Social housing monthly law update - February 2021


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 in connection with the Social Housing sector from the last month (month year) together with links to the relevant sources where you can obtain further information.

Quick links: 

Events and webinars

  • **TLT Social Housing Webinar** coming March 2021 – keep an eye on our webinars page
  • New HQN Workshops for 2021 Housing Ombudsman workshop dates
  • We are hosting a series of workshops on Drafting Effective Complaint Responses and Appropriate Remedies in partnership with HQN.

Consultation deadlines

Construction

CPA opens consultation on new Code for Construction Product Information Construction Products Association | 25 January 2021

The Construction Products Association (CPA) has launched a consultation on a new proposed Code for Construction Product Information, in order to gather views on the Code before it is launched later in 2021. The Code has been developed by the CPA’s Marketing Integrity Group, which was tasked with responding to the issues raised in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report titled Building A Safer Future, and following the Grenfell Tower fire. Dame Judith Hackitt’s report confirmed 'radical change' was needed for construction products, especially in the areas of testing, information and marketing. The Code is made up of 11 clauses and aims to set the benchmark for how product information is presented and marketed by manufacturers. The consultation will open on 1 February 2021 and close on 31 March 2021.

New regulator established to ensure construction materials are safe MHCLG | 19 January 2021

  • National regulator established to ensure homes are built from safe materials
  • Action taken as Grenfell Inquiry reveals manufacturers ignored safety rules
  • Independent review will examine faults in the system and recommend how abuse can be prevented

Corporate

Corporate governance: ICSA final report on board evaluation review ICSA | 20 January 2021

ICSA has published a report on the effectiveness of independent board evaluation in the UK listed sector.

Data, privacy and cyber security

Information Commissioner welcomes data protection aspects of UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement ICO | 22 January 2021

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has broadly welcomed the data protection aspects of the UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement as a demonstration of the commitment by both the EU and UK towards ensuring a high level of personal data protection and working together to promote high international standards.

Employment

Employment Briefing: Q&As on Coronavirus vaccine HR issues TLT Insight | 2 February 2021

Pimlico Plumbers recently announced a change to employment contracts to include a requirement for staff to have a Covid-19 vaccine. Many employers will be considering if vaccination should be mandatory in the workplace. What are the associated legal risks and how should you manage them?

Covid-19: sixth Treasury direction published covering extension of CJRS to 30 April 2021 26 January 2021

A Treasury Direction modifies the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and extends it for the period beginning on 1 April 2021 and ending on 30 April 2021. A schedule to the direction sets out the scheme applying for the period beginning on 1 February 2021 and ending on 30 April 2021.

Covid-19: UK employers setting up systems to track which workers have been inoculated against Covid-19 The Guardian | 23 January 2021

Employers in the UK are setting up IT systems to track whether their workers have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Some companies also announced that they will dismiss or decline to hire anyone who refuses to be inoculated against the virus.

Employment Law Focus: Working parents TLT Podcast | 13 January 2021

The pandemic has required employers to flex their policies to support working parents who are trying to balance work and childcaring responsibilities. At the same time, there has been a general trend of increasing rights for working parents, and the pandemic is likely to drive a number of these policies and working practices forward.

Right to work checks - what is changing and when TLT Insight | 8 December 2020

In this Insight, we look at the current steps for checking a potential employee’s right to work and how this may change in the new year.

Employment Law Focus: Employee monitoring TLT Podcast | 7 December 2020

The use of employee monitoring has grown as more people work remotely and employers seek to get a better understanding of their workforce. However, whether it involves the use of surveillance technology to monitor people’s devices, CCTV, microchips or gathering personal data, there’s a whole host of data protection and employment risks to consider.

Energy

Ofgem publishes report on review of GB energy system operation and recommends creation of new independent system operator Ofgem | 25 January 2021

On 25 January 2021, Ofgem published a report setting out the findings of its review of GB system operation, including the creation of a new independent system operator. The aim of the review is to consider the current and future challenges facing GB system operation and assess whether we have the right governance framework in place to deliver the UK’s net zero emissions targets.

Government publishes response to consultation on Future Homes Standard and consults on Future Buildings Standard MHCLG | 19 January 2021

On 19 January 2021, MHCLG published:

  • Its response to its October 2019 FHS consultation.
  • A consultation on a Future Buildings Standard (FBS), which is the second stage of its two-part consultation on proposed changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations 2010.

How will new build homes be heated in the future? TLT Insight | 8 January 2021

Reducing carbon emissions from heating and hot water in housing is likely to remain high on the government’s Net Zero by 2050 agenda, given that these account for approximately 15% of all UK emissions.

Health and safety

End of year stats show milestones reached in making homes safer MHCLG | 21 January 2021

All high-rise buildings in the social sector and student buildings are now fully remediated or have work underway to remove unsafe ACM cladding, according to stats released today.

Housing association sentenced after employees suffer debilitating nerve damage Health and Safety Executive | 3 December 2020

Liverpool housing association company Onward Homes Ltd has been fined after four employees developed a debilitating nerve condition over a period of several years.

Human rights

Modern Slavery: Commissioner publishes recommendations for financial services industry Anti-slavery Commissioner | 18 January 2021

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has published a report entitled "Preventing Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking: An Agenda for Action across the Financial Services Sector".

Domestic abuse victim not supported properly when she became homeless: Ombudsman’s report Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 14 January 2021

On 14 January 2021 the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman highlighted the importance of councils considering the exceptional circumstances of people fleeing domestic abuse when assessing their housing needs, following a complaint about London Borough of Wandsworth.

Independent Human Rights Act Review issues call for evidence Gov.uk | 13 January 2021

On 13 January 2021 the Independent Human Rights Act Review issued a public Call for Evidence. The Call for Evidence closes on the 3 March 2021. It comprises two themes. The first deals with the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights. The second considers the impact of the HRA on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

Planning and environment

National Planning Policy Framework: Draft text for consultation MHCLG | 30 January 2021

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation proposes revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework to place greater emphasis on beauty and place-making following the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission 2020 report. It also seeks views on the draft National Model Design Code, which provides detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design. Comments by 23.45 on 27 March 2021. Expressions of interest are also welcomed from local planning authorities in England to take part in the testing of the National Model Design Code by 22 February 2021.

CMA issues information for businesses on competition law issues in sustainability agreements CMA | 27 January 2021

On 27 January 2021, the CMA published an information sheet to help businesses and trade associations better understand how competition law applies to sustainability agreements and where issues may arise.

Planning Inspectorate publishes Strategic Plan 2020–2024 Planning Inspectorate | 26 January 2021

The Planning Inspectorate has published its Strategic Plan 2020–2024, which considers national infrastructure planning applications, planning appeals, examination of local plans and other planning and specialist casework in England and Wales. The plan is a revision of the Strategic Plan adopted in 2019, with the implementation over 2019–2020 concentrating on getting ‘the basics right’ to position the organisation to improve the service delivered to customers and to work with others to improve the planning process experience. The strategic priorities include to be customer-focused, to effectively and efficiently serve places, people and the economy, to be an attractive and inclusive organisation and to plan for the future.

Covid-19: Environment Bill's passage through Parliament faces further delays DEFRA | 26 January 2021

On 26 January 2021, the government confirmed that the Environment Bill 2019-21 will be carried over to the next Parliamentary session (which starts in May 2021) owing to "exceptional pressure on the Parliamentary timetable" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bill had been due to return to Parliament on 26 January 2021 for the House of Commons report stage, before moving to the House of Lords. The government anticipates that the Bill will receive Royal Assent in the autumn.

Environment Agency publishes summary of consultation responses on process for river basin planning management Environment Agency | 25 January 2021

The Environment Agency published a summary of responses to its October 2019 consultation, River basin planning: Challenges and Choices, on 25 January 2021.

Government announces new legal protection for England's cultural and historic heritage MHCLG | 17 January

On 17 January 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced new laws to protect English cultural and historic heritage. The protections come following the toppling of the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston into the harbour during a protest in Bristol.

'Right to Regenerate' to turn derelict buildings into homes and community assets MHCLG | 16 January 2021

  • New Right to Regenerate will enable public to require councils and public sector to sell unused land and assets
  • Proposals for public to have first right of refusal to purchase underused land in England
  • Land to be sold by default, unless compelling reason not to
  • Making it simpler, quicker and easier for public to transform vacant land and derelict buildings into homes, businesses or community spaces

Advice to local planning authorities on the application of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Order 2020 MHCLG | 30 December 2021

This letter provides advice to local planning authorities on the application of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Order 2020.

Government proposes new residential PD right and public services 'fast track' TLT Insight | 7 December 2020

The government has launched a consultation seeking views on the proposed introduction of a new permitted development (PD) right to allow for the change of use from any use, or mix of uses, within the new Class E (commercial, business and service) to Class C3 (residential).

Procurement

The public procurement revolution 16 TLT Insight | 16 December 2020

Its much anticipated Green Paper “Transforming public procurement” sets out ambitious proposals for the post-Brexit procurement landscape, which are subject to consultation until 10 March 2021.

New plans set out to transform procurement, providing more value for money and benefitting small business Cabinet Office | 15 December 2020

  • Green paper will set out long-planned changes to UK’s procurement rules, putting value for money and transparency at the heart of the new approach
  • Plans will cut red tape, reduce bureaucracy and help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement
  • New rules for lower value contracts will allow more UK based SMEs to win government business

Procurement Policy Note 10/20: Public Procurement after the Transition Period ends on 31 December 2020 Cabinet Office | 10 December 2020

This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) provides information on how the public procurement regulations will be affected after the end of the Transition Period.

Property

Consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code DCMS | 27 January 2021

The government is consulting on changes to the Electronic Communications Code which regulates the rights of telecommunications operators to install and maintain their apparatus on public and private land. The government is seeking views on whether changes to the Code can help ensure that the UK has sufficiently robust electronic communications networks to deliver the coverage and connectivity consumers and on businesses need.

Faiz v Burnley BC [2021] EWCA Civ 55 BAILII | 22 January 2021

A landlord's acceptance of rent did not waive the right to forfeit where: the rent had become due and been demanded before the landlord had knowledge of a breach of covenant; the rent had become due and been demanded after the breach itself; and the landlord had accepted the rent after becoming aware of the breach. Waiver took place where the landlord demanded or accepted rent which had become due after the date of a breach known to the landlord.

Mayor of London outlines plans for standard 999-year lease terms on new affordable housing London.gov.uk | 22 January 2021

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set out plans to sell all shared ownership homes built under his Affordable Homes Programme, which will run from 2021 to 2026, on a long-lease basis. It is proposed that these homes will be sold with a standard 999-year lease term.

Information for Help to Buy: Equity Loan customers during Coronavirus (Covid-19) Homes England | 22 January 2021

Updated frequently asked questions about how coronavirus affects Help to Buy: Equity Loan customers.

Impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) on homelessness and the private rented sector UK Parliament | 18 January 2021

The HCLG Committee has launched an inquiry into the Impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) on homelessness and the private rented sector. It will consider both the immediate and long-term impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the homeless, rough sleepers and those in the private rented sector. [Also House of Commons Library briefing paper 14 January 2021]

Calls for help-to-buy deadline in England to be extended after Covid building delays Guardian | 15 January 2021

Ministers face calls to extend the deadline for purchasing a house in England using the help-to-buy loan scheme, as buyers face losing thousands of pounds because of Covid-related delays in construction.

Home building stats show sector is bouncing back MHCLG | 14 January 2021

  • Stats released today show the number of new homes developers have started building have more than doubled compared to the previous quarter
  • Number of completed homes almost tripled compared to previous quarter
  • Decisive government action to support the housing and construction industries to reopen safely leads to housing industry bouncing back

Government reforms make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to buy their homes MHCLG | 7 January 2021

  • Millions of leaseholders will be given a new right to extend their lease by 990 years
  • Changes could save households from thousands to tens of thousands of pounds
  • Elderly also protected by reducing ground rents to zero for all new retirement properties

Commercial leases: ban on forfeiture rights for non-payment of rent extended again TLT Insight | 9 December 2020

The moratorium on commercial landlords exercising forfeiture rights for non-payment of rent will be extended in England until 31 March 2021, according to a government press release today.

Extending a lease term - Beware! TLT Insight | 4 December 2020

Extending a lease term by a few months may seem simple. The tenant may be granted a rent concession, or rent free period, in return for an extension of the lease term. However, whilst it may seem a straightforward concept, extending the lease term can cause problems, for both landlords and tenants. Stamp Duty Land Tax and land registration requirements need to be considered and where the landlord itself is a tenant, superior landlord’s consent may be needed too.


Related insights & events

View all

Hot topics