What’s new

The pages on Shelter Legal are updated regularly to reflect changes in the law. This page lists the most recent updates to Shelter Legal. Please contact publications@shelter.org.uk to receive What's New updates in a fortnightly email.

Repossession of leasehold property

Changes made 17 October 2018

Under section 166 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 a long leaseholder must be given notice of payment of ground rent in the prescribed form. In Cheerupmate2 Ltd v de Luca Calce [2018] EWCA Civ 2230, the Court of Appeal held that a minor discrepancy between the notice served by the landlord and the prescribed form was not of sufficient importance to invalidate the notice that ground rent was due. It also held that once the period of notice relating to the payment given in the notice has expired, a period of grace must elapse before the right to forfeit could be exercised by the landlord. The length of the grace period can only be determined by reference to the terms of the lease (as the legislation does not provide for a period).

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Licence conditions

Changes made 10 October 2018

In Nottingham CC v Parr [2018] UKSC 51, the Supreme Court confirmed that section 67 of the Housing Act 2004, which allows an authority to impose licence conditions restricting occupation of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) by ‘persons’, was wide enough to cover an HMO licence condition which restricted occupation of an HMO to full-time students. The Court also approved a condition requiring that communal space be retained for communal living, but held to be irrational a condition restricting student occupation to ten months a year.

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Restrictions on eligible rents: Social rented sector tenants

Changes made 04 October 2018

In E v Bristol CC (HB) [2018] UKUT 287 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal held that a bedroom should not be counted when determining the number of bedrooms a claimant is entitled to for the purposes of regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (the ‘bedroom tax’) if it is not safe to use. A room contaminated with asbestos cannot be treated as a bedroom.

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Action by occupiers

Changes made 03 October 2018

Any 'person aggrieved' by statutory nuisance in respect of premises can make a complaint to the magistrates' court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In Watkins v (1) Aged Merchant Seamen's Homes (2) Historic Property Restoration Ltd [2018] EWHC 2410 (Admin), the High Court clarified that whether a person is ‘aggrieved’ by the nuisance is a question of fact and degree, and that persons in actual occupation of the premises would normally qualify regardless of whether their occupation was lawful. In this case, the complainant was an almshouse resident who had remained in occupation after the expiry of a notice to quit from her landlord whilst appealing against the eviction.

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Statutory control of service charges

Changes made 03 October 2018

Under section 19(2) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 a service charge for a payment on account before costs are incurred must be reasonable. In Wigmore Homes (UK) Ltd v Spembly Works Residents Association Ltd [2018] UKUT 252 (LC), the Upper Tribunal held that the landlord had not provided evidence to show that its demands for payments on account were reasonable. It may (or may not) be reasonable for the estimate to turn out to be approximately twice the expenditure in any given year. However, the landlord had failed to justify why the amounts demanded on account were twice as much as the actual expenditure incurred over a number of years and the Upper Tribunal reduced them by 50 per cent (for 6 out of 7 years).

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Section 21 notices

Changes made 02 October 2018

In Livewest Homes v Bamber [2018] EWHC 2454 (QB), the High Court held that private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs) do not need to give the usual six month notice of non-renewal before serving a section 21 notice where they wish to end an assured shorthold tenancy with a fixed term of not less than two years and that tenancy contains a break clause. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 24 September 2018] With effect from 1 October 2018, section 41 Deregulation Act 2015 comes into force and extends most of the requirements in sections 33 to 38, and 40 of the Act, concerning the validity of a section 21 notice, to all assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) granted in England. This means that the following provisions will apply also to tenancies granted before 1 October 2015 (and not renewed since): (1) protection from retaliatory eviction, (2) where the tenancy is contractual periodic, a section 21 notice will not need to expire on the last day of a period of the tenancy, (3) possession action must be begun within six months of service of the section 21 notice, (4) the requirement that rent is repaid where the tenancy is ended before the end of a period. Further regulations must be made before the requirement to provide the tenant with a copy of an energy performance certificate and gas safety certificate before serving a section 21 notice will apply to an AST granted before 1 October 2015 that has not been renewed. In addition, there are some areas of uncertainty, for example, will a section 21 notice that was served before 1 October 2018 but expires after that date, be invalid for an AST granted before 1 October 2015 (and not renewed since) if not served in the prescribed form?

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The regulator of social housing

Changes made 02 October 2018

From 1 October 2018, the Legislative Reform (Regulator of Social Housing) (England) Order 2018 gives a new legal status to the Regulator of Social Housing. Previously a part of the Homes and Communities Agency which also administers funding for social housing, it becomes a stand alone non departmental body. None of its regulatory functions or of the regulatory requirements change as a result.

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Discretionary grounds: Assured tenancies

Changes made 01 October 2018

When a landlord seeks to recover possession of a property let on an assured tenancy using any of the discretionary Grounds 9 to 17 as listed in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988, the court can grant possession only if it is reasonable to do so. In Curo Places Ltd v Walker EWHC 2462 (QB), the High Court confirmed that it was not reasonable to order possession against a disabled assured tenant with two young children on Grounds 12 and 14 following complaints of noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour, as it found that a large proportion of the complaints were due to the condition of the property and poor sound insulation.

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County court enforcement

Changes made 01 October 2018

With effect from 1 October 2018, Rule 8 Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2018 SI 2018/975 (L.9) amends Rule 83.2(3)(e) Civil Procedure Rules 1998 SI 1998/3132 to remove the requirement on landlords to apply for permission of the court to issue writs (in the High Court) or warrants (in the county court) of possession following breach of the terms of suspended orders (including suspended possession orders) where the non-compliance with the terms of the suspended order is the failure to pay money.

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Mandatory licensing

Changes made 24 September 2018

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) may be subject to mandatory licensing, which applies across England, or an additional licensing scheme specific to the local authority area. From 1 October 2018 the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 SI 2018/221 extends mandatory licensing to all HMOs which contain five or more persons living in two or more separate households and which meet the standard, self-contained flat or converted building test. This removes the exemption for HMOs of less than three storeys.

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