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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Allocation policy discriminatory against disabled households
In R (Nur) v Birmingham City Council  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  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  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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.