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.

Homelessness

Changes made 03 April 2020

On 31 March 2020, The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Commencement No. 2) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/388 brought into force section 15 and Part 1 of Schedule 12 to the Coronavirus Act 2020 that temporarily suspend a number of duties under the Care Act 2014, including the duty to carry out care and support plans and meet eligible care needs. However, these duties must still be carried out if a failure to do so would result in a breach of human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Department of Health & Social Care has published ‘Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities’ that advises local authorities are still expected to respond as soon as possible to requests for care and support, so that they do not infringe on the individual's human rights, and that the purpose of the temporary easements is to ensure the best possible care for people during the pandemic, therefore they should be implemented only where it is necessary to do so. A link to the guidance can be found under essential links on this and related pages on Shelter Legal.

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When an EPC is required

Changes made 02 April 2020

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance on how to obtain Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) during the coronavirus pandemic that confirms the requirement to obtain EPC remains in place and advises on appropriate safety precautions. A link to the 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Energy Performance Certificates' can be found under 'Essential links' on this and related pages on Shelter Legal.

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Rough sleeping

Changes made 31 March 2020

People who are rough sleeping or living in temporary accommodation are bound to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It is important that measures taken locally and nationally in response to it is effectively communicated to people who use homelessness support services. The charity Groundswell have developed resources to support people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which will be updated as the situation evolves and in line with national guidance, feedback from partners and ongoing consultation with people who are experiencing homelessness. They include templates and flyers on coronavirus that can be handed out to people who are rough sleeping or living in hostels or other temporary accommodation (with the key points translated into various languages). A link to 'Coronavirus advice and planning for people experiencing homelessness' can be found on this page of Shelter Legal.

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Agency charges

Changes made 31 March 2020

Regulation 2 of the Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents (Approval and Designation of Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/331 has amended regulation 5(2A) of the Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents (Approval and Designation of Schemes) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/751 and extended the ‘grace period’ of deemed compliance with the requirement to hold clients’ money with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to 1 April 2021. The 2020/331 Regulations came into force on 24 March 2020.

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Right to rent immigration checks

Changes made 30 March 2020

From 30 March 2020, the Home Office has temporarily suspended the requirement to check the original documents as part of the right to rent checks and outlined a procedure for remote checks and follow-up checks in the future, where appropriate. More information is available on this and related pages on Shelter Legal.

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Protection for tenants

Changes made 30 March 2020

In its latest guidance for landlords and tenants, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government advises that that landlords should only access the tenant's property if the repair and safety issues are 'serious and urgent' and if this is the case, tenants should take additional precautions, such as remaining in separate rooms during the landlord's visit. It advises that tenants living in hazardous properties should still be assured of the local authority support, that landlords prevented from meeting their routine obligations due to the COVID-19 restrictions should not be unfairly penalised, and that nobody can be removed from their home because of the virus. The guidance should be checked regularly for updates. A link to the 'COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities' can be found under 'Essential links' on this page. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 27 March 2020 The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced that from 27 March 2020, all possession proceedings for tenants and homeowners have been suspended for 90 days, and that this period could be extended further in the future. A link to the 'Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' can be found under 'Essential links' on this page.]

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Court and tribunal hearings

Changes made 27 March 2020

New Practice Direction 51Z confirms that possession proceedings under CPR Part 55, including applications for a warrant/writ to enforce a possession order, are to be stayed for 90 days from 27 March 2020. A link to the ‘Courts and Tribunals Judiciary - New Practice Direction 51Z to Stay Possession Proceedings’ is available under ‘Essential links’ on this page, which contains information on changes to court and tribunal hearings introduced as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Mortgage payment problems

Changes made 27 March 2020

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed in their guidance that borrowers who are struggling to pay their mortgage because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are entitled to a three months payment break. A link to the ‘FCA - Mortgages and coronavirus: our guidance for firms’ is available under ‘Essential links’ on this page, which contains information about options for borrowers who are experiencing problems with paying their mortgage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Notices: Assured tenancies

Changes made 26 March 2020

From 26 March 2020, paragraph 6 Schedule 29 Coronavirus Act 2020 amends section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, so that the minimum notice period for any notice seeking possession served on an assured tenancy during the relevant period between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 is 3 months and the landlord will not be able to commence possession proceedings until 3 months have passed. The relevant period may be subject to further extensions. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 19 February 2020: In Pease v Carter & Anor [2020] EWCA Civ 175, the Court of Appeal held that the ‘reasonable recipient’ test applied to notices of proceedings for possession served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (‘section 8’ notices for assured and assured shorthold tenants). The Court examined previous case law and outlined the following approach to assessing the validity of statutory notices, including 'section 8' notices: (1) Would the notice be understood by a ‘reasonable recipient’ reading it in context?Consideration may be given to any covering letters accompanying the notice. (2) If the ‘reasonable recipient’ would be able to spot the error and establish the notice’s intended meaning, this is how the notice should be interpreted. (3) Does the notice comply with the statutory requirements specific to the legal regime under which it is served? This would involve considering the purpose of those requirements, for example, whether the date that is required by statute and has been recorded wrong is of particular contractual significance. (4) If the notice, properly interpreted, does not comply with the statutory requirements, does the relevant statutory regime permit the notice to be ‘substantially to the same effect’ as the prescribed form? In this case, the tenants had a statutory periodic AST. On 7 November 2018 the landlord served notices on the grounds of rent arrears under section 8 of the 1988 Act and erroneously recorded the date after which court proceedings would begin as 26 November 2017, instead of 26 November 2018. The landlord’s covering letter listed the correct date. The Court of Appeal held that the ‘reasonable recipient’ test was satisfied and that sections 8(3)(b) and 8(4B) of the 1988 Act did not require the notice to specify dates of particular contractual significance – the purpose of the two weeks’ requirement was to give the tenant time to react to the threat of possession, for example by paying off the arrears, seeking advice or finding alternative accommodation.]

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Notices: Secure tenancies

Changes made 26 March 2020

From 26 March 2020, paragraph 4 Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 amends sections 83 and 83ZA of the Housing Act 1985, so that the minimum notice period for any notice seeking possession served on a secure tenant during the relevant period between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 is 3 months and the landlord will not be able to commence possession proceedings until 3 months have passed. The relevant period may be subject to further extensions.

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