The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
The Bill received “pre-legislative scrutiny” by the Home Affairs Committee who published their report on 15 February 2013 making recommendations for changes before the draft Bill goes through Parliament. It is not likely to become law until 2015.
There has been much debate about three changes in particular – getting rid of the ASBO; changing the well-established Injunction (ASBI) and introducing a mandatory possession option for ASB. The Home Affairs Committee addressed the first two in some detail but strangely their Report is entirely silent on the mandatory possession proposals even though this issue occupied much of the evidence before the committee.
The Bill as it stands proposes five conditions which if they exist can lead to a mandatory possession order such as where they have already been convicted of a serious offence or have breached an ASB injunction. These ‘mandatory grounds’ would in theory speed up the process of eviction and thus reduce costs and the impact on suffering witnesses and their communities. The concern remains that “proportionality” challenges will be brought and derail the process but in our view the recent case law is proving more helpful to landlords and it is becoming much harder for occupiers to succeed in such challenges.
The proposed new Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA) will extend to minors aged 10+ and is likely to still be the main tool used by landlords. However, the Home Affairs Committee considers that the definitions of ‘nuisance’ used within the IPNA are too broad, and wants to introduce “intent or recklessness” to the definition. This will be messy to prove.
The Bill also proposes a greater level of community involvement in the punishment of ASB offenders. This is called the “Community Remedy” and means that local areas would be able to decide (within reason) what punishments are used to tackle low level crime and ASB out of court. The Committee want to avoid creating a “modern day stocks”.
Helpfully the Committee recognises that current court timescales do not reflect the misery caused by ASB and that cuts to court services have not assisted. As they noted, housing providers deal with over 300,000 ASB cases each year and due to cuts to other services it is not likely this number will decrease. This is why we support the mandatory ground – even if cases are defended it should be a quicker route than at present. We continue to experience significant delays in listing contested cases for trials and can only hope ASB cases will get more priority in future.
Helen Tucker is a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors.
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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