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

Posted on 01/11/21 in Housing Matters

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

The monthly round-up from Housing Matters


Legislation


Grant of secure tenancies in cases of domestic abuse

From 1 November 2021, section 79 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 inserts section 81ZA into the Housing Act 1985. This prescribes that certain social housing tenants who need a management transfer to a new property because of domestic abuse are entitled to be granted a lifetime secure tenancy rather than a fixed-term flexible tenancy. This applies to victims/survivors who were lifetime secure tenants of a local authority or fully assured tenants of a registered social landlord before moving.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (Commencement No. 2) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/1038

Homelessness eligibility rules in Wales

From 15 October 2021, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/1147 provide for two additional classes of people who are eligible for homelessness assistance in Wales. These are certain people granted limited leave who have come to the UK from Hong Kong, and Afghan citizens granted leave under a resettlement scheme or who left Afghanistan in connection with the collapse of the government in August 2021.

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021SI 2021/1147


Cases


Local authorities must accept repeat homeless applications if not based on exactly the same facts

The High Court held that while usually the new fact would postdate the original decision, this was not a requirement. Local authorities would be required to compare the facts known to them at the time of the original decision and when a repeat application was made.

Ibrahim, R (On the Application Of) v Westminster City Council [2021] EWHC 2616 (Admin)

Social services’ support for asylum seekers pending an age assessment

The High Court confirmed that, in line with the statutory guidance, unless the ‘appearance and demeanour’ of an asylum seeker strongly suggested they were over 25, the local authority was required to treat them as a child pending an age assessment and provide suitable accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 where appropriate.

R (on the application of AB) v Brent LBC  [2021] EWHC 2843 (Admin)

Penalty notice for failure to obtain a licence in an area subject to selective licensing  

A private landlord whose property required a licence under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 successfully appealed against the amount of the penalty notice served by the local authority. The Upper Tribunal has remitted the case to the First-tier Tribunal for reconsideration.

Raja v Salford City Council (HOUSING ACT 2004 - CIVIL PENALTY ORDER - burden and standard of proof) [2021] UKUT 261 (LC)

Asylum seekers support 

The High Court found that the Home Office failed to have proper regard to the communication need of asylum seekers supported in full board hotel accommodation under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

JM v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 2514 (Admin)

LGSC Ombudsman investigates housing delays in Birmingham

The Ombudsman has found that Birmingham City Council's delay in processing an application to join the housing register had caused injustice and recommended that the Council apologises and backdates the applicant's priority band.

LGSC Ombudsman complaint against Birmingham City Council (20 007 658)

LGSC Ombudsman recommends £27,000 in compensation for unsuitable accommodation

The Ombudsman has recommended that Brent London Borough Council pays £27,000 in compensation to a homeless household who have spent 9 years in unsuitable temporary accommodation, and that the Council pays the family £200 a month until it finds suitable accommodation for them.

LGSC Ombudsman complaint against Brent LBC (20 012 006)

Housing Ombudsman finds severe maladministration by Inquilab housing association for damp and mould

The Housing Ombudsman has made two findings of severe maladministration following an investigation into Inquilab Housing Association’s failure to respond to a resident’s requests to deal with damp and mould in her home and for its subsequent poor complaint handling.

Two severe maladministration findings for Inquilab after resident lives with damp and mould for two years


Guidance and news


Homelessness Code of Guidance on vulnerability of homeless applicants from COVID-19

Paragraph 8.45 of the Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities was amended on 12 October 2021. The paragraph currently advises that local authorities should carefully consider the vulnerability of homeless applicants from Covid-19 and refers to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Homelessness Code of Guidance - Chapter 8: Priority need

Guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors

Non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors has been updated throughout October to reflect the following:

  • the end of the Rental Mediation Service pilot
  • changes to notice periods
  • the end of the furlough scheme
  • changes to international travel rules

Understanding the possession action process: a guide for private landlords in England and Wales

Covid-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

Statutory guidance for local authorities on supporting victims of domestic abuse

On 1 October 2021, the government published new statutory guidance on supporting victims of domestic abuse. The guidance provides further clarification on local authorities’ duties under part 4 Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and clarifies that bed & breakfast is not considered ‘relevant safe accommodation’.

Delivery of support to victims of domestic abuse in domestic abuse safe accommodation services

Guidance on benefits for late applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme

Benefit claimants who make a valid application to the EU Settlement Scheme after 30 June 2021 can claim benefits until the outcome of their application or appeal.

Housing Benefit Circular A10/2021

Your immigration status: an introduction for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (accessible version)

Guidance on the bedroom tax exemption for sanctuary schemes

ADM Memo 16/2021 provides information on the exemption from benefit cap for survivors of domestic abuse who have an additional bedroom under the sanctuary scheme, introduced on 1 October 2021 by the The Domestic Abuse Support (Relevant Accommodation and Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Sanctuary Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/ 991.

ADM Memo 16/2021

Guidance on the re-introduction of the minimum income floor for self-employed UC claimants

ADM memo 15/2021 provides further information on how to apply the minimum income floor after the end of the pandemic-related suspension for self-employed universal credit claimants.

ADM Memo 15/2021

Statutory homelessness in England: latest quarterly statistics

On 28 October 2021, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published the latest quarterly statistics on homelessness duties, applications and households in temporary accommodation between April 2021 and June 2021.

Statutory homelessness in England: April to June 2021

NRPF condition is forcing migrant victims of domestic abuse to stay with abusers

On 20 October 2021, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner published a report about migrant victims of domestic abuse. It shows that migrant survivors are locked out of vital routes to safety. The fear they will be reported to immigration stops many from coming forward and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) means they often can't access refuge when they do.

Safety Before Status 

Housing Ombudsman new report urges zero tolerance approach on damp and mould

On 26 October 2021, the Housing Ombudsman published a new report on damp and mould in social housing. The report recognises the challenges for social landlords in tackling the issues, including overcrowding, poverty, the age and design of homes, but it says that landlords should avoid inferring blame on residents due to ‘lifestyle’ and take responsibility for resolving problems.

Spotlight on damp and mould

Confiscation order for failure to comply with planning enforcement notice for unlawful HMO

Two private landlords were prosecuted by Ealing Council for failure to comply with a planning enforcement notice issued against them after it discovered that they failed to obtain planning permission to use their property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and building an extension in the rear garden to use a self-contained residential dwelling. Isleworth Crown Court made a confiscation order for £253,449.07, plus costs.

Landlords hit with £290,000 fine

Autumn budget and spending review

On 27 October 2021, the government announced it would allocate £639 million over the next years until 2024/2025 as part of its commitment to end rough sleeping. The plans include supporting locally-led initiatives, delivering 6,000 homes as part of the Rough Sleeping Accommodation scheme, funding drug and alcohol treatment, and addressing the underlying causes of homelessness. Other housing-related announcements include allocating £5 billion to remedy unsafe cladding and further funding towards affordable housing, including the Affordable Homes Programme.

Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: documents

£65 million support package to help low-income people in rent arrears

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that the funds will be made available to local authorities in England to assist low-income renters who have fallen behind with their rent and are facing eviction or homelessness. The funding is provided in addition to the £310 million Homelessness Prevention Grant and the £140 million discretionary housing payment funding.

£65 million support package for vulnerable renters

Guidance - Homelessness Prevention Grant: 2021 to 2022 

Household Support Fund – written statement

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions provided a written statement on the £500 million Household Support Fund confirming that in genuine emergencies the fund can be used towards the cost of accommodation.

Household Support Fund – statement made on 18 October 2021