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.

Time limits for internal reviews

Changes made 27 February 2019

Under section 202 Housing Act 1996 an applicant can request a review of the suitability of accommodation offered in connection with any of the local authority’s duties or powers under a homelessness application. In R (on the application of B) v Redbridge LBC [2019] EWHC 250 (Admin), the High Court decided that there is only a right to one statutory review of suitability and that the request must be made within 21 days of the decision that the accommodation is suitable (which may be within the offer letter). Accommodation must be suitable until such time as the local authority has ended its duty. However, challenging suitability after the 21-day deadline will require the applicant to ask for a fresh decision or an out of time review of suitability. A refusal by the authority to do so may be challengeable by judicial review.

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Notices to quit: Tenants

Changes made 27 February 2019

Following user feedback, further information has been added about the status of a periodic tenant who remains in the property after giving a valid notice to quit which has expired.

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Help for ineligible children and families in England

Changes made 26 February 2019

In R (on the application of AA) v Bexley LBC [2019] EWHC 130 (Admin), the High Court considered the refusal of a local authority to provide support under s.17 Children Act 1989 to a family with no recourse to public funds on the grounds that they were not destitute. The authority found in its child in need assessment that there were inconsistencies in evidence provided by the applicant and it identified possible sources of income. The Court found that the authority’s assessment had not taken into account the lack of evidence that any of the purported sources of income were available. Something ‘more than mere suspicion or feel is required’ before finding that an applicant is not destitute. The authority had also failed to check whether friends the applicant had previously stayed with when single, were able to accommodate her now that she had three children with her.

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Help for ineligible adult migrants in England

Changes made 19 February 2019

The Passage have produced a Modern Slavery Handbook to help advisers in homelessness roles. The handbook gives details of types of modern slavery and factors which can help identify them as well as an overview of the help available. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 14 January 2019] In R (on the application of AR) v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC [2018] EWHC 3453 (Admin), the High Court held that the local authority's failure to provide accommodation under either the Care Act 2014 or the Localism Act 2011 to a destitute EEA national who had no right to reside in the UK was lawful. In the absence of any argued need for care and support, the Care Act was not engaged. Casting doubt on the case of R (on the application of GS) v Camden LBC [2016] EWHC 1762, the Court held that a local authority was prohibited from providing accommodation under section 1 of the Localism Act (which gives an authority a 'general power of competence' to do ‘anything’ for the benefit of those present in its area) because section 2 of that Act expressly prohibits an authority from doing anything which is it is prevented from doing by any other legislation. In this case, section 185 of the Housing Act 1996 prohibits an authority from providing housing to a person who is not eligible for housing assistance.

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Qualifying persons

Changes made 18 February 2019

In R (on the application of TW) (No.2) v Hillingdon LBC [2019] EWHC 157 (Admin), the High Court considered the factors which local authorities should take into account to avoid unlawful discrimination when imposing residence requirements in relation to the housing register. Where persons with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 are likely to be particularly affected, local authorities should consider empirical evidence around the total number of people with that characteristic in their area and how many are affected by the residence requirement. They should normally consult with groups with relevant expertise, such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and their own case files to assist with their enquiries.

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Suitability of accommodation

Changes made 18 February 2019

When assessing suitability of accommodation offered following a homelessness application, local authorities can take account of the general housing circumstances in the area. In Kannan v Newham LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 57, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that where local authorities do so in relation to an applicant falling under the public sector equality duty, it is the housing conditions of other disabled persons which must be considered, not 'the generality of persons who are not living in ideal conditions'.

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Family of workers and self-employed

Changes made 18 February 2019

Under regulation 8 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, non-EEA dependent relatives of EEA nationals exercising Treaty rights in the UK qualify as 'extended family members' and can apply for a right to reside to accompany or join their EEA relatives in the UK. In Fatima v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 124, the Court of Appeal confirmed once again that dependence or household membership can only relate to the EEA national, not a spouse or civil partner of the EEA national. While regulation 8 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052 expressly requires dependence to be on the EEA national, the challenge concerned the wording of its predecessor regulation 8 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1003.

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Equality Act 2010: key concepts

Changes made 12 February 2019

Section 158 of the Equality Act 2010 permits ‘positive action’ to tackle disadvantage faced by those sharing a protected characteristic even if it disadvantages those sharing a different protected characteristic. Section 193 provides that a charity will not be in breach of its obligations under the Act not to discriminate if it restricts any of its services to persons who share a protected characteristic (save where the protected characteristic is defined by colour). Both sections can be a defence to a discrimination claim where a charity’s policy or action is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In R (on the application of Z) v (1) Hackney LBC (2) Agudas Israel Housing Association [2019] EWHC 139 (Admin), the High Court held that a small charitable housing association did not unlawfully discriminate by prioritising allocation of its social housing to members of the Orthodox Jewish community (religion or belief is a protected characteristic) resident in its area.

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Migration and transitional protection

Changes made 30 January 2019

The DWP has published draft regulations dealing with the 'managed migration' of claimants of legacy benefits to universal credit (UC). If approved, the Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 will amend the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 to enable DWP to send a 'migration notice' to a claimant of income based jobseekers' allowance, income related employment support allowance, income support, housing benefit or tax credits. The notice will give the claimant a deadline of at least three months to apply for UC and if they do not, then all benefits entitlement may cease. The government has confirmed that this process will begin in July 2019 and the draft Regulations will limit the number of claims to 10,000. Once that number is reached, new legislation will be required to continue the managed migration process.

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How to calculate universal credit

Changes made 29 January 2019

In calculating the amount of universal credit payable, the general rule is that earned income taken into account in an assessment period should be the actual amount received during that period. In R (on the application of (1) Johnson (2) Woods (3) Barrett and (4) Stewart) v SSWP [2019] EWHC 23 (Admin) the High Court held that the universal credit calculation will sometimes need to be adjusted where the actual amounts received in an assessment period do not match the earned income paid in respect of that period. In this case, because salaries were payable on or around the end of a month, sometimes the claimants received salaries for two different months in one assessment period. Without an adjustment, only one 'work allowance' would apply on such occasions, significantly reducing the amount of universal credit payable.

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