Round up of housing law and news: February 2023
Welsh homelessness guidance
The Welsh government has published addendums to the homelessness and accommodation guidance for local authorities. They cover people eligible for help and how local authorities should assess priority need.
Building safety regulations
The Building Safety Act 2022 makes provision for some developers, freeholders and residential leaseholders to pay for fire safety work. These regulations amend the list of people who are not considered associated with the relevant landlord when calculating their net worth.
Definition of mobile home
The Upper Tribunal held that a houseboat met the statutory definition of a caravan and the occupier had the protection of the Mobile Homes Act. The site owner’s notice to quit did not end the occupier’s agreement.
Section 13 rent increase
A landlord can raise the rent on a periodic assured or assured shorthold tenancy using notice under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988. The Court of Appeal held that the new rent must take effect at the beginning of a new period of the tenancy. The Court also held that the First-tier Tribunal does not have the power to judge whether a section 13 notice is valid or invalid.
Landlord enquiries into HMO licensing
Where a landlord fails to follow HMO licencing requirements, there is a general defence of a ‘reasonable excuse’. The Upper Tribunal held that the First-tier Tribunal should have considered whether it was reasonable for the landlord not to make further enquiries over time. The landlord did not need a licence when they applied but were aware that the requirements were due to change.
News and guidance
Damp and mould crack down: Awaab's Law
The government has announced it will crack down on poor housing conditions using new legislation following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak. Under ‘Awaab’s Law’, social housing landlords must investigate and fix damp and mould in their properties within strict new time limits.
Health inequalities: cold or damp homes
The House of Commons Library has published a briefing covering the prevalence, cause, and health impacts of cold or damp homes in the UK.
Damp and mould: regulator initial findings
The Regulator of Social Housing has published initial findings on damp and mould in social housing. The best estimate is that 0.2% of properties have the "most serious" damp and mould problems and a further 1-2% have "serious" problems.
Housing Ombudsman: damp and mould report
The Housing Ombudsman has published an updated damp and mould report. The Ombudsman recorded a 77 per cent increase in the number of enquiries and complaints about damp, mould and leaks from 2020/21 to 2021/22.
Homelessness code of guidance: new chapter 26 for victims of violence
A new chapter in the Homelessness Code of Guidance covers homelessness applications for people who have experiences or are at risk of violence.
Local authorities to receive funds to help people in drug and alcohol treatment
The government will allocate funding to 28 authorities across England to create new housing support schemes and test the impact of providing additional housing support to improve recovery from addiction.
Right to rent: government evaluation
The Home Office has published a second evaluation of the right to rent scheme. While there were some 'clear examples' of racial discrimination by private landlords, the research found there was no statistically significant evidence of systemic discrimination as a result of the scheme.
HMO council tax: government consultation
The government has launched a consultation on the council tax valuation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). The government wants to explore whether the council tax valuation of HMOs is an issue. The consultation closes on 31 March 2023.
Rent increases in social and affordable housing
The Regulator of Social Housing sets standards governing permitted rent increases for social and affordable housing. The current standard allows for annual rent increases of up to CPI plus 1%. As CPI exceeds 11% in the cost-of-living crisis, the regulator has amended the standard to allow a permitted increase of up to 7% for 2023/24.
Government energy bill support
Almost a million more households can benefit from the government's £400 help with energy bills. Households without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier, including those living in park homes and care homes, can apply online to receive a one-off non-repayable lump sum.
Open letter to Housing Minister: support homeless Ukrainian refugees
More than 70 MPs and Peers have signed an open letter to the Housing Minister. They call for immediate action to increase support for the rising number of homeless Ukrainian refugees in Britain
Data and trends
Rough sleeping in England: autumn 2022
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published its rough sleeping snapshot for autumn 2022. The snapshot provides information about the estimated number of people sleeping rough on a single night between 1 October and 30 November.
3069 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night: an increase of 26% from 2021.
The largest increase of people estimated to be sleeping rough was in London: an increase of 34% from the previous year.
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2022
Homeless Link response: Rough sleeping in England rises by over a quarter
Rough sleeping in London: October to December 2022
The Greater London Authority has published a report focusing on rough sleeping in London using information from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN). The report shows that between October and December 2022:
3,570 people were recorded as sleeping rough, a 21% increase from the same period in 2021
1,700 people were recorded as sleeping rough for the first time in London, a 29% increase from the same period in 2021
451 people were recorded as living on the streets, an 8% decrease from the same period in 2021
London Datastore: Rough sleeping in London (CHAIN reports)
Homeless Link response: Homeless Link responds to "shocking" rise in rough sleeping in London
Statutory homelessness: July to September 2022
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published its quarterly statistics for statutory homelessness assessments and activities in England. Between July and September 2022:
75,860 households were initially assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness
6,170 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of a section 21 notice, an increase of 34.4% compared to the same period in 2021
12,330 households were owed a main housing duty, an increase of 18.1% compared to the same period in 2021
On 30 September 2022, 99,270 households were in temporary accommodation, up by 3.9% from 30 September 2021.
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Statutory homelessness in England: July to September 2022
Households in temporary accommodation: June 2022
The House of Commons Library published a briefing with data on homeless households in temporary accommodation in England. The briefing shows that at the end of June 2022:
120,710 dependent children were in temporary accommodation
10,000 households were in B&B-style accommodation
26,130 households were in out-of-borough temporary accommodation
Out-of-borough is when authorities place households in a different local authority to the one they applied to for help. These placements are much more common in London: 81% of all out-of-borough placements at the end of June 2022 were households that applied to London authorities.
House of Commons Library: Households in temporary accommodation
Possession statistics: October to December 2022
The Ministry of Justice published quarterly national statistics on possession claims by mortgage lenders and landlords. The statistics show that, compared to the same period in 2021:
landlord possession claims increased by 42%
mortgage possession claims increased by 23%
possession claims increased in all regions
Ministry of Justice: Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: October to December 2022
Shelter response: Section 21 no-fault evictions by bailiffs up 143% in a year
Cost-of-living: September 2022 to January 2023
The Office for National Statistics published its analysis of the proportion of the population affected by a cost-of-living increase and the characteristics associated with financial vulnerability. For the period between 14 September 2022 and 8 January 2023 the ONS found:
54% of parents living with a dependent child reported being unable to save in the next 12 months
55% of renters reported being unable to afford an unexpected necessary expense of £850 compared with 12% of homeowners
adults who pay for gas or electricity through pre-payment meters were almost twice as likely to report using credit more than usual
Office for National Statistics: Impact of increased cost of living on adults across Great Britain: September 2022 to January 2023
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