A landlord has lost a dispute with his local housing authority over the licensing of two of his properties that had been renovated without planning permission.
The issue arose out of Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004, which provided for the selective licensing by local housing authorities of private-sector housing in particular areas.
In 2014, the local authority introduced a borough-wide selective-licensing scheme.
The landlord converted two properties into flats without obtaining planning permission. He then applied to the local authority for a Pt 3 licence for those flats. In the case of both properties, the local authority granted a licence for a period of one year only with the intention that during that period the planning status of the flats should be regularised.
The landlord appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal. In each case, the tribunal increased the period of the licence to five years, having concluded that the landlord’s compliance with planning requirements was irrelevant to the question of licensing.
The Upper Tier Tribunal has overturned that decision. It held that it was legitimate for a local housing authority to consider the planning status of a house when deciding whether to grant a licence and when deciding the terms of that licence.
In this case, the properties were in an area designated as experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour, which some private-sector landlords were failing to take appropriate action to combat and which the designation would contribute to reducing.
In the light of that aim, it could not possibly be said that the issue of whether a house had been built or occupied in breach of planning control was irrelevant. Inappropriate or over-intensive uses of land, especially in a densely populated urban area, were an obvious manifestation of anti-social behaviour in themselves and created conditions in which anti-social behaviour was liable to be a significant problem.
The tribunal ruled that the licences for each of the appeal houses should continue for two months. That would allow the landlord to make new applications and the local authority to reach a decision on them based on up-to-date information.
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A mother who was sacked because her employers felt that caring for her daughter was more important to her than her job has been awarded £18,886 in compensation.
Maria McKeith started working part-time for the Ardoyne Association in Northern Ireland in 2010 while also acting as primary carer for her daughter. She was dismissed in 2015.
The Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair under the Disability Discrimination Act and that the association "did not put forward any convincing or coherent explanation for its decision".
It said that her managers took the view that because she “had a disabled child, her position was not properly in the workplace. Her daughter was her priority”.
The judge said: "That is not the legal position. People who are disabled themselves, or who are the primary carer of a disabled person, have a right to work within the protection afforded by the 1995 Act."
The Court of Appeal upheld that decision.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms McKeith said she was left in shock when she lost her job. "I did not ask for any special treatment and I did not welcome it.
"I enjoyed coming to work, meeting people and being able to advise and help them and I knew my daughter was being cared for while I was at work.”
Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, said the Disability Discrimination Act not only protects people against discrimination because of their disability, it also
protects people in Ms McKeith's position, who have a role as primary carer for a disabled person.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "In this case, Ms McKeith was denied the opportunity to work as a result of her daughter's disability. The law makes such discrimination unlawful.
"It is important also, as was referenced in these proceedings, to highlight that the purpose of the law is to assist disabled people and their primary carers to obtain work and to integrate them in to the workplace.
"That is not a matter simply of money, but the dignity of, and the respect due to, the people concerned."
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The recent Dementia Awareness Week, organised by the Alzheimer’s Society, put the spotlight on the challenges we face as we live longer lives and encounter the illnesses associated with old age.
A study published by the journal, BMC Medicine, showed that the number of people who die from dementia is set to almost quadruple in the next 20 years.
The study analysed mortality statistics for England and Wales from 2006 to 2014.
By 2040, it is estimated 219,409 people in England and Wales will die from dementia - a significant rise from 59,199 in 2014.
Dame Gill Morgan, chair of NHS Providers, said studies show that dementia is now the most feared disease among the middle aged, even more than cancer and heart disease.
Dame Gill said: “It is a cruel disease because your family watch you declining, and they lose the person, but they keep the body.”
As well as health issues for sufferers, there are also practical matters relating to how their financial and business affairs should be managed.
Sufferers may have to rely on their families to make important decisions for them, but this can be difficult if legal arrangements have not been made in advance. Families may have to go through complicated court procedures to be granted authority to manage the sufferer’s affairs.
You may not be able to predict your future health but it is possible to put procedures in place so that people you trust will be able help you if you do fall ill in the future.
The best way to do this is by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA enables you to nominate someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you ever lose the ability to do so yourself through illnesses such as dementia.
The property and finance LPA allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs and the personal welfare LPA lets you grant an attorney authority over such matters as health care and the kind of treatment you receive.
They give you the peace of mind of knowing that whatever happens in the future, your interests will be protected by people you trust and have chosen to represent you.
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Three people who were injured in a road accident while travelling in a car with an uninsured driver have won the right to claim compensation.
The three passengers suffered serious injuries and claimed compensation from the driver who was at fault for the accident. As he had no insurance and no means of paying, the claims were passed on to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which can compensate victims in cases like this.
However, the MIB said it was not liable because the passengers knew the driver and therefore knew, or should have known, that he had no insurance. It claimed the passengers turned a “blind eye” to the fact that the driver had previous driving disqualifications.
The judge concluded that he had not been given a full or truthful account of the accident, or the underlying relationship of the people involved. He determined that the passengers ought to have known that the vehicle was being driven without insurance because they knew more than enough to arouse suspicions yet didn’t ask any questions.
However, the High Court has overturned that decision.
It held that, on the basis of the evidence recorded, there was no reason for any inference that the passengers had information that the driver had been to prison for driving or other offences or that he might not have been insured.
There had been a procedural shortcoming in the trial which meant that it would be unjust to allow the finding to stand and the matter would be remitted to the county court for rehearing.
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