The Homelessness Reduction Bill has passed the relevant stages in the House of Commons. It will now move to the House of Lords for its first reading on the 24 February 2017.
Homelessness Reduction Act receives Royal Assent
Today the Homelessness Reduction Bill formally became an Act of Parliament.
The Act places a new duty on local authorities to help prevent the homelessness of all families and single people, regardless of priority need, who are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness.
Key measures in the Act include:
- An extension of the period during which an authority should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days, and clarification of the action an authority should take when someone applies for assistance having been served with a section 8 (1) or section 21 (2) notice. These provisions represent a shift in focus to early intervention, and aim to encourage local housing authorities to act quickly and proactively, addressing some concerns that some previously only intervened at crisis point.
- A new duty to prevent homelessness for all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need. This extends the help available to people not in priority need, with local housing authorities supporting them to either stay in their accommodation or help them find somewhere to live and should mean fewer households reach a crisis situation.
- A new duty to relieve homelessness for all eligible homeless applicants, regardless of priority need. This help could be, for example, the provision of a rent deposit or debt advice. Those who have a priority need will be provided with interim accommodation whilst the Local Housing Authority carries out the reasonable steps.
- A new duty on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It is hoped that this measure will ensure that a person’s housing situation is considered when they come into contact with wider public services, and encourage public services to build strong relationships based on local need and circumstances.
Funding and review
English councils will receive a total of £61 million in funding across 2017/18 and 2018/19 to help them meet the costs of the legislation. Additional money may be made available for those in high pressure areas to manage the transition as the new duties take effect.
There will be a review of the implementation of the Act, including the resourcing of it and how it is working in practice, after two years.
A statutory code of guidance will be developed for local authorities to support them implement their new responsibilities, and for other bodies to hold them to account.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has produced 13 fact sheets on measures within the Homeless Reduction Act. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/homelessness-reduction-bill-policy-factsheets
How will Homeless Link support the sector?
The measures are likely to commence in 2018. Homeless Link will be supporting our members in preparing for the Act’s implementation.
We will be running a free webinar for members on 10 May, providing a detailed overview of the Act and how it applies to single homeless people. To book on to the webinar, please click on the following link: Homelessness Reduction Act webinar
We will also be doing some targeted work to support members where gaps exist. It would be really helpful for us to hear from you about what information and resources on the Homelessness Reduction Act that you would find of most use for you in preparing for the Act’s implementation. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions and ideas of what would be of most help.
- A section 8 notice can be served at any time in order to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). It can be used where the tenant is in breach of the tenancy, e.g. by failing to pay the rent.
- A landlord can terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) without giving a reason (e.g. establishing any fault on the part of the tenant) after the end of a fixed term, or at any time if there is no fixed term, by serving a 2 month section 21 notice. If the tenant does not move out the landlord must apply for a court order.
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