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Archive for September, 2008

House recently saw a client who wanted to request a review of their section 184 decision letter which found them to be Intentionally homeless. 

Section 202 reviews have always been, for some reason, the favourite part of my job but this letter rather depressed me. The reason was that it was shockingly bad. In finding the client Intentionally homeless the decision maker had basically completely ignored huge parts of Part VII of the Housing Act 1996  to suit their own purpose.

This got House wondering and I would appreciate any help with my wondering as it’s often rather non sensical. I’ve also rather relied on wikipedia for the definations of the various -feasances and knowing this is rather dangerous I do apologise if I’m talking rubbish.

Can the actions of the decision maker ever be considered to be malfeasance? For instance if the decision maker knows the law but consciously decides to ignore it in the knowledge that the applicant may well just believe whatever they are told are they committing an act of malfeasance? I’m not talking about nonfeasance or misfeasance but rather malfeasance in that they are deliberately coming to a decision that they know they should not and as a result the applicant suffers loss.

It made House rather angry as I imagine many people have had similar decisions and not pursued a review having believed what the decision maker told them was the law. House will obviously do his best in assisting the client with their review and really hopes he will be successful. House would really love a County Court appeal on it NOW 🙂 just so the LA could explain themselves.

In theory can an action for malfeasance be taken out against a Local Authority (presuming the review is successful)? I imagine it would be pretty hard to prove!.

House is really just thinking out loud in regards to how to stop such decisions that show a horrible want of fair mindedness from being made time after time.

Thanks for reading my waffle and if anyone has somewhere I can go to read more about the feasances then I would be most grateful.

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Don’t forget your new forms!

New set of forms mandatory as of 1st October 2008. Get them HERE, well tomorrow when they are supposedly going to be made available if the LSC experts can figure out where the ON button is located on the Spectrum ZX that they use.

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Housing scams, tenants beware!

House has come across a number of threads written by people who seem to have been or might have been the victims of rented housing scams and it seems to be a growing problem. Whilst Gumtree seems to be attracting a lot of these scammers,  see HERE and HERE and HERE, it is worth remembering that any prospective landlord could be trying to take you for a ride.

House has even seen some poor folks at his CAB who have fallen victim to such scams. 

Such scams seem to be rather easy and quite simply involve a fake landlord taking a deposit and often rent in advance for a property that most probably isn’t even theirs. If House had no morals he’d probably be doing a bit of it himself.

AVOIDING BEING SCAMMED

1. If it’s to good to be true then it’s probably a scam!

2. Be EXTREMELY wary of any ‘landlord’ who suggests a Western Union money transfer or anything involving money gram.

3. Remember that even if you visit the property you are not safe from being scammed. Your ‘landlord’ might have got the key from a dodgy mate, or just be house sitting etc. A quick check at the Land Registry might be a wise investment if you have suspicions.

3. Read THIS (about halfway down)

4. Using a letting agent is also likely to reduce the risk of you being scammed

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Holiday

I’m off on holiday for a week. Stay well all.

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One of those days.

Just having a moan but I really dislike days where no one ever seems to answer the phone and when someone answers they aren’t the person you want. Days where you leave a message but no one rings you back. Days when clients forget to bring in their proof of income. Days where clients don’t come in for their appointment for no apparent reason.

Of course it could be a lot worse, I could be being blown up by landmines or shovelling $hit for a living but nonetheless I’m going to moan!

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A quick phone call to the DCLG has revealed that they are working on the finer points of the new package of housing measures announced here and that apart from the changes in housing costs the other measures are unlikely to be introduced ‘imminently’ whatever ‘imminently’ means to DCLG.

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One year on

Warning Ramble rating 9/10

This months editorial in LAG got me thinking about the impact of fixed cost cases and matter starts has had on me as an adviser and also of course on the clients that I see.

From my personal experience the motto of the new fixed cost regime could be ‘less for more’. I see a lot more clients these days, perhaps 25 to 30 pct more on average a month. The trouble is I’m not sure these clients get the best out of me. It’s sad to say that sometimes my thoughts on whether there is sufficient benefit in pursuing a certain point (which would not be a separate matter) are clouded by just how much time I’ve already spent on a case.

I personally think this is wrong but if I pursued every possible avenue that there was sufficient benefit in then I wouldn’t have a job as I’d be doing to few cases. Yes there are exceptional cases but we are talking about 10 + hours for such cases.  Sadly I guess as the LSC’s don’t have unlimited funds (except maybe when it comes to employing inept I.T professionals) so maybe giving less quality advice to more people is acceptable.

For some reason I sometimes feel like I’m a robot caseworker. My casework feels more distant. Sometimes when I see a client I’m thinking about the fastest way to end the case and the fastest way is not necessarily the best way. I sometimes have to remind myself that the client is a person and not 5 pct of my monthly matter starts!  

I have to say though I’m doing a lot more referrals these days to debt and welfare benefits specialists at other CABs. Perhaps it’s because a matter is, financially at least, a good thing, so I always make doubly sure that, if appropriate,  I check the client’s benefit situation and debts to see if I can make some more matter starts for my CAB brethren!

Whilst gaining matter for my CAB brethren is a good thing it is a shame that we are paid less for tolerance cases as I think there are advantages of doing a few such cases as it helps one to keep a little up to date on other areas of law and practice which are all to often closely associated with Housing.

So I guess this next year will see, if I can’t find another job, me to continue to turn our CAB into a meat processing, sorry matter processing factory where clients come in with a dirty problem and come out with a relatively clean but not 5 star solution. A bit like an economy car wash maybe. Does the job but might miss some bits.

Personally I rather like the old hand washed cases.

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