Changes to Homelessness Law

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The Localism Act 2011 introduced some major changes to the way in which homelessness is approached by local authorities in England. While local authorities still have a duty to house people who are eligible (in priority need and intentionally homeless) they will now be able to discharge the main homeless duty by making an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector without securing the homeless applicant’s agreement. This change came into effect 9th November 2012 when the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (in England) Order 2012 came into force. The order establishes matters to be taken into account in determining whether such accommodation secured by a local authority, from the private renting sector, is suitable for homeless applicants and the circumstances in which such accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable. In determining suitability the local authority must consider the location of the accommodation.

Notwithstanding the new restrictions on ‘location’, reports suggest that some authorities will place many homeless households outside their own area. For a recent survey of the intentions of some London authorities see:-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/nov/04/london-boroughs-housing-families-outside-capital

All but four of the 33 London local authorities responded to the Guardian survey. Seenteen said they were already placing homeless families outside the capital, or had secured or were considering temporary accommodation outside London for future use. These included Kensington and Chelsea, which has moved a minority of homeless families to Manchester and Slough; Waltham Forest, which has acquired housing in Luton, Margate and Harlow; Brent, which has relocated some households to Hastings; and Tower Hamlets, which has relocated a handful of families to Northampton.

As a result of a combination of a tough economic climate and welfare reform there are many more households who might be at risk of homelessness or have indeed found themselves without a home.

If you are threatened with homelessness then the Housing Solicitors at Hanne & Co can provide you with informed and practical advice regarding homelessness applications and re-housing. Call us on 0207 228 0017