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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2009): Social housing - UK

Anger in court

T. Marshall and J. Kuper

Roof, May/June 2009, p. 28-30

A pre-action protocol in mortgage repossession claims recommends that borrowers and lenders should take all reasonable steps to discuss the causes of the arrears, the borrower's financial circumstances, and proposals for repayment of the arrears before going to court. Parties should consider if the causes of the arrears are temporary or long-term, and whether the borrower may be able to repay the arrears in a reasonable time. Shelter caseworkers have found that in practice the pre-action protocol, which have no legal force, is being ignored by lenders and judges.

Clarity at last

S. Povey

Roof, May/June 2009, p. 38-39

This article reports and comments on the House of Lords 2009 judgment in the case of R(Ahmad) v Newham LBC. Mr Ahmad had challenged the legality of the London Borough of Newham's choice-based lettings scheme on the grounds that: a) it ranked vulnerable applicants to whom it was giving 'reasonable preference' in the allocation of social housing according to how long they had been waiting rather than according to their accumulated housing need; and b) that it had reserved 5% of properties for existing tenants who wished to transfer, thus not making them available to those in housing need. The House of Lords upheld Newham's position and declared that their lettings scheme complied with the law.

Mutual respect

A. Coles and D. Rodgers

Roof, May/June 2009, p. 36-37

The current financial crisis has led to the collapse of the housing market, a steep fall in new building, and the need for a fresh approach to the supply of affordable housing. This article promotes housing cooperatives and mutual organisations as offering a way forward. It explains how mutual home ownership works, and points out that cooperatives offer more than good quality affordable housing. Research has identified mutual support and enhanced self-reliance among residents as being among the benefits they offer.

Stop the rot

R. Turner

Roof, May/June 2009, p. 46-47

This article highlights the problem of private landlords who fail to undertake essential repairs to their properties. Such landlords tend to attract anti-social tenants whose chequered pasts have limited their housing choices. This unhealthy mix contributes to the decline of neighbourhoods. It argues that such slum landlords could be brought under control if a link was made between the quality of a property and housing benefit payments. Housing benefit would not be paid if the property was sub-standard.

Transfer on trial

H. Pawson

Roof, May/June 2009, p. 24-25

In 2003 Glasgow's dilapidated council housing estates were transferred to Glasgow Housing Association en bloc. This was intended as an interim measure and the intention was to split the portfolio into 62 'property packages' to be handed to smaller community-based housing associations. Due to funding difficulties, only 2,000 properties have been transferred so far. However, Glasgow Housing Association has made significant progress with renovating the run down estates, has promoted tenant involvement, and has improved routine housing management.

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