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.

Universal credit deductions for non-dependants and debt

Changes made 17 May 2021

This page has been updated to reflect the fact that on 11 May 2021 the DWP revised the 2021-2022 benefit rates policy and set the amount to be deducted for court fines at 5% of the universal credit standard allowance. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 12 April 2021: This page has been updated to include information about the High Court decision in R (on the application of Blundell & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2021] EWHC 608 (Admin). The High Court held that the current DWP policy which does not allow DWP decision makers to exercise discretion when determining the amount to be deducted from the claimant’s universal credit allowance for court fines is unlawful. Welfare benefit advisors and claimants can bring this case to the DWP’s attention when requesting a lower level of deductions for court fines on the grounds of financial hardship or exceptional circumstances.]

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Breathing space and landlord notices in possession proceedings

Changes made 07 May 2021

This new page explains the impact of The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 on notices by tenancy type. It covers banned and permitted notices during a breathing space and mental health crisis moratorium

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Notice of seeking possession to end an assured tenancy

Changes made 05 May 2021

This page has been updated to reflect the fact that the prescribed form for a notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy was amended on 4 May 2021 by The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (Moratorium Debt) (Consequential Amendment) (England) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/518. From 4 May 2021 any notice served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 has to be in the new form or substantially to the same effect.

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Breathing space debt moratorium and possession proceedings

Changes made 04 May 2021

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 May 2021. The regulations introduce a new scheme to help people with unmanageable debts. Where rent or mortgage arrears are included in a breathing space moratorium, landlords and mortgage lenders are prevented from demanding payment or taking possession action. This new page provides information on what a breathing space is, who qualifies for one, and the effect of a moratorium on notices and possession proceedings.

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Covid-19: Homelessness

Changes made 28 April 2021

This and related pages on Shelter Legal have been updated to reflect the recent amendments to paragraphs 8.44 and 8.45 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities. The Code advises that applicants who are clinically extremely vulnerable are likely to be assessed as in priority need, and that where the applicant has an underlying health condition increasing the risk of a severe Covid-19 outcome, their priority need should be assessed in the context of the pandemic. The Code also provides information on further resources in relation to clinical support for people with a history of rough sleeping. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 1 April 2021: This and related pages on Shelter Legal have been updated to reflect the fact that on 29 March 2021 The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/364 came into force. The definition of a ‘vulnerable person’ for the purposes of assessing vulnerability during the Covid-19 pandemic is contained in regulation 2 of the Regulations. The argument for priority need on the grounds of the homeless applicant’s vulnerability remains strengthened where the applicant is 70 years old or older, or has an underlying health condition.] [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 29 March 2021: In R (on the application of Ncube) v Brighton and Hove City Council [2021] EWHC 578 (Admin), the High Court has held that during the coronavirus pandemic local authorities can lawfully accommodate people from abroad with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). The powers to accommodate come from section 138 of the Local Government Act 1972 and section 2B of the National Health Service Act 2006, which allow local authorities to provide accommodation to people in their area, including those with NRPF, where there is an emergency or a disaster that involves danger to life, and to take such steps as they consider appropriate to improve the health of the people in their area. The High Court has held that the Covid-19 pandemic meets the definition of an emergency under section 138 of the 1972 Act. Shelter has intervened in the case.]

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Responsibility for electrical safety in rented homes

Changes made 13 April 2021

This page has been updated to reflect the fact that from 1 April 2021 The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/312 apply to all private rented sector tenancies, including tenancies that started before 1 June 2020. The existing exclusions, including tenancies where living accommodation is shared with a resident landlord and student halls of residence, continue to apply.

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Covid-19: Mortgage payment problems

Changes made 29 March 2021

This page has been updated to include the finalised guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority for mortgage lenders. It explains how to deal with vulnerable customers and apply tailored support guidance at the end of a payment deferral. The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2021/362 which ban evictions until 31 May 2021 apply to borrowers as well as tenants.

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Application to set aside a possession order

Changes made 26 March 2021

In Sangha v Amicus Finance Plc (2020) EWHC 1074 (Ch), the High Court held that obtaining late legal advice was not a ground to set aside a possession order made at a hearing. The application under CPR 3.1(7) was made 10 months late and there were no new facts or exceptional circumstances. The application did not meet the test set out in CPR 39.3(5) for setting aside an order made at trial.

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Landlord ends an assured tenancy

Changes made 26 March 2021

In Gateway Housing Association Ltd. v (1) The Personal Representatives of Mr Ali (Deceased) (2) Mrs Begum [2020] EWCA Civ 1339, the Court of Appeal considered the correct date for determining a periodic tenancy after service of a notice to quit on the property and the public trustee, as required by section 18(1) Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994. The landlord was required to serve a notice on the personal representatives of the deceased, and a copy of that notice on the Public Trustee. The date for expiry of the notice was that on the original notice served on the property, as long as a copy had been served on the Public Trustee before it expired. This page has been updated with the requirements of terminating a periodic assured tenancy as outlined above.

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Appeals on a point of law to the county court

Changes made 24 March 2021

When a homeless applicant requests an internal review of the local authority's homelessness decision issued under section 184 of the Housing Act 1996, the local authority must carry out the review and notify them of the outcome. If the review decision is not provided within a specified time limit, under section 204(1)(b) of the 1996 Act the applicant may appeal the original homelessness decision in the County Court. There may be circumstances when the review decision is provided late, either before or after the start of the appeal process. In Ngnoguem v Milton Keynes Council [2021] EWCA Civ 396, the Court of Appeal has held that a late review decision replaces the original section 184 homelessness decision and becomes the relevant decision for the purposes of the County Court appeal. If the applicant is notified of the review decision late but before the start of the appeal process, the appeal must be brought as a challenge to the review decision, not the original homelessness decision. If the applicant is notified after starting the process of appealing the original homelessness decision, the appeal will become academic, unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Court of Appeal observed that it would be wrong for the local authority to attempt to gain some advantage by manipulating the time of when the review decision is issued.

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