Sunday, 15 June 2014

Your Rights at Work

For a pretty comprehensive break down of  Your rights at Work go to

Sunday, 8 June 2014



This is a complex and difficult area of law which has been founded on  policy rather than legal principle and has had to adapt as more cases have come to the fore.  The Supreme Court’s most recent comments in the case of  Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society indicates that change in this area continues and the Judges in that case indicated as stated below what the Court will consider when dealing with a claim for vicarious sex abuse historically or otherwise.  In that case they stated as follows:-

"The relationship that gives rise to vicarious liability is in the vast majority of cases that of employer and employee under a contract of employment.  The employer will be vicariously liable when the employee commits a tort in the course of his employment.  There is no difficulty in identifying a number of policy reasons that usually make it fair, just and reasonable to impose vicarious liability on the employer when these criteria are satisfied
    i) The employer is more likely to have the means to compensate the victim than the employee and can be expected to have insured against that liability;
    ii) The tort will have been committed as a result of activity being taken by the employee on behalf of the employer;
    iii) The employee's activity is likely to be part of the business activity of the employer;
    iv) The employer, by employing the employee to carry on the activity will have created the risk of the tort committed by the employee;
    v) The employee will, to a greater or lesser degree, have been under the control of the employer."

    If you find yourself considering a claim for vicarious sex abuse please read the Judgement  in

      The Catholic Child Welfare Society and others (Appellants) v Various Claimants (FC) and The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and others (Respondents)

    For further information on the latest approach by the Courts to vicarious sexual abuse please read the the full Judgment of the above case


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Another Bedroom Tax case dealing with a room adapted for a Disabled Child

Okay for those of you with disabled children or know anyone with a disabled child this Bedroom Tax case reported by Nearly Legal makes very interesting reading.  In short a bedroom had been adapted for a disabed daugher into a sensory room, the landlord had assisted in those adaptations and evidence was provide by the Occupational Therapist who was assigned to the disabled daughter.  The Courts found for the mother because the room had been adapted for 10 years and there was supporting evidence from the OT.  To read the full decision go to


If you consider you rent is too high at the commencement of your shorthold or assured shorthold tenancy, you can appeal to a tribunal by filling in and sending off an application for determination of rent form which you can find at,  You will need to send it to your regional Residential Tribunal Office  You must apply within 6 weeks of moving in.

ANNEX: Addresses of Tribunal Regional Offices

First Floor, 5 New York Street,
Manchester M1 4JB
Telephone: 0845 100 2614 or 0161 237 9491
Fax: 0161 237 3656

This office covers the following Metropolitan districts: Barnsley, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Calderdale,  Doncaster, Gateshead, Kirklees, Knowsley, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham, St. Helens, Salford, Sefton, Sheffield, Stockport, Sunderland, Tameside, Trafford, Tyneside (North & South), Wakefield, Wigan and Wirral.
It also covers the following unitary authorities: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Halton, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Kingston-upon-Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, Northeast Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Stockton-on-Tees, Warrington and York.
It also covers the following Counties:  Cumbria, Durham, East Cheshire Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and West Cheshire.

3rd Floor, Temple Court, 35 Bull Street,
Birmingham B4 6AF
Telephone: 0845 100 2615 or 0121 681 3084
Fax: 0121 681 3056

This office covers the following Metropolitan districts: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
It also covers the following unitary authorities: Derby, Leicester, Rutland, Nottingham, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin and Stoke-on-Trent.
It also covers the following Counties: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Unit C4, Quern House, Mill Court
Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 5LD
Telephone: 0845 100 2616 or  0122 384 1524
Fax: 0122 384 3224

This office covers the following unitary authorities: Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire, Reading, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Luton, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock.
It also covers the following Counties: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Suffolk.

1st Floor, 1 Market Avenue,
Chichester, PO19 1JU
Telephone: 0845 100 2617 or 0124 377 9394
Fax: 0870 7395 900

This office covers the following unitary authorities: Bath and Northeast Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Torbay, Poole, Swindon, Medway, Brighton and Hove, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
It also covers the following Counties: Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Somerset, Surrey, West Sussex and Wiltshire.

10 Alfred Place,
London WC1E 7LR
Telephone: 020 7446 7700
Fax: 020 7637 1250

This office covers all the London boroughs.

This is for information purposes only

Challenging your Landlords Rent Increase to your Shorthold/Assured Shorthold Tenancy

If anyone out there is having a dispute with the Landlord over a rent rise remember you can make an Application to the Tribunal for Determination of a Rent under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy just complete a form which can be found at

This is for information purposes only

The bedroom tax loophole: 

A guide for councils and housing associations

A step-by-step guide for identifying cases, challenging decisions and dealing with discretionary housing payments
bedroom tax
Some commentators predict up to 60,000 bedroom tax cases are exempt. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images
Last month the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) conceded that a drafting error in the "maximum rent (social sector)", or bedroom tax, means that tenants getting housing benefit since 1 January 1996 are exempt from the tax due to the inadvertent widening of transitional protection put in place for private tenants in 1996.
Attention has now turned to identifying these cases.


The DWP insists that only about 5,000 of the 520,000 bedroom tax cases are exempt.
Official statistics do not identify social tenants on housing benefit since 1996. If the DWP estimate relies on extrapolation from the small number of remaining pre-1996 private tenants, this ignores the high turnover in the private sector: the latest English Housing survey shows 20% of social tenants have rented their home for 20 years or more compared with 4% of private tenants. Councils I have spoken to report 2.5% to 7.5% of bedroom tax cases exempt (up to 40,000 nationally). Some commentators predict that up to 60,000 people could be exempt, based on social landlords' analysis of their stock.

Identifying cases

Few councils can identify exempt cases by electronically searching their records.
At best a crude list of "possibles" can be identified for the slow process of further investigation. Landlords and individuals who think they are exempt should contact their council. One lesser-known indicator of possible exemption is where housing benefit is paid in advance (because new claims since October 1996 are paid in arrears).
Councils are particularly reliant on tenants and landlords to identify cases where the 1996 exemption has been passed on by a previous tenant: If the original tenant died, a surviving partner or relative may be exempt; If a couple separated or one went to prison, the remaining partner may be exempt.

Challenging decisions

The housing benefit adjudication scheme is complex. The safest way for tenants to protect their position is to appeal to a Tribunal against last year's bedroom tax decision no more than 13 months after it was made. If the council agrees the exemption applies it will change the decision anyway. But if the council is not persuaded by the evidence it will have to submit the appeal to the tribunal, which decides cases on balance of probability: if the tenant's story sounds plausible and there is no documentary evidence to the contrary, the appeal will probably succeed. Appeals should be sent to the council in writing, signed by the tenant.

Discretionary housing payments

Some exempt tenants have received discretionary housing payments to cover the bedroom tax. These payments can be recovered if deemd to be awarded in error and opinion is divided over whether that applies here.
Even if discretionary housing payments can be recovered, councils have no power to claw them back from arrears of housing benefit. Recovery by other means might be too much of an administrative burden.
The council could take the overpayment into account when deciding whether to award a discretionary housing payment to the same tenant in the future: it is hard to argue against that if it releases funds for other cases. But some councils have underspent their DHP budgets and have no wish to recover overpayments.
From 3 March, the law will be changed to close this loophole. But tenants can still appeal on other grounds. The number of bedrooms specified in a tenancy agreement or asset register is only one of the factors used to identify a bedroom for housing benefit purposes. The way a room is used and furnished weighs heavily; other relevant factors include the size/shape of the room, its position in the dwelling, its past use and any special reasons why the tenant does not use the room as a bedroom.
Some of those appealing have successfully argued that the bedroom tax breached their human rights, although a tribunal's jurisdiction to provide a remedy in such cases is not straightforward. Things may become clearer when the court of appeal issues its reserved judgment on a human rights challenge to the bedroom tax, heard in January.
Meanwhile the clear message for tenants is: don't despair, some people may still escape the bedroom tax. An appeal costs nothing and the possible arguments are more promising than you might think.
This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. Interested in housing? Join the housing network for more news, analysis and comment direct to you.

Four ways to help tenants appeal against the bedroom tax

By helping tenants in bedroom tax appeals, housing providers can bring more money into communities and minimise arrears
On the same page: making sure everyone is aware of the facts can give an appeal force.
On the same page: making sure everyone is aware of the facts can give an appeal force. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
As the bedroom tax affects housing providers as well as their tenants, many social landlords have explored ways of helping their residents beat the bedroom tax. However the sector and its tenants may not be fully aware of the success of a number of court battles against the bedroom tax which have led to exemptions.
Some providers have reclassified their properties (called a three-bed home a two-bed home) to help tenants avoid the bedroom tax, but this can undermine landlords' financial viability and can lead to unfair discrepancies in rent across organisations' portfolios.
Lodging an appeal and qualifying for an exemption, meanwhile, has none of these drawbacks and, because successful appeals see tenants reimbursed for bedroom tax funds from the date of the appeal, are also the most effective at clearing arrears which may have built up.
1. Understand what could qualify for a bedroom tax exemption
It's important to understand what grounds have been successful in tenants being exempted from the bedroom tax. Established grounds for judicial exemption can be broadly categorised as:
• Where a tenant requires an overnight carer.
• Where a tenant cannot share a bed due to disability.
• If a home has undergone extensive adaptations for a disability.
• If the spare room measures less than 70sq ft.
• If the bedroom has not been used nor furnished as a bedroom.
• If a tenant has partial custody of a child who occasionally stays in the property.
2. Use support organisations
Know your local area's support organisations and use their expertise in helping with appeals because it can make a real difference. Nationally, 58% of appeals are likely to succeed, but in Liverpool (where the support group Reclaim and others offer help, alongside a supportive council) the figure is closer to 85%. In our experience of helping lodge more than 300 appeals, when they are successful, landlords, tenants and local authorities all benefit from fewer arrears and less homelessness costs.
3. Partner up
The sheer number of people affected by the bedroom tax can make organisations worried about whether they have enough staff to help out with tenant appeals. However, working with partners who you can refer tenants towards goes a long way to addressing such concerns. Try also working with the third sector as landlords will not always be best placed to support a tenant through the process.
4. Keep your staff up to date
There is little point in your frontline staff informing tenants of their rights to appeal if your frontline staff themselves are not kept in the loop. Out of the 310 people we have worked with during appeals, the overwhelming majority said they had previously not appealed because they had not been told they could, or because their landlord told them they were not able to. Keep in touch with your council's local housing benefitdepartment and keep your frontline staff informed of the latest updates so they can offer tenants the correct advice.
Jamie Insole is a trade union organiser who coordinates the Cardiff and South Wales Against the Bedroom Tax federation of local tenant groups