9th June 2021
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Housing cases in the courts: January to March 2021
On 3 June 2021 the Ministry of Justice published statistics for the volume of civil and judicial review cases dealt with by the courts between 1 January and 31 March 2021. Mortgage and landlord possession claims were down 76 per cent to 7,100. This decrease has been driven by a fall in all claim types since March 2020 due to actions following Coronavirus (Covid-19). The overall trend in mortgage and landlord possession claims has been decreasing since a peak of 60,000 in January to March 2014. For the full statistics, click here. For an annex specific to mortgage and landlord possession cases (published on 13 May 2021 and previously reported in Housing Law Week), click here.

Care leavers, homeless people and extra housing support
On 3 June 2021 the Department for Work and Pensions announced changes to housing benefits that will mean that thousands of vulnerable people, including care leavers, will receive more cash to pay their rent. The changes came into force on 31 May 2021. They offer £10 million of additional housing support, bringing the total projected government spend on housing support to £30 billion this year. Increases to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) are expected to benefit thousands of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants, and have been introduced more than two years earlier than the original implementation date of October 2023. The SAR is applied to renters aged under 35 claiming support through Local Housing Allowance (LHA). It adjusts their benefit to the cost of renting a room in shared accommodation, but there is a higher, one-bedroom rate for people who need to rent solo housing. There are two key changes to LHA:

  • Care leavers can now claim the higher one-bedroom LHA rate for longer, as the maximum age limit has been raised to 25, from 22.
  • Anyone who has lived in a homeless hostel for three months or more, regardless of age, will also now be able to claim the higher rate, as the age limit has been removed.

For more details, click here.

Mobile home residents
On 4 June 2021 the MHCLG announced new measures which will empower councils to tackle bad practice and exploitation of mobile home residents, such as failure to address residents’ complaints or anti-social behaviour by site owners, with strong enforcement against those who fail to comply. It will be an offence to operate a site without having a fit and proper manager in place, or to provide false information in an application. Councils will judge the applicant based on their past behaviour and that of their associates and decide whether they can be placed on a fit and proper person register. If they fail, councils will have the authority to choose who replaces them. Anyone found breaching these rules could face an unlimited fine. Councils have until 1 July to prepare to receive applications from site owners. Site owners can start submitting their applications from 1 July 2021 and have until 1 October 2021 to do so. For more details, click here.

First Homes scheme launches
On 4 July 2021 the MHCLG launched the First Homes scheme which is intended to help local first-time buyers – many of whom will be key workers like NHS staff and veterans – onto the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of at least 30 per cent compared to the market price. The same percentage will then be passed on with the sale of the property to subsequent first-time buyers. For more details, click here.

Grenfell Tower
On 27 May 2021 the government published independent expert advice that will inform a decision on the future of Grenfell Tower. For the advice, click here.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry
On 27 May 2021 the Grenfell Tower Inquiry published an update on its work. The update provides a digest of: BSR attendance at limited attendance hearings; disclosure figures; core participant figures; support arrangements during limited attendance hearings; and contact information. For the update, click here.

End of bailiff evictions ban: LGA plan
On 30 May 2021 the Local Government Association published a six-point plan which it says is needed to protect vulnerable households who could lose their homes after the ending of the ban on bailiff evictions on 31 May, and to tackle homelessness in the long-term. The LGA is calling for a package of measures including:

  • Bringing forward the government’s pledge to end ‘no fault evictions’;
  • Improving protection through the welfare system, including maintaining the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit and maintaining Local Housing Allowance rates at the lowest third of market rents;
  • An immediate review of the impact of the overall benefits cap in the context of the pandemic;
  • Ensuring that councils have enough resources to support households at risk of homelessness – this includes restoration of local welfare funding to at least £250 million a year and a review of the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme;
  • Powers for councils to acquire empty homes, including making it easier to use Compulsory Purchase Order powers;
  • Setting out plans to deliver a step-change in social housing – the LGA is calling for 100,000 social homes for rent to be delivered every year.

For more details, click here.

Housing an ageing population: a reading list
On 3 June 2021 the House of Commons Library published a paper presenting a selection of publications on the issue of how to house an ageing population now, and in the future. For the paper, click here.

Social rented housing (England): past trends and prospects
On 28 May 2021 the House of Commons Library published a briefing looking at social rented housing, barriers to development, and prospects for a “step change” in supply, including data on need and supply. For the briefing, click here.

Rural housing statistics
On 2 June 2021 the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs published statistics for housing availability and affordability in rural and urban areas in 2018. The statistics show that:

  • In 2018, there were 7.6 new-build residential transactions per 1,000 households in rural town and fringe, compared with 3.9 in urban conurbation.
  • The number of new-build residential transactions per 1,000 households has increased in all areas between 2009 and 2018.
  • Since 2014, the number of new-build residential transactions has increased more in rural areas than in urban areas each year.

For the full statistics, click here.

Waking Watch Relief Fund re-opened
On 26 May 2021 the government re-opened the Waking Watch Relief Fund to applications for a four-week period (until 24 June 2021) using unallocated funding from £30 million initially allocated. The fund builds on recently updated guidance published by the National Fire Chief's Council (NFCC) on buildings that change from a 'Stay Put' to a 'Simultaneous Evacuation' fire safety strategy. The fund will cover the upfront capital costs of installing an alarm system. For details of the fund, click here. For the NFCC guidance, click here.

Discretionary housing payments funding cut
On 6 June 2021 the Guardian reported that the government is cutting DHP funding to local authorities to £140m in 2021/22 (a reduction of 22 per cent). It had increased the funding from £139.5m to £180m in 2020/21 amid the pandemic. The cut brings the funding below the DHP budget for 2017/18 or 2018/19. For the report, click here.

Modern slavery victims and homelessness
On 31 May 2021 Crisis published a report finding that current government support for people experiencing modern slavery is leaving many victims without a safe home and at risk of further exploitation. The report also identified insecure housing as a key issue related to modern slavery, with nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of victims living in accommodation linked to their abusers whilst their exploitation persisted. For those who were referred for support as part of the National Referral Mechanism, only a fifth (17 per cent) of survivors were in secure permanent accommodation upon exiting the system and a further fifth were still homeless and at risk of re-exploitation, illustrating how closely homelessness and modern slavery are interlinked.  Additional findings of the report include:

  • The most common nationality of survivors was British (34 per cent), followed by Albanian (12 per cent), Romanian (8 per cent), Nigerian and Polish (7 per cent each).
  • People experiencing exploitation were more likely to be younger, over half (55 per cent) of people were aged 34 and under, and only 13 per cent were aged 55 and above.
  • Women were more likely to experience domestic servitude, forced marriage and sexual exploitation over other forms of exploitation, whereas the majority of forced criminality and labour exploitation was experienced by men.

For the report, click here. For the Crisis press release, click here.

Home improvements and older people
On 27 May 2021 the Centre for Ageing Better published the results of a survey – the Good Home Inquiry – which found that a third (32 per cent) of adults in their 50s and 60s could be put off from making vital home repairs and improvements because of a lack of trust in tradespeople. The Inquiry says that more needs to be done to increase trust in tradespeople by ensuring people have access to reliable information and advice about repairs and adaptations. The Inquiry is also looking into improving financing options for consumers and the role government and local authorities can play in co-ordinating information and advice. For more details, click here.

Private renters’ rights
On 3 June 2021 Generation Rent published findings of a poll of private renters which revealed their lack of knowledge about their rights, which the first Renters' Rights Awareness Week, taking place on 14-20 June, aims to change. According to the poll renters may be protected from eviction because of landlords’ failure to provide them with essential documents, for example:

  • Only 23 per cent remember receiving a Government How to Rent guide at the start of their tenancy.
  • 64 per cent of renters do not remember receiving an Energy Performance Certificate.
  • 56 per cent do not remember receiving a gas safety certificate.
  • 53 per cent do not remember receiving information about where their deposit is protected.

For the research, click here.

Homelessness accommodation provision and rough sleeping: March 2021 – Wales
On 27 May 2021 the Welsh Government published statistics on persons placed into temporary accommodation and rough sleepers for March 2021. The statistics show that:

  • Throughout Wales, 1,167 people presenting as homeless were placed into temporary accommodation during the month, 133 more than in February 2021. Of these, 194 were dependent children aged under 16, an increase of 26 from February 2021.
  • At 31 March 2021, 6,111 individuals were in temporary accommodation, a decrease of 26 from 28 February 2021. 1,294 of these were dependent children aged under 16, an increase of nine from 28 February 2021.
  • 694 homeless individuals were moved into suitable long-term accommodation, 132 more than in February 2021. Of the individuals moved into suitable long-term accommodation, 204 were dependent children aged under 16, an increase of 45 from February 2021.
  • At 31 March 2021, there were an estimated 66 individuals sleeping rough throughout Wales. This is an increase of 15 from the 51 individuals sleeping rough at 28 February 2021.
  • As at 31 March 2021, Newport (13), Cardiff (11), Ceredigion (8) and Denbighshire (5) were the local authorities reporting the highest numbers of individuals sleeping rough. All other local authorities reported fewer than five individuals sleeping rough, with four local authorities reporting zero.

For the full statistics, click here.

Housing Ombudsman’s first independent review of service complaints
On 2 June 2021 the Housing Ombudsman published the first report of the Ombudsman’s Independent Reviewer of Service Complaints. The report considers a sample of complaints against its service from residents and landlords closed between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021. It also includes a summary of the individual complaints examined together with a management response to the reviewer’s recommendations. For the report, click here.


Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill
This Government Bill would make provision about the rent payable under long leases of dwellings. First reading in the House of Lords took place on 12 May 2021. Second reading took place on 24 May 2021. The Bill will begin its committee stage on 9 June 2021. For the Bill as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here.

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Taylor & Anor v Burton [2021] EWHC 1454 (Admin) (28 May 2021)

A tenant brought an action in the magistrates’ court against her landlords (the owner and the letting agent). She contended that the damp state of the rental property was prejudicial to her health and a statutory nuisance under s.79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The tenant accepted during the adjourned second day of the trial, in light of repairs undertaken during the adjourned period, that the statutory nuisance had been abated. The tenant therefore sought only compensation for her expenses of bringing the claim under s.82(12) of the 1990 Act. The landlords appealed by way of case stated against the decision that they be liable for £14,539.90 each.

Key Legal Framework
Section 82(12) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides:

‘Where on the hearing of proceedings for an order under subsection (2) above it is proved that the alleged nuisance existed at the date of the making of the complaint, then, whether or not at the date of the hearing it still exists or is likely to recur, the court shall order the defendant (or defendants in such proportions as appears fair and reasonable) to pay to the person bringing the proceedings such amount as the court considers reasonably sufficient to compensate him for any expenses properly incurred by him in the proceedings.’

Jones v Walsall MBC [2003] Env LR 5 (QB)outlines that it may be a complete answer to an application for compensation that, at the time proceedings were commenced, and in the period since notice was given under s.82(6)), the landlord 'has done all that was reasonable to gain entry to the premises' and abate the nuisance, and is therefore no longer the cause of, or the person responsible for, the nuisance.

In Taylor v Walsall and District Property and Investment Co Ltd [1998] Env LR 600 the Divisional Court outlined that section 82(12) calls for an essentially broad brush approach. Where however a substantial sum is claimed by way of costs, the justices must take proper steps to investigate just how that claim is arrived at and the detailed grounds upon which it is sought to challenge it.

The High Court in R (oao Notting Hill Genesis) v Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court  [2019] EWHC 1423 (Admin) also considered that proportionality is a proper consideration in the assessment of quantum in s.82(12) cases, and that an analogy might be drawn with the provision made in respect of costs in civil proceedings by CPR 44.3. The High Court again emphasised that the magistrates must properly explain their reasons for the decision they reach.

As proceedings under s.82 are 'criminal in nature', analogous guidance may also be had by reference to Crim PR 45.2(5) and (7) on the duty, in making costs decisions, to give reasons on particularly relevant factors and to the further detail provided at paragraphs 7.2.4 and 7.2.5 of the associated Practice Direction. The financial means of the paying party is also a relevant consideration in the award of costs in criminal proceedings: R v Northallerton Magistrates' Court, ex p Dove [2000] 1 Cr App R (S) 136.

At first instance
As to liability for compensation, the landlords contended they were not the ‘persons responsible for the nuisance’ when proceedings were commenced. Relying on Jones v Walsall, they said that the tenant was responsible because she had denied access and/or failed to heat the house properly.

As to quantum, the tenant sought £34,412.60 and asked for the landlords to be made jointly and severally liable. The landlords contended the sum was disproportionate, relying on Notting Hill Genesis. Specific issues were also raised including the use of London Lawyers, the travel costs, the amount of hours, the grade of fee earner and the landlords’ limited means.

On the issue of liability, the magistrates set out that the owner of the house (s.82(4)(b)) and managing agents with responsibility for repair (s.82(4)(a)) were each 'the person responsible for the nuisance'.  On the issue of quantum of compensation, the magistrates reduced the total to £29,079.80 noting that the travel and waiting at court expenses were excessive. They refused to order joint and several liability, but directed instead that each defendant was to be liable for half the total.

Appeal by way of case stated
Mrs Justice Collins Rice initially set out an overview of the nature and scope of appeals by way of case stated [27-32].

The first ground of appeal concerned the liability of the landlords to pay compensation. The jurisdictional question was whether there was evidence on which the magistrates could properly conclude that the landlords had not done all that is reasonable and therefore were not responsible for the continuation of the nuisance at the relevant date (the Jones v Walsall defence). 

This part of the appeal was not successful. The magistrates had evidence before them going both ways, it was a determinative issue in the case. The defence was not rejected in an evidential vacuum. The magistrates had also addressed their minds to all of the components of liability, both those specified on the face of s.82 and the (rejection of the) Jones v Walsall defence. No jurisdictional or legal error was found merely by the decision going one way rather than another [at 43].

The second substantive challenge was to the assessment of compensation in that the magistrates failed to have regard to the proportionality of the costs incurred and specific areas of objections raised by the landlords. Mrs Justice Collins Rice considered whilst it may well have been that the magistrates did make a fair assessment of proportionality in the round and turned their minds to the particular heads of objection raised, on the materials provided it was not easy to be satisfied that important issues were not missed. In particular, the silence on the issues of proportionality and of the landlords’ means was troubling [at 53].

The conclusion reached was that the magistrates had erred to the extent of insufficiently articulating their decision and that there was a potential injustice in their too summary approach to costs [at 54]. It was also accepted and agreed that the magistrates made a legal error in ordering the compensation to be paid to the tenant’s solicitors [at 64]. The case was, therefore, to be remitted to the magistrates for consideration of the amount of compensation to be paid.

In reaching such a conclusion, Mrs Justice Collins Rice made some observations. First, that it is a summary process and it is not proper for parties to go to significant lengths and expense in litigating quantum, nor is it all incumbent on magistrates to deliver reasoned judgments or to be subjected to unrealistic standards of point-by-point analysis [at 55]. Secondly, whilst assistance may be gained from analogies drawn in decided authorities and rules in both civil and criminal proceedings, they are just that: analogies and it is important not to lose sight of the words of the statute [at 56].

Summary by Henry Percy-Raine, barrister, Trinity Chambers. For the judgment, click here.


Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 Draft Regulations
The Welsh Government is consulting on:

  • draft model written statements regulations, including the design, structure and order of the model written statements
  • draft explanatory information regulations for written statements.

The consultation ends on 16 June 2021. For the consultation document, click here. For the draft regulations, click here.


Why did the Green Homes Grant fail? Sam Hughes Citizens Advice 25 May 2021 – to read the article, click here

Banning Order? Simples Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 26 May 2021 – to read the article, click here

Housing allocation schemes under the magnifying glass Martin Khoshdel Local Government Lawyer 28 May 2021 – to read the article, click here

As 400,000 renters face eviction, JRF warns the UK faces a ‘two-tier recovery’ Grace Hetherington Joseph Rowntree Foundation 31 May 2021 – to read the article, click here 

Smorgasbord: Updated s.21 flowchart, EPA prosecution costs and an unsuccessful RRO Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 2 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

A traumatised system: lessons learned from commissioning homelessness services over the past decade John Glenton CIH Blog 2 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Housing case law update - May 2021 Michael Owen, Natalie Hurst and Jatinder Bhamber Local Government Lawyer 3 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Referee or goalkeeper? The Court of Appeal decides Ryan Kohli Local Government Lawyer 4 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Arrears in the time of COVID-19 Chris Holloway CIH Blog 4 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

No defence, no reasonableness – service charges and referral to the Tribunal Giles Peaker Nearly Legal 6 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate Exemption to benefit under 25s Billy Harding Homeless Link 7 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

The Charities Bill – A simplified approach for registered providers Chimi Shakohoxha and Spencer Vella Sultana Local Government Lawyer 7 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Homeless England Directory and Database – A New Look Matthew Donald Homeless Link 8 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Service of notices on local authorities: statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Matthew McDermott Local Government Lawyer 8 June 2021 – to read the article, click here

Housing: recent developments (June 21) Jan Luba QC and Sam Madge-Wyld Legal Action June 2021 – to read the article (subscription required), click here


9 June 2021                                   
Committee stage begins in House of Lords on the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill (see Housing Laws in the Pipeline)

4 June 2021                                   
Deadline for applications to the Waking Watch Relief Fund (see Housing Law News and Policy Issues)

1 July 2021                                   
Councils will begin to accept applications from mobile home site owners to be registered as a ‘fit and proper person’ (see Housing Law News and Policy Issues)

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Featured Job of the Week

Featured Job of the Week
Housing Options Officer
Central Bedfordshire Council

In Housing Solutions, we deliver Housing Options services to people, particularly the vulnerable and homeless.

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You need to be resilient and thrive in a high pressured, fast paced environment. Experience of managing a busy and demanding caseload is essential. Experience of good planning and organisational skills, prioritising and organising caseloads is also required. Experience of assessing applications under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and part 7 of the 1996 Housing Act is essential.

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For queries related to the recruitment of this vacancy, please contact: The Recruitment team at recruitment@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or on 0300 300 8000.

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