Round up of housing law and news: July 2022
Warm Home Discount (England and Wales) Regulations 2022
These regulations extend the Warm Home Discount scheme until 2026. Specified electricity suppliers are required to provide rebates of £150 per year to eligible customers in receipt of the guarantee element of pension credit.
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
The Welsh Government intends to bring the Renting Homes (Wales) Act into force on 1 December 2022. It has published further subordinate legislation, including provisions identifying certain categories of accommodation that are not within the scope of the Act.
Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act 2022 came into force on 28 June 2022. The Government announced that 45 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders have agreed to “fix life-critical fire-safety defects on all buildings at least 11 metres high that they have played a role in developing or refurbishing in the last 30 years.”
Building Safety (Leaseholder Protections) Regulations 2022
These regulations came into force on 20 July 2022 and support the leaseholder protection provisions in the Building Safety Act 2022, including protection from liability for leaseholders in specific circumstances.
Slavery and Human Trafficking (Definition of Victim) Regulations 2022
These regulations define the terms 'victim of slavery' and 'victim of human trafficking' for the purposes of Part 5 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
Out-of-area accommodation offer to homeless applicant
Under s.206 Housing Act 1996, an authority’s offer of accommodation to a homeless applicant should be within the authority’s own area, as far as reasonably practical. The Court of Appeal held that an authority must demonstrate that it has followed its internal policies to comply with this duty.
Mandatory order to offer suitable accommodation
The High Court made a mandatory order directing the local authority to secure suitable accommodation for a homeless applicant within 12 weeks. The Court held that the authority had not taken all reasonable steps to secure accommodation.
The combined effect of the public sector equality duty and section 11 of the Children Act 1989 is that authorities should be proactive in ensuring they have housing available that will be suitable for families with disabled children.
Housing needs assessments
The High Court held that the authority acted unlawfully when it did not adequately set out an applicant’s housing needs under s.189A Housing Act 1996. Medical evidence stated that the applicant required settled accommodation to help him recover from traumatic experiences which led to him becoming a refugee. The authority categorised this as a housing wish, rather than a need.
Selective licensing schemes
A landlord owned a building containing 22 flats and had not applied for a license under the local authority’s selective licensing scheme. The authority served separate fixed penalty notices for breaches in five of the flats. The landlord argued that only one penalty should have been imposed covering the entire building.
The Upper Tribunal held that the landlord could be subject to separate fixed penalty notices, as each flat was a dwelling and the authority has flexibility in how it carries out its licensing functions.
Rent repayment order amounts
The Court of Appeal held that the amount of a rent repayment order cannot include rent payments made after the period of an offence even if paid in respect to rent due during the period of offence, and an occupier's failure to pay rent is conduct that can be taken into account when determining the amount of a rent repayment order.
Challenge to end of 'Everyone In' dismissed
The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal of the High Court's decision that 'Everyone In' was an evolving policy and the Secretary of State was not required to announce its ending. The Court of Appeal held that the appeal was now academic and no decision had been identified that was open to judicial review.
News and guidance
Court forms updated
HM Courts & Tribunals Service published updated versions of several court forms on 30 June 2022. The updates include an additional section for requesting support or adjustments for vulnerable witnesses. Some of the forms now contain a contempt proceedings warning.
London’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) triggered by heatwave
The Pan-London Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP) were triggered by a Met Office Level Three emergency Heat-Health alert on 11 July 2022. This is the first time a SWEP has been activated by a heatwave.
Supported exempt accommodation
The House of Commons Library has published an overview of the regulation of supported exempt accommodation.
Supported Housing Improvement Programme
The Supported Housing Improvement Programme is designed to help councils tackle bad quality supported housing, including setting a minimum standard for support provided to residents to help them progress to independent living.
Homelessness Prevention Grant: consultation
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is seeking views from local authorities and other stakeholders on funding arrangements and conditions for the Homelessness Prevent Grant. The consultation closes on 26 August 2022.
'No DSS' lettings
The House of Commons Library has published a research briefing examining ‘No DSS’ adverts. The Government intends to make blanket bans on letting to people claiming benefits illegal.
Tenancy deposit schemes
The House of Commons Library has published a research briefing explaining the duty on landlords to protect private tenants’ deposits and discusses proposed reforms.
Short-term tourist accommodation
The government has announced a review into the effect of short-term holiday lets and has issued a call for evidence. The consultation closes on 21 September 2022.
Data and trends
English Housing Survey
The government has published findings from the English Housing Survey 2020-21, including reports covering energy, feeling safe from fire, private rented sector, and social rented sector. It has also published factsheets on regional housing trends.
Right to buy sales
The government has published official statistics on the sale of local authority housing through the Right to Buy scheme.
Statutory homelessness in England statistics
The government has published official statistics on statutory homelessness applications, duties, and outcomes for local authorities in England.
The monthly round up of legislation, cases, news and data from Housing Matters