Round up of housing law and news: November 2023

A Shelter adviser

Legislation

Council tax liability for Houses in Multiple Occupation 

New regulations will ensure that a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is always considered a single dwelling for council tax, and that the owner of the HMO is the liable person. The regulations come into force on 1 December 2023. 

The Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings and Liability for Owners) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023 (legislation.gov.uk) 

Renters (Reform) Bill to ban ‘No DSS’ policies and impose Decent Homes Standard 

The government has introduced amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill to ban private landlords from imposing blanket ‘no DSS’ or ‘no children’ policies and extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. 

Additional amendments will overturn the Supreme Court decision in Rakusen v Jepson on when a rent repayment order can be made against a superior landlord.  

Protections for families and crack down on rogue landlords - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

DLUHC moves amendments to Renters Reform Bill to overturn Supreme Court’s Rent Repayment Order ruling in Rakusen v Jepson - Rightsnet 

Leasehold reforms to be introduced in new Bill

The Leasehold and Freehold Bill aims to reform the leasehold system. The Bill plans to make it easier for leasehold owners to purchase the freeholds or extend the leaseholds of their properties. The Bill also seeks to regulate charges and ground rents.

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament 

Guide to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Housing Act 1988 (Amendment) Bill receives first reading 

A Private Members’ Bill has been brought forward to amend the Housing Act 1988. The amendment would make sure long leases of residential dwellings are not deemed to be assured tenancies. 

Housing Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill [HL] - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament 

Case law

Lack of resources not reason to avoid statutory homeless duties

The Supreme Court dismissed Croydon's appeal, which argued its lack of resources should be taken into account when a court considers whether to grant a mandatory order to enforce a local authority's statutory duty under the Housing Act 1996.

R (on the application of Imam) (Respondent) v London Borough of Croydon (Appellant) (supremecourt.uk) 

Homeless applicant intentionally homeless from shared house  

The Court of Appeal held that a homeless applicant was intentionally homeless from accommodation that was reasonable to continue to occupy. It dismissed the applicant's appeal, which argued that a room in a shared house with drug and alcohol support was not reasonable to continue to occupy long term because of its no visitors and no smoking policies. Thefts by the applicant of other resident's property had led to the eviction. 

Kyle v Coventry City Council [2023] EWCA Civ 1360 (20 November 2023) (bailii.org) 

Council did not properly consider Care Act assessment and threats of violence to homeless applicant

The High Court instructed a local authority to provide accommodation pending review to a homeless applicant. The authority had decided the applicant was not homeless because his accommodation was reasonable to continue to occupy. The authority had not properly considered the applicant's Care Act assessment and threats of violence. The authority failed to discuss its findings with the applicant's solicitors and relied too heavily on information from the landlord. 

Saint Sepulchre, R (On the Application Of) v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea [2023] EWHC 2913 (Admin) (17 November 2023) (bailii.org)

News and updates

Local Housing Allowance rates set to increase in April 2024 

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the government will increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates from April 2024. The revised LHA rates will cover the lower 30% of private sector rents.

Autumn Statement 2023 (HTML) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Housing benefit to be uprated for first time in three years - Crisis responds | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness 

Lee Rowley re-appointed Housing Minister following reshuffle 

Following a government reshuffle, Lee Rowley replaced Rachael Mclean as Housing Minister. Rowley previously served as Housing Minister from September to October 2022 under the Liz Truss government.  

Minister of State (Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Regulator of Social Housing consultation on new enforcement powers 

The Regulator of Social Housing has launched a consultation on how the Regulator will carry out its new powers under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023. The consultation closes at 6:30pm on 16 January 2024. 

Consultation on statutory guidance under s215 of the HRA 2008 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Housing Ombudsman report on damp and mould complaints 

The Housing Ombudsman has issued an update on how social landlords are dealing with damp and mould complaints. The Ombudsman found that some social landlords are still blaming damp and mould on resident lifestyles and that there are ongoing issues with poor record-keeping. 

Ombudsman says landlords are ‘finding their silences’ as complaints rise on damp and mould and changes need to embed - Housing Ombudsman (housing-ombudsman.org.uk) 

Resources for casework: House of Commons Library briefing 

This House of Commons Library briefing provides a list of resources for Members of Parliament and their staff to deal with constituent’s housing issues. 

Housing: key resources for constituency casework (England) - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) 

House of Commons Library on renting and pets 

This briefing from the House of Commons Library covers the rules on whether tenants in rented homes can have pets.  

Can my landlord prevent me from keeping a pet? (England) (parliament.uk) 

Grenfell Assisted Home Ownership Scheme launches 

The Grenfell Assisted Home Ownership Scheme has been launched to help survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. The scheme intends to make sure that residents who would have had the Right to Buy their home in Grenfell have the same right to buy a leasehold interest in their current social homes. 

The Grenfell Assisted Home Ownership Scheme (GAHOS) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Thresholds for free help with court and tribunal income increase

The capital and income thresholds under which people are eligible for help with court fees have increased from 27 November 2023.

The Courts and Tribunals (Fee Remissions and Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2023 (legislation.gov.uk)

Increase to interest rate for Support for Mortgage Interest

The government has confirmed that the interest rate used to calculate payments for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is due to increase from 11 December 2023. The new interest rate will be 3.16 per cent.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI): What you'll get - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Data and trends

Record number of children in temporary accommodation  

The latest government statistics on homelessness show that: 

  • nearly 139,000 children are homeless in temporary accommodation 

  • 7,500 children in temporary accommodation are living in B&Bs and and hostels 

  • 73,600 households faced homelessness between April and June 2023 

Gov.uk: Dashboards on homelessness - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Section 21 court proceedings at a seven-year high 

The latest government possession figures covering July to September 2023 have been released. The data shows that in this period: 

  • 8399 section 21 court proceedings were started, the highest level for seven years 

  • 2307 households were evicted following a section 21 notice 

Gov.uk: Mortgage and Landlord Possession statistics: July to September 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Shelter: No fault eviction court proceedings hit seven-year high - Shelter England   

814,000 private renters served with notice or behind on rent

Research by Shelter and YouGov shows that within the last month: 

  • 474,000 private renters have received or been threatened with an eviction notice 

  • 411,000 private renters are behind on their rent 

  • 3.5 million private tenants say they are worried about becoming homeless due to housing costs

Shelter: 814,000 private renters under threat of eviction this winter - Shelter England - Shelter England 

Increasing homeowners and landlords in mortgage arrears 

Data from UK Finance shows that there has been an increase in the number of homeowners and buy-to-let landlords who are in mortgage arrears.

The data shows: 

  • 87,930 homeowner mortgages had arrears over 2.5% of the outstanding balance, a 7% increase on the last quarter

  • 11,540 buy-to-let mortgages had arrears over 2.5% of the outstanding balance, a 29% increase on the last quarter

  • 0.93% of all homeowner mortgages are in arrears, and 0.44 per cent of all buy-to-let mortgages 

UK Finance: UK Finance Arrears and Possession data Q3 2023

More than 300,000 people on social housing waiting lists in rural England

A report from CPRE highlights the lack of affordable housing in rural England. The report states:

  • more than 300,000 people are on social housing waiting lists in rural England, up 10% since 2018

  • at the current rate of building, it would take 89 years to house everyone on the waiting list

  • house prices in rural areas increased nearly twice as far as urban areas between 2017-2022

CPRE: Our report: Housing crisis poses threat to survival of rural communities

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