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.

Making a claim for universal credit

Changes made 18 March 2020

The Department for Work & Pensions has published ‘Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses’, outlining what temporary arrangements have been made to support benefit claimants affected by coronavirus (Covid-19). Among other measures, it has been announced that those affected will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without having to attend a jobcentre in person, and the minimum income floor will not apply to self-employed UC claimants who have to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19. The debt charity Step Change has published ‘Debt and Coronavirus’ - guidance for the public on what assistance may be available for people unable to meet their financial obligations, including paying their rent or mortgage, because of the coronavirus. Links to both publications can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this and other relevant pages on Shelter Legal.

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Overview of homelessness law and guidance

Changes made 17 March 2020

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance for local councils on action during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. A link to ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for local government’ can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this and other relevant pages on Shelter Legal.

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General information for advisers

Changes made 17 March 2020

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has published guidance for those attending court or tribunal hearings during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, which will continue to be updated when new advice is available. A link to the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): courts and tribunals planning and preparation’ can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this and other relevant pages on Shelter Legal.

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Making a claim

Changes made 17 March 2020

The Department for Work & Pensions has published ‘Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses’, outlining what temporary arrangements have been made to support claimants impacted by coronavirus. The debt charity Step Change has published ‘Debt and Coronavirus’ - guidance for the public on what assistance may be available for people unable to meet their financial obligations, including paying their rent or mortgage, because of the coronavirus. Links to both publications can be found under ‘Essential links’ on this and other relevant pages on Shelter Legal.

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Restrictions on eligible rents: Social rented sector tenants

Changes made 10 March 2020

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused the UK government’s application to appeal the ECHR decision in A v The United Kingdom [2019] ECHR 753. In October 2019, the ECHR held that applying the ‘bedroom tax’ to survivors of domestic abuse who lived in homes adapted under the ‘sanctuary scheme’ was a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 1, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There was a conflict between the legitimate aim of the 'bedroom tax' (to incentivise those who under-occupy to move into smaller properties) and the 'sanctuary scheme' (to enable those at serious risk of domestic violence to remain in their own homes safely, should they wish to do so). Furthermore, A’s gender meant her situation was different than other claimants subjected to the ‘bedroom tax’, and that she was particularly prejudiced by it. The Court held that, in the absence of any ‘weighty reasons’ justifying this lack of difference in treatment, the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on people housed in 'sanctuary schemes' was disproportionate, because it did not correspond with the legitimate aim of the measure. Since the government’s application to appeal has failed, the ECHR judgment is now final. Until the relevant regulations are amended, it can be used to support challenging housing benefit deductions under the ‘bedroom tax’ regime where the claimant occupies a property adapted under the ‘sanctuary scheme’.

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Payment condition

Changes made 09 March 2020

The ‘Service charges’ section of the page has been updated to include a reference to the DWP guidance on universal credit (UC) and service charges, which provides an exhaustive list of all categories of eligible service charges under the UC rules. The ‘Universal Credit: service charges - guidance for landlords’ can be accessed via the link to ‘Gov.uk – DWP: Universal credit guides’ under ‘Essential links’.

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Cases where action is necessary

Changes made 06 March 2020

In Shilabeer & Anor v Lanceley [2019] EWHC 3380 (QB), the High Court awarded a non-owning cohabitant (an unmarried partner) of the deceased owner a 10 per cent share of the equity to reflect her financial contribution to the purchase price. The owner died intestate (without making a will) and the unmarried partner remained in occupation. However, the Court also ordered her to pay charges for use and occupation for the period of the delay in selling the property, to compensate the beneficiaries of the estate. The charges were set at 90 per cent of the rent that could have been reasonably expected to be achieved if the property had been rented out. This judgment shows that the courts can exercise their discretion when deciding whether to award money to the estate for a third party’s use and occupation of the property where it delays the sale. The court’s power arises from the principles of equitable accounting, meaning distributing funds fairly.

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Nuisance

Changes made 28 February 2020

In Fearn & Ors v The Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery [2020] EWCA Civ 104, the owners of flats with floor-to-ceiling windows brought proceedings against a nearby gallery whose guests frequently looked into their flats and invaded their privacy. The Court of Appeal examined the relevant case law and found that mere overlooking was not capable of giving rise to a cause of action for private nuisance. The Court held there had been no reported cases in which a claimant had successfully brought a claim for nuisance against their neighbour for overlooking and that, unlike noise, dirt, fumes, noxious smells or vibrations, it would be difficult to apply the objective test of whether there had been a material interference with the amenity value of the affected land to overlooking. Because the core issue was invasion of privacy rather than damage to interests in the property, occupiers affected by overlooking could use other remedies, such as laws relating to privacy, confidentiality or harassment. The Court expressed the view that, rather than extending the law of private nuisance to overlooking, it would be preferable to leave this issue to be regulated by the Parliament.

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