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Round up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: May 2022
Posted on 01/06/22 in Housing Matters
The monthly round-up from Housing Matters
The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Amendment) (England) Order 2022
Lower suitability requirements for homeless accommodation apply to people who make a homelessness application on or after 1 June 2022 and who came to the UK in the two years before their application.
Local authorities are not automatically required to consider the effect of the location of the accommodation on the applicant. The usual rule limiting use of bed and breakfast to six weeks for people with family commitments also does not apply.
The changes are time limited and expire on 1 June 2023.
Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act 2022 came into force on 28 April 2022. The Act makes provision about the standard of buildings, amends the Architects Act 1997, and amends provision about complaints made to a housing ombudsman.
Fire Safety Act 2021
Sections 1 and 3 of the Fire Safety Act 2021 came into force on 12 May 2022. The Act amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to clarify that the fire risk assessment carried out by the responsible person must include the structure and external walls of the building, and all doors between domestic premises and common parts.
Suitability of homelessness accommodation
In R (on the application of Elkundi & Ors) v Birmingham City Council  EWCA Civ 601 the Court of Appeal held that a local authority's duty to provide an applicant with suitable accommodation under s193(2) of the Housing Act 1996 is immediate and unqualified.
Where a local authority has breached its duty, an applicant might be able to apply for judicial review to compel the local authority to provide suitable accommodation. In R (Imam) v The London Borough of Croydon  EWCA Civ 601, the Court of Appeal decided that, when resisting a mandatory order, an authority must prove that it took all reasonable steps possible to comply with the duty.
Breathing space debt moratorium and possession proceedings
An occupier cannot be evicted during a breathing space or mental health crisis moratorium for a qualifying moratorium debt. In Lees v Kaye  EWHC 1151 (QB) the High Court allowed an application to restore the position of a leaseholder who was evicted contrary to the mental health crisis moratorium protection.
The moratorium was properly registered, and an order for sale enforcing a charging order was not exempt from the debt respite scheme regulations.
Fraudulent housing benefit claim
The appellant claimed housing benefit and produced a falsified tenancy agreement. The Crown Court sentenced her to a suspended prison term and made a confiscation order.
The appellant appealed and argued that her offence was only committed at the time she produced the tenancy agreement. In general, a confiscation order can only be made if the offence was committed over the course of at least six months.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Benefit payments were made at regular intervals and relied on the forged information provided.
Time limits for flexible tenancy review request
A local authority can decide not to offer a new fixed term at the end of a flexible tenancy. The tenant has 21 days to request a review of the decision. The Court of Appeal held that a local authority does not have power to extend the time for requesting a review.
Deliberate act and allocations
The High Court found that a local authority's allocation scheme decision was irrational where it had concluded that an applicant's decision to move into overcrowded accommodation was a deliberate act. The applicant was not able to afford suitable accommodation that was not overcrowded. The Court held that an act is only deliberate if the applicant intended to do it and had a real choice between two or more viable options.
Failure to accommodate under 'Everyone In'
The local authority decided not to accommodate a woman with no recourse to public funds under 'Everyone In'. The High Court found that the authority failed to adopt a policy or criteria for the exercise of its discretion under the LGA and NHSA. As a result the decision was unlawful.
Rent repayment orders
Landmark Chambers has reported that the Supreme Court has given permission to appeal in the case of Rakusen v Jepsen, a case concerning rent repayment orders.
Guidance and news
Ukraine Extension Scheme
The Ukraine Extension Scheme launched on 3 May 2022 and is open to Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members. Applicants can be granted leave for up to three years with rights to work, study and access public funds.
The applicant must have had permission to enter or stay in the UK on 18 March 2022, unless they were in the UK with permission to enter or stay immediately before 1 January 2022 and their permission has since expired.
Ukraine guides updated
The government has updated its guides related to Ukrainians affected by the conflict, including information on safeguarding and what to do in the case of a sponsorship breakdown.
Increase in no-fault evictions
Government figures show that 5,890 landlords in England started no-fault eviction court proceedings against tenants between January and March 2022.
English Private Landlord Survey
The government has published Information and documents relating to the English Private Landlord Survey.
Queen's Speech 2022
The State Opening of Parliament took place on 10 May 2022. Bills of interest to housing professionals were announced in the Queen’s Speech, including the Social Housing Regulation Bill, the Renters Reform Bill, and the Housing Reform Bill. On 11 May, the government provided more details of the Social Housing Regulation Bill.
The government has updated its non-statutory guidance for current and potential property guardians.
Energy bills and minimum standards
Generation Rent have reported their analysis that found a quarter of a million families are living in homes that are so expensive to heat they fail Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards.
Extending the Right to Buy
Shelter commented on reports that the government is considering the extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations.
Supported exempt accommodation
The House of Commons Library has published an updated briefing paper providing an overview of the regulation of supported exempt accommodation.
Consultation on changes to Welsh homelessness law
The Welsh government is consulting on potential changes to homelessness law in Wales, including proposals to expand the priority need categories to rough sleepers, and a proposal to expend the circumstances in which bed and breakfast accommodation is suitable.
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 delayed
The implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 has been delayed until 1 December 2022. The Act was due to come into force on 15 July 2022.
Leasehold reform in England and Wales
The House of Commons Library has published this page explaining what is known about the planned reform to leasehold tenure and the plan to make buying or extending lease agreements “easier, faster, fairer and cheaper.”
Housing Ombudsman: severe maladministration finding
The Housing Ombudsman has reported that it found severe maladministration in Clarion’s handling of a complaint from a vulnerable resident.
Local authority data: housing supply
The House of Commons Library has published an interactive tool providing data on housing support for local authorities in England.
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