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.

Overpayments of housing benefit

Changes made 30 April 2019

Where a local authority notifies a claimant that it wishes to recover of a housing benefit overpayment, the claimant is entitled to challenge the decision by way of an internal review and/or appeal to the First-tier tribunal. In KH v Wandsworth LBC (HB) [2019] UKUT 45 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal held that where an applicant had lodged an appeal in the First-tier tribunal against an overpayment decision, the authority’s response should have included copies of all documents relevant to the case, including a statement explaining how the overpayment had been calculated.

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Tenancies that cannot be secure

Changes made 26 April 2019

In Mohamed v Barnet LBC [2019] EWHC 1012 (QB), the High Court found that temporary accommodation provided by the local authority pursuant to its duties under the Children Act 1989 via private sector leasing could not be secure as the exception in paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1985 applied and the licence to occupy the property enabled the landlord to obtain vacant possession when required.

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Qualifying persons

Changes made 18 April 2019

Local authorities have the power to decide who qualifies for an allocation of social housing under their allocation schemes. When framing qualification criteria, local authorities must have regard to their duties under the Equality Act 2010. Schemes that discriminate directly or indirectly against persons with protected characteristics under the Act may be unlawful. In R (Gullu) v Hillingdon LBC and R (Teresa Ward and others) v Hillingdon LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 692, the Court of Appeal found that where a local authority was unable to justify indirect discrimination against Irish Travellers and non-UK nationals (including refugees) arising from a 10-year residence requirement, the provision amounted to unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race.

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Rogue landlord database

Changes made 17 April 2019

On 9 April 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published 'Rogue landlord enforcement: guidance for local authorities', aimed at providing local authority enforcement officers with detailed information on the powers and options open to them to tackle rogue landlords in the private rented sector. A link to the guidance can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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Payment condition

Changes made 17 April 2019

Universal credit (UC) claimants cannot receive a housing costs element in respect of specified accommodation. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is concerned that some UC claimants, who they direct to claim housing benefit because they believe they live in specified accommodation, are not being signposted back to UC to claim support with housing costs if the local authority subsequently decides that the accommodation does not meet the specified accommodation criteria to award housing benefit. The DWP has issued LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 4/2019 (paras 8 to 11) advising how such claimants must be advised by the local authority in order to re-declare housing costs as part of their UC claim.

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Alternatives to legal proceedings

Changes made 15 April 2019

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO complaint no 17 012 432) found that Basingstoke and Deane BC had failed to notify the applicant of its decision to accept a full housing duty under the homelessness legislation, forced him to accept an offer of unaffordable accommodation and subsequently removed him from social housing waiting list. The Ombudsman recommended the authority rectified the injustice by compensating the applicant and awarding him the highest priority on the waiting list for all eligible properties.

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Right to rent immigration checks

Changes made 12 April 2019

On 9 April 2019 the Home Office published a guide for landlords wishing to rent to members of the ‘Windrush’ generation and other non-EEA nationals who have resided in the UK long-term. A link to the 'Landlords: right to rent checks on long-resident non-EEA nationals and Windrush generation' can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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Key rights of private tenants

Changes made 12 April 2019

On 9 April 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published a guide for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector. A link to the 'Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector' can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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County court appeal time limits

Changes made 12 April 2019

Where an applicant’s review of a homelessness decision under section 202 of the Housing Act 1996 is not successful, s/he may be able to challenge the outcome by way of a county court appeal under section 204 of the Act. An appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the review outcome notification. Late applications for permission to appeal may be allowed if the court is satisfied there was a ‘good reason’ for the applicant's failure to bring the appeal in time and for any delay in applying for permission. In Tower Hamlets LBC v Al Ahmed [2019] EWHC 749 (QB) the High Court held that where a homeless applicant had access to a computer and was able to express his complaints in relation to the local authority’s decision, difficulties with obtaining legal representation were not a ‘good reason’ to justify a delay in applying for permission to appeal.

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Minimum energy performance standards

Changes made 10 April 2019

On 10 April 2019 the government updated its guidance for landlords of privately rented properties on complying with the 2018 ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’ standard (EPC band E). A link can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this page.

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