Homelessness

March 5th, 2018

The Homelessness (Review Procedure etc) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/223, set out the procedure to be followed by a local housing authority (“LHA”) when issuing a notice to bring their duties to an end in cases of an applicant’s deliberate and unreasonable refusal to co-operate. An applicant is a person who applies to a LHA for accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation and the authority have reason to believe they may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days and eligible for assistance. The Regulations revoke and replace the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 and sets out provisions for completing reviews, and specify the public authorities that will have a duty to refer people in England they consider may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days to LHAs.

The Legislative Context is that the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”) introduces duties on LHAs to intervene at earlier stages to prevent homelessness and to take reasonable steps to relieve homelessness by helping those who are homeless to secure accommodation (the “prevention” and “relief” duties). It also requires LHAs to provide some new homelessness services to all people in their area and expands the categories of people who they have to help to find accommodation.

As part of the prevention and relief duties introduced by the 2017 Act, LHAs must work with an applicant to develop a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps to be taken by both parties to ensure the applicant has, and is able to retain, suitable accommodation. LHAs are able to issue a notice bringing their prevention or relief duties to an end if the applicant deliberately and unreasonably refuses to cooperate with the required steps. Section 193B(7) of the 2017 Act gives the Secretary of State (“the SoS”) the power to make provision by Regulations as to the procedure to be followed by a LHA in connection with notices of non-cooperation. This is the first use of this power. The Regulations require LHAs to ensure the procedure is in writing, kept under review and makes provision for the decision to issue a notice to be authorised by a second officer not involved in the original decision. When individuals make applications to LHAs for accommodation, or for assistance in obtaining accommodation, Section 202 of the Housing Act 1996 provides applicants with the right to request a review of certain decisions made by LHAs during their applications. The 2017 Act amends Section 202 to add further rights of review related to the new prevention and relief duties.

Section 213B of the 2017 Act introduces a new duty on public authorities to refer services users in England who they consider may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days to LHAs. Section 213B(4) of the 2017 Act gives the SoS the power to specify the public authorities which will be subject to the duty. This is the first use of this power. This instrument specifies these public authorities.

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