Lime Legal's
Housing Law Week

General Editor: Jan Luba QC

11 February 2015 Update


Policy Issues in Housing Law

Private rented sector: section 21 notices and more
On 5 February 2015, the UK Government announced that it was promoting four changes to private sector tenancies in England designed to: (1) protect tenants against retaliatory eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about conditions and a council has issued a notice confirming that the repair needs to be carried out; (2) ensure that tenants are always given at least two months’ notice before they have to move out of their home (to stop landlords serving an eviction notice at the start of a tenancy); (3) introduce  a prescribed form of section 21 notice; and (4) provide that where a landlord has failed to obtain Energy Performance Certificates and Gas Safety Certificates, a tenant cannot be evicted until these documents are provided.  The changes are to be made by amendments to the Deregulation Bill (see below). For the DCLG policy paper explaining these changes, click here  For a commentary on them, click here  

Private rented sector: longer tenancies
In answering parliamentary questions on 2 February 2015, the Housing Minister told the House of Commons that the UK Government was “progressing longer tenancies” in the private rented sector and that “Recent figures show that tenancy lengths have increased to an average of just under four years”. For the exchanges, click here  

Private rented sector: beds-in-sheds
In answering a parliamentary question on 27 January 2015, the Housing Minister told the House of Commons that as a result of a 2012-2013 initiative to tackle the letting of unauthorised outbuildings, there have been an estimated 2,800 landlords facing prosecution, 530 buildings prohibited and 145 sheds demolished. For the details, click here  

Private rented sector: cold homes
On 5 February 2015 the UK Government published the outcome of its consultation on the content of the Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations (Domestic). For the response, click here   For the Impact Assessment, click here  

Private rented sector: expansion
The House of Commons Library has produced a new free briefing on Building the new private rented sector: issues and prospects (England). For a copy, click here  For a recent Independent report on the private rental sector in England, click here  To provide further stimulus to the sector, the UK Government has announced that it has agreed to offer deposit loans to staff of all Government Departments looking to take up new tenancies in the private rented sector. For the announcement, click here  

Private rented sector: law reform in Wales

Shelter Cymru and Citizens Advice Service have jointly published The Renting Homes Bill and the private rented sector: myths and facts. For a copy, click here  

Homelessness: out-of-borough placements
The Supreme Court has granted a homeless applicant (Ms Nzolameso) permission to appeal against a Court of Appeal decision upholding a placement near Milton Keynes made by Westminster Council. The appeal will be heard on 17 March 2015. Meanwhile, Waltham Forest Council is consulting on proposals to enlarge its policy on out-of-borough placements. For the consultation document, click here  For a commentary on the proposals, click here. On 3 February 2015, a UK Government Minister told the House of Lords that “This Government has made it clear that no council should be sending tenants en masse to a different part of the country”. For that statement, click here  

Homelessness: the extent of the problem
On 5 February 2015, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and CRISIS published the latest report from a five year (2011-2016) study that provides an independent analysis of the impact on homelessness of recent economic and policy developments in England. The key areas of interest are the homelessness consequences of the post-2007 economic recession and the housing market downturn. For the 2015 Homelessness Monitor report, click here  

Homelessness: local council services
Shelter Cymru has developed an Equal Ground Standard as a tool for embedding person-centred principles in frontline homelessness services. It has been designed by service users in order to help further the aims of Part 2(Homelessness) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 which comes into force in April 2014. For a copy of its Guide to the service-user standard for Welsh homelessness services, click here  

Homelessness: street homelessness
The UK Government has published the latest minutes of the cross-government ministerial working group on homelessness. For the details, click here  

Social Housing Mobility
The UK Government has established a £500,000 fund to support local authorities in England (and their partner private registered providers) to test out approaches that make use of the transferring tenant flexibilities in the Localism Act, as well as existing allocation flexibilities, to increase mobility for existing social tenants within local authority districts. For the bidding prospectus, click here  Bids must be submitted by 5 March 2015. For the results of an online survey by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), focused on how housing organisations support mobility for their existing tenants, click here  For the latest CIH briefing note on  How to promote mobility among existing tenants, click here

Housing benefit
The implementation of the ‘benefit cap’ is normally achieved by restricting housing benefit. On 5 February 2015, the UK Government published the latest figures on the number of households who have had their benefits capped. For the statistics, click here  For a copy of the Moat Housing report Rent levels and the benefit cap: What happens to rent affordability and development capacity if the benefit cap is reduced from £26,000 to £23,000? click here

News about the continuing roll-out of Universal Credit and other developments relating to housing benefit is contained in the latest issue of the DWP’s Housing Benefit Direct. For a copy, click here

Housing and support for asylum seekers
The House of Commons Library has produced a new free briefing on Accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers.   For a copy, click here  The organisation ASAP has produced a new briefing on accommodation and support for failed asylum seekers who have made Article 8 applications for permission to remain in the UK. For a copy, click here

Housing work on legal aid

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the reforms of legal aid for civil cases (including Housing) has found that “Fees paid for legal aid have not been increased for inflation since 1998-99, which equates to a real-terms reduction of 34% before the [recent] additional 10% fee reduction is taken into account. A large majority of respondents …said that the price paid for civil legal aid does not cover the cost of providing the service. In addition, 56% said that their ability to provide comprehensive legal advice to civil legal aid clients had become worse since the reforms were implemented.” For the full report, click here

Housing Laws in the Pipeline  

Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill 2015
This private members Bill would introduce a requirement that a functioning carbon monoxide detector be installed in all newly built and all rented residential properties. A second reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015. For a copy of the Bill, click here.

Private Rented Sector (Decent Homes Standard) Bill

This private members Bill would require private landlords to ensure that any property they let meets the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard. It is moved by Conservative MP Laura Sandys. For the debate on its introduction, click here  For more details of the Bill itself, click here The Second Reading is scheduled for Friday 6 March 2015.

Consumer Rights Bill

This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) repealing and replacing laws dealing with unfair terms in tenancy agreements and other contracts; and (2) requiring letting agents to publish their fees. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here The bill has completed its House of Lords stages and the consideration of Lords Amendments by the House of Commons took place on 12 January 2015. The Commons disagreed with Lords Amendment 12 and have returned the Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill now travels back and forth between the two Houses, until both agree on the text of the Bill. A motion to extend the carry-over period of the bill by 67 days until 30 March 2015 was agreed on 12 January 2015 following the consideration of Lords amendments. The Bill is scheduled to receive further Parliamentary consideration on 24 February 2015. If passed, the Act is then expected to come into force in October 2015. The UK Government is consulting on the draft guidance it proposes to issue on the new unfair terms provisions. For the consultation papers, click here 

Deregulation Bill

This is a government bill that relates to housing by: (1) reducing the qualifying period for right to buy; (2) removing the power to require preparation of housing strategies; and (3) amending the law on tenancy deposits. The bill has completed its House of Lords Committee Stage and the Report Stage resumed on 11 February 2015. For more details about the bill and its progress, click here  For the Government amendments designed to insert provisions relating to retaliatory eviction into the Bill (and to achieve the other changes described above), click here 


R v Peter Jones and Robert Angus
5 February 2015
Mr Jones was a private landlord. Mr Angus was his friend. They went to the home of a tenant in arrears with rent. They pushed him to the ground in front of his child before repeatedly kicking and stamping on him, knocking out three of his teeth. At Newcastle Crown Court, following guilty pleas to assault, the defendants were sentenced to 18 months and 15 months imprisonment respectively. For further details of the sentencing hearing, click here

Nicholas v Secretary of State for Defence
4 February 2015
An RAF Squadron Leader occupied a house under an agreement which stated “I understand that this Licence is to be granted because my occupation of the Property is required for the better performance of my service with the Crown and that this Licence is not a tenancy." His marriage broke down, he left the house but his wife remained in occupation. Defence Estates served notice requiring her to leave. She complained that this infringed her right to respect for her home and that the absence of security of tenure for occupiers of Crown properties was unlawful discrimination. The High Court rejected that case. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal. There was no relevant difference between the way the law treated Crown employees who were provided with tied accommodation from the way it applied to other such employees. For the judgment, click here

Health and Safety Executive v Mark Adam Whitfield
4 February 2015
The defendant was a gas fitter.  He had carried out a landlord’s gas safety certificate examination at a house when it was unoccupied. He failed to identify a significant defect. The property was then let to tenants who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.  At Stafford Magistrates’ Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to breach of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to a 12-month community service order (with 240 hours’ unpaid work) and ordered to pay (1) costs of £1,185 and (2) £1,000 compensation to the affected family. For details of the prosecution, click here

Royal Borough of Greenwich v The Information Commissioner
30 January 2015
The re-development of the Greenwich Peninsula is a project intended to last 20-25 years. It will include the building of over 10,000 homes. The developers agreed with the council that 38% of these would be “affordable” but later proposed to reduce the overall number of affordable homes by about 500. Campaigners from the Greenwich Peninsula Residents Group applied to the council for disclosure of documents relating to the proposal. The Information Commissioner ordered disclosure but the council appealed. The First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) dismissed the appeal and upheld the requirement to disclose. For the judgment, click here

Waltham Forest Council v William Lao
30 January 2015
The defendant was a private landlord with 16 properties in the council’s area. Without planning permission, he added large roof and garden extensions to seven of his houses and converted every property into flats. At Snaresbrook Crown Court, he was fined of £73,500 (£10,000 for non-compliance with each of the seven enforcement notices, £3,000 in relation to various breaches of Houses in Multiple Occupation regulations – such as fire safety and being unlicensed – and £500 relating to an improvement notice and a failure to disclose ownership). The court made a confiscation order of £217,758.26 (in respect of the profit made in rent from the illegal properties) with six months to pay and 30 months’ imprisonment in default. £10,000 costs were added. For details of the prosecution, click here.

Tenzin v Russell
28 January 2015
On taking a private tenancy, a tenant paid a deposit to a private landlord. The landlord failed to protect it with a deposit protection scheme. A court awarded the tenant compensation of three times the value of the deposit. An appeal by the landlord was dismissed. The landlord brought a second appeal. That too was dismissed. The first court had been right to find the claim was made out and the discretion about what compensation to award had not been wrongly exercised. For the judgment, click here 

Waaler v London Borough of Hounslow
28 January 2015
Miss Waaler was the leaseholder of a flat bought under the right to buy. After a block renovation programme, costing over £8million, the council sought payment of service charges by her in the sum of £55,195.95. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decided that, subject to some relatively minor adjustments, the sum was payable. The Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal (in part). The council was entitled by right to the service charges in respect of works of repair but where the works were for optional improvements a landlord “must take particular account of the extent of the interests of the lessees, their views on the proposals and the financial impact of proceeding” before being able to recover the service charges. The parties were invited to agree a reduced amount. For the judgment, click here  

Norwich City Council v Redford
26 January 2015
The council sought to recover a service charge for communal lighting on an estate from the leaseholders of a flat acquired under the right to buy. The council had a city-wide contract for the maintenance of communal lighting in all of its blocks of flats, not just the estate.  The sums claimed for communal lighting were calculated by apportioning a cost to the estate based on the rateable value of the estate and the rest of the blocks the subject of the contract. The leasehold valuation tribunal held that this assessment method was not permitted by the lease and disallowed the charges. The council’s appeal to the upper tribunal was dismissed. For the judgment, click here 

MR v North Tyneside Council and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
22 January 2015
This is the lead case in the Upper Tribunal on the application of the ‘bedroom tax’ to a situation in which a housing benefit claimant in social housing is keeping a ‘spare’ bedroom for occupation by a child who shares residence between two parents. For the judgment, click here For a commentary, click here    

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The UK Government has issued a consultation paper on the future shape of the English Housing Survey, the main statistical source of data related to housing in England. For the consultation paper, click here. Responses are sought by 5pm on Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Welsh Government has published its consultation draft of its new statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness & Allocations. For details of the consultation exercise and arrangements for responses, click here
The deadline is 23 March 2015.

The UK Government has issued proposals for another significant increase in civil court fees, including the costs of issuing possession claims. For the consultation paper, click here
For the impact assessment on the increase to possession claim fees, click here   Responses should be made by  27 February 2015.   For details of how to respond, click here

The Welsh Government has initiated a consultation on the future of the Right to Buy in Wales. The consultation runs until 16 April 2015. For the consultation arrangements, click here
For the consultation paper itself, click here  

The UK Government has launched a consultation exercise seeking views on changes to the Homes and Communities Agency guidance on shared ownership and on the terms of the model shared ownership leases. The options include changes to the operation of the pre-emption right in shared ownership standard leases and other proposals to streamline the resale of shared ownership properties. For the consultation details, click here
Responses should be made by 28 February 2015.

The Welsh Government has initiated a consultation on the provisions of new regulations relating to aspects of the handling of homelessness applications made to local councils in Wales. The consultation runs until 26 February 2015. For the consultation arrangements, click here
For the consultation paper itself, click here 


Recent Developments in Housing Law. Jan Luba & Nic Madge [2015] February issue Legal Action magazine. Available in print and on-line. To read the article, click here 

Private landlords gain £26.7bn from UK taxpayer, says campaign group
Hilary Osborne [2015] The Guardian 9 February To read the article, click here

Private rented sector investment: what are the planning and development barriers?

Martha Grekos [2015] Journal of Planning & Environment Law pp 280-283

Move to new home 125 miles away or we’ll kick you out, Brent tells mother Mark Blunden [2015] Evening Standard 5 February. To read the article, click here

A day in the life of a Housing Standards Officer
. Anon. [2015] January South Somerset Council Website. To read the article, click here 


13 February
New arrangements for DWP data-sharing with social landlords take effect under The Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2015. For the regulations, click here

17 February
Closing date of consultation on English Housing Survey (see above)

26 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on homelessness regulations in Wales (see above)

27 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on increases in court fees for possession cases (see above)

28 February 2015
Closing date of consultation on shared ownership (see above)



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