Archived Legal Articles from 2020

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Housing & Regeneration


Fire Safety Works - EWS1 Surveys


In August, we published an article on the cost of fire safety works in high rise residential blocks. We commented on the government funding available to support the remediation of unsafe cladding on high rises and discussed whether leaseholders should contribute towards the cost of fire safety works…

FOI style access scheme for social housing tenants


The recently published Social Housing White Paper - The Charter for Social Housing Residents - has put forward new proposals which will allow social housing tenants (or their representatives) of housing associations and other private registered providers to access information relating to the management…

The First Meeting of the Housing Best Practice Partnership Network


After months of consultation and fact-finding, the first ever meeting of the Housing Best Practice Partnership Network for West Yorkshire took place on Wednesday 9th December 2020 . The meeting was introduced by Mr. Mark Burns-Williamson (Police & Crime Commissioner) and chaired by Kate Jowett…

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The new shared ownership model


Is it a step towards addressing the housing problem or does it create more issues than it is worth? Following the Making Home Ownership Affordable discussion paper in 2019, the government has launched a consultation on the new model to be introduced next spring. The consultation fills in some of…

ICO Publishes Detailed Guidance on Criminal Offence Data


Earlier this month, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published detailed guidance discussing the use of criminal offence data in detail. Data Protection Officers and information governance teams should review the latest guidance to ensure RPs meet the obligations set out in the new…

Property still open for business despite Lockdown 2


The government have confirmed the property market can continue despite Lockdown 2. How is the property market fairing during these uncertain times? The Government says - 'You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless…

The Importance of Policies


CASE UPDATE: The Board of Governors of IQRA Community Primary School (Respondent) Ms F Mansur (Claimant) Background Ms Mansur was a Teaching Assistant at the Respondent school. The Claimants initial claim was direct sex/race discrimination, and unfair dismissal. There were…

A Warning to Water "Re-sellers"


The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames has lost its appeal to the Court of Appeal over a High Court ruling that it overcharged tenants for water. It is not uncommon for local authority and private registered providers of social housing landlords to enter into agreements with water companies to…

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Could potential changes to Modern Slavery Legislation affect Public Bodies?


The government has set out proposed changes to the requirements for transparency in supply chains under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. At present, certain commercial organisations must publish an annual statement setting out the steps they take to prevent modern slavery in their business and supply…

Home ownership weathering the storm


Last week members of the Housing Property Team had the pleasure of attending the National Housing Federation's first virtual Affordable Home Ownership Conference. A different format but non the less informative with valuable insight into the upcoming changes in the industry and the impact Covid-19…

Relief Against Forfeiture - reasonable delay?


Keshwala & Anor v Bhalsod & Anor (2020) EWHC 2372 (QB) This is an interesting case on relief against forfeiture and contains some useful pointers on the nuances of forfeiture by physical re-entry. The lessee had taken a 20 year lease of the property in 2008. It was a commercial lease…

Permitted Development Rights - are we a step closer to delivering more homes?


The Government has recently implemented two new Statutory Instruments which introduce additional permitted development rights. Both of these rights came into effect on 31 August 2020. Permanent development rights to add up to two storeys The first established by The Town and County Planning (…

35 Million Fine for Illegal Employee Data Collection


It has been reported earlier this month that the Swedish clothing retailer, H&M has been fined more than €35 million by the German data protection authority, after it was found to have unlawfully collected employee data of some of its employees in Germany. This is the highest level of fine…

Housing Diversity Network


Housing Diversity Network is a social enterprise that aims to inspire and empower people, promoting equality, diversity and opportunity for all. It works collaboratively to support organisations to improve how they address inequality, get the most from their staff and meet the needs of the communities…

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Two unfair dismissal case updates from summer 2020


Tai Tarian v Christie Update: A dismissal based on anonymous witness evidence will not necessary be unfair, even where that witness declines to participate in the disciplinary process. Background and Tribunal findings: The Respondent was a housing association, who employed the…

The Importance of Careful Lease Drafting for Supporting Living Schemes


(1) Retirement Lease Housing Association Limited (2) Fountain Retirement Housing Association Limited v (1) Pauline Schellerup & Phylis Woodford (2) C Martin [2020] UKUT 232 (LC) The above case was a conjoined appeal to the Upper Tribunal by the landlords of separate supported housing…

ICO Launches Accountability Framework


The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has published its Accountability Framework to help organisations manage their data protection compliance and understand how they can comply with the General Data Protection Regulation's (GDPR) accountability principle. Article 5(2) of the GDPR…

Transforming Leasehold System


The Law Commission has released a collection of reforms to improve home ownership in England and Wales. These will make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to buy the freehold or extend their lease, and to take control of the management of their block of flats or an estate. The Law Commission is…

On 'Tenurehooks' - Will Shared Ownership be a viable product?


Homes England have announced significant changes to the shared ownership programme with the introduction of a new shared ownership model which will come into effect for all new shared ownership homes delivered under the new Affordable Housing Programme 2021 to 2026. Whilst the new model form lease is…

A Big Boost for Affordable Homes


On the 8th September, Robert Jenirck, the housing secretary, announced a £12.2 billion overall investment in affordable housing. Which does include £700 million on new homes through the 2016 to 2022 programme, along with a new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme which will be…

You didn't dream it - 6 month notices are here


It will come as no surprise that over the weekend the Government introduced amendments to the Coronavirus Act, which have subsequently amended the prescribed forms for both Section 21 Notices and Notices of Seeking Possession in England. The amendments only affect notices served after 29 August 2020 and…

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Here We Go Again - Third Stay of Possession Proceedings


At the 11th hour, just before the stay was supposed to end this Sunday, 23 August 2020, the government has yet again extended the moratorium period on possessions claims. This time until 20 September 2020. While this news will be welcomed by renters, it will be devastating to many private and…

Private RPs not Subject to Environmental Information Regulations


The Upper Tribunal has recently published its judgment in the case of The Information Commissioner v Poplar Housing Association and Regeneration Community Association confirming that private registered providers of social housing (RPs) are not subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (…

Dishing the dirt on Septic Tanks


If you own property off the mains sewage network it is critical that you are aware of the changing legislation around septic tanks. The Environment Agency, in an endeavour to tackle water pollution, has laid down new General Binding Rules, which means systems will now have to be upgraded or replaced…

Government Planning Proposals - is this the way forward?


In its ambition to build high-quality, sustainable homes and communities, the government has published the Housing White Paper, 'Planning for the Future'. This consultation document consists of a package of proposals for reform of the planning system in England only with a view to streamlining…

Restricting exit payments in the public sector


As most public sector organisations will be aware, the Government has been considering a cap on public sector exit payments of £95,000 since 2015. In April 2019, the government launched a further consultation on draft Regulations to introduce the cap and the consultation closed on 3 July 2019. The…

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Forbes Briefing Note - New Practice Direction 55C


Some of you might remember my briefing from a few weeks ago in relation to a proposed new Pre-Action Protocol. Well there is still no sign of that but what has now been introduced is a temporary Practice Direction (PD 55C), which requires landlords to 'reactive' their ongoing stayed possession…

Temporary SDLT Relief - What You Need to Know


What is SDLT? SDLT is stamp duty land tax - a tax on properties bought in England and Northern Ireland. The rate to be paid depends on where in the UK the property is bought, the price of the property and the reason for the purchase. I've heard about a SDLT Holiday - what does this mean…

When is a private dwelling house not so private?


Covenants restricting the use of properties to "single private dwelling houses" "private residence" and "private dwellings in the occupation of one family unit" have been a common feature affecting properties for some time. They also frequently feature in the transfers of…

Healthy homes = Healthy people?


It has long been known that people from the most deprived areas of the country have poorer health and have a shorter life expectancy compared to people from more affluent areas. With the NHS under immense pressure especially given the COVID-19 pandemic it has become increasingly important for the…

Digital Housing Week


The week commencing 22 June was due to be The Chartered Institute of Housing week, however given the current pandemic this was not able to go ahead, although it was replaced by Digital Housing Week. This adaption is just another example of how the housing sector can quickly innovate. The event was…

Forbes Solicitors appointed to national housing framework


Forbes Solicitors has been named on the Central Housing Investment Consortium Ltd ("CHIC") framework which reflects the firm's deep expertise and track record in the sector across its specialist teams. CHIC is a consortium of Registered Providers and has around 90 members across the…

Service Reviews and Restructure - What do we need to know?


COVID-19 has presented several organisational challenges over the last few months, a notable concern of many organisations is their business efficiency. Whilst the pandemic had posed several problems and challenges, it may offer opportunity for Registered Providers (RP) with the opportunity to reflect…

Signing deeds during COVID-19 - Virtual execution and e-signatures


Since working from home has become "the new norm", we've been asked to consider whether the use of digital transaction platforms and e-signatures is appropriate for executing deeds. In addition, whilst social distancing continues, can witnessing of signatures be done remotely? On 18…

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Vacant Building Credit- is it being used to its full potential?


Vacant Building Credit (VBC) is a policy that entitles developers to a financial credit in relation to the affordable housing contribution. The calculation is set out in the Planning Practice Guidance as "the equivalent of the gross floorspace of any relevant vacant buildings being brought back…

Extension to the ban on evictions until 23 August 2020


The Coronavirus Act 2020 ('the Act') came into force on 25 March 2020 following a swift passage through Parliament. The Act contains numerous emergency powers to enable public bodies to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020, named 'Residential…

MEETING THE CHALLENGE: COVID 19 and Virtual Meetings


The coronavirus pandemic is presenting the housing sector with complex issues as urgent decisions need to be made by decision-makers. In these unprecedented times, RPs are exploring changes to the way in which decisions are taken to reduce the risk of infection while ensuring that executives, directors…

Covid-19: The Impact on Developers & Affordable Homes


Building , who provide information and intelligence to the construction industry, have reported that developers are calling for planning rules to be loosened due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could affect affordable housing. The London Property Alliance, real estate representatives, have…

How important is the "Lockdown Test?"


Whilst we are in the midst of a pandemic and the country is in lockdown, everyone has been advised to stay at home wherever possible. For many, this means that they are living and working from their homes. The majority of those asked would likely list access to gardens and open spaces as being crucial…

Business as Usual or Unusual?


With the lockdown starting to ease and plans in place for how we can get back to normal, we need to be mindful that things will not be the same or 'business as usual' for quite some time. There is a lot to be considered in the near future and as for the construction sector in particular,…

Appeal of Practice Direction 51Z Fails


As you all know by now the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020. Since this time all possession proceedings, and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession have been stayed for 90 days with any new Notices of Seeking Possession and Section 21 Notices…

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RPs & Covid-19: What does this mean for the financial future?


The current pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for business and lenders alike, although now there has been some recent positive coverage regarding the finances of registered providers of social housing (RPs). Fitch Ratings , who provide credit ratings, commentary and research, have reported…

ICO Publishes Guidance for Workplace Testing


The ICO has published 'Workplace Testing - Guidance for Employers' in order to assist employers considering introducing workplace testing in a bid to make workplaces safe in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The starting point is that as long as there is a good reason for doing so,…

How important is the "Lockdown Test?"


Whilst we are in the midst of a pandemic and the country is in lockdown, everyone has been advised to stay at home wherever possible. For many, this means that they are living and working from their homes. The majority of those asked would likely list access to gardens and open spaces as being crucial…

Covid-19: The Impact on Developers & Affordable Homes


Building , who provide information and intelligence to the construction industry, have reported that developers are calling for planning rules to be loosened due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could affect affordable housing. The London Property Alliance, real estate representatives, have…

How Forbes' Housing & Regeneration Property Team is responding to COVID-19


The working world is changing, and nobody knows how it will look next week, let alone in a few months. As we continue to work from home as much as possible, we have been thinking about how we have re-thought our work practices, adapted and welcomed the 'new normal'. The 'New Normal'…

Another Pre Action Protocol!


The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has yesterday revealed plans to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee to put a pre-action protocol in place when the eviction ban is lifted on 25 June 2020. Mr Jenrick confirmed that a decision would be made next month on whether the…

Executing deeds the 'Mercury' way


This is an addendum to our article " Registered Providers - are E-signatures a valid option as a contingency for COVID-19?" published 20 March 2020, particularly in respect of execution of transfer and other dispositionary deeds further to Land Registry's guidance published 04 May 2020…

Coronavirus Gas Inspections


We are seeing an increasing number of cases recently where tenants will not allow their landlord access to complete a gas safety inspection. Why? Because of Covid-19. Understandably, people are anxious about letting others into their homes during this scary time, but landlords must still comply…

Covid-19 and the RSH


Last month, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) wrote to all RPs and local authorities regarding its expectations and regulatory approach in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In its letter, the RSH confirmed that its shared priority across the sector was to maintain tenant safety. Subsequently…

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The Waiting Game... Is Your Move Essential?


On Monday 27th April 2020, the government introduced new, non-statutory guidance advising Registered Housing Providers to only proceed with rehousing their customers (existing and new) if the move is deemed to be "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic. As with so many other aspects…

Claims against 'Persons Unknown' and other amendments to Practice Direction 51Z


The provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020. The following day, Practice Direction (PD) 51Z was introduced. This had the effect of staying all possession proceedings, and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession, for 90 days. New possession claims can…

New Budget, New Cladding?


A new budget has brought new funding for landowners of high-rise buildings containing ACM and other unsafe cladding. This represents acknowledgment by the Government that in addition to ACM (cladding similar to that present at Grenfell Tower) there are other types of cladding which may be life-…

Important Changes to the Format of Civil Witness Statements


From today, 6 April 2020, the way we have always written our witness statements has changed. The most important change is to the statement of truth at the bottom of witness statements or any other document where a statement of truth is required. The new wording is as follows and must appear on all…

COVID-19: Sharing Tenant Personal Information


With the unprecedented measures being put in place by the government to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, RPs are undoubtedly considering what action needs to be taken to make sure both tenants and staff are kept safe. The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) wrote to RPs last week to…

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Coronavirus: Managing your Contracts and Costs


With the unprecedented measures being put in place by the government to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, RPs will be undoubtedly be considering the risks of contracts being unfulfilled. This global pandemic is having a huge impact on organisations of all sizes and is outside the…

Are your properties Fit for Habitation?


The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 ("the Act") came into force on 20 March 2019, amending the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The Act automatically applies to new tenancy agreements that are for a term of 7 years or less and applies to all periodic tenancies from 20 March 2020 (&…

Covid-19 and Gas Safety Checks: The Quarantine Quandary


Please note: This article was written prior to the Prime Minister's announcement of further civilian restrictions on the evening of 23.03.2020 and so does not take account of the effects of that announcement. Further updates will follow as soon as possible. The issue of Annual Gas Safety…

COVID-19 and the Justice System


The present circumstances On 18 March 2020, the Lord Chancellor affirmed that "the rule of law is vital to a functioning democracy and even at times like these, it is essential that our independent courts are able to administer justice." Whilst many public places have either been…

Proposed Extension of IR35 to be Delayed


In response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 the Government has announced that the roll out of IR35 to the private sector shall be delayed until the spring of 2021 On 17 March 2020 the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, announced to Parliament that "the government is postponing…

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Fire Safety and the Property Market- are we moving in the right direction?


A new External Wall Fire Review process has been agreed by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), The Building Societies Association (BSA) and UK Finance in relation to the valuation of high-rise buildings (above 18 metres or six storeys). The Government created a policy following the…

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Cavity Barriers - Persimmon's review


In light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2018, fire safety should be at the forefront of the minds of developers and home builders alike. Following the findings of an independent review being published in December 2019, housing developer Persimmon has been subjected to heavy criticism after a…

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