7th December 2016
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On 1 December 2016 Shelter published a report, marking the charity’s 50th anniversary, which states that over a quarter of a million people in England are homeless. It says that most of these people are living in temporary accommodation provided by councils, some are living in homeless hostels and some are sleeping rough. For the report, click here For a response from the Local Government Association, click here For coverage in The Guardian, click here

Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill
On 5 December 2016 the Government published a draft Bill which, if enacted, would introduce a new Public Service Ombudsman. The new proposals seek to bring together the responsibilities of the current Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman to create a new organisation with “strengthened governance and accountability”. The Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman issued a joint statement, saying: “The current complaint system is too complex and fragmented, leaving people confused as to which ombudsman to turn to if things go wrong or haven’t been resolved locally…. We have long been urging the government for these reforms.” For the draft Bill, click here For the Government’s press statement, including the Ombudsmen’s comments, click here

Homes and Communities Agency – social housing regulatory function to be separated
On 30 November 2016 the DCLG published a wide-ranging review of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) that, it says, will help improve its efficiency and provide greater focus to its housebuilding work. The Review concluded that, in order to renew and revitalise its purpose of supporting housebuilding and increasing the supply of available land, the agency’s social housing regulation function should become a separate public body. This will not affect the regulator’s powers or operations. For the Review, click here For the DCLG’s statement, click here For the CIH’s response to the announcement of separation of functions, click here For the consultation in respect of the DCLG’s proposal to use a Legislative Reform Order to establish the social housing regulator as a stand-alone body, see Housing Law Consultations.

Right to Rent: Notice of eviction and end of tenancy – section 33D(3) Immigration Act 2014
On 1 December 2016 – on which date sections 39-41 of the Immigration Act 2016 (which, inter alia, insert ss 33A to 33E into the Immigration Act 2014) came into force for all purposes – the DCLG published a notice which can be used to end a tenancy under s 33D(3) of the Immigration Act 2014 where the landlord has received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person from the Home Office to say that all of the tenants are disqualified from renting. For the notice, click here For the Immigration Act 2016, click here

Mortgage and landlord possession claims – July to September 2016
In July to September 2016, there were 38,900 mortgage and landlord possession claims (an 11% decrease on the same quarter in 2015). This continues a general downward trend since 2009. This coincided with lower interest rates, a proactive approach from mortgage lenders in managing consumers in financial difficulties, and various interventions, such as introduction of the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol that encouraged more pre-action contact between lender and borrower. For the statistics (from page 6), click here

Legal aid housing lawyers
On 29 November 2016 the Legal Aid Agency published an updated directory of legal aid providers by category of law, including Housing Law. For the directory, click here

Affordable housing supply
On 29 November the DCLG published the latest data on the supply of affordable homes. To access the data, click here

Affordable housing supply – Wales
On 1 December 2016 Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant, announced that the Welsh Government will invest an additional £30 million this year towards providing 20,000 affordable new homes. He also joined with Community Housing Cymru and the WLGA to sign a Housing Supply Delivery pact, underlining the importance of partnership working in delivering affordable homes during this term of Government. For the announcement, click here

Regeneration and housing supply
On 29 November 2016 MPs and leading professionals came together at a CIH parliamentary roundtable to explore how regeneration could be a key part of tackling the housing crisis, how to make it work and how it could be financed. A report on the key findings of the roundtable will be produced shortly. For further details, click here

Welfare benefits and the effect of sanctions on homelessness
On 30 November 2016 the National Audit Office published a report showing that the Department for Work & Pensions should do more to examine the impact of sanctions on people claiming benefits. Responding, Crisis said: “[The]report … shows why we need an urgent and wide ranging review of the effectiveness of the benefit sanctions system, and particularly its impact on homelessness. We know from our own research that benefit sanctions are a cause of homelessness and have a significant impact on vulnerable people – including those who are already homeless, care leavers and people with mental ill health.” For the NAO report, click here For the full Crisis response, click here

Private rented sector
On 2 December 2016 Kent Reliance published a report reviewing the private rented sector (PRS). It states that Buy to Let lending to limited companies had reached 100,000 in the first nine months of 2016 as landlords pre-empt 2017 tax changes; landlord confidence has recovered from a record low in 2016 as they have taken action; 54% now hold a positive outlook for their portfolios, up from just 39% in the second quarter in 2016; rents have reached a record high despite post-stamp-duty surge in supply, and will rise faster in 2017 as landlords’ costs rise; and value of PRS has climbed £174bn to £1.3trn in 2016, with steady growth in rental population and a rapid rise in property values. For more details, click here

Airbnb, private rented sector and London
On 1 December 2016 The Guardian reported that an independently commissioned report had warned that “Airbnb and other homesharing sites are causing landlords to remove properties from the already stretched private rented sector and placing them into short-term lets in a trend that poses ‘potential future risks to housing supply in London’." As a consequence, Airbnb has announced that from next spring it will ban hosts in London from renting out entire homes for more than 90 days a year without planning consent. For The Guardian report, click here

Selective licensing scheme – Brent
Brent Council is consulting on proposals to extend its selective licensing scheme across the whole borough.  The council had introduced such a scheme for all private rental properties in Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central, and a licensing scheme for all HMOs in Brent. The consultation closes on 16 December 2016. For the conditions of the scheme, click here


Homelessness Reduction Bill
This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Commons by Bob Blackman which seeks to amend the Housing Act 1996 to make provision about measures for reducing homelessness; and for connected purposes. The Bill has won the support of the Government; for the DCLG press statement in that respect, click here It received its Second Reading on 28 October 2016; for a record of the debate, click here The Bill entered Committee on 23 November 2016. For the Bill as introduced, click here For progress of the Bill, click here The House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government has published a report following its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill; to read the report, click here For the Law Society’s parliament briefing on the Bill, click here

Renters’ Rights Bill
This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Grender which seeks to provide tenants and prospective tenants with certain rights, including affording access to a local housing authority’s database of rogue landlords, ending certain letting fees and providing for certain mandatory electrical safety checks. The Bill had its Second Reading on 10 June 2016 and completed its Committee stage on 18 November 2016; for a record of the debate, click here It will enter its Report stage on a date to be announced. For the Bill as amended in Committee, click here To read debates at all stages of the Bill’s passage, click here For progress of the Bill, click here

Crown Tenancies Bill

This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Commons by Wendy Morton which seeks to provide that ​Crown tenancies may be assured tenancies for the purposes of the Housing Act 1988, subject to certain exceptions; to modify the assured tenancies regime in relation to certain Crown tenancies; and for connected purposes. The Bill is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 16 December 2016. For progress of the Bill, click here

Housing (Tenants' Rights) Bill
This is a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Caroline Lucas which seeks to establish a Living Rent Commission to conduct research into, and provide proposals for, reducing rent levels in the private rented sector and improving terms and conditions for tenants; to require the Secretary of State to report the recommendations of the Commission to Parliament; to introduce measures to promote long-term tenancies; to establish a mandatory national register of ​landlords and lettings agents; to prohibit the charging of letting or management agent fees to tenants; and for connected purposes. The Bill is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 20 January 2017. For progress of the Bill, click here


Leeds City Council v Stephen Broadley [2016] EWCA 1213
This appeal concerned the question of liability for council tax in respect of properties let by Mr Broadley on assured shorthold tenancies.  The issue was whether it was Mr Broadley or his tenant who was “the owner” of the dwelling within s.6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (“the 1992 Act”) for the period when the dwelling had no “resident.”

The Court of Appeal analysed the terms of the tenancy agreement [para 4] and concluded that the terms granted by the agreements were “a single grant for 6 or 12 months certain…..and then continuing from month to month” and that as such they granted a “material interest” within the meaning of s.6(6) of the 1992 Act.  The Court dismissed the Council’s appeal and held that the tenant’s liability continued while those tenancies subsisted as periodic tenancies even if the tenant was no longer in occupation.  Lord Justice McCombe [at para. 33] considered that there was “an obvious benefit to both parties to the lease in giving a degree of initial certainty of the term’s duration, with a degree of flexibility thereafter.” For the full judgment click here.

Birmingham City Council v SS and another (Roshni, intervening)
Birmingham City Council v SA and another (Roshni, intervening) [2016] EWCA Civ 1211
The Respondents SS and SA lived with their young children in accommodation in a refuge rented from a registered charity. The Respondents were both the victims of domestic violence and their accommodation qualified as “exempt” accommodation. Pursuant to Regulation 13(3)(b) of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (as substituted by Schedule 3, para 5 of the Housing Benefit (Consequential Provisions Regulations) 2006, the appellant, Birmingham City Council restricted the amount of housing benefit payable to each of the Respondents to a sum of money which was significantly less than their respective contractual rent.  The Council considered that the rent they were being charged was “unreasonably high”.  SS and SA appealed that decision unsuccessfully to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber).  They then appealed to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) who upheld their appeal.  The Council appealed to the Court of Appeal which upheld the Council’s appeal. For a detailed summary click here. For the full judgment click here.

Agents’ Renewal Commission Claim Fails
The Residential Landlords Association reports that an agents’ renewal commission claim has been successfully defended by the landlord in a case heard in Willesden County Court.  For the news item click here.

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Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing
The DCLG has opened a consultation on extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation. The consultation seeks views on the Government’s proposed details for: the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation; the assumptions made in its associated impact assessment; national room sizes; the fit and proper person test; refuse disposal facilities; and purpose built student accommodation. For the consultation document, click here To respond online, click here  The consultation closes on 13 December 2016.

Regulations and policy supporting the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 creates the new private residential tenancy which will replace current assured and short assured tenancies. The purpose of the new tenancy is to improve security of tenure for tenants balanced with appropriate safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors. This consultation seeks views on the secondary legislation and further policy to support the new tenancy. The policy proposals outlined in this document are complimentary to the provisions in the 2016 Act. For the consultation document, click here To respond online, click here The consultation closes on 25 December 2016.

Recovery of Capital Grant from Unregistered Bodies General Determination 2017
The consultation paper concerns the making of a new determination by the Homes and Communities Agency to recover Social Housing Assistance given to unregistered bodies only. It seeks views on a new determination to recover capital grant given to Unregistered Bodies (bodies that are not registered with the Social Housing Regulator as Registered Providers of Social Housing). Consultees are invited to comment on the proposed set of changes, which are shown in the form of a draft Determination included in the body of the consultation paper. For the consultation document, click here Directions for responding are set out in the document. The consultation closes on 30 November 2016.

Funding for supported housing
On 21 November 2016 the DCLG and DWP launched a consultation seeking views on the government’s plans for a new housing costs funding model for supported housing as well as views on how funding for emergency and short term placements should work. It covers the following areas: devolved top-up funding to local authorities in England; and funding for emergency and short term supported housing placements across Great Britain. At the same time the government has published an evidence review of supported accommodation in Great Britain which seeks to provide a helpful insight into the estimated scale, scope and cost of the sector which respondents may find useful in responding to the consultation. For the consultation, click here For the evidence review, click here The consultation closes on 13 February 2017.

Fee-charging scheme for the regulation of private registered providers of social housing
The Homes and Communities Agency has published a statutory consultation on introducing a fee-charging scheme for the regulation of private registered providers of social housing. The consultation follows a discussion paper in 2014 setting out initial proposals and the 2015 Spending Review. The statutory consultation sets out the following anticipated fee charges: an annual fee of £5 per unit for all registered providers with 1,000 or more units of social housing; a fixed fee of £300 for providers with fewer than 1,000 social housing units; and a one-off fixed rate fee of £2,500 for successful new registrations with the regulator. For the consultation documents, click here The consultation closes on 9 January 2017.

Social housing regulation: using a Legislative Reform Order to establish the Regulator as a stand-alone body.
The Tailored Review of the Homes and Communities Agency recommends the separation of the social housing regulator into a new standalone non-departmental public body, to address the potential conflict of interest that arises from the Agency’s current configuration The aim of the consultation is to set out the proposed legislative changes to the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 to implement the separation of the social housing regulator to reflect the principles of better regulation, especially transparency and accountability. This measure will not change how registered providers are regulated; the regulatory framework and regulatory powers will not alter as a result of the Review. Views are invited on all aspects of the consultation paper, with a specific focus on eligibility against criteria for using a Legislative Reform Order. For the consultation document click here. To respond to the consultation click here. The consultation closes on 27 January 2017.

Consultation on Extending Coverage of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to Registered Social Landlords.
The consultation sets out proposals to extend coverage of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). Extending coverage of FOISA would give the same 'access to information' rights to tenants of RSLs as local authority housing tenants currently have. RSLs would have a statutory responsibility to reply to information requests within set timescales. Under FOISA, if an applicant is dissatisfied with how an authority responds they can ultimately appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner who is the independent regulator of the legislation. For the consultation document, click here. To respond online, click here.  The consultation closes on 23 February 2017.


The Displaced tenants paying the true cost of an inhuman housing policy Dawn Foster Guardian Housing Network [2016] 1 December. To read this article click here.

Witness Protection: Can non-parties appeal critical findings made in a judgment which infringe their human rights?
Jo Moore UK Human Rights blog [2016] 30 November. To read this article click here.

Known unknowns – Considering disability in homelessness
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 27 November. To read the article click here.

The Green Book: 50 Years on
Jenny Pennington [2016] Shelter Blog 1 December 2016. To read this article, click here.

Reasons to be Cheerful
Kate Webb Shelter Policy Blog [2016] 30 November. To read this article click here.

Social Housing regulation has become a game of government ping-pong Colin Wiles Guardian Housing Network [2016] 1 December. For the article click here.

Legal Update – New Rules Coming in for Landlords Tessa Shepperson Property 118 Blog [2016] 5 December. To read this article click here.

Recent Developments in Housing Law
Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2016] November issue of Legal Action. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. For the latest issue, click here. For back-issues, click here.


13 December 2016        
Consultation closes on houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing (see Housing Law Consultations)

16 December 2016        
Second reading of Crown Tenancies Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline)

25 December 2016        
Consultation closes on Regulations and policy supporting the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 (see Housing Law Consultations)


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