Round up of housing law and news: April 2023

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Legislation 

New rules on deductions from universal credit for fuel 

From 1 April 2023, new or increased deductions from benefits for ongoing fuel consumption can only be made following an application by the supplier and with the claimant's consent. Suppliers can still apply for deductions for fuel cost arrears without the claimant's consent. 

The Social Security Benefits (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (legislation.gov.uk) 

Case law  

One joint tenant moving out not a tenancy surrender 

The Court of Appeal held that a joint tenancy had not been surrendered where one tenant had moved out and requested rehousing while the other remained. There was no evidence that the first tenant had been excluded from the property. An internal document from the landlord recording a request to change the tenancy from joint to sole was not sufficient evidence that the tenants had acted unequivocally to surrender the tenancy. 

City of Westminster Council v Kazam & Anor [2023] EWHC 825 (KB) (09 March 2023) (bailii.org) 

Valid service of notice seeking possession 

The Court of Appeal found that s.233 of the Local Government Act 1972 applied to service of a notice of seeking possession on the mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour. The Act allows a local authority to serve a notice authorised by any enactment by delivering to the person, leaving it at their proper address, or sending it by post to them at that address. Handing the notice to the tenant's partner at the property was good service. It did not matter when the tenant became aware of the notice. 

Birmingham City Council v Bravington [2023] EWCA Civ 308 (22 March 2023) (bailii.org) 

Eviction offences include attempted illegal eviction 

The Court of Appeal found that a landlord who attempted to evict their tenant had committed an offence under section 1 (2) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, despite the fact that the tenants were not ultimately deprived of their accommodation. 

Wu v Chelmsford City Council [2023] EWCA Crim 338 (30 March 2023) (bailii.org) 

News and guidance

Training for social housing residents to enforce their rights  

All social housing residents are to be offered a place on training sessions to enable them to enforce their rights. The sessions will offer help on how to address issues such as damp and mould, anti-social behaviour, how to enforce rights and access help via the Housing Ombudsman service. 

Every social housing resident to be offered place on ‘Watchdog style’ know-your-rights training scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Taskforce to improve housing options for older people 

The government has announced a new taskforce to improve housing options for older people. The taskforce intends to work with the housing, health and care sectors to increase the amount and range of housing options available for older people.  

Government unveils taskforce chair to boost older people's housing - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Charities call for government to support Essentials Guarantee for low-income households 

Over 90 charities have called for the government to adopt the Essentials Guarantee for low-income households. The guarantee, which would ensure that benefits cover the cost of essential items such as food, utilities and household goods. 

More than 90 charities unite behind a powerful call on party leaders to guarantee essentials for low-income households amid rising hardship | JRF 

Mortgage prisoners 

This House of Commons Library research briefing covers mortgage prisoners, including how people became stuck with expensive deals and what efforts have been made to address the issue. 

Mortgage prisoners - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) 

Data and trends 

1313 people experiencing homelessness died in 2022 

Research by the Museum of Homelessness has found that: 

  • 1313 people experiencing homelessness died in 2022 

  • deaths increased by more than 20% on the previous year

  • 85% of those who died were under the age of 65 

Museum of Homelessness: 1313 people experiencing homelessness died in 2022, we honour each person. — Museum of Homelessness 

1 in 6 young people live in poor quality housing: April 2023 

The Resolution Foundation has published research into poor quality housing and young people, finding that: 

  • one in six people aged between 25 and 34 live in poor quality housing 

  • one in ten people nationally from all age groups live in poor quality housing 

  • people in poor quality housing are twice as likely to experience ill health 

Resolution Foundation: One-in-six young people live in poor quality housing, and it is worsening their physical and mental health • Resolution Foundation 

More than 310,000 children share beds with other family members: April 2023 

Research by the National Housing Federation into the number of families affected by overcrowding has found: 

  • more than 310,000 children (313,244) in England are forced to share beds with other family members 

  • one in six children lives in cramped conditions 

  • 70% of families affected by overcrowding say it has affected their physical or mental health 

National Housing Federation: National Housing Federation - Overcrowding in England 

13% increase in social housing lettings in 2021/22 

Government figures show an increase in social housing lettings in 2021/22, but the number of new lettings is still fewer than before the covid-19 pandemic. The figures show: 

  • 267,000 new lettings in 2021/2022, compared to 306,000 in 2019/20 

  • 73% of new lettings were General Needs, and 27% were supported housing 

  • 29% were let by local authorities and 71% by other providers 

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Social housing lettings in England, tenancies: April 2021 to March 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

£9 billion paid in rent for sub-standard homes: April 2023 

Research by London City Hall has calculated that, across the country, significant amounts of rent is being paid for sub-standard housing, adding up to: 

  • £9 billion a year in total rent repayments 

  • £1.6 billion in rent paid by housing benefit  

  • £500 million in housing benefit in London, which is the worst affected area, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber 

London City Hall: Mayor of London calls for national action as new analysis reveals private landlords receiving billions of pounds for sub-standard homes  | London City Hall 

The monthly round up of legislation, cases, news and data from Housing Matters