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!