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Round-up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: May 2021

Posted on 02/06/21

Welcome to this Housing Matters round up for May.

Legislation

Cases

Guidance and news

Legislation

End of eviction ban from 1 June

The bailiff ban is lifted on 1 June 2021 and evictions can proceed largely as normal. The government has confirmed that bailiffs will begin to enforce valid warrants in date order, starting with the oldest, with some exceptions. The courts will prioritise newer warrants brought on the grounds of anti-social behaviour and trespass.

Under the Civil Procedure rules, there is a requirement for 14 days’ notice in both County and High Courts and that the eviction notice should be served in a transparent envelope.

No evictions are expected to take place before mid-June except in the most serious circumstances, and bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

Civil Procedure Rules - Part 83 – Writs and warrants – General provisions

Changes to notice periods from 1 June and 1 August

The current temporary six month notice periods drop to four months on 1 June, and to two months on 1 October 2021.

Tenants facing possession for rent arrears under grounds 8, 10 and 11 with under six months’ arrears currently benefit from longer notice periods. From 1 June longer notice periods only apply to those with under four months’ arrears. From 1 August that same group will only be entitled to two months’ notice.

From 1 June notices served under grounds 7 (death of tenant) and 7B (no right to rent) revert to their usual notice period lengths of respectively two months and two weeks.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 S.I. 2021/564

New prescribed forms for section 8 and section 21 notices

With effect from 1 June 2021, these Regulations amend the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 to prescribe new Form 3 and Form 6A for a landlord’s notice of intention to seek possession of an assured and an assured shorthold tenancy respectively.

Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) and Suspension (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 S.I. 2021/562

LHA shared accommodation rate exemptions

With effect from 31 May 2021, these Regulations amend the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 to extend the age ranges of the exemptions from the shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance. The exemptions apply to care leavers and those who have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel whilst receiving support to assist with community resettlement or rehabilitation.

Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Care Leavers and Homeless) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 S.I. 2021/546

Revised civil court fees

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has updated the EX50 form with revised fees for the Civil and Family Courts applicable from 18 May 2021.

The Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2021 S.I. 2021/588

New set of Practice Directions for Judicial Review

From 31 May 2021, a new set of Practice Directions supplementing CPR Part 54 (Judicial Review) have been revised to reflect developments in caselaw and practice.

Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2021 and Practice Direction update 131

Breathing Space Practice Direction 70B

The Civil Procedure Rules have been updated to include Practice Direction 70B (Debt Respite under the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018). This new Practice Direction sets out the process for objections, appeals and cancellations under Breathing Space rules. It explains how the court is notified of a Breathing Space in ongoing proceedings, and how the case should proceed.

Practice Direction 70B Debt Respite Scheme

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Cases

Allocation policy discriminatory against disabled households

In R (Nur) v Birmingham City Council [2021] EWHC 1138 (Admin) (04 May 2020) the High Court held that the Council's housing allocation policy was indirectly discriminatory against disabled people and that Birmingham City Council failed to make reasonable adjustments.

A more detailed analysis of the judgment is available from Doughty Street Chambers.

Allocation policy 5-year residence requirement lawful

In Montero, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Lewisham [2021] EWHC 1359 (Admin) (21 May 2021) the High Court held that the 5 years residence requirement under the Council’s allocation policy could be lawfully imposed on a household living in overcrowded accommodation and entitled to reasonable preference under section 166A(3) of the Housing Act 1996.

A more detailed summary of the case is available from Nearly Legal.

Suitability of Mental Health Act 1983 aftercare accommodation

In ZK, R (On the Application Of) v Norfolk County Council & Anor [2021] EWHC 1249 (Admin) (12 May 2021) the High Court considered the lawfulness of a joint decision by a local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about the suitability of aftercare accommodation offered to an extremely vulnerable applicant upon discharge from hospital.

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Guidance and news

New notice periods for renters

On 12 May 2021 the Government announced that notice periods – previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic – are set at four months from 1 June. Subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021. The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, ended on 31 May. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. 

MHCLG Press release - Support for renters continues with longer notice periods

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics

On 13 May 2021 the Government published quarterly national statistics on possession claim actions in County Court by mortgage lenders and social and private landlords. This quarter covers the period of the third national lockdown and reflects the policy interventions in the possession process. Compared to the same quarter in the previous year, mortgage possession claims (735) are down 85 per cent. Mortgage orders for possession (145) are down 96 per cent, warrants issued (43) are down 99 per cent and repossessions (3) are down almost 100 per cent.

National Statistics - Mortgage and landlord possession: January to March 2021

The future of social housing in England

On 19 May 2021 the House of Commons Library published a briefing outlining the measures set out in the Social Housing White Paper, stakeholder reaction and the next steps. The Government's Social Housing White Paper is intended to deliver transformational change for social housing residents in England.

Social Housing Reform in England: What Next?

Domestic Abuse Act 2021: Home Office factsheets

On 18 May 2021 the Home Office updated factsheets relating to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to reflect that the statute has been enacted.

Domestic Abuse Bill 2020: factsheets

Ombudsman for social housing complaints: HO and LGSCO factsheet

This factsheet sets out the social housing complaint categories that should be referred to either the Housing Ombudsman or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Which ombudsman for social housing complaints?

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