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.

Offences and enforcement

Changes made 18 October 2019

In Luton Borough Council v Altavon Luton Ltd & Ors [2019] EWHC 2415 (Admin), the High Court held that having control of or managing an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) under section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004 as well as non-compliance with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 SI 372/2006 were continuing offences, the six months’ time limit for laying information before the magistrates’ court, pursuant to section 127(1) of the Magistrates' Court Act 1980, had run from the date of the local authority’s inspection of the property that was necessary to gather evidence and identify the breaches of the regulatory offences, not from the date when the local authority first received a complaint and started investigating the matter.

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Deductions to repay debt

Changes made 17 October 2019

On 16 October 2019, the DWP updated its guidance on debt and deductions from Universal Credit (UC) to specify that the maximum amount that can be deducted is the equivalent of 30% of the claimant’s UC standard allowance, except for the Last Resort Deductions (arrears of housing and fuel) and ongoing monthly costs for utilities (gas, electricity and water), where there are also arrears being repaid. However, para 4, Schedule 6 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/380 has not been amended and continues to list 40 per cent of the standard UC allowance as the threshold, subject to certain exemptions in respect of housing cost, rent and fuel cost, where the DWP considers repayments resulting in the threshold being exceeded to be in the claimant's best interest. A link to the ‘Universal Credit: debt and deductions that can be taken from payments’ guidance can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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Repossession of leasehold property

Changes made 15 October 2019

In Timbo v Lambeth LBC [2019] EWHC 1396 (Ch), while dismissing a late application for relief from forfeiture on the grounds of arrears, the High Court held that as the flat was occupied by the non-resident leaseholder’s tenants, what prevented the landlord form re-entering without issuing possession proceedings, the forfeiture and the six months' time limit had run from the date when the landlord’s possession claim had been served, not the warrant execution date. The High Court observed that while it was not bound by section 210 of the Common Law Procedure Act 1852, which imposes the six months’ time limit for applications for relief from forfeiture on the grounds of arrears, it should have regard to this restriction when deciding whether to exercise its equitable jurisdiction and grant relief on an application made out of time. In this case, the landlord obtained money judgements for non-payment of service charges, which were reserved as ‘further and additional’ rent under the terms of the lease.

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Time limits for internal reviews

Changes made 11 October 2019

In R (on the application of B) [2019] EWHC 250 (Admin), the High Court held that while the local authority had a continuing duty to ensure suitability of accommodation provided under homelessness duties pursuant to Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, there was no statutory obligation to accept an out of time review request under section 202(1)(f) of the 1996 Act. The applicant requested an out of time suitability review on the grounds that the property was unaffordable as the cost of electricity exceeded the previously estimated threshold and supported her request with one electricity bill for the winter period. The local authority refused to carry out the review and the applicant’s challenge in the High Court was unsuccessful. The applicant applied for permission to appeal. In B v Redbridge [2019] EWCA Civ 1592, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal on the basis that the authority’s decision was rational, and the applicant had no real prospect of a successful challenge. As the electricity bill submitted as evidence of unaffordability covered the coldest part of the year (December 2017 to March 2018), the Court of Appeal directed the applicant to produce electricity bills over a longer period and found the average cost of electricity to fall below the previously estimated threshold of £20. The Court found that while not directly relevant, it supported the conclusion that the local authority’s decision to refuse the out of time review request had been rational.

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Mandatory licensing

Changes made 10 October 2019

On 9 October 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government updated the guidance for local authorities on mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) to emphasise the need for licensing and planning teams to cooperate. Local authorities are encouraged to ensure planning permission has been obtained before issuing an HMO licence. A link to the ‘Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing reform: guidance for local housing authorities’ guidance can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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Five years' residence

Changes made 10 October 2019

In Cardiff CC v HM (HB) [2019] UKUT 271 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal confirmed that in order to acquire a permanent right to reside under Article 16 of the Directive 2004/38 (‘Citizenship Directive’), an EEA national or her/his family member must have resided in the UK lawfully for a period of five years. It was held that the Upper Tribunal’s decisions made without reference to the Secretary of State for the Home Department v Ojo [2015] EWCA Civ 1301 case, in which the Court of Appeal held that the acquisition of a permanent right to reside pursuant to Article 16 of the Citizenship Directive was dependent on the residence being lawful throughout, had been made per incuriam (lit. ‘through lack of care’ – in this case a decision made without reference to a binding authority). The Upper Tribunal also held that the claimant’s reliance on social security benefits and a lack of private medical insurance meant he could not have been considered to be self-sufficient within the meaning of Article 7(1)(b) of the Citizenship Directive, and that the claimant’s circumstances were not exceptional and therefore the proportionality argument could not be relied upon (see Mirga v SSWP [2016] UKSC 1). [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 25 July 2019]: Article 16(1) of the Directive 2004/38/EC (‘Citizenship Directive’) states that EU citizens who have resided legally in the host Member State for a continuous period of five years acquire a permanent right to reside. In the Secretary of State for the Home Department v Franco Vomero [2019] UKSC 35, the Supreme Court confirmed that while periods of lawful residence before April 2006 could be taken into account for the purpose of calculating the qualifying period of five years’ continuous lawful residence, ‘no right of permanent residence could in law be acquired before 30 April 2006, when the period of transposing the Directive expired’. It was held that an EU national who had been lawfully resident in the UK for a continuous period of five years followed by imprisonment between 2001 and 2006, had not acquired a permanent right to reside under Article 16 of the Directive by the date of his deportation order in March 2007.

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Rent repayment orders

Changes made 08 October 2019

In the case of Mrs Elanga Longane et al v Frank Mukahanana and Wealth Harbour Consulting Ltd (case ref LON/00AH/HMG/2018/0002, 14 January 2019), former tenants of an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) applied to the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) for a rent repayment order (RRO) under sections 40-44 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 against both the limited company named as the landlord on the tenancy agreement and its sole director, who was a joint owner of the property. Rent was paid to a managing agent. The FTT held that since there was no evidence the limited company had any property interest in the HMO, it was not the landlord for the purpose of section 40 of the 2016 Act and a RRO should be made against the joint owner of the property as the landlord. It was also held that where an application fee remained outstanding and the local authority’s licensing scheme required payment to be processed in order for an application to be accepted, the landlord did not have a defence under sections 95(3) (application for a licence duly made and effective) or 95(4) (reasonable excuse) of the Housing Act 2004 and a rent repayment order for 20% of the total amount of rent paid in the relevant period was made. When determining the amount of the RRO the FTT took into account the landlord’s conduct and the absence of a conviction. Please, note that this is a non-binding decision.

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Right to reside

Changes made 07 October 2019

A link to the Home Office/UKVI guidance for caseworkers considering applications under the EU Settlement Scheme has been added on this page. It covers: (1) rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members (2) suitability requirements (3) derivative right to reside (Chen/Ibrahim/Texeira cases) (4) rights of family members of a qualifying British citizen (5) rights of persons with a Zambrano right to reside. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 27 September 2019] The AIRE Centre, one of the voluntary organisations across the UK being funded to provide help and information to vulnerable EU, EEA and Swiss citizens applying to the EU Settlement Scheme, has published a series of useful information sheets covering their rights and Brexit, in both 'deal' and 'no deal' scenarios. A link can be found on this page of Shelter Legal, under the EU Settlement Scheme heading. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 28 August 2019] On 19 August 2019, the Home Office published a media factsheet on EU Citizens and freedom of movement stating that the EU Settlement Scheme covers all EU citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October 2019 and that these EU citizens will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply. A link to this and to the contact page of the EU Settlement Resolution Centre have been added on this page of Shelter Legal. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 30 July 2019] The NRPF Network has updated its guidance for local authorities with information on how they can help EU/EEA/Swiss residents in the UK to secure their rights to remain after Brexit. A link to the guidance can be found on this page of Shelter Legal.

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Tenant fees: permitted payments

Changes made 02 October 2019

In response to users' feedback, this page has been amended to clarify the distinction between a surrender and a novation in the context of permitted payments under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

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Property guardians

Changes made 02 October 2019

In Ludgate House Ltd v Ricketts (Valuation Officer) [2019] UKUT 278 (LC), the Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal against the inclusion of an office building occupied by property guardians in a non-domestic rating list and held that instead the building was subject to domestic council tax regime. This was because it found that the purpose of the guardians' occupation of the building was residential and that they had key and exclusive possession of their individual rooms.

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