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.

Complaints against agencies: Redress schemes

Changes made 24 June 2019

Since 1 October 2014, the Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014 SI 2014/2359 requires any person who engages in either letting or property management work to be member of a prescribed redress scheme for dealing with complaints 'in connection with that work'. In Newham LBC v Sampson Estates Ltd [2019] UKUT 110 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal held that 'letting agency' and 'property management' were different types of work and that agencies engaged in both needed to ensure that they were covered by a redress scheme (or schemes) in respect of all the work they did. In the instant case, the agency was registered with The Property Ombudsman for its 'residential sales and lettings work' but not for its 'residential leasehold management work'.

View page red arrow

Restrictions on use of section 21

Changes made 20 June 2019

On 10 June 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published a new version of the guide 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England' to reflect the changes introduced by the Tenant Fees Act 2019. A landlord who fails to provide a tenant with a copy of the current version of the guide cannot serve a valid section 21 notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 29 May 2019] With effect from 1 June 2019, the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/915 amend form 6A. From this date landlords must use the new prescribed form for section 21 notices. The principal change reflects the restriction on the use of the section 21 procedure to evict an assured shorthold tenant where the landlord has not repaid a prohibited payment (or unlawfully retained holding deposit), as introduced by the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

View page red arrow

Children in need

Changes made 20 June 2019

In Poole BC v GN [2019] UKSC 25, the Supreme Court held that whether a local authority is liable to pay damages for failing to protect 'children in need' accommodated with their family under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 from harm caused by third parties neighbours (known to the authority to have perpetrated anti-social behaviour against the family for years) depends on whether the authority specifically assumed responsibility for their safety and welfare and therefore owes them a common law duty of care to protect them from harm caused by third parties. While it is well established that a local authority owes a common law duty of care to a child who has been taken into care, in the absence of a care order a local authority does not owe a duty of care merely because it has statutory powers or duties under the 1989 Act, even if by exercising those powers or duties it could prevent harm being suffered. However, the Court held that a local authority and its social workers may owe a duty of care to protect from harm as a matter of fact, in the same circumstances where the principles applicable to private individuals or bodies would also impose such a duty, for example where they have created the source of the danger or assumed responsibility to prevent a person from suffering harm.

View page red arrow

Reasonable to continue to occupy: intentional homelessness

Changes made 13 June 2019

In Samuels v Birmingham City Council [2019] UKSC 28, the Supreme Court held that when considering the affordability of an applicant’s accommodation while determining whether she was intentionally homeless for failing to pay rent, the Council could take into account all of her income, including welfare benefits that were not intended specifically to meet housing costs, and compare them to her household's reasonable living expenses to assess if any shortfall between housing benefits and rent could be made up without the applicant being deprived of basic essentials such as food, clothing, heating, transport and other essentials specific to her circumstances. The Court accepted the interventions of CPAG and Shelter that the total amount of social security benefits, including child benefit and child tax credit, are intended as no more than the officially prescribed basic level of subsistence and that, in the absence of further generally accepted guidance for authorities to assess objectively the reasonableness of living expenses under the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) Order 1996 SI 1996/3204, accommodation should not be regarded as affordable if after covering housing costs the applicant would be left with a residual income insufficient to meet those essential needs.

View page red arrow

Challenging service charges

Changes made 12 June 2019

Service charges are payable to the landlord for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements or insurance, or the landlord's costs of management in respect of a dwelling. In Curo Places Ltd v Pimlett [2019] UKUT 130 (LC), the Upper Tribunal held that where the landlord was entitled to add new (‘extra’) services to the existing list of service charges, the landlord was not allowed to include charges for services previously provided for free. The landlord had been providing ground maintenance free of charge at the time the tenancy started (despite not being contractually obliged to do so or allowed to charge for it) and decided to start charging for the works. As ground maintenance was not a new service, the landlord could not add the cost to the service charges. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 11 June 2019]: In Wilcock v The Guinness Partnership Ltd [2019] UKUT 146 (LC), the Upper Tribunal held that where the occupier’s responsibility for service charges in a block of flats was contractually limited to covering the cost of garden maintenance and lighting, the landlord was unable to add charges for bulk removal of refuse from the car park to the rear of the property after the tenancy started. The fact that service charges were variable and subject to annual reviews allowed the landlord to increase/decrease the amount but not expand the schedule of service charges payable under the agreement to add new services.

View page red arrow

Agreements made before 15.1.89

Changes made 05 June 2019

In Hook v Hawkins [2019] UKUT 147 (LC), the Upper Tribunal held that where only one spouse was a protected occupier with the relevant licence under the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976, the other spouse did not enjoy protection under section 4(1) of the Act in her own right. In 1975 Mr and Ms H moved into rent-free accommodation on the farm where Mr H took up qualifying employment. No written agreement was signed. In 1990 Mr H terminated his employment and moved out. As Ms H remained in occupation, a statutory tenancy under section 4(1) of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 arose. The couple subsequently divorced. After the divorce was finalised, Ms H moved to a different property with the same landlord and started paying rent. The Upper Tribunal held that since the statutory tenancy under section 4(1) of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 was not transferred to Ms H during the divorce proceedings, statutory protection ended on divorce. Therefore, Ms H’s occupation of the new property did not satisfy the conditions in section 2(3) of the Act and she was an assured tenant under the Housing Act 1988.

View page red arrow

Tenant fees

Changes made 29 May 2019

The main provisions of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 come into force on 1 June 2019. The Act bans private sector landlords and letting agents from charging a tenant, licensee or other 'relevant person' fees, other than 'permitted payments', in connection with assured shorthold tenancies, licences and tenancies granted to a student by a specified educational institution. New pages setting out the new provisions have been added to Shelter Legal.

View page red arrow

Qualifying persons

Changes made 28 May 2019

In R (on the application of Kuznetsov) v Camden LBC [2019] EWHC 1154 (Admin), the High Court held that where the local authority’s allocation scheme allowed exclusions based on high value savings or assets (e.g. savings above £32 000), the authority was entitled to exclude an applicant who had refused, but remained entitled to, substantial compensation. Following a compulsory purchase order and subsequent eviction from his flat, the applicant was offered £654 000 in compensation, which he refused and made several applications to join the council’s housing register. It was held that, as the applicant had provided no evidence of a mortgage or other charges secured on the property, the authority could reasonably assume that the he was entitled to the whole amount of compensation available to him. In addition, where the local authority had discovered that the applicant held company shares of significant value, in the absence of any evidence supporting the applicant’s assertion that they could not be sold, the authority was entitled to treat them as assets. It was also held that the definition of a ‘council tenant’ in the allocation policy did not apply to long leaseholders of properties of which the council was the freeholder. The applicant ceased to be a ‘council tenant’ on exercising his right to buy. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW: 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.

View page red arrow

Benefit cap

Changes made 28 May 2019

In R (on the application of DA and Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] UKSC 21, the Supreme Court confirmed that it is not unlawfully discriminatory or in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 to apply the benefit cap to lone parents households with children below school age. While such households, particularly those with children under the age of two, are significantly affected by the cap, the government policy not to treat them differently to other households who are capped is not manifestly without reasonable foundation.

View page red arrow

Disability discrimination defences

Changes made 24 May 2019

In London and Quadrant Housing Trust v Patrick [2019] EWHC 1263 (QB), the High Court gave guidance about the factors to be taken into account when applying the public sector equality duty in possession claims taken by public sector landlords against disable people. Under section 149 Equality Act 2010, a public authority in the exercise of its functions must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and advance equality.

View page red arrow

Previous / 1 2 3 4 / Next

Back to top