Round up of housing law and news: November 2022
Major changes to renting in Wales
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into force on 1 December 2022. The Act introduces changes to security of tenure in Wales, including:
most tenancies and licences to become one of five types of occupation contract
new notice types to end an occupation contact
a new obligation for landlords to ensure a property is fit for human habitation
Armed Forces Covenant duty comes into force
The Armed Forces (Covenant) Regulations 2022 came into force on 22 November 2022. The Regulations introduce a duty for public bodies to consider the Armed Forces Covenant when performing certain functions, including homelessness applications and housing allocations. The Covenant aims to ensure that people suffer no disadvantage due to time spent in service.
Unlawful placement in out of area interim accommodation
The High Court held that a local authority's decision to offer an applicant out of area interim accommodation was irrational, as the authority based its decision on an unlawful housing needs assessment. The applicant had six school-aged children. The authority had not considered the disruption the move would cause to the children's education, had not kept the suitability of the accommodation under proper review, and had not applied its internal policy.
Seriousness of offence considered when granting rent repayment order
The Upper Tribunal found that a landlord’s failure to obtain an HMO licence is not one of the most serious offences for which the tribunal can make a rent repayment order. The tribunal considered other factors to determine the seriousness of the offence, including whether there were any safety hazards and the fact the landlord knowingly chose not to apply for one.
Policy to refuse disabled facilities grants for backup adaptations unlawful
The High Court held that a local authority's policy to refuse all disabled facilities grant applications for backup adaptations was unlawful. The authority was wrong to refuse the application for a backup stairlift when an existing through floor lift frequently broke down.
News and guidance
Coroner’s report into death of Awaab Ishak: Secretary of State statement
The Secretary of State has released a statement on standards in social housing. This follows the coroner’s report into the death of Awaab Ishak, who died aged two in 2020 after prolonged exposure to mould in his parent’s social housing flat.
Government to stop funding for social landlords failing to address damp and mould
Following the coroner’s report into the death of Awaab Ishak, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing will not receive planned funding from the Affordable Homes Programme or receive any further AHP funding until the Regulator of Social Housing has completed its investigations. Other social landlords may also be blocked from receiving funding.
Social landlords must submit evidence to regulator on damp and mould
The Regulator of Social Housing will require housing association and local authority landlords to submit evidence about what systems are in place to identify and address damp and mould in their properties. Where there is evidence that landlords are not taking appropriate action, the regulator will take enforcement steps.
Funding for enforcement against supported housing rogue landlords
The government has announced a £20 million fund to improve inspection and enforcement action against rogue landlords in the supported housing sector. Landlords could be banned from trading or issued fines of up to £30,000.
Social housing rent increases limited to 7% in England in 2023-24
In the Autumn Statement, the government announced that increases in social housing rents in 2023-24 will be limited to 7%. Previous rules which limited rent increases to CPI + 1% would have seen increases of up to 11%.
Support for Welsh social housing tenants who engage with landlords
Social housing landlords in Wales have confirmed there will be no evictions due to financial hardship during 2023-24 where tenants engage with their landlords.
Local Housing Allowance rates to remain frozen at 2020/21 levels
The Work and Pensions Secretary has confirmed that although many benefits will increase from April 2023, rates for Local Housing Allowance will remain frozen. LHA rates have not increased since 2020/21 and housing charities have raised concerns about this.
Ombudsman orders council to pay compensation to homeless man
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ordered Birmingham City Council to pay nearly £30,000 in compensation to a homeless man who spent eight years in unsuitable temporary accommodation. The man was a wheelchair user but the authority placed him in accommodation where he could not access the property or bathing facilities without help.
Housing Ombudsman call for evidence on record keeping
The Housing Ombudsman Service has issued a call for evidence on record keeping and data management, noting that this has been a common theme in cases handled by the service. In 2021-22, 67% of investigations into issues with record keeping were upheld.
Data and trends
12.5 million people in England living in housing legal aid deserts
Research from Lexis Nexis found that in England 12.45 million people are living in legal aid deserts for housing. The regions with the most deserts for housing legal aid were the East of England, South East and South West.
Black people in England three times more likely to become homeless
Research by Heriot-Watt University found that Black people in England are more than three times likelier to face homelessness than White British people. One third of Black people who had experienced homelessness also reported discrimination from a private or social landlord.
Rent increases for nearly 1 in 3 private renters in last three months
Research by Shelter found that nearly 1 in 3 private renters have had a rent increase within the last three months alone. This amounts to nearly 3.3 million people in private rented accommodation.
Landlord possession claims up by over 100% compared to same period last year
The Ministry of Justice has released statistics on the number of possession claims made by landlords and lenders between July to September 2022. The figures show that possession claims made by landlords have increased by 106% compared to the same period in 2021.
The monthly round up of legislation, cases, news and data from Housing Matters