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.

Accommodation during a review or appeal of a homelessness decision

Changes made 01 March 2021

This page has been updated with information on applicants who are ineligible for accommodation pending the outcome of a review or appeal of a homelessness decision.

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Banned tenant fees and penalties for landlords

Changes made 25 February 2021

This page has been renamed and updated following user feedback. It not includes information about enforcement, penalties and sanctions for charging banned tenant fees.

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Local authority allocation schemes

Changes made 24 February 2021

R (on the application of Nur) and another v Birmingham City Council [2020] EWHC 3526 (Admin) concerned the lawfulness of the Council’s allocation policy. The High Court held that the Council had acted in breach of its own allocations policy in preferring bids for adapted properties from households with children, over a household containing a disabled adult. The Court found that the intention to give a ‘weighting factor’ to bids from families with children led to a situation where the absence of children in a family resulted in a bid being ‘skipped’. The parties were given directions for Mrs Nur to proceed with her claims for unlawful indirect discrimination, breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty and breach of duty under s.29 Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities. [Previous what's new 18 Dec 2020: Flores, R (on the application of) v Southwark LBC [2020] EWCA Civ 1697, the Court of Appeal overturned the previous High Court decision and held that the applicant who had moved into a one-bedroom flat with their family a few years before applying to join the local authority’s housing register had not committed a deliberate act of causing their household’s overcrowding within the meaning of the housing allocation scheme. The property was the only affordable accommodation at the time and the fact that the applicant’s children subsequently reached the age at which the household became statutorily overcrowded was not a deliberate act.]

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Evidence in civil claims and housing cases

Changes made 24 February 2021

This page has been updated to include more information about evidence in civil court cases, including the formal requirements for presenting witness evidence to the court. It includes details of how to assist a witness to prepare evidence and additional requirements where the witness does not read English.

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Eligibility for universal credit

Changes made 24 February 2021

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has been granted permission to appeal by the Supreme Court in Fratila & Anor v SSWP & Anor [2020] EWCA Civ 1741. The stay on implementation of the decision has been extended until the Supreme Court judgment. This page and others have been updated to include this information. [Previous what's new 10 February 2021: This page has been updated to provide more detailed information on how eligibility for universal credit is determined. A person is eligible for universal credit if they are not subject to immigration control, are in Great Britain and are either habitually resident with a right to reside or exempt from habitual residence. The page also includes information on the eligibility of EEA nationals for universal credit following the end of the Brexit transition period.]

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Covid-19: Protection for tenants

Changes made 22 February 2021

The ban on evictions has been extended to 31 March 2021 by The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021. Exceptions to the ban remain unchanged, see the page for full details. [Previous what's new 18 February 2021 This page has been updated with the MHCLG announcement that the ban on evictions will continue until 31 March 2021. Regulations will be laid before the current ban expires on 21 February 2021. In The Corporation of the Trinity House of Deptford Strond v Prescott and Byrne [2021] EWHC 283 (QB), the High Court held that a landlord could not rely on the exception for substantial rent arrears in a case where the possession order was made under s.21 and a money judgment was granted for arrears at the same time. At the point of the claimant’s application for a declaration from the court that the exception applied to the case, the arrears stood in excess of 21 months' rent. The claimant had made an application to amend the claim to include grounds 8, 10 and 11 (rent arrears), but no decision was made on the application by the district judge during the possession hearing, as s.21 was made out.] [Previous what's new 11 January 2021 The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/15 came into force on 11 January 2021. The regulations impose a stay on evictions with exceptions for some cases including possession orders made on grounds of anti social behaviour, domestic violence, death of the tenant. Evictions can go ahead in cases of substantial rent arrears. This means arrears equal to or exceeding six months rent at the date the warrant is applied for.] [Previous what's new 18 December 2020 On 8 December 2020 the Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice provided clarification on the exemption to the ban on evictions that applies until 11 January 2021. The letter specifies that the aim of the exemptions is to ‘prevent harm to third parties’, take action against ‘egregious behaviour’ and in cases which ‘threaten to undermine confidence in the integrity of the system’ and that the aim of the ban on evictions is to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at a time when the risk of infections is increased. A link to the ‘COVID-19: guidance for those leading a nomadic way of life’ that advises what to do if someone develops symptoms of Covid-19 when living on a traveller site, in a vehicle or on a canal boat is available under ‘Essential links’ on this and related pages on Shelter Legal. The guidance was last updated on 14 December 2020.] [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 10 December 2020: This and related pages on Shelter Legal have been updated to include a link to the collection of guidance for local authorities on how to carry out their duties during the coronavirus pandemic. A link to the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for local government’ is available under ‘Essential links’.]

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How universal credit is calculated

Changes made 19 February 2021

The Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (Claimants previously entitled to a severe disability premium) Amendment Regulations 2021 provide for the payment of the transitional SDP element for new claimants. This page has been updated to include information on the transitional SDP element and the transitional element in universal credit.

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When main housing duty is ended

Changes made 18 February 2021

In Nikolaeva v London Borough of Redbridge (2020) EWCA Civ 1586, the Court of Appeal held that where a homeless applicant refused a final offer of accommodation, the local authority could not end its duty under section 193(7) of the Housing Act 1996 unless it was satisfied that the actual property offered was available and suitable. The Court did not accept the local authority’s argument that it might be sufficient for a local authority to discharge the main housing duty following a mere nomination for the homeless applicant to become an assured tenant of a housing association under section 159(2) of the 1996 Act and held that the final offer must be of an actual property.

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Local connection decisions in homelessness applications

Changes made 15 February 2021

In R (Minott) v Cambridge CC [2021] EWHC 211 (Admin), the High Court held that a homeless applicant who had remained in interim accommodation after their licence to occupy had been terminated, had not acquired a local connection. Unlawful occupation of former interim accommodation was not normal residence required to establish a local connection under section 199(1)(a) of the Housing Act 1996. The interim accommodation was originally provided under section 188(1) and extended under section 199A(2) of the 1996 Act.

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Restrictions on community care help for people from abroad

Changes made 15 February 2021

After 31 December 2020 adult EEA nationals are no longer excluded from social services support under the Care Act 2014 and Children Act 1989 on the grounds of nationality. They are excluded only if they fall into another category of ineligible people from abroad listed in Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, for example if they are in the UK in breach of immigration laws. This and related pages on Shelter Legal have been updated to reflect this change, implemented by reg 13(4)(b) of The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 (Consequential, Saving, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1309.

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