21st September 2016
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Supported housing
On 15 September 2016 Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green made a statement to Parliament in which he said that supported housing, including women’s refuges, homeless shelters and housing for those leaving care, will continue to be exempt from the Local Housing Allowance cap until 2019. From then a new funding model will protect the sector from the cap with a top-up of additional ring-fenced funding. The government will consult with the supported accommodation sector over the details of the funding model in the coming months. For the DCLG press release, click here For the Local Government Association’s response to the announcement, click here For the CIH response, expressing concern for the long term, click here

Home ownership
On 15 September 2016 the House of Commons Library published statistics on home ownership by age, region and ethnicity, based on data from the Labour Force Survey. The statistics (already in the public domain) show that home ownership rates have increased amongst households where the Head of Household (HoH) is aged 16-19 or aged 70 and over, but have fallen amongst all other age groups. The biggest decline, by 7.2%, has occurred amongst households whose HoH is aged 30-34 years. To read the briefing, click here

Shared ownership
On 16 September 2016 the Chartered Institute of Housing marked one year since it published its report on shared ownership, by examining the report’s impact and the future for shared ownership. To read about developments in this respect, click here

Housebuilding – Wales
On 14 September 2016 the Welsh Government published information on the number of new dwellings started, where building has commenced and those completed. The number of new dwellings started fell by 4% during 2015-16 following a sustained increase over the previous three years. This decrease in starts has continued into the first quarter of 2016-17. During April to June 2016, a total of 1,357 new dwellings were started, which is down by 25% on the previous year. To access the statistics, click here

Housing associations
On 18 September Policy Exchange published a report – A New Settlement Between Government and Independent Housing Associations – which recommends that housing associations with a stock of more than 4,000 homes should be allowed to sign individual housing deals with the government which would provide greater freedoms and flexibilities, including fewer constraints over rent setting, in return for using their billion pound surpluses and borrowing capacity to build tens of thousands of new affordable and market homes. For a press release summarising the report, click here To read the full report, click here.

Affordable housing – London
On 18 September 2016, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan  set out the first details of his plans for ‘London Living Rent’ – a new type of tenancy for newly-built affordable homes that is intended to help average earners in the capital save for a deposit by offering them a below-market rent. London Living Rent homes will have rents based on a third of average household incomes in each borough. For more details, click here

Housing Benefit (1)
On 15 September 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions updated its guide to good practice designed to improve the Housing Benefit review process across all local authorities. To read the guide, click here

Housing Benefit (2)
The Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 amend the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 and the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014. These regulations make amendments in connection with the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 and introduce new exemptions to the benefit cap. The regulations come into force on 7 November 2016. To access the regulations, click here

Housing Benefit – Northern Ireland
The Housing Benefit (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 amend the Housing Benefit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (‘the 2016 Regs’), Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and the Housing Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006. The regulations introduce a new method of calculating the eligible rent when determining the appropriate maximum housing benefit of a working age claimant in the social rented sector whose housing benefit is determined under the Housing Benefit Regulations, by making an appropriate deduction from housing benefit where a claimant occupies a dwelling that has more bedrooms than they require (ie introduce a ‘bedroom tax’). The regulations (apart from reg 7, revoking the 2016 Regs) come into force on 23 January 2017. To access the regulations, click here

Social landlords – Scotland
On 12 September 2016, the Scottish Housing Regulator published a report highlighting the importance of social landlords being open and accessible about their services and decision-making. The report looks at how social landlords ensure that tenants and other service users can communicate with them and obtain the information they need about their landlord’s services. It also shares positive practice and makes recommendations for landlords aimed at improving openness and accessibility. To read the report, click here

Private renting evictions
On 14 September 2016 the National Landlords Association reported that a survey of 777 landlords had revealed that the average cost to a landlord of their tenant being advised to ignore an eviction notice stands at nearly £7,000 (the mean total cost is £6,763). For more details, click here

The Liberal Democrats have proposed the creation of a £60m fund to help local authorities tackle homelessness. The extra funding would enable councils to intervene early in order to prevent people losing their homes. It would also go towards funding emergency accommodation. For more information, click here

Right to Buy – Wales
On 15 September 2016 BBC News reported that Anglesey had become the latest Welsh local authority to stop tenants buying their own council houses, according to Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant. He is said to have agreed to suspending the right-to-buy scheme "to ensure homes are available to those who need them". To read the report, 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 will enter the Committee stage on a date to be announced. For the Bill as introduced, 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

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 is being prepared for publication and is due to have its Second Reading on 28 October 2016. For progress of the Bill, click here For a record of proceedings, click here The House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government has been holding a pre-legislative inquiry into the Bill: for more information, click here On 14 September 2016 the Local Government Association published a response to the proposed legislation stating that it will not work; for the LGA press release, 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


Caroline Gibbs v Lakeside Developments Limited [2016] EWHC 2203 (Ch) (full text judgment not publically available yet).
This appeal from the County Court to the Chancery Division of the High Court was heard by Mr Justice Arnold.  His Lordship considered whether a damages claim appeal arising from a dispute regarding forfeiture of a lease had been compromised or whether a letter and accompanying attached draft consent order constituted a counter-offer rather than acceptance of a compromise offer.

The appellant wrote a letter dated 1 March 2016 to the respondent’s solicitors in which she indicated that the minimum she would accept in settlement of her claim was £90,000 with each party bearing their own costs provided that her offer was accepted by a specified time and date and that the monies be transferred to an account nominated by her by 16 March 2016.

The respondent’s solicitor responded (within the time limit specified by the appellant for acceptance of her offer) indicating that the offer was accepted and attaching a draft consent order for the appellant’s consideration and approval. It was common ground that the draft consent order deviated from the terms of the appellant’s offer in that it provided for payment to be made by 8 April 2016.

His Lordship considered that the appellant’s offer had been a “package” which made it clear that both the date for payment as well as the date for acceptance of the offer were important.

Accordingly, notwithstanding the fact that the respondent’s solicitor’s email purported to accept the offer they had in fact made a counter-offer and thus a rejection of the appellant’s offer.  Accordingly, the judge concluded that there had been no compromise of the appeal and that the parties had not been ad idem.

His Lordship also made it clear that it was well established that in considering whether an agreement had been concluded the court was entitled to have regard to all of the communications between the parties including correspondence subsequent to the purported acceptance of the offer. 

Nemcova v Fairfield Rents Ltd [2016] UKUT 303 (LC) UTLC
The freehold owner of a block of flats in which the appellant’s flat is situated had applied under s.168(4) of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (the FtT) for a determination as to whether she had breached covenants in her lease of her flat by advertising the availability of her flat for short term lettings and granting a series of such lettings.  The FtT found in favour of the freeholder. 

The appellant appealed (with permission) to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). HHJ Stewart Bridge analysed the precise wording of the covenant in the lease which provided, inter alia, that the demised premises were not to be used “for any purpose whatsoever other than as a private residence.”

The appellant accepted that she had granted a series of short term lettings of her flat and that she had advertised it on the internet.

The judge analysed the case law concerning the construction of leasehold covenants and considered that the emphasis should be on the meaning of the relevant words in their particular, fact-specific context.  He also considered it be an entirely proper inference that the covenant was extracted in part for the protection of other lessees of the building.  He also noted that the covenant did not state that the premises are to be used as the private residence of the lessee but as a private residence. The judge considered that use of the indefinite article (“a”) was significant because a person may have more than one residence at any one time such as a permanent residence as well as other temporary residences.  However, he concluded that for this covenant to be observed the occupier for the time being must be using it as “his or her private residence.”

The judge considered that the duration of the occupier’s occupation was material in that for the property to be used as the occupier’s private residence a degree of permanence was required going beyond being there for a weekend or a few nights a week.  Such stays would be transient so that the occupier would not consider the property they were staying in as their private residence “even for the time being.”

The judge concluded that, “Having considered the context of the grant of the lease, and the nature of the intended relationship between lessor and lessee taking account of the obligations entered into, I am of the view that in granting very short term lettings (days and weeks rather than months) as the appellant has done necessarily breaches the covenant under consideration.”

The judge went on to emphasise that each case was fact-specific and would depend upon the construction of the particular construction of the covenant under consideration.  For the full judgment click here.

HSE investigation leads to prosecution of unregistered gas fitter
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has led to the prosecution of a gas fitter at Truro Crown Court. The Defendant pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(3), 3(7), and 33(2) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.  He was sentenced to undertake 250 hours’ unpaid work for each offence to run concurrently and ordered to pay £4,966.42 in costs.

The Defendant had installed a gas boiler and gas hob at a property Newquay several years after his registration with Gas Safe Register had lapsed so that he wasn’t permitted to carry out gas work. His previous registration with Gas Safe Register did not cover any work on any LPG gas appliances as he had never completed the proper training for this work. Despite this he continued to use the Gas Safe Register logo on paperwork he issued. For the HSE’s full report click here.

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Law Commission reform programme
The Law Commission has opened the consultation for its 13th Programme of law reform. The responses received will inform the majority of the Law Commission’s work from 2017 to 2020. The Commission is asking for the public’s help to identify areas of the substantive law of England and Wales that need reform, and to prioritise those reforms. It is also suggesting some potential projects that could form part of its Programme, and it would like to have views on these. Within these proposals is a suggestion that there might be areas of residential, commercial or agricultural landlord and tenant law which impose unnecessary restrictions, inefficiencies or costs. For more information about the Programme, including the criteria for project selection, click here For more details of the proposal concerning leasehold law, click here The consultation closes on 31 October 2016.

Justice system reform
The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunal Service has published a consultation document outlining what the Ministry of Justice is doing to achieve reform of the justice system, and invites the public and interested stakeholders to give their views on certain specific measures. In respect of civil proceedings, the document proposes: introducing a new online process for resolving claims; encouraging parties to resolve disputes themselves where possible; extending the fixed recoverable costs regime; civil enforcement; and replacing statutory declarations in county court proceedings with a witness statement verified by a statement of truth. Where required, legislation will be introduced to implement those measures. To read the consultation document, click here The document was accompanied by a joint statement from the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, and the Senior President of Tribunals on their shared vision for the future of Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service: to read the joint statement, click here The consultation will be conducted by online survey: to access the survey, click here The consultation closes on 27 October 2016.

Welsh National Housing Pathway for ex-service personnel
The Welsh Government is consulting on the draft National Housing Pathway for ex-service personnel. The pathway will: provide advice to members of the services before their discharge, to help them avoid homelessness; and support former members of the services who are homeless. For more details, click here To respond to the consultation, click here The consultation closes on 13 October 2016.

Housing crisis ‘driving younger and older generations apart’ Daniel Boffy [2016] Observer 18 September. To read this article, click here

A qualitative study of the impact of the UK ‘bedroom tax’
S. Moffatt, S. Lawson, R. Patterson, E. Holding, A. Dennison, S. Sowden and J. Brown [2016] Journal of Public Health June issue. To read this article, click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2016] September 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

The government has left older people's sheltered housing in limbo
Jane Ascroft [2016] Guardian 20 September. To read this article, click here

Life in a B&B or shelter: has austerity left you needing a new home? Sarah Marsh [2016] Guardian 19 September. To read this article, click here

Right to be forgotten?
Simon Marciniak [2016] Nearly Legal 19 September. To read this article, click here

The future of social housing – take aways from our recent roundtable
Steve Akehurst [2016] Shelter Blog 19 September. To read this article, click here
The social housing sector has become dangerously divided
Colin Wiles [2016] Guardian 19 September. To read this article, click here

An endless summer is no good for social housing tenants worried about a rent rise
Vicky Pearlman [2016] Shelter Blog 19 September. To read this article, click here

Shared ownership comes with risks – here's what to watch out for
Giles Peaker [2016] Guardian 15 September. To read this article, click here

Short term lets and private residences
Giles Peaker [2016] Nearly Legal 15 September. To read this article, click here

Dare to share
Alev Horgan [2016] CIH Blog 15 September.To read this article, click here

How a legal stitch-up could undermine progress on homelessness
Kate Webb[2016] Shelter Blog 15 September. To read this article, click here

Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes
Juha Kaakinen [2016] Guardian 14 September. To read this article, click here

13 October 2016        
Consultation on Welsh National Housing Pathway for ex-service personnel closes (see Housing Law Consultations)

27 October 2016        
Consultation on Justice system reform closes (see Housing Law Consultations)

31 October 2016        
Consultation on Law Commission reform programme closes (see Housing Law Consultations)


Housing Advice & Assessment Officer
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