Nicholas Nicol. Legal Aid barrister and mediator. 1 Pump Court. Defending people from homelessness and discrimination.
Nicholas Nicol. Legal Aid barrister and mediator. 1 Pump Court. Defending people from homelessness and discrimination.

Online Articles

Can a Council enforce housing standards against itself?

 

Amongst the issues raised following the Grenfell tower block fire is whether council tenants can use the law to force their landlords to meet proper housing standards. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (“HHSRS”) sets out such standards but it is councils who are tasked with enforcing the HHSRS. In two otherwise excellent articles, leading housing lawyers have repeated the orthodoxy that councils can enforce the HHSRS against themselves. This is arguably not correct.

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Committal, representation and legal aid

 

A defendant in committal proceedings should be represented. If they are not, the court should enquire as to why not. Unless it is the defendant’s own lack of co-operation which has resulted in the lack of representation or the circumstances are urgent, proceedings should be adjourned for an opportunity to get representation. This is the case even where the alleged contempt is clear or admitted or mitigation is the only remaining issue. Legal aid should be available, particularly if there is any possibility of imprisonment. If the matter is in the High Court or the Court of Appeal, the court itself determines any application for legal aid. If it is in the county court, the application should be made to the Legal Aid Agency.

 

 

Deposits - a salutary tale

 

It is easy for landlords to fall foul of the tenancy security deposit provisions of the Housing Act 2004 which means they can't serve the usual section 21 notice seeking possession and can't evict their tenants until they remedy their default. In this county court case the landlord got it all wrong.

Abilities of a homeless person

 

The test for whether a homeless person is vulnerable (and so in priority need) has been changed by the Supreme Court decision in Hotak et al. This article looks at the new test and at two questions left open. Firstly, what test will now be used by local authority medical advisers, NowMedical. Secondly, local authorities rely on the ability of a homeless person to live independently to indicate that they are not vulnerable but this is arguably wrong.

No Section 21 Notice

 

Assured shorthold tenants are not supposed to be able to defend possession claims. But now there is a number of circumstances in which a landlord is not permitted to serve a section 21 notice. It is worth checking if these regulatory requirements have been complied with.

AA v Southwark - a local authority scandal

 

AA is a Somalian refugee who was unlawfully evicted by Southwark Council. If that was not bad enough, their officers did this knowingly and deliberately and the Council then refused to learn any lessons.

Books

Fuel Rights Handbook 8th-10th editions (co-author, Antoinette Hoffland), 11th edition (co-author, Catherine Bartholemew) CPAG


Halsbury's Laws Vol.19(1) section on Gas, LexisNexis Butterworths


Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Their Implementation in UK Law, Chap 6, University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre


Medical Mishaps: Pieces of the Puzzle, Chap 21, Open University Press

Articles

  • 'Public Law Defences in Possession Proceedings', [2010] JR 85
  • 'Defining Vulnerability', [2007] JHL, 76
  • 'Suitability & the Housing Act', 2004 (2007) 25 Home Truths HLPA newsletter 3
  • 'Getting past the Gatekeeper', [2007] JHL, 40
  • 'See you out of court!', (2004), Roof, May/June 2004, p.30
  • 'Applying the Right to Housing', [2002] JHL 11
  • 'The Other Human Rights', [2001] Human Rights, 156
  • 'Forgive us our Tolerated Trespasser', [2000] JHL 69
  • 'The Tolerated Trespasser', [1999] JHL 11
  • 'A new action plan to ease fuel poverty?' Poverty, Autumn 1999, p.12
  • 'A Right to Housing', Legal Action, Jul 1998, p8
  • 'Landlords' Obligations To Make Fit For Habitation: Is McNerny Wrong?' [1998] JHL 103
  • 'Litigating in the public interest' (with Jean Gould), Consumer Policy Review, Sep/Oct 1998, p.185
  • 'Poor justice?' Consumer Policy Review, Jul/Aug 1998, p.122
  • 'Overpowering Energy Suppliers', Consumer Policy Review, Mar/April 1996, p.60
  • 'VAT on Gas and Electricity Utilities', Law Review, Summer 1993, p.66
  • 'The Utilities and their Regulatory Bodies', Legal Action, Dec 1992, p.17
  • 'European law versus English law', Legal Action, July 1991, p.17

Instructing Nik

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Telephone: 0207 842 7070

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