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Round up of housing law and news: June 2022

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Housing and homelessness assistance for people fleeing Ukraine

From 10 June 2022, these regulations amend the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006/1294. They add a new Class of people eligible for homelessness assistance and for an allocation of social housing.

People who have been granted limited leave to remain under Appendix Ukraine Scheme of the Immigration Rules following an application for leave made from within the UK are eligible for homelessness assistance as Class O and for an allocation of social housing as Class N.

Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) and Persons Subject to Immigration Control (Housing Authority Accommodation and Homelessness) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022/601

Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) and Persons Subject to Immigration Control (Housing Authority Accommodation and Homelessness) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2022/626

Renting homes in Wales

The Welsh Government has published draft regulations with details of further implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. The new provisions will include amendments to provide that certain tenancies and licences of accommodation related to bail or probation, or to immigration and asylum, are not occupation contracts.

The regulations will also add to the provisions setting out arrangements for existing tenancies and licences to convert into occupation contracts when the 2016 Act comes into force, and include provisions that the current arrangements and protections relating to the variation of rent in housing association tenancies will continue to apply.

Draft Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment) Regulations 2022  

Draft Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12) Regulations 2022

Draft Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2022

Written Statement: Implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016: laying of the affirmative instruments in the third tranche of subordinate legislation

Regulator of Social Housing to crack down on unsafe housing 

The Social Housing Regulation Bill will give new powers to the Regulator of Social Housing to issue unlimited fines, enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice, and make emergency repairs where there is a serious risk to tenants. 

Alongside the introduction of the Bill, the government is seeking views on electrical safety standards for social housing. The consultation closes on 31 August 2022.

Social Housing (Regulation) Bill

Electrical safety in social housing: consultation and call for evidence

Leasehold Reform and ban on ground rent 

These regulations commence sections 1 to 19 and the Schedule of the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022. The Act prohibits freeholders from charging ground rent on new long residential leases, and requires enforcement authorities to take action against those who do not comply. The restrictions come into force for most new leases on 30 June 2022 and for retirement home leases on 1 April 2023.

The government has published accompanying statutory guidance.

Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 (Commencement) Regulations 2022/694

Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022: Statutory guidance for enforcement authorities

New Bill of Rights to repeal and replace Human Rights Act 

The legislation to repeal and replace the Human Rights Act 1998 has been introduced to Parliament and received its first reading in the House of Commons on 22 June 2022. Introducing the Bill, the Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab said that the new law will:

  • affirm the supremacy of the Supreme Court and make it explicit that UK courts are under no obligation to follow European Court of Human Rights case law

  • reverse the tendency for human rights to be over-expanded through judicial interpretation by ensuring that any expansion of human rights law, as opposed to its interpretation, is subject to democratic oversight by Parliament

  • introduce a permission stage in UK courts to assert greater checks over 'frivolous' human rights claims at an earlier stage

  • provide that the behaviour of anyone claiming a breach of their human rights is taken into account when UK courts consider compensation

  • provide for greater weight to be given to Parliament’s determination of the public interest when considering the interpretation of rights so as to reinforce, for example, the government's ability to deport foreign national offenders

In a letter to the Ministry of Justice, more than 150 civil and human rights organisations, law centres, religious groups and trade unions have called on the government to provide pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposed Bill of Rights.

Bill of Rights Bill

What are they so afraid of: MPs call for pre-legislative scrutiny for proposed Bill of Rights

Case law

Home Office policy on no recourse to public fund unlawful 

The High Court has declared the Home Office policy on migrants’ access to public funds unlawful for failing to take account of the best interests of children. 

AB & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 1524 (Admin)

Intentional homelessness and reasonable living expenses

The Court of Appeal held that when upholding a local housing authority's decision that a homeless applicant was intentionally homeless, the reviewing officer had not erred in relying on the Association of Housing Advice Services document ‘Evidence base for cost of living and guidance for caseworkers’ when calculating reasonable living expenses as part of an affordability assessment.

Baptie v The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames [2022] EWCA Civ 888

Section 21 notices and gas safety records 

Luton county court set aside a possession order and allowed the tenant’s appeal on the factual issue as to whether a valid gas safety certificate was in place at the start of the tenancy. The court remitted the case to be heard by a different judge.

Byrne v Harwood-Delgado [2022] Luton CC (unreported) 

Tenant’s liability for sub-tenant eviction 

The High Court held that a tenant who stood by while their sub-tenant was evicted from their home by the landlord was not liable in damages to the sub-tenant for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. 

Brem v Murray [2022] EWHC 1479 (QB)

News and guidance

New guide for people arriving from Ukraine

This new government’s guide includes specific information about welcome points for Ukrainians just arrived in the UK, how to apply for a biometric residence permit, claim interim payments, set up a bank account and claim benefits. – Homes for Ukraine: Guidance for guests

White paper ‘A fairer private rented sector’ published

The government has published plans to reform the private rented sector, and its responses to various consultations and calls for evidence. The key proposals are:

  • abolishing fixed term assured tenancies, making all assured tenancies periodic. Tenants can terminate on 2 months’ notice

  • probationary, fixed term and demoted social tenancies to be abolished 

  • abolishing section 21 possession claims

  • updating the grounds for possession to include mandatory grounds for landlord selling the property or wanting to move in. Rent arears caused by the timing of benefit payments are not to be included when looking at the mandatory threshold

  • a ban on landlords marketing a rental for 3 months after using the selling and moving in grounds

  • provision for landlords to increase rent once a year on 2 months’ notice, which the tenant can challenge at tribunal with less risk of eviction

  • private rented homes will need to meet the Decent Homes Standard

  • no new Housing Court, but a new Ombudsman will be created to resolve disputes between private landlords and tenants, with power to award up to £25,000 compensation and require remedial works

  • creation of a ‘Property Portal’ similar to a compulsory landlord register

  • commitment to look at strengthening council’s enforcement powers 

  • outlawing blanket bans on ‘No DSS’ and ‘no children’ policies, and working to remove barriers to landlords letting to these groups 

  • increase rights to request permission to have a pet

  • monitor and review issues with tenancy deposits

Policy paper – A fairer private rented sector

Consultation outcome – A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants

Consultation outcome – Tenancy deposit reform: a call for evidence

Consultation outcome – Considering the case for a Housing Court: call for evidence

Landlord duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts

Section 36 of the Equality Act 2010 will soon place a new duty on landlords to make reasonable adjustments to the common parts of let residential premises when requested by a disabled person. To help inform the regulations and guidance, the government is seeking views on the practical operation of this requirement from anyone with an interest.

In particular, the government is keen to hear from disabled people, landlords from all housing sectors, managing and letting agents, and local authorities. The consultation closes on 18 August 2022.

Improving disabled people’s access to let residential premises: reasonable adjustments to common parts, a new duty 

Digital only right to rent checks

Since 6 April 2022, holders of biometric residence cards and permits can only prove their right to rent to landlords using the Home Office online checking service, rather than a physical check. On 22 June 2022, the government published an equality impact assessment. 

Digital only right to work and rent checks: equality impact assessment

Support for UK Veterans

This House of Commons Library briefing details the support available to armed forces veterans in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Research briefing – Support for UK Veterans

Social Housing Reform

This House of Commons Library briefing outlines the measures set out in the Government’s social housing white paper, stakeholder reaction and the next steps for social housing reform. 

Research briefing – Social Housing Reform in England: What Next?

Right to Buy for housing association tenants 

This House of Commons Library briefing covers the commitment to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants. There is no implementation date. The Government intends to work with associations to develop the scheme.

Research briefing - A voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants in England

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