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Round up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: August 2023

Posted on 31/08/23 in Housing Matters

Round up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: August 2023

The monthly round up from Housing Matters

Legislation 

Supported Housing Regulatory Oversight Act 2023 

The Supported Housing Regulatory Oversight Act 2023 came into force on 29 August 2023. The Act will require local authorities to produce a supported housing strategy and sets out provisions to introduce national supported housing standards and a supported housing advisory panel. The key provisions of the Act will not take effect until the government issues further regulations. 

Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 (legislation.gov.uk) 

Housing Matters article: Regulation of supported housing: next steps | NHAS 

Case law 

Decision that two autistic children could share room irrational 

A homeless applicant successfully appealed a local authority’s decision that accommodation provided under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 was suitable. It was irrational for the local authority to find that an arrangement where two autistic children had to share a bedroom was suitable despite overwhelming professional evidence to the contrary. The local authority was also found to have breached the public sector equality duty. This case was reported on the Nearly Legal blog on 30th July 2023. 

Uddin v Hackney LBC (2023) J40CL175, the County Court at Central London 

Nearly Legal blog: Suitability appeal - don't ignore evidence of need. - Nearly Legal: Housing Law News and Comment 

EEA national descendant rights limited to those under 21 or dependant 

The High Court dismissed an application for a judicial review of the Home Office’s refusal to grant EU settled status. The Court confirmed that to continue to take advantage of the rights safeguarded in the Withdrawal Agreement as a direct descendant of an EEA national, the child must be either under 21 or dependant on their EEA parent. 

Ali, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 1615 (Admin) (30 June 2023) (bailii.org) 

Out of area accommodation offer did not breach equality duty 

The Court of Appeal found that Waltham Forest’s decision to offer a homeless applicant accommodation outside of London to discharge the main housing duty was not unlawful. The applicant was subject to the benefit cap and contested that the decision to move her out of London was in breach of the public sector equality duty, but the Court of Appeal disagreed. 

Webb-Harnden v London Borough of Waltham Forest [2023] EWCA Civ 992 (22 August 2023) (bailii.org) 

Applicant was no longer homeless after suitable offer ended relief duty 

The Court of Appeal held that a local authority was entitled to find an applicant was no longer homeless after an offer of suitable accommodation ended the relief duty. Where suitable accommodation is not reasonable to continue to occupy, it is possible for an applicant to remain homeless and to be owed the main housing duty, but this is likely to be uncommon.  

Ahamed, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Haringey [2023] EWCA Civ 975 (11 August 2023) (bailii.org) 

News and guidance 

Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service launches 

The new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service launched on 1 August 2023. The service provides early legal advice on housing, debt and welfare benefits for people at risk of possession proceedings and the loss of their home.  

Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service launch - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Housing Matters article: Housing loss prevention advice service: changes to County Court duty advice | NHAS 

Gove writes to 14 social landlords about poor performance 

The Secretary of State Michael Gove has written to 14 social landlords about their poor performance. Each landlord has either received a severe maladministration ruling from the Housing Ombudsman or breached the Regulator of Social Housing’s standards. The list includes seven local authorities and seven housing associations.  

Letters from the Secretary of State to social landlords about poor performance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Barking and Dagenham forced to pay compensation due to poor conditions 

The Housing Ombudsman found severe maladministration in Barking and Dagenham Council’s handling of a damp and mould complaint. No action was taken to address the problem for two and a half years, which eventually forced a family of six to share one bedroom. 

Barking and Dagenham Council ordered to pay £6,000 after property condition forced family to share one bedroom - Housing Ombudsman (housing-ombudsman.org.uk) 

Changes to money claims procedure 

From 14 August 2023, the County Court Money Claims Centre has been replaced with the Civil National Business Centre. Claims and applications containing the old name will be accepted until 1 September 2023. After that date, they will be returned to the sender. The change affects most money claims and applications, including people issuing a claim for the return of a tenancy deposit.  

The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2023 (legislation.gov.uk) 

Guidance on removing a joint tenant from social housing tenancies 

This House of Commons Library briefing covers an overview of the options available to a social housing tenant who wants to remove a joint tenant from their tenancy.  

Can I remove a joint tenant from my social housing tenancy agreement (England)? (parliament.uk) 

Change in interest rates charged on Support for Mortgage Interest loans 

The interest rate charged on the repayment of an SMI loan has increased from 3.03 percent to 3.28 percent. The rate is linked to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast of gilt rate and can change on 1 January and 1 July each year. 

Support for Mortgage Interest loans - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) 

New tool for legal aid advisers to check legal aid eligibility 

The government has launched a new tool for legal aid advisers to use to check if their clients are financially eligible for legal aid.  

Check if your client qualifies for legal aid | GOV.UK (check-your-client-qualifies-for-legal-aid.service.gov.uk) 

Data and trends 

Most private renters have had rent increased in last year 

Research from Generation Rent found that the majority of private renters have been asked to pay a higher rent within the last year. The survey showed that in the last year: 

  • 60% of private renters have been asked to pay a higher rent 
  • the most common reason was rising market rents  
  • 20% of private renters have been asked to leave, 12% have been served with a section 21 notice 

Generation Rent: Majority of private renters faced rent increase in past year - Generation Rent 

Half of renters in work are one payslip away from losing homes 

Polling by Shelter and YouGov asked private renters whether they would be able to afford their rent if they were to lose their job. The results showed: 

  • 51% of private renters would be unable to pay their rent for more than a month 
  • 34% would be unable to pay their rent at all 

Shelter: Half of working renters only one pay cheque away from losing their home - Shelter England 

Just 16 rogue landlords are subject to banning orders 

A Freedom of Information request by openDemocracy uncovered that little enforcement action is being taken against rogue landlords. The figures show that: 

  • only 16 landlords in the whole of England are subject to banning orders 
  • Camden Council had issued seven banning orders, the most of any local authority 
  • no other London borough has a banning order currently in place 

openDemocracy: Only 16 rogue landlords are banned from renting out properties | openDemocracy 

Increase in possession action taken by landlords and lenders 

The government’s latest statistics on mortgage and landlord possession show that between April – June 2023, compared to the same quarter in 2022, there had been a: 

  • 15% increase in mortgage possession claims 
  • 24% increase in landlord possession claims 
  • 27% increase in warrants obtained by landlords 

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: April to June 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Rightsnet: Changes in regulations and rising interest rates may have contributed to uncertainty for landlords and an increased number of possession actions, says MoJ - Rightsnet 

A third of London mortgage payers will struggle to make payments 

Analysis by London City Hall of YouGov polling and government statistics has looked at how mortgaged homeowners in the capital are handling the cost of living crisis. The analysis found that in London: 

  • 34% of homeowners think they will struggle to make mortgage payments in the next six months 
  • 384,000 homeowners have seen an increase in interest rates in the last year 
  • a further 209,000 homeowners could see payments rise in the next year as they come off a fixed-rate mortgage  

London City Hall: New analysis for City Hall reveals that one third of London mortgage payers will struggle to meet repayments | London City Hall