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Social Housing Speed Read – the Housing White Paper

We look at what we might expect from the Government's housing white paper, and what could be in store for property developers, housing associations and housing supply across the country.

What can we expect from the Government’s housing white paper?

Last week’s Speed Read looked at Starter Homes in detail, these being the Government’s affordable housing proposals to assist first-time buyers on to the property ladder.

The white paper is expected to shed more light on the affordable housing policy for the longer term. Delays in its release are thought to be the result of carefully considering how a new direction in policy might affect various stakeholders.

A tough approach towards councils is anticipated, which includes ensuring that they produce a “local plan” for house building to access their share of the £2.3 billion housing fund announced in the Autumn Statement.

On the basis that policy changes will help to make more green-belt land available for building, developers and housing providers may feel that one of their longer-term demands is finally being met.

Housing ministers will need to manage their relationships with property developers carefully, to ensure that they are supportive of Government building targets.

What does this show us about the Government’s approach to housing?

The Government is now considering the national housing supply issue “in the round”, and in fine-tuning its “carrot and stick” approach towards developers and local authorities is looking to optimise potential for home building.

Whilst the Starter Homes initiative demonstrates that home ownership is still important, the Autumn Statement has shown that there are plans to increase housing supply across tenure.

How do housing associations feature in the Government’s plans?

The Government acknowledges that housing associations are an integral part of providing affordable housing, and in the Autumn Statement pledged £1.4 billion to affordable housing development.

The Social Housing sector is obviously keenly awaiting the housing white paper, which is expected to be released by or before the end of January 2017.

Addendum: warrants for possession – new Court forms from HMCTS

On 21 November last year, we reported Cardiff County Council v Lee (Flowers) [2016] EWCA Civ 1034 and the requirement to make formal application for permission to issue warrants to enforce suspended possession orders.

In an important development (which you may have missed over the festive season) HMCTS has brought into effect a new Form N325A from 20 December 2016. Form N325A is to be used where a claimant is requesting the issue of a warrant for possession pursuant to suspended possession order on rent arrears.

Where the claimant seeks the re-issue of a warrant, an amended Request for Reissue of Warrant (Form N445) should be used. This will avoid the need for a further court hearing.

Per HMCTS guidance online, Form N325A is to used as an “interim workaround” to the administrative challenge presented by Cardiff v Lee. In the meantime the Civil Procedure Rules Committee is consulting on the current protections available to tenants and occupiers, after which the changes required to the Civil Procedure Rules will become clear.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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