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Round up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: July 2023
Posted on 31/07/23 in Housing Matters
The monthly round-up from Housing Matters
Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 received royal assent on 20 July 2023. The Act introduces changes to the regulation of social housing, including removing the ‘serious detriment’ test which had limited the power of the Regulator of Social Housing to act unless that threshold was met.
The Act will also introduce ‘Awaab’s law’ and give the Regulator stronger powers, such as being able to issue unlimited fines. Many provisions of the Act are due to come into force in 2024.
Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023
The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 received royal assent on 29 June 2023, and will come into force from 29 August 2023.
The Act gives the government the power to introduce licensing schemes and will create an advisory panel for supported ‘exempt’ accommodation. It also means a homeless applicant is not intentionally homeless where they have left supported accommodation which did not meet national standards.
Court of Appeal finds that a room can be accommodation for purposes of intentional homelessness
The Court of Appeal considered the definition of ‘accommodation’ for the purposes of assessing intentional homelessness in section 191(1) of the Housing Act 1996.
The court found that the local authority was entitled to find that the room in supported housing occupied by the homeless applicant was accommodation. The court also found that the accommodation did not need to be settled accommodation for the applicant to be found to be intentionally homeless.
‘Fit and proper person’ from date of authority’s decision, not appeal
The Court of Appeal found that the First-tier Tribunal should consider whether a landlord was a ‘fit and proper person’ on the date the local authority’s decision was made, not the date of any appeal. Any events which occurred after the local authority’s decision are not relevant to the First-tier Tribunal’s judgment. The fit and proper person test forms part of a local authority’s HMO licensing assessment.
This decision reversed a previous Upper Tribunal decision in Hussain v Waltham Forest LBC  UKUT 241 (LC).
The High Court considered whether a local authority was in breach of the public sector equality duty by taking possession proceedings against a tenant with a disability.
The tenant had a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder and was served with notice on anti-social behaviour grounds. The High Court found that the authority had sufficiently considered the public sector equality duty when taking action to evict the tenant.
Government responds to Select Committee on social housing regulation
The government has issued a response to the Select Committee inquiry into the regulation of social housing. The response covers the work so far to improve standards and planned upcoming changes, including the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill and the ‘Awaab’s law’ amendment. The Act has recently received royal assent and the government aims to bring the key provisions into force from the summer of 2024.
Ombudsman special investigation into L&Q orders £142,000 in compensation
The Housing Ombudsman has conducted a special investigation into the social landlord L&Q. The investigation found that the landlord has ‘consistently failed’ to resolve serious issues raised by tenants. The Ombudsman recommended over 500 actions for L&Q to take, and for over £142,000 to be awarded to tenants in compensation.
Op Fortitude pathway launched for homeless veterans
Op Fortitude is a government-funded centralised pathway for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Referrals can be made online or by phone and the service can offer help with sustaining a tenancy or referring a veteran into supported housing.
House of Commons Library briefing: Housing and the cost of living
This House of Commons Library research briefing covers the impact of inflation on rent and mortgage payments and the Government response.
Ombudsman reminds councils of duty to investigate disrepair in private rentals
A private tenant complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about how Worcester City Council dealt with their complaint about disrepair in her private rented accommodation.
The council found category 1 and 2 hazards, and the tenant had to move out for seven months for remedial works. The council did not take formal action on the category 1 hazards, despite being legally required to do so. The council’s email to the landlord missed key details and it did not keep the tenant updated.
Toolkit for councils to help residents claim Council Tax Support
Policy in Practice have released a Council Tax Support toolkit for local authorities, with material for councils to use in communications to encourage residents to claim any CTS that they are eligible for.
Mobile homes factsheet: pitch fee increases now based on CPI
The Mobile Homes (Pitch Fees) Act 2023 changes the basis of pitch fee increases under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 from RPI to CPI. The government has published a factsheet on this change.
Data and trends
Record numbers in temporary accommodation: March 2023
The government has released its latest statistics on homelessness. The figures show that between January and March 2023:
- over 104,000 households were in temporary accommodation, the highest level ever
- over 131,000 children in temporary accommodation
- 83,240 households were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, up by 5.7% on January to March 2022
172 families served with section 21 notices every day: July 2023
New figures show the frequency with which private renters are served with section 21 notices, and the instability of private renting. Analysis by Shelter of Yougov polling shows that:
- more than 188,000 private renters have received a section 21 notice in the last three years
- nearly one in five families renting privately have had to move three or more times in the last five years
- 172 families receive a section 21 notice each day
Benefit cap pushing families to live on £44 per week: July 2023
Research from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has found that the benefit cap, introduced ten years ago, is pushing families into poverty. The research found that:
- after the benefit cap, some families in London have only £44 per week in disposable income
- without the benefit cap, the same household would have £276 per week in disposable income
- 250,000 children live in households affected by the benefit cap
The research also shows that the benefit cap is affecting more areas around the country. When it was first introduced, it primarily affected London as the area with the highest rents, but as rents have increased, the cap would now affect a single parent with three children in over half of the rental areas in the country.
Child Poverty Action Group: Benefit Cap Forcing Families to Live on £44/week - new research | CPAG
Migrants face discrimination in private rented sector: July 2023
Research by Generation Rent into the experiences of migrant communities in the private rented sector has found that, of those surveyed:
- 42% found that they had struggled to find a landlord or agent to let to them
- 74% had struggled to find somewhere affordable to rent
- 40% had struggled to find the money for a tenancy deposit