Social Housing monthly law update 

October 2020


As part of our commitment 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.

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Charities

Whistleblowing disclosures made to the Charity Commission for England and Wales 2019 to 2020

Charity Commission | 30 September 2020

This report explains whistleblowing disclosures made to us, what we did and how they contributed to our regulatory work.

More domestic abuse charities to benefit from government funding boost

MHCLG | 16 September 2020

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Kelly Tolhurst MP has today (16 September 2020) announced that a further 25 charities will receive a share of £1 million boost as part of the government’s £10 million emergency fund to support domestic abuse victims and their families during the pandemic.

New online register of charities “widens the public’s window” into how charities are run

Charity Commission | 3 September 2020

The charity regulator today launched an improved public register of charities, which makes more information about individual charities available to donors and the public.

Corporate

COVID-19: prolonging of CIGA 2020 temporary provisions affecting company meetings

Legislation.gov.uk | 24 September 2020

On 24 September 2020, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1031) were published on legislation.gov.uk. The Regulations prolong the period within which certain temporary provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020) relating to company meetings shall have effect.

Data, privacy and cyber security

ICO launches consultation on Statutory guidance

ICO | 1 October 2020

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has launched a public consultation on a draft version of its Statutory guidance, which details how the ICO will regulate and enforce data protection laws in the UK. The consultation will close at 5 pm on Thursday 12 November 2020.

Responding to data requests effectively and efficiently after Covid-19

TLT Insight | September 2020

Following the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, there has been a huge increase in the number of data subject access requests made.

Energy

Government publishes action plan on EPCs

BEIS | 30 September 2020

In 2018, the government published a consultation on the use of energy performance certificates (EPCs).The consultation applied to both residential and commercial property in England and Wales.

On 30 September 2020, the government published its Action Plan on EPCs, together with responses to the consultation.

MEES: UK government consults on improving the energy performance of privately rented homes

BEIS | 30 September 2020

Open consultation: We're seeking views on proposals around raising energy performance standards for the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. This consultation closes at
11:45pm on 30 December 2020

New digital service to improve home energy performance

MHCLG | 30 September 2020

A new digital service to help homeowners improve the energy performance of their homes and cut their energy bills has been launched.

Greener homes, jobs and cheaper bills on the way as government launches biggest upgrade of nation's buildings in a generation

BEIS | 30 September 2020

Homes, schools and hospitals across England are set to be greener and cheaper to run thanks to a £3 billion plan to upgrade the nation’s buildings – the biggest in a generation.

Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator

BEIS | 9 September 2020

Local authorities (LAs) and LA-led consortia can bid for funding under this scheme to use innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale.

Powering the UK – a multi-faceted approach

TLT Publication | September 2020

To meet the ambitious target of net zero by 2050 the industry needs to take a multi-faceted approach to managing energy supply and demand. 

This approach will create an energy network that is carbon neutral, fit for purpose, and can manage future energy needs by utilising the full range of clean energy technologies.

TLT's clean energy team have produced a report which discusses the UK’s transition to transport electrification and reflects on how the industry can support and fund the growth of EV charging infrastructure. It also provides an overview of the UK’s energy storage market and assesses the potential of co-located and multi-technology projects.

Employment

Seven top questions on returning staff to work during coronavirus

TLT Insight | Updated 7 October 2020

We answer the top seven employment law questions on the transition from home to work.

Trade unions call on European Commission to investigate attempt by Amazon to spy on workers union activities

The Guardian | 30 September 2020

European trade unions, including three from the UK, have called on the European Commission to investigate evidence that Amazon has sought to recruit staff to investigate organised labour amongst its staff.

Seven top questions on returning staff to work during coronavirus

TLT Insight | September 2020

We answer the top seven employment law questions on moving your workforce from kitchen table to office desk.

Uber case highlights risks of automated decisions about employees

TLT Insight | 30 September 2020

A new case against Uber could have major implications for any business using automated decisions or algorithms to make decisions about its employees.

Employment Law Focus: Unconscious bias

TLT Podcast | 30 September 2020

Unconscious bias is a growing legal issue for employers. It’s widely regarded as a barrier to equality, diversity and inclusion, and employment tribunals are looking more closely at motivation and bias in discrimination and harassment cases.

Pensions Ombudsman update – September 2020

TLT Publication | September 2020

Key areas covered in this edition include:

  • Employer’s automatic enrolment duties;
  • Distress caused by missing contributions;
  • Tax liability for negligent misstatement; and
  • Administrator’s duty to provide correct information.

Governance

COVID-19: House of Lords call for evidence on use of emergency powers

Parliament.uk | 29 September 2020

On 29 September 2020, the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a call for evidence on the government's use of emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: regulations imposing additional social distancing requirements on businesses

Legislation.gov.uk | 1 October 2020

On 28 September 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1046) (Regulations) were made and came into force in England. They amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Hospitality Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1008), the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/684) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Collection of Contact Details etc and Related Requirements) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1005).

Health and safety

Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill

Parliament UK | 28 September 2020

On 28 September 2020 the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee continued pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Building Safety Bill with an evidence session featuring representatives of Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, National Housing Federation, Association of Residential Managing Agents, Long Harbour and the Association of British Insurers.

COVID-19: updated arrangements in the UK Supreme Court

Supreme Court | 25 September 2020

On 25 September 2020, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) published an update to its arrangements during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Housing

£80 million boost to towns

MHCLG | 25 September 2020

Over a hundred towns in England to share £80 million to boost regeneration, helping them to build back better.

Landmark legislation helping people at risk of homelessness

MHCLG | 25 September 2020

Homelessness Reduction Act helps 243,680 households to keep their home or move into longer term accommodation.

Council tax valuations and affordable housing

TLT Insight | September 2020

A decision by the Court of Session in Scotland will affect other elements of affordable housing for council tax purposes throughout Scotland. 

Tony Reynolds, a partner in our Commercial Dispute Resolution team in Edinburgh, has successfully acted for the Assessor of the Lothian Valuation Joint Board (the Assessor) in connection with a council tax appeal that was heard by the Inner House of the Court of Session. 

Insolvency

Termination for insolvency: how can suppliers protect their position?

TLT Insight | September 2020

Suppliers can no longer rely on contractual terms entitling them to terminate a contract on the grounds of a corporate customer’s insolvency (ipso facto clauses) in most cases. This prohibition was introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act which came into force on 26 June 2020 (the Act). This briefing looks at the changes suppliers may need to make to their contracts, as well as to their credit and enforcement strategies, in light of this prohibition.

Landlord and tenant

Right to rent scheme: amendments to prescribed requirements and revised code of practice in force from 2 November 2020

Legislation.gov.uk | 1 October 2020

The Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) (Amendment) Order 2020 (SI 2020/1047) (Order) and a revised Landlord's Code of Practice for the right to rent scheme (Code) were laid before Parliament on 29 September 2020 and come into force on 2 November 2020. The Order is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum.

The right to rent scheme (Scheme) requires landlords of residential premises to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and other occupiers to ascertain whether those parties have the right to be in the UK (sections 20-37, Immigration Act 2014).

London borough secures confiscation orders against landlords amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds

Local Government Lawyer | 25 September 2020

Waltham Forest Council has secured six-figure confiscation orders in two cases against landlords who adapted their properties without seeking appropriate planning permissions – and then refused to revert them to their original structures.

Calls grow to protect renters as ban on lockdown evictions expires

The Guardian | 20 September 2020

Up to 55,000 tenants may be at high risk of losing their homes as cases restart after Covid-19 moratorium.

New 'golden rules' to sustain tenancies

National Residential Landlords Association | 17 September 2020

NEW ‘Golden Rules’ to sustain tenancies in the rental housing market have been published ahead of the courts beginning to hear possession cases from the 21st September.

The rules, drafted by the National Residential Landlords Association, form a central part of measures announced by the Government to ensure courts can start to process possession cases following a six month ban.

Government extends support to stop business evictions this year

MHCLG | 16 September 2020

Commercial tenants will be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of 2020 helping businesses to protect jobs.

Commercial leases: ban on forfeiture rights for non-payment of rent extended to end of 2020

TLT Insight | September 2020

The moratorium on commercial landlords exercising forfeiture rights for non-payment of rent will be extended in England until at least 31 December 2020

Here we explain the changes and examine the likely impact of this extension on commercial landlords and tenants.

New report focuses on leaseholders and shared owners

Housing Ombudsman Service | 7 September 2020

We have published a report bringing together our insight from handling almost 2,000 complaints from leaseholders and shared owners over the last two years. These resulted in more than 800 formal investigations with redress required in some form in just over half of the cases investigated.

Planning and environment

Developer Masterclass – Planning Reforms

TLT Webinar

Developer masterclass presented by TLT and Stantec on the Government’s white paper, Planning for the Future.

"Permitted development" homes to meet space standards

MHCLG | 30 September 2020

New homes delivered through Permitted Development Rights will have to meet space standards, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced today (30 September 2020).

Permitted development homes make an important contribution to delivering the housing the country needs by making effective use of existing buildings, allowing them to be changed into homes without the need to go through a full planning application.

MHCLG announces that permitted development housing will have to meet space standards

MHCLG | 30 September 2020

On 30 September 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced that housing constructed under permitted development rights (PDRs) will have to meet certain space standards.

Robert Jenrick's speech on planning for the future

MHCLG | 23 September 2020

Speech given at the Creating Communities Conference 2020.

Jenrick announces next steps to put beauty and design at heart of planning system

MHCLG | 22 September 2020

  • Nicholas Boys Smith to lead expert group advising government on how to embed beauty and quality into the new, reformed planning system
  • Charles O’Brien appointed as government’s new heritage adviser to help communities protect their treasured historic buildings and monuments
  • Appointments follow proposals to overhaul England’s planning system, placing beauty and design quality at the heart of all new developments

Wildlife protection plan to unlock Hampshire housebuilding

MHCLG | 11 September 2020

Trailblazing new government-backed scheme to benefit both people and wildlife in the Solent.

Procurement

Cabinet Office launches new measures to deliver social value priorities through public procurement

Cabinet Office | 24 September 2020

The Cabinet Office has launched its social value in procurement model, which is intended to deliver social value priorities through procurement (including supporting COVID-19 recovery and mitigating its impact in communities). It has also published Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 06/20: taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts and a summary of responses to its March 2019 consultation on the proposed model.

Real estate

Help to Buy: Equity Loan (2021 - 2023): funding administration agreement

Homes England | 30 September

The standard contract that developers and house builders will be required to enter into for the 2021 - 2023 scheme.

Regulatory

Care Quality Commission: Developing our future strategy

Care Quality Commission | 30 September 2020

As part of the Care Quality Commission developing their next strategy, they have shared their latest thinking on a range of key areas.

Regulator sets out key lessons for social housing providers to protect tenants

Regulator of Social Housing | 22 September 2020

The Regulator of Social Housing has published its eighth annual review of social housing consumer regulation.

The report sets out how RSH responded to consumer regulation referrals during 2019/20, including breaches of consumer standards.

Social housing sector reports strong financial position despite coronavirus challenges

Regulator of Social Housing | 3 September 2020

The Regulator of Social Housing has today published the results of its latest quarterly survey of registered providers’ financial health. The report covers the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

Ombudsman’s new powers take effect including working with the Regulator

Housing Ombudsman Service | 1 September 2020

New powers in the revised Housing Ombudsman Scheme that takes effect from 1 September will help improve awareness, accessibility and speed of complaint resolution. It also enables the Ombudsman to be more proactive on systemic issues and broadens the basis on which we can refer cases to the Regulator of Social Housing.

The Building (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020: Northern Ireland's response to Grenfell?

TLT Insight | September 2020

In response to major concerns that combustible cladding is not explicitly banned under statute, the Department of Finance (DoF) considers that in addition to longer term reform, there is scope for action in relation to external fire spread in Northern Ireland.

Conducting remote investigations in a post-Covid world

TLT Insight | September 2020

As we move tentatively out of the shadow of Covid-19, being mindful that a second wave or local lockdowns could still happen, what lessons can we take forward to ensure investigation work continues in an unpredictable environment?

Track and trace: How to comply with the new regulations

TLT Insight | September 2020

The ‘track and trace’ programme is part of the government’s plan to slow the spread of Covid-19. It’s designed to make sure those who have been in close proximity with someone who has tested positive for the virus can be contacted and given advice to follow. Until recently, the government recommended hospitality businesses to collect certain customer information. From 17 September however, this became a legal requirement.

Tax

HMRC guidance on VAT reverse charge for construction services

HMRC | 24 September 2020

On 24 September 2020, HMRC published How to use the VAT reverse charge if you supply building and construction services, and VAT reverse charge technical guide, providing technical guidance on the VAT reverse charge for construction services, and practical guidance for suppliers and customers on operating the scheme

Welfare reform

274 councils set to receive housing support for vulnerable people

MHCLG | 17 September 2020

Thousands of vulnerable people who were housed during the pandemic will be helped to stay in accommodation this year thanks to the allocations of funding announced today (17 September 2020) by Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick.


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