Round up of housing law and news: January 2023

A bright kitchen windowsill with a bottle of washing up liquid in focus

Legislation

Victims of trafficking and slavery eligible for housing assistance 

From 30 January 2023, confirmed victims of human trafficking or slavery are eligible for housing assistance where they have been granted limited leave to remain under Appendix Temporary Permission to Stay for Victims of Human Trafficking or Slavery. Previously, confirmed victims of trafficking or modern slavery could be granted leave outside the rules. 

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) and Persons Subject to Immigration Control (Housing Authority Accommodation and Homelessness) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

Derivative right to reside for EEA self-employed primary carers of a child in education

From 2 February 2023, EEA nationals with pre-settled status might be eligible for housing assistance where they are the primary carer of a child in education of an EEA worker or self-employed person. Previously the derivative right to reside for people with pre-settled status was only available to the primary carer of the child in education of an EEA worker.

The Immigration (Restrictions on Employment etc.) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2023 (legislation.gov.uk)

New fire safety regulations introduced for high-rise buildings

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force on 23 January 2023, and introduced new duties for responsible persons of high-rise blocks of flats to provide information to fire and rescue services, including a building plan and information about the external wall system. There are also additional requirements to check and maintain lifts, fire doors, and to provide fire safety information to residents.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

Fact sheet: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Case law

Allocations policy found to unlawfully exclude most homeless people 

A local authority housing allocations policy excluded anyone who was homeless but not owed the main housing duty from joining the register. The High Court found that as this excluded most homeless people, a group entitled to reasonable preference as per section 166A(3) of the Housing Act 1996, the policy was unlawful.

Khayyat & Anor v Westminster City Council [2023] EWHC 30 (Admin)

Decision to end Care Act duties lawful when Housing Act applied

The High Court found that a local authority had no duty or power to continue to fund accommodation under the Care Act 2014 where the applicant’s needs were no different from another homeless person. Instead, the local authority should carry out inquiries into the duty owed to the applicant under Part VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996.

Campbell, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Ealing [2023] EWHC 10 (Admin)

Landlord entitled to recover the cost of repairing lift from tenant

The Upper Tribunal held that a landlord’s repairing obligations under section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 did not cover a communal lift in a case where maintenance and repair was not covered in the tenancy agreement. The landlord was entitled to recover the cost of repairing the lift from the tenant under a variable service charge.

Anchor Hanover Group v Cox (2023) UKUT 14(LC)

News and guidance

Guidance for tenants on dealing with damp and mouldy housing

The House of Commons library has published guidance for tenants for dealing with damp and mouldy housing. The guidance summarises the duties owed by landlords, the steps a tenant can take and further plans by the government to address this issue.

Helping tenants with damp and mouldy housing (England) (parliament.uk)

Government to develop new guidance for landlords on damp and mould

The government has announced its plans to review the existing guidance for landlords on the health effects of damp and mould, and to publish new guidance later in the year. In addition, tougher measures to deal with damp and mould are to be announced and a Private Rented Sector Landlord Ombudsman is to be established as part of the Renters Reform Bill.

January 2023 – update on government’s work to improve the quality of social housing - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Homelessness Code of Guidance update on victims of violence

The Homelessness Code of Guidance has been updated with a new chapter on victims of violence. The section covers people who are homeless as a result of violence, other than domestic abuse and includes guidance on assessing violence or risk of violence.

Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities - Chapter 26: Victims of violence - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

MPs call for regulation of temporary accommodation

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation has collected evidence on conditions in temporary accommodation, finding issues with mould, health and safety risks and overcrowding. Following this, the group has called for temporary accommodation to be included in the new Social Housing (Regulation) Bill.

Call for evidence findings: summary, analysis of themes and call to action - Households in Temporary Accommodation APPG (householdsintemporaryaccommodation.co.uk)

Inquiry into converting empty commercial property into affordable housing

Two All-Party Parliamentary Groups have launched a joint inquiry into whether office and commercial buildings could be converted into decent affordable housing. The inquiry is open for submissions until 7 March 2023.

The APPG for Ending Homelessness launches joint inquiry with the APPG on Housing Market and Housing Delivery into Housing Solutions for Homeless Households | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness

Housing Ombudsman special report on Birmingham City Council

A special report on Birmingham City Council by the Housing Ombudsman has found maladministration in 96% of cases investigated. The Ombudsman found issues with the handling of repairs, record keeping, complaint handling and the authority’s compensation policy.

Ombudsman issues special report on Birmingham City Council after wider investigation finds fundamental failures - Housing Ombudsman (housing-ombudsman.org.uk)

Developers given six weeks to commit to repair unsafe buildings

The government has set a six-week deadline for developers to sign legal agreements committing to repair unsafe buildings. Legislation is planned to give the Secretary of State powers to prevent developers from operating freely in the housing market if they fail to sign and comply with the remediation contract.

Six weeks for developers to sign contract to fix unsafe buildings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Thousands of EU citizens may have remained eligible for housing and benefits in error 

The Home Office has confirmed that the UKVI accounts of some individuals who received a refusal under the EU Settlement Scheme continued to show a Certificate of Application rather than a refused status. As a result, up to 141,000 people who received a refusal between between 27 June 2021 and 19 April 2022 could have remained eligible for assistance in error, including benefits and housing assistance. The Independent Monitoring Authority for Citizen's Rights Agreements (IMA) has written to the Home Office to seek clarity on what steps have been and are due to be taken to remedy this.

IMA Statement On Concerns Over EU Settlement Scheme - Independent Monitoring Authority (ima-citizensrights.org.uk)

Data and trends

At least 271,000 people are currently homeless in England

Research from Shelter shows that at least 271,000 are recorded homeless in England, including 123,000 children. Analysis of Freedom of Information requests and official homelessness statistics found one in every 208 people is without a home, and on any given night, up to 2400 people are sleeping rough.

At least 271,000 people are homeless in England today - Shelter England

Data on number of homeless nationals in England

The government has published its latest statistics on the number of Ukrainian nationals who are homeless in England. The data shows that between the local authorities who have reported, nearly 3000 Ukrainian households are owed a prevention or relief duty.

Homelessness management information - Ukrainian nationals: England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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