Social Housing monthly law update - December 2019

TLT's monthly law update on all things affecting social housing

To help you keep up with the law and comply with registered provider standards, this monthly law update covers the current legal issues affecting the social housing sector.

It includes the main legislative and case law developments and statutory guidance issued for Social Housing sector from the month, with links to the relevant sources to find out more.

Quick links

Data, privacy and cybersecurity

Special category data: new guidance

Information Commissioner’s Office | 14 November 2019

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published new guidance on special category data. Special category data under the GDPR is broadly similar to sensitive personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. However, special category data also relates to genetic and biometric identification data. 

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Use of live facial recognition - Information Commissioner's Opinion

TLT Legal Insight | 5 November 2019

The Information Commissioner has issued her first formal Opinion under the Data Protection Act 2018.  The topic for the Opinion is a very hot one: the use of live facial recognition (LFR) technology by law enforcement in public places.  It comes in response to a number of high profile cases in which police forces have used LFR in public, most notably following judgment being handed down in the case of Bridges v South Wales Police.

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Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014: proposed amendments

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 17 November 2019

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is seeking views on proposals to amend the regulations to ensure consistency with Energy Efficiency Directive requirements, and to extend their provisions to all heat meters for consumers on heat networks.  This consultation closes on 9 January 2020.  They would like views from amongst others, local authorities and housing associations with heat networks.

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Health and safety

British Blind and Shutter Association, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2019] EWHC 3162 (Admin)

BAILII | 21 November 2019

The judge in the case has quashed part of regulation 2(2) of the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1230) also known as the cladding ban regulations.

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Places for People Homes fined after five employees developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Health & Safety Executive | 12 November 2019

A property management and development organisation has been fined after five employees developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

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RICS publishes mandatory Home Survey Standard to take effect from 1 June 2020

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors | 27 November 2019

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has published a new professional statement, the Home Survey Standard.  The professional statement will become effective and mandatory for all RICS professionals in June 2020. The statement will be the sole standard for home surveys, replacing all previous guidance notes and statements for all levels of condition surveys in a complete overhaul.

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RR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] UKSC 52 

The Supreme Court | 13 November 2019

Courts can set aside government regulations that are incompatible with human rights legislation, the Supreme Court ruled in a case that came from challenges to the 2013 housing benefit changes known as the 'bedroom tax'.

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Regulator of Social Housing publishes rents consultation response

Regulator of Social Housing | 31 October 2019

The Regulator of Social Housing has published the response to its consultation on proposals to introduce a new Rent Standard from 1 April 2020.

The consultation, which ran from May to July 2019, followed a Direction to the regulator by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in February 2019 to publish a Rent Standard.

The Direction set out the government’s rent policy for social housing for the next five years and covers all areas of rent setting as well as the requirement for RSH to undertake the regulation of local authority rents for the first time. It was supplemented by a comprehensive ‘Policy Statement on Rents for Social Housing,’ which provides much of the detail needed by providers to ensure that they comply with rent setting requirements.

The Rent Standard will implement policy for social housing rents when the requirements of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 come to an end.

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JD and another v United Kingdom, Application Nos. 32949/17 and 34614/17

European Court of Human Rights | 24 October 2019

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the ‘bedroom tax’ unlawfully discriminates against vulnerable victims of domestic violence.

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Landlord and tenant

Avon Ground Rents Ltd v Cowley and others [2019] EWCA Civ 182

Court of Appeal | 29 October 2019

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Upper Tribunal that it was not reasonable for residential tenants to pay in advance, via the service charge, for the entire cost of remedial work where costs were recoverable under National House-Building Council (NHBC) warranties.

Case concerning liability for contribution to cost of replacing district heating system

BAILII | 4 November 2019

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) held in London Borough of Southwark v Royce & Anor [2019] UKUT 331 that the Borough cannot impose service charges on leaseholders on an estate where the heating system pipework has been renovated.

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New parking code could give motorists 10-minute grace period in private car parks

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 3 November 2019

New Code of Practice to bring greater regulation, making it easier for drivers to challenge unfair parking tickets and supporting our local shops.

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Planning and environment

Supreme Court confirms planning permission cannot be bought

TLT Legal Insight | 20 November 2019

The Supreme Court has confirmed that a proposed donation to a community fund equated to an attempt to buy planning permission.

The case of R (on the application of Wright) v Resilient Energy Severndale Ltd and Forest of Dean District Council concerned an application for a change of use of land at Severndale Farm from agriculture to the erection of a wind turbine. The application for planning permission included a promise that an annual donation would be made to a local community fund, based on 4% of the turnover from the operation of the wind turbine over 25 years.

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Air quality planning guidance updated

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | updated 1 November 2019

The Government published updated planning practice guidance on air quality in England.  This provides guidance on how planning can take account of the impact of new development on air quality.

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Real estate

Operator entitled to preliminary access to property under 2017 Electronic Communications Code

BAILII | 27 November 2019

In The University of London v Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 2075, the University has lost an appeal over whether the Upper Tribunal has power under the Electronic Communications Code to impose on the occupier of a building an agreement permitting access by an operator to determine whether that building is suitable for the installation of electronic communications apparatus.

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Legal Statement on the Status of Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary | 18 November 2019

The Chancellor of the High Court and Chair of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce, Sir Geoffrey Vos, has launched the LawTech Delivery Panel's legal statement on Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts at the Guildhall in London and outlines the conclusions of the statement on cryptoassets and smart contracts which include that: cryptoassets have all the legal indicia of property and are, as a matter of English legal principle to be treated as property.

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Government consults on new police powers to criminalise unauthorised encampments

Home Office | 3 November 2019

Proposals include powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers.

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This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at December 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions.

Date published

16 December 2019



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