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Round up of housing law and news: September 2022

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LHA rate exception for domestic abuse and modern slavery survivors

From 1 October 2022 new regulations extend the exceptions from the local housing allowance (LHA) shared accommodation rate, and the single room rent in the case of housing benefit. The exceptions now include victims of domestic abuse who have attained the age of 16, and victims of modern slavery.

The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Victims of Domestic Abuse and Victims of Modern Slavery) (Amendment) Regulations 2022/942

Guidance A6/2022: The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Victims of Domestic Abuse and Victims of Modern Slavery) Amendment Regulations 2022

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in social rented accommodation

From 1 October 2022 these regulations amend the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 to strengthen the existing duties on landlords in the private rented sector and extend them to the social rented sector.

The duties now apply to all registered providers of social housing, including local authorities. They are expected to comply with the regulations when they come into force, or to have plans in place to ensure their compliance in a prompt and timely way that mitigates any risk to tenants. Providers with concerns about their ability to achieve compliance in time should self-refer to the Regulator of Social Housing.

Accompanying guidance for landlords, tenants, and local authorities has been issued.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022/707

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022: guidance for landlords and tenants

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022: guidance for local authorities

Easier access to Housing Ombudsman Service

From 1 October 2022 section 160 of the Building Safety Act 2022 comes into force and makes amendments to the Housing Ombudsman complaints process. Complainants will no longer need to contact a designated person such as an MP, local councillor, recognised tenant panel, or wait eight weeks before referring their complaint to the Ombudsman if they remain dissatisfied at the end of their landlord’s complaint process.

Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No. 1, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2022/561

Changes to Civil Procedure Rules 

From 1 October 2022 amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules are introduced with the aim of simplifying the language of the existing rules. These amendments focus on the service of claim forms and court documents in CPR 6 and 7.  

Substantive changes to the rules allow claimants to serve certain documents outside England and Wales without the Court’s permission. The wording of statements of case in CPR 16 for claimants and defendants, and the accompanying practice direction, have been simplified to assist litigants in person. 

A new part four is inserted into CPR 55 (Possession claims) to coincide with the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, coming into force on 1 December 2022. 

The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2022 SI 2022/783

Irish citizens arriving from Ukraine and habitual residence test

These Regulations correct a drafting error in the Social Security (Habitual Residence and Past Presence) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 to ensure that Irish citizens are exempted from the habitual residence test and past presence test when claiming income-related, disability and carers benefits upon arrival from Ukraine.

Social Security (Habitual Residence and Past Presence) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2022/990 

Case law

Unlawful eviction and failure of the police to intervene

The European Court of Human Rights held that the failure of the police to protect a tenant facing an unlawful eviction by their landlord ‘because the dispute was a civil matter’ constituted a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jansons v Latvia App. No. 1434/14

Loss of secure tenancy while permanently residing in a nursing home

The High Court held that the eviction of the family member of a secure tenant who died while permanently residing in a nursing home was proportionate and did not breach their human rights. The family member would have been entitled to succeed to the secure tenancy under section 87 of the Housing Act 1985, but the tenant had ceased to occupy the property as their only or principal home and the tenancy had ceased to be secure.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Mailley [2022] EWHC 2328 (QB)

DWP guidance on deductions from legacy benefits unlawful

The High Court held that the Department for Work and Pensions guidance and process on ‘third party deductions’ from legacy benefits under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 to pay for fuel and water debts is unlawful because it does not include a stage for seeking representations. 

R (on the application of Timson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2022] EWHC 2392 (Admin)

Property guardianship companies must licence premises as HMOs

The Upper Tribunal confirmed that two property guardianship companies and their director had committed the criminal offence of operating an unlicensed HMO under section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004. The Tribunal upheld the civil penalty notices issued by the local authority imposing fines totalling £18,000, and rent repayment orders totalling £36,000 made in favour of nine ‘guardians’.

Global Guardians Management Ltd v Hounslow LBC [2022] UKUT 259 (LC)

News and guidance

Food banks fear they will be unable to meet demand this winter

The Independent Food Aid Network calls for urgent government intervention after food banks operating across the UK have reported that the number of people they are supporting has grown dramatically and that, heading into winter, they fear they will not be able to meet demand.

Independent Food Aid Network

New exceptions to shared LHA rates will need to self-identify

From 1 October 2022, survivors of domestic abuse or modern slavery are exempt from the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance under Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. The DWP has advised the Social Security Advisory Committee that in order to benefit from the exception, the onus is on claimants to alert their Work Coach to their status as a survivor of either domestic abuse or modern slavery.

Social Security Advisory Committee: minutes of meetings – 22 June 2022 minutes

Funding for fire risks associated with cladding in high-rise buildings  

The Building Safety Fund provides funding to address life safety fire risks associated with cladding in high-rise buildings in England. Applications can be made by freeholders, head leaseholders, resident management companies, right to manage companies, and social housing providers. This guide on how the adapted 2022 BSF process works.

Building Safety Fund for new applications (2022): A guide for leaseholders and residents

Fire safety and remediation of historic building safety defects

The government has published information for leaseholders on fire safety, and remediation of historic building safety defects – including who is responsible for paying for remediation works. 

Guidance – Information for leaseholders and other residents on fire safety and remediation of historic building safety defects

Residential building safety and protection for leaseholders

Whilst many parts of the Building Safety Act 2022 are yet to come into force, some parts of the Act are already in force and more are due to be coming into force over the next few months. Government guidance states that the Act ‘delivers far-reaching protections for qualifying leaseholders from the costs associated with remediating historical building safety defects, and an ambitious toolkit of measures that will allow those responsible for building safety defects to be held to account.’ 

The Act is set to overhaul existing regulations and clarify how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe. It creates three new bodies to provide effective oversight of the new regime - the Building Safety Regulator, the National Regulator of Construction Products and the New Homes Ombudsman. These articles set out an overview of the different provisions and when they come into effect.

Building Safety Act 2022 commencement and timings: what we know so far 

Insight on The Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No. 1 Transitional and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2022 – Guidance The Building Safety Act

The UK’s new points-based immigration system

The UK adopted a new immigration system on 1 January 2021 to coincide with Brexit. The new system removed the right to free movement for EEA nationals and introduced a ‘points based’ system of eligibility criteria for work visas. The House of Commons Library has published two papers looking at how the system works and what impact it has had on immigration levels. 

How has immigration changed under the UK’s new ‘points based’ system?

The UK's new points-based immigration system

Data and trends

Increase of families at risk of homelessness due to a section 21 notice

The latest statistics on statutory homelessness applications, duties, and outcomes for local authorities in England show a sharp increase in the number of households threatened with homelessness due to service of a section 21 notice. The government says this may partially reflect the removal of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on private rented sector evictions from May 2021.

Statutory homelessness in England: financial year 2021-22 

Collection – Homelessness statistics

Live tables on homelessness

Cost of living crisis and rise of absolute poverty

A new report from the Resolution Foundation forecasts that, without significant intervention, the number of people in living in absolute poverty will rise by three million over the next two years.

In at the deep end – the living standards crisis facing the new Prime Minister

Higher insurance costs in block of flats after the Grenfell Tower fire  

The Financial Conduct Authority has published a report on insurance costs in buildings containing two or more residential leasehold flats. It shows a 125% increase in premiums since the Grenfell Tower fire. The report examines causes and possible solutions. Stakeholders such as residential leaseholders, freehold property owners, property managing agents, insurance brokers and insurers are invited to give feedback.

The government has published a response and written to interested parties.

FCA report on insurance for multi-occupancy buildings

Buildings insurance for multiple-occupancy residential buildings: response to FCA and CMA final report

Buildings insurance for multiple-occupancy residential buildings: letter to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association

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