Round-up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: January 2021
Posted on 05/02/21
Welcome to this Housing Matters round-up for January
Extension of deadline for filing reactivation notices in possession claims
On 29 January, CPR Practice Direction 55C was amended to extend the provisions of the practice direction from 28 March to 30 July 2021. The deadline for filing a reactivation notice for stayed possession claims is now 30 April 2021. If no reactivation notice has been filed and served by that date, the claim will be automatically stayed.
Domestic Abuse Bill 2020: collection of supplementary documents
Updated 26 January 2021, collection of supplementary documents relating to the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020, including draft guidance on domestic abuse protection notices and orders and draft Homelessness Code of Guidance.
New N244 Notice of Application
In January 2021, the N244 Application Notice was amended to include the new form of the statement of truth. The notice is used to ask a court to set aside or vary a judgment or suspend an enforcement process. The gov.uk page currently incorrectly states this form was last updated in August 2018.
Landlord cannot end flexible tenancy within fixed term unless agreement allows
In Croydon London Borough Council v Kalonga  EWCA Civ 77 the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court that a landlord could not terminate a secure flexible tenancy agreement within the fixed term if the tenancy agreement does not expressly allow for re-entry or forfeiture. A break clause within the tenancy agreement would allow the landlord to seek possession on this basis.
Local Authority failed to follow its own allocation policy
In Nur & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Birmingham City Council  EWHC 3526 (Admin) the High Court held that the Council had misunderstood the terms of its own Allocation Scheme and had implemented it unlawfully. Bids for adapted properties from households with children were given preference over a bid from a household containing a disabled adult. This led to a situation where the absence of children in a family resulted in bids being ‘skipped’.
Failure to apply for an HMO licence because it may be refused not an excuse
In Thurrock Council v Palm View Estates  UKUT 355 (LC) the Upper Tribunal held that even though the landlord of a house in multiple occupation had been told by a local authority employee that ‘there was no point’ in applying for an HMO licence until a planning issue had been resolved, this did not amount to a reasonable excuse for managing or being in control of an unlicensed house. While there may be sometimes be a good reason for not applying for a licence, this was not the case here.
HB shared accommodation rate for disabled applicant not discriminatory
In CM v (1) Bradford Metropolitan District Council (2) SSWP  UKUT 285 (AAC) the Upper Tribunal upheld the First Tier Tribunal’s decision that limiting housing benefit to the one-bedroom shared accommodation rate of the local housing allowance did not unlawfully discriminate against the applicant on the grounds of disability. The availability of discretionary housing payments on a case by case basis was relevant to the decision in this case.
Eddie Hughes replaces Kelly Tolhurst as minister for rough sleeping and housing
Conservative MP Kelly Tolhurst has resigned as the minister for rough sleeping and housing. Assistant whip Eddie Hughes has been appointed as her replacement.
FCA extend ban on repossession until 1 April
With effect from 29 January, Financial Conduct Authority finalised guidance states that firms should not enforce repossessions, except in exceptional circumstances, before 1 April 2021. Lenders can still obtain a possession order but should not execute a warrant of possession before that date.
Covid-19: advice and guidance for courts
Advice and guidance for courts including a weekly summary of the HM Courts and Tribunals Service operational position during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to update this summary every Friday at 5pm.
Guidance for local authorities on supporting destitute EEA nationals
No Recourse to Public Funds Network guidance on the immigration requirements applying to EEA nationals and their family members, and entitlement to benefits, housing assistance, and social services’ support. Also includes information about the EU Settlement Scheme.
Experimental statistics on statutory homelessness in England
Published 28 January, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statistics on homelessness applications, local authority duties and outcomes, and households in temporary accommodation.
Government announces reforms of the leasehold system
The government has announced plans to reform the leasehold system. Millions of leaseholders will be given a new right to extend their lease by 990 years and ground rents will be reduced to zero for all new retirement properties.
New model tenancy agreement has consent for pets as default position
Under the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s recommended new standard tenancy agreement, landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets. The default position will be consent, and landlords ‘should take steps to accommodate written requests from responsible tenants with pets’. The agreement says that landlords will have 28 days to provide a good reason, in writing, if they object and gives examples such as the size or impracticality of the property for the pet as good reasons.
Local Housing Allowance rates from April 2021
Published 29 January by the Valuation Office Agency, the LHA rates for the year from 1 April 2021 are the same as the current rates.
Ombudsman report council failed to support homeless domestic abuse victim
London Borough of Wandsworth criticised by Ombudsman for failing to investigate a woman’s homeless application and advising her to apply to the council where she had suffered violence. The Ombudsman said that Wandsworth should pay her £500 for the delays in dealing with her applications and £150 a month for the 12 months when she had to stay with relatives.