Lunchtime news 31 July 2023

It is D-Day for Home Information Packs (HIPs) as they finally become law today, although many concerns still persist over their introduction. Fears remain that there is still a shortage of inspectors, particularly of energy assessors, which delayed the original May start date. Local authorities say they will face difficulties in ensuring compliance, especially if ‘rogue’ estate agents say they have commissioned a HIP but haven’t. Critics have pointed out that the £200 penalty for those who do not obtain a pack is less than the actual cost of a pack – expected to be anything from £350 to £500. The government has said that HIPs should cover all homes by the end of the year if today’s initial roll-out proves ‘trouble free’.

A landmark court ruling in the Court of Appeal testing the Disability Discrimination Act against existing housing law ruled that councils and housing associations could be breaking the law if they evict disabled tenants – even if they are months behind on their rent. The court found that the tenant, a schizophrenic who was not taking this medication when he let his flat while waiting for a right to buy claim to be processed, could not have been sufficiently aware of the nature or consequence of his action because of his disability.

An application by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association to turn a six-bedroom house in a leafy suburb of Surrey into accommodation for families of service personnel who have lost limbs while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan has come up against serious NIMBY opposition. More than 100 residents of Ashtead have complained to their council saying that the presence of service families will increase traffic and may lead to terrorist activities in the area. The attitude of the objectors has angered military personnel nationwide and a petition to Downing Street has collected more than 33,000 signatures.

A village in the Peak District has become a battleground between the UK’s modern legal system and ancient feudal laws. The title ‘lord of the manor’ can be purchased for as little as several thousands of pounds at auction, and the purchase of one title – Lord of the Manor of Alstonefield by a business in Wales has provoked a dispute over the ownership of the village greens and grass verges. The lack of certainty in rights of way and who owns what has unintentionally lead to reducing house sales in the area, and resulted in a £16,000 public inquiry which resolved less than half the disputed land. The Law Commission in England and Wales is considering a project to abolish feudal land law.