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.

Succession: Secure and flexible tenancies

Changes made 06 March 2019

The statutory succession regime under the Housing Act 1985 differentiates between children of divorced joint tenants and children of deceased joint tenants. This is referred to as the ‘death-divorce dichotomy’. In Haringey LBC v Simawi [2018] EWHC 2733 (QB), the High Court held that the difference in treatment of these two groups was not without foundation and was compatible with Article 14 ECHR read in conjunction with Article 8 ECHR, because the differential treatment was objectively justified by the need to address different policy objectives: on one hand, the fair distribution of limited social housing, and on the other, the need to adjust property rights following divorce or other matrimonial proceedings. However, the Court of Appeal has since granted permission to appeal. The hearing has been listed for October 2019 and similar cases in county courts should be stayed pending the outcome.

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Landlord’s duty of care for repairs

Changes made 01 March 2019

Under section 4 Defective Premises Act 1972, a landlord who has an implied or express obligation to repair or maintain premises, or has a right to enter the premises to carry out certain repairs, owes a duty of care to ensure that all persons who could reasonably be affected by 'relevant defects' in the state of the premises are reasonably safe from personal injury or damage resulting from the defects. The duty is triggered if the landlord 'knows or ought to know of the relevant defect' regardless of whether the landlord was informed of it. In Rogerson v Bolsover DC [2019] EWCA Civ 226, the Court of Appeal held that whether a landlord is under a duty to implemented a system of regular inspections of the premises in order to comply with the section 4 duty is a question of fact and must be determined in light of all the circumstances of the individual case. This question would arise when considering whether the landlord ought in all the circumstances to have known of the defect. As such, while the question of having a continuing duty to inspect premises to ensure that defects do not develop is not a specific statutory requirement, it may be relevant if such an inspection would reveal a likely defect.

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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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Allocation of PRPSH properties

Changes made 08 February 2018

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