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Paper hearing

A hearing where a court or tribunal makes a decision solely on the basis of written evidence provided.

Payment on account

A payment of housing benefit that the local authority has to make if it is unable to assess a claim within 14 days, and all the necessary documents have been provided. Sometimes known as an interim payment.

Penal notice

A notice endorsed on an injunction that warns the person required to obey the injunction of the consequences of non-compliance with the order.

Peppercorn rent

A very low or nominal rent.

Periodic tenancy

A tenancy that runs from week to week, or month to month, with no fixed end date.


A person bringing legal action, often referred to as the 'claimant'.

Possession order

A court order telling an occupier to leave a property by a certain date, with possession reverting back to the landlord or lender. A possession order can be suspended or postponed.

Practice directions

Directions that support the Civil Procedure Rules.

Pre-action protocol

A protocol attached to the Civil Procedure Rules that parties must follow in certain cases, sanctions may be incurred for failure to stick to such protocols. The main relevant pre-action protocols in respect to housing are the Pre-Action Protocols for possession claims based on rent arrears, possession claims based on mortgage arrears and for housing disrepair cases.

Pre-tenancy determination

An indication of the maximum amount of housing benefit that is likely to be paid, which can be applied for before deciding whether to take on a tenancy. Since the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance scheme and the publication of LHA rates it is no longer necessary for most private tenants to apply for a pre-tenancy determination.

Pre-trial review

A court hearing held after the directions hearing, but prior to the final hearing of a multi-track case. The main aims of pre-trial hearings are for the court to assess how a case is progressing, to foster a possible settlement in the case, to achieve an agreement with regard to the issues to be resolved at trial, and to set a programme and budget for the trial.

Prima facie

At first sight: on the face of it.

Priority debt

Debts for which the consequences of non-payment (eg losing the home, cutting off fuel supplies, going to prison) are very serious so they should be dealt with before dealing with non-priority debts. Priority debts include: mortgage repayments and secured loans, rent, fuel debts, child support and maintenance payments, council tax, TV licence and certain payments ordered by the courts (including court fines).

Priority need

Categories of homeless applicant are taken to have a priority need for accommodation under the homlessness legislation. Applicants who have a priority need include pregnant women, those who have dependent children living with them, and care leavers aged 18 to 20 years old.

Private fostering

A child under the age of 16 who is cared for and provided with accommodation by a person who is not a parent, has no parental responsibility and is not a relative (section 66 Children Act 1989)

Private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH)

From 1 April 2012, the regulator of social housing providers in England is a statutory committee of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) made up of members independently appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Prior to that date, the regulator was the Tenant Services Authority (TSA). 'Private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs)'means housing associations and other social housing providers registered with the regulator (formerly known as registered social landlords (RSLs)).

Private rented sector (PRS) offer

An offer, made to a homeless applicant owed the full housing duty, of a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy of at least one year in the private rented sector, in full and final discharge of the local authority’s duty.


A special benefit, exemption from a duty or immunity from a penalty given to a person or a class of persons. This might be the refusal to disclose a document or answer a question on the basis of one of the recognised claims for 'privilege'. One of the recognised claims for privilege is communications between lawyers and their clients.

Property management agency

Agency that arranges services, repairs, maintenance, improvement, or insurance or deals with any other aspect of the management of residential premises.

Protected tenancy

A protected tenancy is another term for a regulated tenancy. Protected tenancies were given a high level of security of tenure by the Rent Act 1977.

Provisional damages

An award of damages in a personal injuries case that allows the claimant to apply for further damages in the future should s/he develop a serious disease or suffer deterioration in her/his mental condition.

Public funding

A term used commonly to refer to Legal Services Commission funding for legal aid assistance.

Quiet enjoyment

A tenant's right of undisturbed enjoyment of premises. Quiet enjoyment is an implied term of all tenancies.