15th March 2017
Quick Links

Spring Budget
In the Spring Budget, delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 March 2017, there were no provisions relating specifically to housing. For the HM Treasury Budget policy paper, click here For a response to the Budget by Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, click here

Rough sleeping – ‘Housing First’
On 12 March  2017 The Observer reported that the Government is considering a “radical plan to end the scourge of rough sleeping by placing homeless people in permanent housing before they have conquered problems such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction and mental illness”. The scheme, known as Housing First, was originally piloted in USA before being adopted in Finland. For The Observer’s report, click here

Rough sleepers from non-UK countries – St Mungo’s
On 7 March 2017 St Mungo’s issued a statement in response to social media and articles about how it works with non-UK people sleeping rough. The organisation said that it does “not share information about people to the Home Office, except when an individual has given their consent, or in situations where people are at risk. . . . [O]utreach teams are commissioned by local authorities. If they are working with non UK nationals sleeping rough they would first ensure that people understand their rights and entitlements, including, where feasible, assistance to take up options in the UK like work and housing.” For the full statement, click here

Private renting survey (1) – renting costs and letting fees
On 7 March 2017 Citizens Advice reported findings from a survey which revealed that 74% of private tenants say that “the combined costs of rent, agency fees and moving make buying a home harder.” The YouGov survey of over 2,000 private renters in England showed that of households earning £50,000 or more, two-thirds (69%) paid fees to their current letting agent with some paying more than £1,000. For more details, click here

Private renting survey (2) – rents
On 13 March 2017 Countrywide published its Letting Index for February. It showed that rents in Great Britain were £5 a month (0.6%) lower than in February 2016, the first annual fall for more than six years. The fall, it says, is driven by lower rents in London and the South East where rents fell 4.7% and 2.6%. Rents continue to rise in all other regions of Great Britain. Excluding London, average rents rose 0.8% year-on-year. The number of homes available to rent increased by 9% but the growth in stock is slowing. For more details, click here

Private renting survey (3) – rents and vulnerable people
On 9 March 2017 the RICS published its latest Residential Market Survey. This showed that “around one-third of respondents say homeless people and those on housing benefits are being pushed out of the private rental market; rents are predicted to rise by in excess of 20 per cent over the next five years; and 52 per cent of private landlords would house homeless people if Government acted as rent deposit guarantor”. To read the survey results, click here For coverage of the survey in The Guardian, click here

Private renting survey (4) – ‘non-decent homes’
On 8 March 2017 Environmental Health News covered findings from the English Housing Survey 2014/15 focusing on those relating to ‘decent homes’ (ie the government statutory minimum standard for a home providing a reasonable degree of thermal comfort). It noted that the private rented sector has the highest proportion of ‘non-decent’ homes out of English housing stock and is more likely to experience damp and mould. For the report, click here For the Survey itself, click here

Universal credit and social housing
On 8 March 2017 the Department for Work and Pensions updated various guides explaining what Universal Credit means for landlords, local authorities and tenants. To access the latest versions of the guides, click here Meanwhile the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland has added its voice to growing concerns about the negative social impact and spiralling costs of implementing Universal Credit: for its statement, click here For a House of Commons Research Briefing on the housing cost element of Universal Credit and the withdrawal of entitlement from 18-21 year olds, click here

Supported housing funding
On 14 March 2017 the Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government Committees, as part of their joint inquiry into the future of supported housing, heard from housing associations and local authorities on the Government's planned reform of supported housing funding. To watch the session, click here

Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017
These Regulations bring into force various provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, including (but not only) the following: from 10 March 2017 s 47(3) (enforcement of rent repayment orders) and from 6 April 2017:

  • sections 40 to 46 (rent repayment orders) for the purpose only of conferring power on the First-tier Tribunal to make a rent repayment order (where a landlord has committed an offence under section 6(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (violence for securing entry), s 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (eviction or harassment of occupier), or any of the following sections of the Housing Act 2004: s 30(1) (failure to comply with an improvement notice); s 32(1) (failure to comply with a prohibition notice etc.); s 72(1) (control or management of unlicensed house of multiple occupation (HMO)); s 95(1) (control or management of unlicensed house).
  • section 48 for the purpose only of requiring a local housing authority to consider applying for a rent repayment order where a landlord has committed one of the offences mentioned above.
  • sections 47(1) and (2) and 49 to 52. Section 47(1) and (2) makes provision for the enforcement of rent repayment orders. Section 49 gives local housing authorities a power to help tenants apply for rent repayment orders. Section 50 makes consequential amendments to the rent repayment order regimes set out in the Housing Act 2004, which from the commencement of this section will apply only in Wales (unless saved by provision in regulation 5). Sections 51 and 52 are interpretation provisions.
  • section 53 which makes provision for appeals from a decision of the First-tier Tribunal made under Part 2 of the Act (rogue landlords and property agents in England) to the Upper Tribunal.
  • sections 54 to 56 of the Act which relate to the interpretation of Part 2.  
For the Commencement No. 5 regulations, click here For the 2016 Act, click here

The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Amendment Regulations 2017
These Regulations, which come into force on 24 April 2017, amend the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Regulations 2016 (the 2016 Regulations) to allow the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber to correct clerical mistakes and accidental slips or omissions at any time, rather than just in the course of a review as provided for in section 44(1)(c) of the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014. These Regulations also amend the 2016 Regulations to refine the procedure for applications for permission to appeal a decision of the First-tier Tribunal and also the procedure for reviews of a decision of the First-tier Tribunal. For the 2016 Regulations, click here For the 2017 Amendment Regulations, click here

Housing Benefit debt recovery
On 8 March 2017 the Department for Work and Pensions published statistics which show that during the first half of 2016/17: £455 million Housing Benefit overpayments were identified; £337 million Housing Benefit overpayments were recovered; and £40 million Housing Benefit overpayments were written off. For the statistics in full, click here

Abolition of the Right to Buy – Wales
On 13 March 2017 the Welsh Government introduced in the National Assembly the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill which will provide for the Right to Buy, the Preserved Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire for tenants of local authorities and registered social landlords to be abolished after a period of at least one year following Royal Assent. The Welsh Government says that it aims to protect the Welsh stock of social housing from further reduction, ensuring it is available to provide safe, secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to take advantage of the housing market to buy or rent a home. Progress of the Bill will be recorded over coming months in Housing Laws in the Pipeline For the announcement, click here For associated documents, click here

Affordable housing – Scotland
On 13 March 2017 the Scottish Government announced that over £590 million will be made available for 2017/18 to increase the supply of affordable homes in Scotland. Councils will share £422 million to deliver more affordable homes in their local communities. The remaining investment will fund national schemes, including support for first time buyers and increasing rural and island housing. The total budget is an increase of £18 million compared to last year. For the announcement, 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 On 17 January 2017 the DCLG announced that councils would receive a further £48 million funding to help deliver new and expanded services under the Bill; for the announcement, click here and for the Local Government Association’s response to the announcement, click here The Bill has completed all its stages in the House of Commons and received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 24 February 2017. An Order of Commitment was discharged on 10 March 2017 so that the Bill will now receive its Third Reading on a date to be announced. For the Bill as introduced in the House of Lords, click here For progress of the Bill, click here For all the debates on all stages 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 For the House of Commons Library briefing paper prepared for the Commons Report and Committee Stages of the Bill (published on 10 February 2017), click here For a series of factsheets published by the DCLG and providing further background information on the measures within 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. It completed its Committee stage, without amendment, on 1 March 2017 and will have its Report stage on 24 March 2017. To read debates on all stages of the Bill, click here For the Bill as introduced, click here For progress of the Bill, click here For a research briefing from the House of Commons Library providing background on 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 24 March 2017. For progress of the Bill, click here


Primeview Developments Limited v Ahmed and Others
[2017] UKUT 57 (LC)
Primeview Developments Limited (“Primeview”) is the freeholder of a building which is divided into flats.  The Respondents, Mr Ahmed and others, (“the Leaseholders”) are the leaseholders of those flats. 

Primeview consulted the Leaseholders regarding works which Primeview intended to carry out to the roof of the property.  After the consultation, Primeview asked the Leaseholders to sign a formal agreement confirming that the works concerned were necessary, that the Leaseholders had been consulted on them and that the estimate provided was a reasonable price for the proposed works.  When the occupants of one of the flats sold their flat, the new occupants were dissatisfied with the consultation process which had taken place and made repeated – but unrequited – requests to Primeview for mediation.

Legal framework: the First Tier Tribunal’s jurisdiction
Section 27A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (“the 1985 Act”) allows the First Tier Tribunal (“FTT”) to determine whether a service charge is payable and, if so, in what amount.  However section 27A does not allow any application to be made to the FTT in respect of matters which have been agreed or admitted by a leaseholder.

Legal framework: costs
Section 20C of the 1985 Act allows a leaseholder to make an application that costs incurred by a freeholder in proceedings before the FTT or the Upper Tribunal are not to be taken into account in determining the level of the service charge.
Normally in the FTT each party pays its own costs.  However, rule 13 of the FTT’s rules permit the FTT to make an order requiring one party to pay another’s costs in the event of the former party having behaved unreasonably.

The FTT proceedings
Before the FTT, Primeview argued that the FTT did not have jurisdiction to determine the level of service charge payable: Primeview argued that the agreement signed by the Leaseholders constituted an admission and that consequently the FTT did not have jurisdiction pursuant to section 27A of the 1985 Act.

The FTT decided that it did have jurisdiction: it held that the agreement signed by the Leaseholders sought to determine a matter which was properly within the remit of the FTT and the agreement was therefore void (pursuant to section 27A(6) of the 1985 Act).  The FTT then went on to find that the cost of the roof works was reasonable.

On costs, the FTT decided that only part of Primeview’s costs could be recoverable from the Leaseholders by way of the service charge because Primeview had not succeeded on all of its arguments (for example the jurisdiction argument).

The Leaseholders sought their costs, arguing that Primeview had behaved unreasonably by:

  1. Seeking to oust the FTT’s jurisdiction; and
  2. Declining to mediate.

The FTT agreed with the Leaseholders on point (i) but rejected their argument on point (ii), finding that the prospects of any mediation being successful would have been slim.

Appeal to the Upper Tribunal
On appeal, Primeview challenged the FTT’s costs decisions, whilst the Leaseholders challenged the FTT’s finding that Primeview had behaved reasonably in refusing to mediate.

On the mediation issue, the Upper Tribunal found for Primeview, holding (in accordance with previous case law) that there is no automatic presumption in favour of mediation.    It held that whether a party has behaved unreasonably depends on all the circumstances of the case and that Primeview had been entitled to decline mediation on the basis that it would have been costly and that the prospects of it succeeding would have been slim.

On the costs question of whether Primeview had acted unreasonably in arguing that the FTT lacked jurisdiction, the Upper Tribunal found for Primeview.  It noted that Primeview’s conduct had been unusual in as much as it had instigated proceedings in the FTT in order to argue that the FTT did not in fact have jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, the Upper Tribunal held that Primeview had acted reasonably in concluding that it needed to issue FTT proceedings in order to gain clarity as to whether it was entitled to recover a significant level of service charge expenditure.  Moreover, the Upper Tribunal held that it was not unreasonable of Primeview to seek to oust the FTT’s jurisdiction, given that the 1985 Act specifically envisages that the FTT’s jurisdiction can be ousted by an agreement between the parties.  Whilst Primeview’s approach to the agreements which were signed by the Leaseholders was blunt and involved an aggressive negotiating style, it did not amount to unreasonable behaviour.

On the overall costs reduction awarded by the FTT under section 20C of the 1985 Act, Primeview argued that the FTT had been wrong to adopt an issues-based approach (i.e. reducing the costs based on the fact that Primeview had succeeded on some issues in the case but not all).  The FTT awarded Primeview approximately 30% of its costs when Primeview had, despite not succeeding on all issues, succeeded in obtaining an order from the FTT entitling it to recover from the Leaseholders more than 95% of the sums that it had been seeking in the litigation.  The Upper Tribunal found for Primeview, holding that there is nothing wrong in principle with the FTT taking an issues-based approach to costs but that that approach must not lose sight of the overall result of the litigation or produce an unbalanced and unfair outcome.  The Upper Tribunal held that the FTT’s decision – awarding some 30% of the costs – was such an unbalanced and unfair outcome, bearing in mind that Primeview succeeded in recovering some 95% of the sums which it had set out in the litigation to recover.

Finally, the Leaseholders argued that Primeview acted unreasonably in appealing the section 20C costs point to the Upper Tribunal.  This is because, subsequent to the FTT’s decision, all the costs concerned were paid by the occupants of one of the flats; since Primeview had recovered all the costs that it wanted, the appeal to the Upper Tribunal was academic.  The Upper Tribunal agreed that this made Primeview’s pursuit of that limb of the appeal unreasonable and made a costs order in favour of the Leaseholders accordingly.

Summary by Alexander Campbell, barrister, Arden Chambers.  For the full judgment click here.

Make Sure you Keep Up to Date with Housing Law Week

Don’t miss out on your weekly updates!
Sign up here now to ensure you receive your own free copy of Housing Law Week straight to your desktop each week.


Procedure of the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber
The Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 establishes an integrated structure of tribunals with a First-tier Tribunal (F-TT) and an Upper Tribunal. Jurisdictions within the First-tier Tribunal will be organised into ‘chambers’ according to the nature of the dispute. On 1 December 2016, the Private Rented the Private Rented Housing Panel/Homeowner Housing Panel transferred to the F-TT – the first of the existing tribunals to move to the new structure. A single set of operational rules is being developed to apply across all jurisdictions in the Housing and Property Chamber. These are required for the expansion of the Chamber to other private rented sector disputes. Views are sought on the operational procedure of the Housing & Property Chamber for hearing the disputes transferring from the Sheriff court, disputes under the new letting agents’ regime and disputes involving the new tenancies established by the Private Tenancies (Scotland) Act 2016.  For the consultation document, click here The consultation closes on 31 March 2017.  

Private Rented Sector in Northern Ireland – Proposals for Change
This consultation document is the second stage in the Department for Communities’ review of the role and regulation of the private rented sector. It proposes a number of changes which will impact on both landlords and tenants. The document sets out proposals on: supply, affordability, security of tenure, tenancy management, property standards and dispute resolution. The Department will hold four public events to facilitate discussion on this document. For the consultation document and details of the discussion events, click here The consultation closes on 3 April 2017.

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – Guidance relating to supported accommodation
The Welsh Government is consulting on: statutory guidance landlords must follow when temporarily excluding a contract-holder under a supported standard contract; and non-statutory guidance to assist landlords and local authorities in carrying out their functions relating to extending the relevant period before a tenancy or licence for supported accommodation becomes an occupation contract. The aim of the guidance is to make the legal process clearer for landlords and local authorities to follow and implement. For the consultation document and for the means by which to respond, click here The consultation ends on 28 April 2017.

Fixing our broken housing market
As part of the housing white paper the DCLG is also consulting on changes to planning policy and legislation in relation to planning for housing, sustainable development and the environment. The consultation, including details of how to respond, can be found in the white paper. For the white paper, click here To respond online, click here The consultation ends on 2 May 2017.

Planning and affordable housing for Build to Rent
This consultation seeks views on planning measures to support an increase in Build to Rent schemes across England. This includes changing the National Planning Policy Framework policy to support and to increase the number of new Build to Rent homes, and the provision of Affordable Private Rent homes as the main form of affordable housing provision on Build to Rent schemes. The consultation seeks to promote the availability of longer tenancies (of 3 years or more) in Build to Rent accommodation, to those tenants who want one. For the consultation paper, click here To respond online, click here The consultation ends on 1 May 2017.

Amendment to the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard
From 6 April 2017, the deregulatory measures of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will come into force, which remove the regulator’s consent powers over constitutional matters and the disposal of social housing assets. As a result, the regulator has considered whether any amendments to its regulatory framework are necessary to continue to meet the consumer regulation objective, specifically to ensure that: actual or potential tenants of social housing have an appropriate degree of choice and protection, and tenants of social housing have the opportunity to be involved in its management and to hold their landlords to account. This consultation document introduces the changes proposed by the regulator to its Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard. This change is to clarify and strengthen, rather than to extend, the regulator’s requirements in regard to consulting with tenants on change of landlord. To access the consultation document and to respond to it, click her The consultation closes on 22 March 2017

Changes to the frequency of Help to Buy Wales statistical outputs
Data on the Help to Buy – Wales Shared Equity Loan Scheme are published on Stats Wales on a monthly basis, covering activity at the local authority level. The Welsh Government publish a Statistical Headline every three months plus an annual release. On 1 March 2017 the Welsh Government opened a consultation on proposals to reduce the frequency of these data outputs from May 2017 onwards to bring them in line with the publication of other statistics on housing supply. To respond to the consultation, click here The consultation closes on 24 May 2017.

EHRC inquiry and Call for Evidence: Housing for Disabled People
The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an inquiry into housing for disabled people in December 2016, and called for evidence in February 2017.  Submissions from disabled people and relevant organisations should be made by 18 April 2017. The Commission will look at whether the availability of accessible and adaptable housing, and the support services around it, is fulfilling disabled people’s rights to live independently.  For more information, click here


Housing repairs: update
John Beckley [2017] March issue of Legal Action. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. For the latest issue, click here

More on housing costs for those under 22 Giles Peaker [2017] Nearly Legal 7 March. To read this article, click here

Housing White Paper: fixing the housing crisis? [2017] Forbes Solicitors Blog 7 March. To read this article, click here

Recent Developments in Housing Law Jan Luba QC & Nic Madge [2017] March issue of Legal Action. Available in print and on-line for Legal Action subscribers. For the latest issue, click here

The government’s welfare cuts are hurting their efforts to stop homelessness Jenny Pennington [2017] Shelter Blog 8 March. To read this article, click here

World enough and time – suitability, distance and time Giles Peaker [2017] Nearly Legal 10 March. To read this article, click here

Selective licensing in Newham: a local scheme of national significance John Bibby [2017] Shelter Blog 10 March. To read this article, click here

Scrapping housing benefit for 18-year-olds? The Tories have Cone Syndrome Dawn Foster [2017] Guardian 10 March. To read this article, click here

A chance to boost Right to Buy sales John Moss [2017] Conservative Home 14 March. To read this article, click here


22 March 2017
Consultation closes on proposed amendment to the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard (see Housing Law Consultations)

24 March 2017
Second Reading in House of Commons of Housing (Tenants' Rights) Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline)

31 March 2017
Consultation closes on Procedure of the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber (Scotland) (see Housing Law Consultations)

1 April 2017
Universal Credit (Housing Costs Element for Claimants aged 18 to 21) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 come into force (see Housing Law News and Policy Issues)

3 April 2017
Consultation closes on Private Rented Sector in Northern Ireland – Proposals for Change (see Housing Law Consultations)

10 April 2017
Commencement of various sections in Part 2 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (see Housing News and Policy Issues)

18 April 2017
Deadline for submissions to EHRC inquiry and Call for Evidence: Housing for Disabled People (see Housing Law Consultations)


Featured Job of the Week

Housing Strategy Officer
East Herts Council
Grade 5
Salary: £20,723 - £25,549
(inc. local weighting and the National Pay Award from 1 April 2017)
Full Time - 37 hours a week
Based at Wallfields, Hertford
Closing date: Friday 7 April 2017 at 5pm

We are looking for a talented and dedicated individual who can join our growing Housing Team to deliver our Housing and Health Strategy.  You will support the Housing Development and Strategy Manager working on a wide range of housing related projects. 

You will have excellent research skills, an analytical understanding, experience of providing evidence based reports and the confidence to provide policy support to take the Housing and Health Strategy forward in East Herts. 

For an informal discussion regarding the role, please contact Louise Harris, Housing Development and Strategy Manager, on 01992 531602.

CVs will not be accepted.
Interviews will be held on Monday 24th April 2017.
For further details and an application form click here


Group Head of Housing and Residential Services
Arun District Council
Click here for details


Housing Options Adviser
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
Job Ref: Dudley000002615
Click here
for details


Housing Advice and Homeless Prevention Officer
Brentwood Borough Council

Fixed Term Contract (12 month full-time role)
Click here for details


Homeless Prevention Team Manager
Lambeth Council
Job Ref: NBG0387
Click here for details


Housing Options Officer
Braintree District Council
Click here for details


Appeals and Reviews Co-ordinator
London Borough of Waltham Forest
Job Ref: F&H/17/29734
Click here for details


Housing Officer (Neighbourhood Management Team)
St Albans City & District Council
Job Ref: HS126
Click here for details


Housing Assistant
Milton Keynes Council
Job Ref: 59000499
Click here for details


Involvement Officer
Notting Hill Housing
Job Ref: 103805A-17-03
Click here for details

Income Assistant
Lambeth Council
Job Ref: NBG0333
Click here for details
Viridian Housing
Tenancy Fraud Administrator
Job Ref: TFF/17/29876
Click here for details
Lime Legal Limited, Greengate House, 87 Pickwick Road, Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13 9B