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Social Housing monthly law update - February 2020

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:

Brexit

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2020

Legislation.gov.uk | 29 January 2020

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/75) were made on 29 January 2020. These Regulations bring into force some of the provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (WAA) that did not come into force on 23 January 2020 when the Withdrawal Agreement Act received Royal Assent.

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Charities

Commission finds trustees dubbed ‘UK’s most prosecuted landlords’ may have exploited their charitable status for financial gain

The Charity Commission | 31 January 2020

Trustees found responsible for mismanagement and misconduct and Bristol charity wound-up.

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Commercial

Contract law review: key themes of 2019

TLT Legal Insight | 27 January 2020

2019 was an interesting year for clarification of the courts’ views on several important contract law principles. We review a number of the main developments.

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Data, privacy and cybersecurity

Statement on data protection and Brexit implementation – what you need to do

Information Commissioner’s Office | 29 January 2020

The UK will leave the European Union on 31 January and enter a Brexit transition period.  During this period, which runs until the end of December 2020, it will be business as usual for data protection.  The GDPR will continue to apply. Businesses and organisations that process personal data should continue to follow our existing guidance for advice on their data protection obligations.

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ICO launches consultation on draft direct marketing code of practice

Information Commissioner’s Office | 8 January 2020

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has launched a public consultation on a draft direct marketing code of practice.  Processing personal data for direct marketing purposes is carried out by the vast majority of organisations. Businesses from sole traders through to large corporations as well as the public sector, charities, political parties and other not-for-profit organisations all use direct marketing as a tool to grow their business or publicise their causes and aims.

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What’s next for cybersecurity: five predictions for 2020

TLT Legal Insight | 2 January 2020

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic for large and small businesses alike throughout 2019. We expect 2020 will be another eventful year for the ever-evolving cybersecurity industry, and have listed our top 5 predictions for the year ahead.

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Data protection day 2020

TLT Legal Insight | 28 January 2020

In 2006 the Council of Europe launched Data Protection Day, celebrated each year on 28th January. Now celebrated globally (as Data Privacy Day outside Europe) the day raises awareness about rights to personal data protection and privacy.

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Employment

Draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2020 published

Legislation.gov.uk | 30 January 2020

The draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have been laid before Parliament and propose to increase the national living wage and national minimum wage rates on 1 April 2020.

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Employment law across the UK: A comparative analysis

TLT Publication | 24 January 2020

If your organisation's workforce operates across Northern Ireland, Scotland and England & Wales, the employment law framework and Tribunal practice may look very similar at first glance, but there are some key regional variations which might trip up the unwary.

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UK set to introduce ‘Jack’s Law’ – new legal right to paid parental bereavement leave

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial | 23 January 2020

Parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave.

The government has laid draft regulations before Parliament to implement parental bereavement leave and pay, confirming that it will come into effect in April 2020.

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‘Sleep ins’ appeal

Supreme Court | 12 – 13 February 2020

On 12 and 13 February 2020, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision in Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake.  The Court of Appeal decided that time spent sleeping at work during overnight shifts did not count as ‘time work’ for the purpose of paying the national minimum wage. This overturned the previous multi-factorial approach which was used to evaluate whether the minimum wage was payable. The Supreme Court is unlikely to make a judgment at the conclusion of the hearing, with their decision likely to follow some months later.

Read more in original TLT Legal Insight

Health and safety

New government, new actions for fire safety?

TLT Legal Insight | 24 January 2020

Following the Conservative Party’s win in December’s General Election, it was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech that building safety was to be made a key policy priority for Parliament as it entered a new year and a new decade.

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Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report: government response

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Home Office | 21 January 2020

This document sets out the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 report, which was published on 30 October 2019.

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New measures to improve building safety standards

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 20 January 2020

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced new measures which go faster and further to improve building safety.

  • Housing Secretary announces the new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive, to be established immediately
  • Government sets out clarified and consolidated advice for building owners, proposal to extend cladding ban, update on fire sprinklers
  • Response to Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry published
  • Building owners who have not taken action to make their buildings safe will be named from next month

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Fire safety: risk prioritisation in existing buildings – a call for evidence

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 20 January 2020

The Government are seeking views on how to assess and prioritise fire safety risks and how to better understand the complexity of building risk to ensure that an appropriate level of safety is achieved in existing buildings. This consultation closes on 17 February 2020.

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Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors – guidance

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 20 January 2020

Advice on the measures building owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe.

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Review of the ban on the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings - consultation

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 20 January 2020

The Government are seeking views on the ban of the use of combustible materials in and on external walls of buildings including attachments. This consultation closes on 13 April 2020

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The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 - Draft Statutory Instrument

Legislation.gov.uk | 13 January 2020

These Regulations impose duties on private landlords of residential premises in England in respect of electrical safety standards. The duties do not apply to landlords of social housing. The Regulations require local housing authorities to enforce the duties, and include a power to arrange remedial action.

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Housing

Regulator launches consultation on its equality objectives

Regulator of Social Housing | 30 January 2020

The Regulator of Social Housing has launched an eight-week consultation on its proposed equality objectives

RSH has proposed three objectives which seek to strike an appropriate balance in meeting its general equality duty in its day to day work alongside a co-regulatory approach to regulation.

The proposed objectives are:

  1. Ensure that where equality and diversity concerns are raised through the regulator’s enquiries process, they are considered in line with its statutory objectives.
  2. The regulator will review its methods of communicating to ensure that it does so in an inclusive way.
  3. The regulator will provide a supportive and inclusive working environment for all.

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Rented Homes Bill

UK Parliament | 22 January 2020

This private member's bill would amend the Housing Act 1988 to abolish assured shorthold tenancies; and to extend the grounds upon which landlords of residential housing may recover possession. The first reading took place on 22 January 2020. The second reading will be on a date to be announced.

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Leasehold enfranchisement: Law Commission

Law Commission | 9 January 2020

The Law Commission of England and Wales published a report setting out options to reduce the cost that leaseholders have to pay to buy the freehold or extend the lease of their homes. As well as reducing the price, these options can clarify and simplify the law, making the process of leasehold enfranchisement easier and less expensive to operate.

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Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill

UK Parliament | 8 January 2020

This private member’s bill, sponsored by Lord Foster of Bath, would require the Secretary of State to ensure that domestic properties have a minimum energy performance rating of C on an Energy Performance Certificate; to make provision regarding performance and insulation of new heating systems in existing properties. The first reading was on 8 January 2020. The second reading will be on a date to be announced.

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Planning and environment

Environment Bill 2019-20 introduced into Parliament

UK Parliament | 30 January 2020

The government has introduced the Environment Bill 2019-20 into Parliament and published explanatory notes.  A Bill to make provision about targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment; for statements and reports about environmental protection; for the Office for Environmental Protection; about waste and resource efficiency; about air quality; for the recall of products that fail to meet environmental standards; about water; about nature and biodiversity; for conservation covenants; about the regulation of chemicals; and for connected purposes.

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Gypsy and traveller encampments

BAILII | 21 January 2020

The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12. The Court dismissed Bromley’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to refuse the council’s application for an injunction against “persons unknown” stopping on public land in the borough. The Court of Appeal held that “borough wide injunctions are inherently problematic” and they “comprise a potential breach of both the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] and the Equality Act”.

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Procurement

Buying innovation in the public sector

TLT Legal Insight | 15 January 2020

Public sector buyers have to contend with a range of competing priorities, whilst managing the demands of stakeholders, impossible deadlines and opaque governance processes. And that's before we start on the dark art of the public procurement regulations. 

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Real estate

Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill

UK Parliament | 8 January 2020

This government bill would amend the electronic communications code set out in Schedule 3A to the Communications Act 2003; by doing so, it would address one stated policy barrier: making it easier for telecoms companies to access multi-dwelling buildings (such as blocks of flats) where a tenant has requested a new connection, but the landlord has not responded to requests for access rights. The bill received its first reading in the House of Commons on 8 January 2020 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 22 January 2020.

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Tax

Off-payroll review launched

HM Treasury | 7 January 2020

The Government is launching a review of changes to off-payroll working rules today to address any concerns from businesses and affected individuals about how they will be implemented.

The review will determine if any further steps can be taken to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the reforms, which are due to come into force in April 2020. As part of this, the review will also assess whether any additional support is needed to ensure that the self-employed, who are not in scope of the rules, are not impacted.

Off-payroll working rules, known as IR35, were introduced in 2000 to ensure that someone working like an employee, but through a company, pays similar taxes to other employees.

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This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at February 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions.

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