make a wasted costs order (as defined in 48.7); and
(b) in proceedings to which 48.1 applies (pre-commencement disclosure and orders for disclosure against a person who is not a party).

15. Section 51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 gives the court full power to determine by whom and to what extent costs are to be paid. The Court of Appeal has laid down guidelines for the exercise of this power:

(1) An order for the payment of costs by a non-party would always be exceptional. The judge should treat any application for such an order with considerable caution.

(2) It would be even more exceptional for an order for the payment of costs to be made against a non-party where the applicant had a cause of action against the non-party, and could have joined him as a party to the original proceedings.

(3) Even if the applicant could provide a good reason for not joining the non-party against whom he had a valid cause of action, he should warn the non-party at the earliest opportunity of the possibility that he might seek to apply for costs against him.

(4) An application for payment of costs by a non-party should normally be determined by the trial judge (see Bahai v Rashidian [1985] 1 W.L.R. 1337).

(5) The fact that the trial judge in the course of his judgment had expressed views on the conduct of the non-party, neither constituted bias nor the appearance of bias.

(6) The procedure for the determination of costs is a summary procedure, not necessarily subject to all the rules that would apply in an action. Thus, subject to any relevant statutory exceptions, judicial findings are inadmissible as evidence of the facts upon which they were based in proceedings between one of the parties to the original proceedings and a stranger. Yet in the summary procedure for the determination of the liability of a solicitor to pay the costs of an action to which he was not a party, the judge's findings of fact may be admissible. This departure from basic principles can only be justified if the connection of the non-party with the original proceedings was so close that he will not suffer any injustice by allowing this exception to the general rule.

Per Balcombe L.J. Symphony Group Plc v Hodgson [1993] 4 All E.R. 143, CA

15. It is relevant to the court's exercise of discretion, whether to make an order against a non party, for it to consider whether the non party has received notice before or during the litigation that he may be made subject to an order for costs.

16. The discretion to award costs against non parties may be exercised in a variety of circumstances, such as whether the third party is considered to be the real party interested in the outcome of the litigation; or, where the third party has been responsible for bringing the proceedings and they have been brought in bad faith or for an ulterior purpose, or there is some other conduct that makes it just and reasonable to make an order (see Millett LJ in Metalloy Supplies Ltd (In Liquidation) v MA (UK) Ltd [1997] 1 W.L.R. 1613 at 1619): Barndeal Ltd v Richmond upon Thames LBC (Costs) [2005] EWHC 1377 (QB), [2006] 1 Costs L.R. 47, Newman J.

17. Where a non party is shown to have intervened in litigation so as to take control of the prosecution or defence of a claim, substantially for his own purposes or benefit and the claim or defence fails, there is no requirement that a court, making a non party cost order against a director, should find that the director was guilty of some impropriety in the prosecution by the company of the claim: BE Studios Ltd v Smith and Williamson Ltd [2005] EWHC 2730 (Ch), Evans Lombe J.

Merits & Procedure
18. In my view, there are two possible approaches that might be taken - the first by X with the assistance of those instructing me; the second by those instructing me over a period of time.
(1) Application for a Costs Order under CPR 48.2
19. This application is relatively simple and summary.
20. The keys points to be followed for this to application to work appear to be:

Notice should be provided to the Authority that an application will be made to join the Authority under CPR 48.2 immediately after the hearing of the possession claim in order to seek a costs order from them. The date of the possession hearing should be provided if known.

The grounds for the application should be explained to the District Judge in the County Court, even though they may appear obvious to a housing adviser. The most relevant points appear to be:

The Authority have made the proceedings necessary, by their failure to accept an application and provide interim accommodation.

The circumstances are exceptional, because the Authority have acted unlawfully – and in a high handed and arbitrary manner, by deliberately ignoring the Code of Guidance. This is easily demonstrated by reference to the Code of Guidance, Para 3.32. It will be even easier to demonstrate if they have refused to accommodate in the face of the letter providing them with notice.

The Authority have adopted an unlawful policy or practice, in that they routinely behave in this way.

The motivation for this unlawful behaviour is saving costs. As a result, the Authority should not be permitted to profit from unlawful conduct, but should be required to pay the Defendant’s costs.

The aim of the Authority should be Homelessness Prevention – that is carrying out inquiries at an early stage to ensure that there is little or no time spent in B & B. The policy of the Act considers a more seamless move from one accommodation to another.

21. Anecdotally, this or similar arguments have succeeded when recommended by colleagues in Chambers. In my view, it is unlikely to lead to criticism of X even if it fails.

22. My note of caution would be that the Court must have before them evidence of what steps X took to obtain accommodation ie. when he applied as homeless, with what result, what was said to him, by whom etc. This should be designed to prevent the Authority arguing that "on the facts of this case, costs should not be awarded against them eg. because he did not consult them until proceedings were issue.

So there we are. The second of course of action is not relevant to this post as it relates to an Aweys style challenge.

Monday, 2 June 2008

The CAB, had its cake, now feeling a bit sick

How many times in the last week have you read a document that says something along the lines of 'If you don't understand what x, y or z means you should seek advice from a solicitor, the CAB or Local Law centre'?

In 10 years time I wonder whether the CAB or Local Law Centres will be mentioned so much.

Is the fate of Hull CAB a sign of things to come for the CABx all across the land?

Being in a smaller more rural County our CABx is under threat from the probably inevitable introduction of a CLAN. The difficulties our bureau is having in setting up a local consortium that would be in a position to bid for any CLAN contracts make me wonder how many CABx will survive should the LSC decide to push through their ideas on CLAN's and CLAC's regardless of the opposition.

The trouble with CABx is that that they are all run as independent (independent from each other, not truly independent in terms of advice provision in my opinion) franchises and all have their own Trustee boards. This makes any sort of Consortium extremely hard to run.

If a Consortium is to be successful then I believe that there needs to be a board of trustees or similar that has power over all of its members. If one of the members is failing then someone needs to have the power to take action for the sake of the other members who may all be at risk due to that 1 members failings.

Unsurprisingly this is an extremely difficult task as perhaps understandably the Local Trustee board members don't want to give up their power and Independence. However if said Trustee's don't wake up to the fact that the nature of advice provision is changing and changing quickly then it may be to late.

For many years the CAB has enjoyed a form of monopoly over other advice providers due to the fact it had pretty much guaranteed funding from Local Authorities. In my experience from ten odd years at various CABx this had meant that many CABx have got fat and lazy, to used to their own monopoly. That guaranteed funding is perhaps the CABx Achilles heel. Without it most CABx included my own can't survive.

Therefore do CABx have any choice but to do what the LSC want, ie CLAN's and CLAC's, and get into a position to bid for them as if they do not they may well lose all the Local Authority funding they have enjoyed for so long?

I've been pondering the question and I'm not sure. Perhaps the LSC might back down should the unpopularity that is involved in the closure of Local CABx become to much for politicians and local counsellors to bare.

However If CABx don't want to take this dangerous risk then perhaps the real challenge is whether CABx can rise to the challenge of a new age of advice provision and actually show that they really do do it better than companies such as A4E and Crapita (Blame Private Eye).

Fortunately the CAB seem to be waking up to this new challenge and is pumping money into helping CABx get into a better position to bid for such CLAC, CLAN contracts. Whether the old age way of running CABx can change in order to make such bids successful remains to be seen.

Interesting times

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Repossessions on the UP and UP

There was quite in interesting article in the Metro today about an AXA insurance report on mortgages and mortgage repossessions.

The following is a link to a pretty similar article.

Whilst it seems that many people are making prudent plans to cut non essential expenditure the increase in prices of commodities such as fuel and food can only increase the number of possession cases as there are many home owners who don't have the luxury of cutting back on non essential expenditure as they don't have any!

One dreads to think about what will happen when those people who are already struggling to pay their fixed rate subprimes come off their fixed rate deal.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

So I saw a client last week. The client had been told that the only accommodation that might be available to them was about 2 Boroughs away.

So I dare ask the Local Authority the magic question. The magic question that gets my Local Authority acting all in a tis. The magic question that can often summon up offers of assured tenancies when there was only unsuitable accommodation before.

What is the magic question you may wonder?

'Have you accepted a duty to perform enquiries as per section 184 having reason to believe X may be homeless or threatened with homelessness in 28 days?'

After asking said question my client was magically offered an assured tenancy with the words 'I see you went to the CAB'.

No reply to my message of course.

It's clear to me why so far all the choice based schemes the Authority have looked at have been 'unsuitable' for at the moment the Authority have complete control over nominations and are therefore able to summon up such magical offers.

Tis a shame that so many people don't see the CAB but then I guess that's one of the reasons why the Local Authority do what they do.

Ho hum!

Go Go Chelsea! ;)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

New Matter starts

I wonder if it's only me but I do find myself spending far to much time writting introductory letters, advice notes and more closing letters than I used to under the old contract.

Having to split matters up is all jolly tedious.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

New Blog on the block

Thanks to Nearly for spotting a new blog from a Homelessness Officer. I'm suprised there aren't more blogs from Housing Advisors really. Ho hum.

Let's hope Smokin doesn't drift away as I hope there comes a time when both LA's and advisors can get along and actually work to prevent homelessness together!

One can only hope!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Joining a Local Authority as a party to an order for costs

I've heard on the grapevine that some people have had success in getting a Local Authority who have advised the tenant to remain in their accommodation despite a valid sec 21 joined as a party to the costs of the possession proceedings.

If anyone knows of any such cases I would be grateful. I have some guidance on how to attempt it and am hoping to try and convince a solicitor to give it a go in the future!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Don't read my blog,

No REALLY, stop reading!

Go read THIS instead.

Whilst the ECHR believe it won't impact on the majority of possession claims it may well be that us advisers don't usually see 'normal' possession cases may have use of this one.

Whilst it remains to be seen if it's a Decade Altering Decision, it would be tough to beat London and Quadrant v Ansell in my humble opinion, I look forward to it's impact on defending non-secure tenancies, demoted tenancies, and other public body tenants who have no defense to possession.

Right I'm off to ponder good proportional defenses as to be honest I usually just went on about necessary and proportional in the hope that the other side got as confused as I was and gave up. Fortunately at a County Court level this worked rather well as the mere mention of Public Body to Housing Associations would usually result in a swift surrender. Even where it didn't I could refer it to someone who has far more IQ than me (not hard) and paid a lot more than me :)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Thinking of beer

It would seem that one Australian is more partial to a beer than me.


Good job Caroline Flint which this one.

CHM (or crazy housing madness) Part 1

So a client comes to see me. The client has had a section 21 4a and it's expired. The Court has issued the Landlord's claim for possession. The Local Authority have been aware of the notice for months and are aware that a claim has been made but haven't taken an approach by the sounds of it, nor as 8.32 written to the client to say why they think she's not homeless. Now the LA as per their usually unlawful advice tell client she has to be there till she's evicted. They obviously don't tell client of the costs involved in the possession claim and bailiffs. The client wants advice on whether she should fill in the defence form and whether the advice by the LA is correct.

Now the advice and assistance provided by the LA is not correct in my opinion. However as the LA is not on choice based lettings it often picks clients like mine for nomination to a Housing association property. This is done during the time they should have taken a homeless approach as they can then notch up another homeless prevention statistic.

The crazy thing is if I forced the LA to take an approach and place under 188 then they could in this case find my client intentionally homeless (they could have done this already). Therefore I find myself thinking that it's best to let the LA get away with not taking an approach as they won't look into the client's intentionality (because to do so means taking an approach) and that my client will most likely end up with a permanent offer although she would have had to pay for the possession hearing and probably bailiffs. The LA are happy as they chalk up another Homeless prevention statistic and the client is happyish at having queue jumped everyone else (I say happyish as she has the costs of proceedings to pay).

If they don't offer something permanent and end up having to take an approach then from experience they won't find the client Intentionally homeless (which they could have done) because they took the Homeless approach so late they know it opens them up to all sorts of complaints.

It's all wrong on so many levels.

If you think I'm doing the wrong thing by not forcing an approach to be taken then I'd be more than happy to hear from you.

Monday, 12 May 2008


Sooooo after another day of repossessions, letting agent mess ups and seeing repeat offenders it's time for beer by the sea.

If you fancy your own entertainment I would recommend popping over to Geeklawyer and having a play with Lisa.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Horrific thought for the day! LSC and the way we work

Can you think of anything more frightening than this proposal?

The Proposals
3. Electronic Working Arrangements
3.1. We propose that from April 2010 all legal service providers, including advocates and family mediators, will be required to use the Legal Services Commissions (LSC) electronic system to submit information that would otherwise be sent in on paper forms directly to the LSC. Providers would also be required to use the LSC’s online client management system, which would include means and merits test functionality (see Chapter 5) and a client database (Chapter 4). From a technical perspective providers would need the same minimum IT requirements as for use of the LSC’s existing electronic billing system:

This is taken from HERE. If you are a provider of CLS then you should have a read if only a very quick read as it will undoubtedly effect your life if unfortunate enough not to have to found a new job by April 2010.

Many of the proposals just like the NHS computer system, tax credits and alcohol free beer are very good in theory but really just don't work very well.

Considering the fact that the LSC are about as good with technology as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest (thanks Rowan) then I dread to think what will actually happen. Undoubtedly it will involve millions of pounds spent on consultants who happen to mates with the chief executive.

Editing Comments

Just a quick note to say that unfortunately this hosting site doesn't allow people including the author to moderate comments. I may have missed something though!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Wales leads the way in Homeless advice

THIS ombudsman report highlighted in this weeks Garden Court's Housing Law bulletin well worth a read. It made me laugh in so many places and I am going to list just a few highlights. I was surprised and pleased that Cardiff County Council so openly admitted their shortcomings to the Ombudsman (obviously sad that it had to take the Ombudsman to get it out of them).

33. At interview, the Operational Manager was unable to give my investigator the current definition of homelessness saying that it had been a long time since he had looked at the legislation. When asked to expand on the statements in the formal response as to the overriding priority being given to homelessness prevention, the Operational Manager moved away from this position saying that he had not wished to convey an impression that considerations about homelessness prevention would over-ride the assessment process as a matter of course but went on to say that local authorities in Wales have a performance indicator to reduce homelessness applications, this being a consideration in future grant awards and it is appropriate that the options of advice and prevention should be a first response.

43. He also said that there had been a major change of approach within the department some eighteen months before he left and he recalled attending a training session which was aimed at reducing the number of cases accepted as homeless by the authority and that advice was given to staff on how to do this based on experiences in authorities in England. He had some concerns about this approach and had also raised the problem of the lack of training at appropriate meetings.

46. Housing Adviser 1 left the Council before Mr F had been issued with the possession order and he said that sometimes clients were not offered temporary accommodation until the last day before their court order expired. He did not regard the handling of this case as being unusual in any way.

As a Housing Adviser I see this sort of Local Authority behaviour all the time and it's nice to see little victories such as this. Wouldn't surprise me if the Government just did away with the Ombudsman ;)

Friday, 2 May 2008

Do I smell a 'Now Medical'?

One wonders if the services of the 'independent, impartial' Now Medical and Dr Keen had been employed by Mr Olusegun Gbadamosi of Lewisham in this case.

Answers on a postcard please.

A good old fashioned bollocking

A little off topic but may amuse the housing advisers who like myself believe that Local Authorities are a law unto themselves. I can't count how many times I have shook my head at a Local Authorities apparent contempt at the what is the Law.

For me THIS case typifies the common types of practices used by at least my Local Authority to frustrate those that oppose them. It would have been perfect bollocking had the LA not got away on a technicality.

My Local Authority for instance has never once had the courage of their convictions and gone to Judicial Review, they will always back down after X amount of nagging, but the games involved in getting what should have been done in the first place are sometimes just jolly tedious.

I sometimes wonder if the Local Authority thinks I enjoy composing the letters, emails and pre action faxes that I have to send on behalf of my clients. The fact is I don't. I'd much rather be spending my time helping people with Housing Benefit appeals or advising tenants that their section 21's giving 3 weeks notice aren't worth the paper they are written on or telling the little old lady that she is in fact an assured tenant as her Landlord forgot to give her a section 20 when it was required so many years ago.

My Local Authority thinks I threaten and use litigation a lot.

I've come to the decision that they haven't seen anything yet. I have tried to negotiate with them on every case but give them an inch and they take a mile. Not anymore.

Sad days.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

CASE rant again!

I do like the fact that CASE only really works after most users have logged off and gone home, it's rather disturbing having to cram in a days work after about 4pm.

I'm sure this is jolly boring to those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about but in this instance I'm afraid I don't care! :)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

LSC Strikes Back

And so the LSC ring up today and ask for October's submissions that have already been sent to them about 8 times after they've lost them and were sent in every format known to man.

Mind boggling ineptness. Maybe they were concerned that NACAB (National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux) were attempting to steal their Crown of Technical Ineptness that they have proudly worn for the last 7 or so months.

CASE and the CAB

So CASE is down once again and once again I'm forced to write notes on bits of paper or MS word only to cut and paste them in later.

NACAB are proving themselves to be utterly inept at resolving the ongoing problems with CASE.

WAKE UP NACAB CABs are losing money here. Already stretched LSC workers cannot cope with literally days on end of no CASE. If NACAB wants to show that if can run contracts as part of a CLAC or CLAN then it needs to pull its finger out of its IT arse and provide a system that doesn't crash on a daily basis.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

A Sign of the Times 4

Yes I'm not very good at coming up with good titles.

Hat tip to Tessa at Landlord Law for an interesting article about repossessions, debt, mental health and funding for Charities.

Click HERE for the article.

Shelter Strikers can read into this quote whatever they want!

Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter, adds: "The way through this is for charities to make sure we run in a way that is as efficient as possible, that unnecessary cost is minimised so maximum income is directed at benefiting clients."

Cut and pasted couldn't make it up

Soooooo it turns out that the cut and paste section 184 decision letter wasn't actually a decision letter after all but rather the client's letter was just a 'Housing Options' letter.

What is highly shocking is that this letter stated despite the LA accepting the client was homeless the LA had decided that after consideration the client was not in priority need (listing 189) and that the LA would not therefore accommodate the client. No right to review was given.

Now I've subsequently found out that no 'Homeless application' was actually ever taken (it has now of course after a rather lengthy threat).

The fact that the Housing Options team are making quasi 184 decisions and not accepting HA's is frankly horrifying. These people told that they are not in priority and cannot be housed can hardly be expected to understand that they can make a 'proper' Homeless application.

Hardly suprising with letters such as these that LA's homeless statistics look so good.

The letter is going to the ombudsman. I would like a Judge to look at it but not sure how! I'm sure the LA has done something unlawful! Curse my lack of brains.

Shelter Strike

Quick hat tip to all those Shelter workers on strike.

Wages have to reflect the fact that advisers are required to have a great deal of knowledge and work on often difficult emotional cases. I think they also need to reflect that the career path for such advisers is also often rather limited.

A Sign of the times 3

Having helped run our court desk system for nearly 2 years I'm used to the usual suspects when it comes to mortgage possession cases. In my area these include G E Money, Southern Pacific, Future Mortgages, Kensington Mortgages. All of these are what I'd consider subprime lenders who tended to throw money at people on self declared incomes.

Over the last month or so I've seen a rise in the number of cases brought by more mainstream lenders. A look at Mondays list includes amongst others the Abbey, Brittania and Chelsea Building society. Should these people require help on Monday it will be interesting to listen to their stories.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Cut and paste 2

Following my cut and paste response from my MP a client came into see me with a cut and paste 184 notification letter.

I hesitate to use the term '184 notification letter' as the LA involved hadn't signed it and hadn't made any mention of the reasoning behind why the client wasn't in priority need but rather just cut and paste section 189 and said none of these related to my client. Oh yeah they forgot to include the fact the client had a right to review to. Whilst picking apart terrible 184 letters is the favourite part of my job it saddens me that there are so many people who trust what the LA tell them and don't realise just how much they are being screwed (Pardon the French).

It wouldn't surprise me if the LA included an allowance for people who actually got some Legal Advice about these letters when working out how many people they could get rid of by issuing them.

Cut and Paste 10p tax rate

A bit off topic but I recently complained to my MP about the abolition of the 10p tax rate which whilst it makes me better off doesn't make a lot of other people who need money more than me better off.

I know a lot of people have probably complained but I do find cut and paste responses amusing

Dear Mr X (no I'm not called Mr X although X is actually better than my real surname)

I am writing to you in response to your letter regarding the abolition of the 10% tax band, as announced in the 2007 Budget which was implemented from April 2008.

I am extremely concerned and shocked that there are so many people who stand to lose out from these tax changes. As a first step I wrote to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and to the Chancellor Alistair Darling to express my concern over the impact that changes to the tax system may have for many households. This was picked up with great interest by the national news. Hopefully this will add the pressure on the Government to introduce mitigating measures as soon as possible.

As you may remember, the 10% tax rate was introduced in 1999 as an interim measure in the hope of encouraging people on long-term benefits to go into work. In 2003, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, introduced Tax Credits. Tax Credits are directed at those who need them most: children, low income households and pensioners.

Tax credits can make up for many of the losses incurred from the changes in tax rates as long as one claims all the tax credits they are entitled to. For families with children, the Child Tax Credit child element increases by £175 above earnings indexation from £1845 to £2085, providing additional financial support for families and further reducing child poverty.

For those in low income in work, the first income threshold of Working Tax Credit rises significantly from £5220 to £6420, supporting work as the best route out of poverty by increasing the gain for work for many low income households. I am aware that there are particular groups entitled to certain Tax Credits who are not taking these up, and as a result may be worse off following the abolition of the 10% tax band. I realise that there are still many people who do not fall under any of these categories, and I will carry on fighting on their behalf and will contact you again.

Pensioners’ personal allowances have been raised by £1180 above inflation in this year’s Budget-meaning that many pensioners do not start paying tax until their earnings reach a high amount. Because of this, by 2009, only 41% of pensioners over 65 will pay any income tax at all.

I hope this letter has been helpful and I will be sure to contact you again to keep you updated with any developments on this issue. If I can be of further assistance to you on this, or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Thought for the day

Being able to make a 'homeless application' is a right not a privilege.

Monday, 21 April 2008

A sign of the times 2

For anyone interested in Mortgage possession cases then the Civil Justice Council's consultation paper on the Mortgage Arrears Protocol has been out for a while and is worth a read. Click HERE for it.

It includes some handy stats regarding mortgage possessions. The Paper may be handy tool for Court Desk providers in showing how more people risk losing their home without advice. I'm always amazed how you can sometimes help prevent someone from losing their home with 10 mins good advice and representation at Court.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (no booing pls) also provides some interesting statistics in regard to the creeping up of mortgages in arrears in 2007. Sadly no stats for 2008 yet.

Housing and Immigration, my head hurts

When it comes to immigration I can just about spell it let alone fathom out whether clients are eligible for assistance or not.

This case Harrow v Ibrahim helps shed a little light on some of the more general points as well as some interesting, if not a bit confusing for mere mortals likemyself , discussion on a right to reside by virtue of having children at school.

A sign of the times

At Court today out of the 19 Possession Cases 15 were mortgage possessions.

Unfortunately I don't have exact stats for the previous weeks and months but I'll try and keep a track of them now.

When I started helping at our Court desk about 2 years ago it was about 40 pct mortgages and 60 pct others (private landlords, social providers etc) now I would say it's at least 60 pct mortgages and 40 pct others.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Shelter Strike 24th and 25th April 2008

More info can be found here.

Understandable and a shame for the Shelter Workers to have to go through this.

At least this is news that 'el Governmento' can't hide and it's good that this brings some of the problems faced by CLS providers out into the open again.

You can only take advantage of people with a social conscience for so long.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Another tenancy deposit case

Some interesting discussion of a Tenancy deposit case here.

If a deposit for the new tenancy is the same value as the old tenancy can one presume therefore that the landlord accepts that no deductions can be made from the tenants first tenancy?

Personally I think if your new post April 2007 tenancy agreement states that it requires a deposit of £550 just because your landlord is holding it doesn't mean you haven't paid it for the new tenancy agreement (admittedly not paid in the traditional sense but why does paid have to be interpreted in its traditional sense considering the social purposes of the 2004 Act).

Perhaps until things are made a little clearer it might be worth asking for your deposit back and then paying it (in the traditional sense!) in relation to the new tenancy agreement.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Credit crunchy

One wonders what the effect of the so called 'credit crunch' will have on social housing.

It would be interesting to do some research on whether those who purchased their social housing through the right to buy have disportionately more sub prime mortgages than other house buyers and will therefore be at more risk when the fixed term ends. I have a feeling a lot of right to buys were funded with dodgy sub primes.

On the flip side as sub prime mortgages are harder to get what effect will this have, if any, on the amount of social housing lost through right to buy?

Another sad day.

Undoubtedly Nearly will give his excellent analysis on todays Court Of Appeal Judgement Manchester City Council v Moran and Richards v Ipswich Borough Council (oh and actually as I write this it has popped up on his site (presuming he's a he, it could all be a super clever disguise!) but I wanted to pop something up to. Very sadly I was reading the judgement on the train to the gym, then thinking it about it at the gym, then reading it again on the bus home. Oh dear, that appears to be an exception to my usual slob like nature.

One hopes that the Secretary Of State makes an order stating that residents of refuges should not be considered to have accommodation that is reasonable to continue to occupy. Being a cynic one thinks that the 'need for individual factual enquiry' as mentioned in [48] will see a blanket policy of making not homeless decisions by LA's (think sec 21's!) and as a result clogging up the already suffering Refuges' arteries. As a result there will be further pressure on already overstretched CLS providers to remind LA's of the considerations that should be taken into account in [49] and [50].

It would be a bit of a farce if refuges have to issue NTQ's only to have the residents remain in the refuge at first in discharge of 188 and then 193. I wouldn't blame them though if they did I think some LA's have relied on the good nature of Refuges for to long (I realise that might be a sweeping generalisation and am happy to be proved wrong).

It is a shame that the lack of social housing has meant that refuges have been forced to provide accommodation for its residents for longer periods of time. It is a shame that as a result the 19000 children (who have undoubtedly have already undergone much stress and upheaval) will have become settled at the refuge only to have to move again when a Part VI offer is made and may well have to move school etc.

I will be photocopying 49 and sticking it to my desk at work though as I think it may well be a rather handy tool when arguing that a client may be homeless.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Nice guys come last...

Unfortunately poor old Simon got the boot! Probably a fair decision, sadly he was just too nice.

I applied to be on The Apprentice a few series back. I think I was to ugly and thick to get past the interview. Ho hum!

Bring on episode 5!

flat to rent...

Flat anyone?

No time to comment it's The Apprentice!

Tenancy Deposit Case

Interesting report of a successful claim brought against a landlord who failed to protect a tenants deposit.

Taken from

TENANCY DEPOSIT CASE (S213 HA 2004)Stankova v. Glassonbury 10th March 2008, Gloucester County CourtThe claimant Ms Stankova is from Bulgaria and took a private tenancy with Mr Glassonbury on 1.8.07. She was a joint tenant with her daughter and another tenant (unknown to her before start of tenancy).

The tenants jointly paid a deposit of £600 in order to move in. The landlord did not notify any of the tenants that he had deposited the money in any of the statutory Schemes at any time.There were various problems with the landlord and he served notice on 2.10.07. The notice was defective.

The third tenant moved out of property shortly afterwards and the three tenants made arrangements about how the deposit would be dealt with on its return.On 28.10.07 the landlord entered the property and removed a carpet and the fireplace from the lounge making it unusable and also pulled the extractor fan out of kitchen leaving a hole in roof. The Council dealt with the harassment.

The landlord promptly served a further notice November 2007 under s21 which was on the face of it a valid notice.Ms Stankova moved out in Feb 2008. She made a claim under the Housing Act 2004 against the landlord for his failure to notify her within 14 days of how he would deal with the deposit and which scheme he was using.

The landlord submitted various arguments against the claim; that the tenant owed some rent arrears, that he had now placed the deposit in a scheme and that there was damage at the property for which he would wish to withhold some or all of the deposit.

At the hearing of the matter District Judge Singleton ordered the landlord to pay £1800 +£75 costs in respect of three times the deposit plus the court fee.In awarding the monies, the judge accepted the tenant’s argument that the award was a strict liability penalty, and that consequently there was no provision for counterclaim for outstanding rent arrears or other arguments about the return or retention of the deposit on the basis that a statutory scheme included arbitration for disputed about returning or retaining deposit monies.

Comment: In giving his decision the judge expressed concern that ‘it goes against the grain’ and advised the landlord to take legal advice as to whether he could delay the 14 days in which he must pay the claimant.

The case doesn't make it clear if the tenant moved out because of the Section 21 served in November which may actually not have been valid if the landlord hadn't protected the deposit before service.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

CAB dilema for the day


When advising a client who has lost his home I find that he may have grounds to pursue another CAB who referred the case to me for quite frankly useless and inept CLS casework in helping the client at the with his possession proceedings (it was totally avoidable and should have been avoided). Do I

a) Assist the client in making a claim against the other CAB by referring him to a specialist

b) Go behind the wishes of my manager (who is working with the other CAB manager and others to from a Local consortium) and not advise the client there is sufficient benefit in a referral.

Blerg, It really should be A!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Rather off topic but sod it!

Having lost a close friend to bullying many years ago (and nearly losing myself to it to) I was rather inspired by this kid the other day. Yeah yeah I know the programme prays on the er 'unique not that talented types' but I did get goosebumps listening to this chap.

handy housing updates

From the headquarters of 'el supremo' the bulletins provided by Garden Court Chambers are very handy for keeping up with developments in Housing.

Depressing times

Saw a young man this morning just out from prison, having done a 6 week stint inside.

No health problems, just a long history of street homelessness. The chap really wanted to get his life back together but there are so many barriers preventing him from doing so.

Local Housing Allowance will only pay 70 odd quid a week for shared accommodation as he's under 25. He went to the LA who turned him away, not even accepting a homeless approach of course (unfortunately no sufficient benefit in forcing them to in this case, thanks oh mighty LSC guidance on sufficient benefit).

He was on the list for a hostel but didn't want to go in as it was full of alcoholics and he had detoxed in prison and didn't want to go back to drink.

So he was thinking about committing another offence just to go back to prison as at least inside it was warm and he was fed.

Can you blame him?

Everyone makes mistakes in life but in this case as is so often the case those mistakes will cost you everything.

Sunday, 13 April 2008


Just a little late night pondering as I watch the Masters (well flicking between the golf and Match of the Day).

I always find it rather depressing having to advise assured shorthold tenants in regard to disrepairs. Why? Well it's nothing new, but I feel I always have to advise the tenant about retaliatory eviction. For more about such this practice read THIS!

Now maybe I'm an idealistic dreamer but why not introduce 'reasonableness' as a defence to a section 21 notice.

Perhaps a tribunal of some sort could rule on whether the landlord has issued the section 21 in retaliation. Perhaps the tenant could go to this tribunal let's say no later than 2 weeks after being served the with the notice. The tribunal could rule that the section 21 had been served in 'retaliation' and that this automatically makes any section 21 fail on the grounds of reasonableness (perhaps also preventing the landlord from using a sec 21 for X amount of time?)

Maybe another option is instead of a tribunal a Judge could look at the evidence presented and merely decide it was not reasonable to grant the landlord possession.

Neither are ideal but something should be done as the excellent report shows and I'm merely pondering. We are ultimately talking about a roof over someones head.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Interesting one.

Interesting little case I heard about on the grapevine and not one I'm directly involved in sadly.

If a tenant signed a 6 month fixed term AST and his deposit was protected in the correct way and then signs a new 6 month AST in the same property after the old one expires then does the Landlord have to notify the tenant in the same way who the deposit is protected by.

In this case the client had been given a sec 21 1b on the same day as his fixed term and the Letting Agent are relying on the fact they protected his deposit for the first tenancy agreement and that the deposit was still being protected by the same scheme.

I'm thinking that the Letting Agent should at least have notified the client that his deposit in respect to the new tenancy was being protected in the same way as the old.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

And so

And so Ian Stringer can now add a new word to his vocabulary.

That is LOSER! (that might seem a bit harsh, but if you watch T.A you'll know it's not I reckon).

£2.95 for soup!The beer is more expensive than that! Perhaps the customers should have ordered bowls of Stella?

Moment of the programme though for me was when one of the girls said Indian food was a 'niche market'. WHAT!???

Job satisfaction.

After a week which has so far been comprised of clients telling me they are going to kill themselves for x, y and z reason it's nice to get a successful 202 review. Oh and of course it's Boys vs Girls cooking it off in the Apprentice later.

Monday, 7 April 2008

The CAB, not so impartial after all??

Ok so I might be stirring a little but I'm a CLS Housing Advisor at a CAB. The CAB get part of their funding from the Local Authority. As a result I'm under pressure from the boss not to make too many complaints regarding the LA's 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS' (Gandalf impression!) take on 184's incase the LA find an excuse to pull our funding. Additionally when enquiries are made our CAB won't say more than 'we have slight concerns'. If the CAB weren't funded in part by the LA it was agreed we would beating the LA's doors down.

There is an obvious conflict of interest but if the CAB didn't run the contract who would?

I would be interested to have the views from other CAB's

Sunday, 6 April 2008

LHA, for better or for worse!

So only a few more hours till Local Housing Allowance day!

Here's a link to some dwp guidance about it

Also visit if you have a lot of spare time to read the evaluations of the LHA pathfinders.

I've only read a little, because at the moment I'm not THAT bored but some interesting highlights are:

Seventeen per cent of the Pathfinder respondents said that they had decided not to renew a tenancy because the tenant was in receipt of the LHA. This decision was more common in HB Dominant areas (22 per cent) and HB Concentrated areas (24 per cent). When questioned about which aspects of the LHA had prompted the decision, 92 per cent of respondents mentioned that the tenant in question had not paid their rent with the LHA.

Twenty-six per cent of respondents with a vacancy over the past two years and who had heard of HB/LHA said that they had refused a tenant because they were claiming the benefit. There was no variation in this respect across all types of market. The great majority of such respondents had then gone on to let to someone who, in their knowledge, was not in receipt of the benefit.

Pathfinder respondents were asked whether the LHA had overall made them more or less likely to let to tenants in receipt of the benefit, or whether it had made no difference. Forty-eight per cent of respondents said that the LHA had made no difference. Respondents in the HB Concentrated area were the most likely to say that the change had made no difference (57 per cent), whereas 62 per cent of respondents in the HB Dominant markets said that they were less likely to let to claimants as a consequence of the LHA being introduced.

Where respondents said that they were less likely to want to let to people on LHA, the principal reason given in all types of market was the ending of payments to landlords and agents. Experience of rent arrears was the second most cited reason, and fear of rent arrears the third.

So I guess I shall wait and see what happens in my borough. I'm rather interested in how the more 'dubious' landlords who have a number of HMO's are going to react to their tenants who are often rather vulnerable having their rent paid to them direct (although of course in some cases they may still be paid direct and existing claims don't just change to LHA).

Thursday, 3 April 2008

LSC online An update

From the Powers that be at the LSC

'Plans to re-launch LSC Online after a period of testing and external piloting are being finalised. We will inform you of these shortly'.

I will personally send 1 lucky reader 50p if they can correctly guess what day (within a margin of 7 days) LSC Online will be up and most importantly working.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Shock, Horror!

In another shocking development it would appear that men can actually clean laundry.

I was about to go into a huge rant about Local Authorities and denying 'homeless applications' but have decided to watch The Apprentice, you're fired instead! Maybe I'll have a rant friday!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


In a stunning display of efficiency and competence both the CAB's case recording system and the LSC online submissions programme are now up and running smoothly. I've had no hitches at all so far!

Monday, 31 March 2008

Should I be evicted? DDA and Possession

Rather shamelessly stolen from but I'm finding it a rather fascinating area of housing law particuarly as I suffered from depression for a number of years. Not the 'oh I don't feel that great today' sort of depression but rather the all encompasing I can't get out of bed, can't wash, eat, go to work (insert normal everyday activity here) sort of depression.

So let's just say for a moment that I'm an assured tenant with zero arrears. I have a breakdown. My depression has a substantial adverse effect on me carrying out day to day tasks. I lose my job and call my Landlord to let them know I'm going to claim housing benefit because I'm ill (I don't say more because I'm embarrased). I go to the doctors and start taking anti-depressants and get referred to see a counsellor (who will later advise that I'm likely to suffer for a few years before getting better).

Sadly I fail to complete the housing benefit form and get into over 8 weeks of arrears. The Housing Association ring me and write to me but I fail to answer as my depression prevents me from interacting. All I can do is do a bit of internet grocery shopping now and again. The Housing Association then start possession proceedings against me on Grounds 8, 10 and 11.

Should the courts grant my Housing Association possession? Have the Housing Association discriminated against me because if you take away my depression I would have no arrears?

Personally I take the Novacold approach in that no possession order should be granted as opposed to the Taylor v OCS Group Ltd [2006] EWCA Civ 702 stance whereby I would be out (at least I think I would be if my reading is right!)

Just a little late night rambling. The answers have been bugging me. Bring on Malcolm!

CASE falling into the sea

The CAB's CASE recording system seems to be slowly crumbling into the sea due to some sort of advice erosion. Being totally reliant on such a system is rather worrying on days like today when it just doesn't work! Combined with the LSC's 'what are they going to do to us this month' style of case submissions and it's all to much for a Monday!

Friday, 28 March 2008

NHAS number change

Got an email today stating that Shelter's housing specialist support service number is changing on Tuesday 1st April 2008. Probably shouldn't post the new number here so check your email to! There is also a rather unstunning poster attachment (budget cuts I guess!)

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Pre Action Protocol

A post more for CLS advisors who don't have an inhouse solicitors.

This is a handy link to the CPR rules on preaction protocol for JR. I haven't had to do a preaction for a while and so I don't know how new the guidance is in regard to when a preaction letter is not appropriate. It's interesting that it specifically gives the example of failure to accommodate under 188. I'm sure it wasn't there last time I had to use it!

Not having an inhouse solicitor is rather frustrating, especially with some cases at 4pm on a friday!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


Hot off the press

It appears barristers can't sell fish.

Well one at least.


This post 'may' seem a little odd if you didn't watch The Apprentice!

Nearly Legal

I know the Nearly Legal blog is already a link but if you haven't clicked on it do it now!

Fascinating stuff, has to be to get me to read Housing cases at 8.45 at night when I should be watching the 'idiots lantern' as my step-dad called the tv. Though having just reread two cases, Romano and Malcolm, my brain hurts and I don't know if I know anymore than I did before I started.

Right housing might be interesting but the Apprentice is on now!

If I had a pound

If I had a pound for everytime a Local Authority unlawfully failed to undertake enquiries as per section 184 when given proof (proof so conclusive that my cat would agree) that a client was homeless I'd be buying a nice place in the sun.

Still nice of them to keep me in a job I guess.