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.