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.

L&Q, Ground 8 and responsibility for rent

Apologies if I'm preaching to some of the converted with this one...

What strikes me as perverse is that pending the outcome of Weaver v L&Q and possibly after it (although hopefully not) is that some tenants can get evicted because of something that's not their fault (let's say through a HB delay) whilst others won't as their notice will only be on ground 10 and 11 and a Judge will at least have the chance to consider the arguements on each side. From my experience if there is a Housing benefit claim or appeal in and that, if successful, this would clear much of the arrears, the tenant is likely to get another chance. Ground 8 has prevented this and is not something secure tenants can face.

This always reminds me of North British Housing Association v Matthews [2004] EWCA Civ 1736, [2005] 1 WLR 3133 and how sensible I think Mr Simon Hughes suggestion in clause 34 was. 2 weeks to process a Housing benefit claim, cough splutter.

I'm a firm advocate of trying to get people to take responsibility for their actions and sometimes I do get depressed assisting people who just can't give any answer to why they haven't put in a claim for HB or paid their rent. A recent case where a kindly Housing Association had used 10 and 11 for arrears in the thousands involved a tenant that I believe just didn't take the Court Hearing and paying her rent seriously as she had always managed to get a SPO or PPO in the past due to suddenly paying a lump sum that reduced her arrears and promised to pay her rent

On the flip side what is the cost to society if such a tenant (with children) gets evicted.

Would it be fair to evict a few such tenants on ground 8 to warn others that the same thing might happen to them?

It seems to be easy in housing to come up with questions but answers are evading me!

A penny for your thoughts.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

nowmedical makes me feel ill

Nowmedical, everyones favourite independant and utterly impartial providers of medical advice.

Everyone in this case means Local Authorities.

Not being a Local Authority I'm not a fan.

In Shala v Birmingham CC clause 19 Lord Justice Sedley wondered how many cases there had been where nowmedical (well specifically Dr Keen) had supported a decision of priority need.

Toying with this in a recent section 202 review where nowmedical had advised on Intentionality I requested, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the number of cases the LA had referred to nowmedical where the applicant's medical circumstances may have influenced a decision of Intentionally homeless and how many decisions in support of a finding of intentionality nowmedical had made. The LA hasn't yet carried out the review but they have placed pending which is always good.

I don't see why the same thing can't be done with priority need decisions and it would be interesting to note the results.

If anyone has any feedback on how else the Freedom of Information Act might be used to ascertain whether nowmedical is truely impartial or indeed whether you think such requests are worth while at all! please feel free to post.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A fond farewell

Another sad day today as I understand that Pump Court's Housing Helpline is due to end on Friday 28th March 2008. Shelter's NHAS advice line appears to be the flavour of the moment and whilst, in my experience, Shelter provide a reasonable advice service I will certainly miss Pump Court's advice in the more complex cases (which there appear to be a whole lot of in the jolly world of housing law).

The quality of advice provided by such knowledgeable folks as Nicholas Nicol, Justine Compton, Alice Hilken, Joshua Dubin, Tony Ross (apologies if I've missed anyone) has proved invaluable in assisting client's in real need and they have often gone above and beyond their call of duty in providing extra assistance when asked.

I'm not sure if Garden Court still run a housing advice line (as for the last year I've only ever managed to get through to their answerphone). If anyone else knows of any advice line in addition to Shelter's NHAS line then please feel free to post!