16th October 2019
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Queen’s Speech: Building safety standards legislation
On 14 October 2019 the Government announced in the Queen’s Speech that it would bring forward “new and modernised regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, ensuring residents have a stronger voice in the system”. According to the briefing notes accompanying the Queen’s Speech, the proposed legislation would implement the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire and bring about a fundamental change in the regulatory framework for high rise residential buildings, and the industry culture to ensure accountability and responsibility, so making sure that residents are safe in their homes.

The legislation’s provisions would in the main apply to England only, however it would have UK-wide scope as oversight of construction products is reserved to the UK Parliament. For the Queen’s Speech, click here. For the briefing note, click here (and refer, in particular, to page 74).

Queen’s Speech: Domestic Abuse Bill
In the Queen’s Speech on 14 October 2019 the Government confirmed that “legislation will transform the approach of the justice system and other agencies to victims of domestic abuse.” The Domestic Abuse Bill, which has been carried over from the last session of Parliament, received its second reading on 2 October 2019. For the Bill, click here. For coverage in the Queen’s Speech briefing notes, click here (and see page 56). To follow progress of the Bill, click here. For the Queen’s Speech itself, click here. For updated supplementary documents relating to the Bill published by the Home Office, click here.

Support for victims of domestic abuse in safe accommodation
On 14 October 2019 the MHCLG published its response to the consultation on future delivery of support to victims and their children in accommodation-based domestic abuse services. It proposes placing a statutory duty on ‘tier 1’ local authorities (county councils, metropolitan and unitary authorities and the Greater London Authority) to commission services so that all victims of domestic abuse and their children, including those with protected characteristics, can access support in safe accommodation. It also proposes the creation of a domestic abuse local partnership board in each area to work with the local authority in carrying out these functions. The proposals will be included in the Domestic Abuse Bill (see above). For the response document, click here. For the consultation itself, click here.

Homelessness and older renters
On 10 October 2019 – World Homeless Day – Shelter warned of a ‘ticking time bomb’ for older renters. New research published by Shelter finds that a quarter of private renters aged 65 and over worry about becoming homeless. The poll of 3,995 private renters found that 67 per cent of 55-64-year-old private renters say they will not be able to pay rent on a suitable home when they retire without needing housing benefit. Furthermore, 48 per cent of this group said the high cost of renting means that they will not be able to afford to retire. Shelter notes that official government figures confirm this fear is real, with more than 8,000 people aged 65 or over becoming homeless or being threatened with homelessness in the last year. Currently 8 per cent of privately rented homes are headed by someone aged 65 or over. For details of the research, click here.

Rough sleepers with mental health needs – London
On 10 October 2019 the Mayor of London launched a £2.35 million scheme to help rough sleepers with mental health needs. The two-year project will test how new collaborative ways of working can provide targeted support and help people leave the streets for good. Dedicated teams of mental health practitioners from NHS Mental Health Trusts will join outreach workers on the streets from organisations such as St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Single Homeless Project. For more information, click here.

Rough sleepers: access to services and support – England
On 9 October 2019 the House of Commons Library published a paper providing an overview of the support and services, including accommodation, health, welfare, training, employment and voter registration, that are available for rough sleepers in England, and the challenges rough sleepers can face in accessing them. For the paper, click here.

Homelessness funding – London
On 13 October 2019 London Councils, the capital’s cross-party representative body for local government, and the London Housing Directors’ Group, published new research carried out by LSE concluding that “a growing homelessness crisis and inadequate funding are costing London boroughs more than £200 million every year”. Councils are warning that the worsening situation risks undermining the government’s national push on reducing homelessness. For more details, click here.

Licensing – London
On 11 October 2019, safeagent, the accreditation scheme for lettings and management agents operating in the private rented sector, published research finding that there are over 130,000 unlicensed properties in London which should be licensed under either selective, additional or mandatory HMO licensing schemes. According to the research, licence applications have been submitted for only 25 per cent of the 138,500 private rented properties that require licensing and many London Boroughs are struggling to process over 24,000 licence applications. Currently, about 40 per cent of boroughs still rely on paper applications. For the full research, click here. For a summary, click here.

Homelessness: councils and housing associations working together
On 10 October 2019 the Local Government Association published a report arising from a series of five roadshow events across England, hosted by the Local Government Association and the National Housing Federation, under the theme: ‘Working Together to tackle Homelessness’. The report outlines the motivation for the events, what was learned, and how the conversation can be continued. For the report, click here.

Statutory homelessness in England
On 7 October 2019 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing statistics on statutory homelessness in England and explaining local authorities' duties to assist homeless households. The paper includes an overview of, and comment on, Government policy in this area. The most recent statistical release covers the period between January and March 2019. For the briefing, click here.

Temporary accommodation and profiteering
On 13 October 2019 The Observer reported that “private companies have been accused of profiting from England’s deepening housing crisis after the newspaper’s investigation found homeless families crammed into squalid hostels, crime-ridden tower blocks and rundown estates. Freedom of information responses revealed that “the 156 largest private providers of temporary accommodation collected more than £215 million in the last financial year. On average these firms received £10,000 of public money for each booking”. For the article by Tom Wall, click here.

Households in temporary accommodation – England
On 9 October 2019 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing background information on the increase in the number of homeless households placed in temporary accommodation by English local authorities and outlining various initiatives and issues associated with the increased use of temporary accommodation. The most recent statistics were published in September 2019 and cover the period January to March 2019. For the briefing, click here.

Right to rent checks
On 10 October 2019 the Home Office published updated guidance on conducting right to rent checks on nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA who have entered the UK through eGates as visitors. For the guidance, click here.

Environmental checks around Grenfell Tower
On 10 October 2019 the MHCLG reported that the first stage of environmental checks around Grenfell Tower have shown that there is no increased risk to health from the aftermath of the fire. The levels of chemicals found in the Grenfell area are consistent with those generally found in London. For more details, click here.

Private rented sector and rents
On 10 October 2019 published its September 2019 UK Residential Market Survey which showed that demand from prospective tenants rose firmly for an eighth month in a row. Alongside this, landlord instructions remained in decline. With demand still outstripping supply, members expect rent to increase over the next three months. For more information, click here.

Homelessness consultation – Brent
On 11 October 2019 Brent Council launched a consultation of residents concerning the council’s plans to tackle homelessness. The council is proposing to make five commitments in a bid to reduce rough sleeping across the borough. These pledges are:

  • Understanding the challenges of homelessness in Brent in order to develop solutions and improve the quality of the services delivered.
  • Ensuring services are prevention focused and that support is available to people who need it.
  • Working to increase the supply of and access to stable and affordable homes in Brent.
  • Minimizing the use of temporary accommodation, but where this is unavoidable, working to improve the quality of accommodation offered and keeping the stay as short as possible.
  • Seeking to personalise services to individuals' needs, and collaborating with partner organisations to ensure those needs are met.

The consultation, which is open until 25 November 2019, follows a review undertaken by the council between February and September this year. For more details, click here.

Gypsy and traveller caravan count: July 2019 – Wales
On 10 October 2019 the Welsh Government published the number of gypsy and traveller caravans on authorised, unauthorised and local authority sites on 18 July 2019. There were:

  • 1,051 Gypsy and Traveller caravans (an increase of 5 per cent compared with the year before) on 127 authorised sites
  • 52 caravans on unauthorised sites on land owned by Gypsies and Travellers, accounting for 5 per cent of all caravans
  • A further 63 caravans (6 per cent of all caravans) on unauthorised sites not owned by Gypsies and Travellers
  • 32 per cent fewer Gypsy and Traveller caravans on unauthorised sites compared with July 2018.

For the full statistics, click here.

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Sprinklers and other fire safety measures in new high-rise blocks of flats
On 5 September 2019 the MHCLG launched a consultation outlining the government’s intention to reduce the “trigger height” at which sprinkler systems would be required in new high-rise blocks of flats and asking for views on the trigger height options. It also seeks views on proposals to improve wayfinding signage within blocks of flats, and to install evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services. The consultation closes on 28 November 2019. For the consultation document, close here.

Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme: Towards a more sustainable service
The government is consulting on proposals to change the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme. The aim of these proposals is to ensure that the Scheme is sustainable into the future, in order to maintain this vital service for those who need it. The key proposals in this consultation are:

  • contracting for individual courts rather than larger geographical areas
  • allowing providers to claim for the scheme fee in addition to the follow up Legal Help fee
  • the introduction of a set attendance fee for all schemes in place of the existing nil session payment
  • the introduction of reasonable costs for travel as part of the competition element of the bid.

The consultation closes on 3 January 2020. For the consultation document, click here.

Draft Housing Support Grant practice guidance – Wales
The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the new draft practice guidance for the Housing Support Grant (HSG), which has been produced by the Welsh Government in partnership with external stakeholders. The guidance sets out the framework in which local authorities should operate and administer the grant. The consultation seeks views on whether the guidance:

  • explains what the grant is for
  • will help local authorities to provide support services to those who need them.

The consultation closes on 29 November 2019. To access the consultation documents, click here.

Statutory homelessness statistics online consultation survey
MHCLG is seeking views on its statutory homelessness statistics through an online consultation survey. The survey is open to anyone who uses the statistics. The survey closes on 31 October 2019.

MHCLG is using the survey to collect views from users of its statutory homelessness statistics to help ensure that it provides useful data and information to those interested in homelessness. If you use these statistics in any way you are encouraged to provide feedback on their format and content via the survey. MHCLG is also planning workshop style user events for its statutory homelessness statistics for spring 2020. The survey asks for suggestions for topics to be discussed at the user events. For the survey, click here.

Renters take unfair evictions to the government's door Dan Wilson Generation Rent 8 October 2019 – to read the article, click here

Support for people experiencing homelessness in England: what the latest figures tell us Molly Zackra Homeless Link 10 October 2019 – to read the article, click here

No relief and unbalanced windfalls Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 10 October 2019 – to read the article, click here

Private profit, public squalor: Britain’s housing scandal Tom Wall The Observer 13 October 2019 – to read the article, click here

Dishonourable discharge Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 13 October 2019 – to read the article, click here

Housing: recent developments Sam Madge-Wyld and Jan Luba QC Legal Action October 2019 – to read the article (subscription required), click here


31 October 2019                                   
Closing date for submissions to the statutory homelessness statistics online consultation survey ((see Housing Law Consultations)

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