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Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

Chapter 3 - Housing finance and other provisions
Housing Revenue Account subsidy

888.These provisions provide a power for the appropriate person (the Secretary of State in England and the Welsh Ministers in Wales) and those local housing authorities who keep a Housing Revenue Account to enter into agreements concerning Housing Revenue Account Subsidy. This enables the parties to agree that no Housing Revenue Account Subsidy is payable by or to the appropriate person. Agreements can be for either an authority’s whole stock or for specified properties.

Section 313 - Exclusions from subsidy arrangements

889.Subsection (1) inserts a new section 80B into the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (the 1989 Act) which by virtue of subsection (2) of section 80B disapplies sections 79 to 80A of the 1989 Act where an agreement exists between the appropriate person (the Secretary of State in England and the Welsh Ministers in Wales) and a local housing authority. An agreement disapplying sections 79 to 80A would have the effect that no Housing Revenue Account subsidy was payable by or to the appropriate person in respect of the properties covered by the agreement.

890.Subsection (3) of section 80B gives examples of the kinds of terms and conditions that such agreements may contain. These include conditions specifying whether the agreement is to be for a fixed or indeterminate period, setting out the payments to or from the appropriate person for making the agreement, rent levels, the giving of information and the variation or termination of the agreement.

891.Subsections (4), (5) and (6) of section 80B enable the appropriate person to make directions concerning the variation or termination of an agreement to deal with issues such as necessary transitional, consequential, incidental or supplementary changes. Directions cannot, however, override the terms of the original agreement without the consent of the relevant local housing authority. Directions may in particular deal with the return to the subsidy regime of an authority’s housing stock.

892.Subsection (8) of section 80B defines key terms used in that section. In particular the definition of property ensures that the agreement can cover both current and future properties.

893.Subsection (3) amends paragraph 2 of Part 3 of Schedule 4 to the 1989 Act which currently provides authorities a very limited power to move credits from their Housing Revenue Account to the general fund, so that it does not apply in respect of those properties subject to an agreement under the new section 80B(1)(b).

Homelessness and allocation of housing
Section 314 – Ineligible persons from abroad: statutory disregards

894.Section 314 introduces Schedule 15.

Section 315 - Armed forces: local connection test

895.Section 315 amends section 199 of the Housing Act 1996, which sets out the circumstances when a person has a local connection with the district of a local housing authority. Housing authorities may take account of whether a person has a local connection with their district when considering the person’s priority for an allocation of housing under Part 6 of the 1996 Act or when making inquiries about whether the person is homeless and owed a duty for the purposes of Part 7 of the 1996 Act. The effect of the amendment is that a person in the armed forces will now be able to establish a local connection with a district through residence or employment there, in the same way as a civilian.

Other
Section 316 – Amendments to Housing Act 1985: lending institutions

896.Section 307 removes the Secretary of State’s powers under section 156 of the Housing Act 1985 to specify bodies as approved lending institutions and to revoke that status. It instead adds “authorised mortgage lender” to the list in section 156(4) of automatically approved lending institutions. “Authorised mortgage lender” is defined in section 622 of the 1985 Act as (i) bodies which are authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and (ii) European lenders automatically entitled to operate in the United Kingdom. Section 316 amends two definitions in section 622 of the Housing Act 1985, those of ‘authorised deposit taker’ and ‘authorised insurer’, to bring the wording into conformity with the definition of “authorised mortgage lender”, in each case by substituting a reference to paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 instead of to paragraph 12(1) of that Schedule.

Section 317 – Building regulations: time limit for prosecutions

897.This section amends section 35A of the Building Act 1984 to extend to all provisions of building regulations longer time limits for bringing prosecutions for contraventions of those provisions. At present the longer prosecution time limits provided for by section 35A can apply only to contraventions of provisions of building regulations which were made for the purpose of furthering the conservation of fuel and power or otherwise in connection with the use of fuel and power, or for the purpose of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, where those provisions have been designated in regulations.

898.The current time limit within which prosecutions for breaches of provisions of building regulations must be brought is six months from the date the offence is committed (in accordance with the standard provisions for summary offences set out in section 127(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980). The amendments in this section will bring prosecutions for all building regulation contraventions within the time limit provisions in section 35A. Thus there will be an absolute limit of two years from the date the offence is committed within which summary proceedings must be commenced, subject to a requirement that proceedings must be brought within 6 months of the date on which sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution becomes known to the person who commences the proceedings.

899.Subsection (5) provides that the extended time limits for prosecution will not apply to any offence committed before the amendments to section 35A come into force, i.e. the amendments will not be retrospective.

Section 318 – Protected mobile home sites to include sites for gypsies and travellers

900.Section 318 amends the definition of a “protected site” in section 5(1) of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 by removing the exclusion for land occupied by a local authority as a caravan site providing accommodation for gypsies and travellers. The Mobile Homes Act 1983 will therefore apply to an agreement to station a mobile home (or caravan) on a local authority gypsy and traveller site.

Section 319 – Financial assistance for certain services about commonhold

901.This widens the existing power contained in section 62 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 for the Lord Chancellor to provide financial assistance for the giving of general advice in respect of the law relating to commonhold land so far as relating to residential matters.

902.The Lord Chancellor may now also fund information, training and dispute resolution services in respect of the law of commonhold land so far as relating to residential matters.

903.Additionally, financial assistance for the provision of information, training, general advice and dispute resolution services may now be given in respect of any other matter relating to commonhold land and residential matters.

904.The ability to provide financial assistance in such form and on such terms as the Lord Chancellor considers appropriate will remain.

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