Homelessness Reduction Bill (HL Bill 96)

A

BILL

TO

Make provision about measures for reducing homelessness; and for connected
purposes

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Threatened homelessness

1 Meaning of “threatened with homelessness”

(1) Section 175 of the Housing Act 1996 (homelessness and threatened
homelessness) is amended as follows.

(2) 5In subsection (4), for “28” substitute “56”.

(3) After subsection (4) insert—

(5) A person is also threatened with homelessness if—

(a) a valid notice has been given to the person under section 21 of
the Housing Act 1988 (orders for possession on expiry or
10termination of assured shorthold tenancy) in respect of the only
accommodation the person has that is available for the person’s
occupation, and

(b) that notice will expire within 56 days.”

Advisory services

2 15Duty to provide advisory services

For section 179 of the Housing Act 1996 (duty of local housing authority to

Homelessness Reduction BillPage 2

provide advisory services) substitute—

179 Duty of local housing authority in England to provide advisory
services

(1) Each local housing authority in England must provide or secure the
5provision of a service, available free of charge to any person in the
authority’s district, providing information and advice on—

(a) preventing homelessness,

(b) securing accommodation when homeless,

(c) the rights of persons who are homeless or threatened with
10homelessness, and the duties of the authority, under this Part,

(d) any help that is available from the authority or anyone else,
whether under this Part or otherwise, for persons in the
authority’s district who are homeless or may become homeless
(whether or not they are threatened with homelessness), and

(e) 15how to access that help.

(2) The service must be designed to meet the needs of persons in the
authority’s district including, in particular, the needs of—

(a) persons released from prison or youth detention
accommodation,

(b) 20care leavers,

(c) former members of the regular armed forces,

(d) victims of domestic abuse,

(e) persons leaving hospital,

(f) persons suffering from a mental illness or impairment, and

(g) 25any other group that the authority identify as being at particular
risk of homelessness in the authority’s district.

(3) The authority may give to any person by whom the service is provided
on behalf of the authority assistance by way of grant or loan.

(4) The authority may also assist any such person—

(a) 30by permitting the person to use premises belonging to the
authority,

(b) by making available furniture or other goods, whether by way
of gift, loan or otherwise, and

(c) by making available the services of staff employed by the
35authority.

(5) In this section—

  • “care leavers” means persons who are former relevant children
    (within the meaning given by section 23C(1) of the Children Act
    1989);

  • 40“domestic abuse” means—

    (a)

    physical violence,

    (b)

    threatening, intimidating, coercive or controlling
    behaviour, or

    (c)

    emotional, financial, sexual or any other form of abuse,

    45 where the victim is associated with the abuser;

  • “financial abuse” includes—

    (a)

    having money or other property stolen,

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    (b)

    being defrauded,

    (c)

    being put under pressure in relation to money or other
    property, and

    (d)

    having money or other property misused;

  • 5“hospital” has the same meaning as in the National Health Service
    Act 2006 (see section 275(1) of that Act);

  • “regular armed forces” means the regular forces as defined by
    section 374 of the Armed Forces Act 2006;

  • “youth detention accommodation” means—

    (a)

    10a secure children’s home,

    (b)

    a secure training centre,

    (c)

    a secure college,

    (d)

    a young offender institution,

    (e)

    accommodation provided by or on behalf of a local
    15authority for the purpose of restricting the liberty of
    children;

    (f)

    accommodation provided for that purpose under
    section 82(5) of the Children Act 1989, or

    (g)

    accommodation, or accommodation of a description, for
    20the time being specified by order under section 107(1)(e)
    of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000
    (youth detention accommodation for the purposes of
    detention and training orders).”

Assessments and plans

3 25Duty to assess all eligible applicants’ cases and agree a plan

(1) After section 189 of the Housing Act 1996, but before the heading after that
section (duties to persons found to be homeless or threatened with
homelessness), insert—

“Duty to assess every eligible applicant’s case and agree a plan

189A 30Assessments and personalised plan

(1) If the local housing authority are satisfied that an applicant is—

(a) homeless or threatened with homelessness, and

(b) eligible for assistance,

the authority must make an assessment of the applicant’s case.

(2) 35The authority’s assessment of the applicant’s case must include an
assessment of—

(a) the circumstances that caused the applicant to become homeless
or threatened with homelessness,

(b) the housing needs of the applicant including, in particular, what
40accommodation would be suitable for the applicant and any
persons with whom the applicant resides or might reasonably
be expected to reside (“other relevant persons”), and

(c) what support would be necessary for the applicant and any
other relevant persons to be able to have and retain suitable
45accommodation.

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(3) The authority must notify the applicant, in writing, of the assessment
that the authority make.

(4) After the assessment has been made, the authority must try to agree
with the applicant—

(a) 5any steps the applicant is to be required to take for the purposes
of securing that the applicant and any other relevant persons
have and are able to retain suitable accommodation, and

(b) the steps the authority are to take under this Part for those
purposes.

(5) 10If the authority and the applicant reach an agreement, the authority
must record it in writing.

(6) If the authority and the applicant cannot reach an agreement, the
authority must record in writing—

(a) why they could not agree,

(b) 15any steps the authority consider it would be reasonable to
require the applicant to take for the purposes mentioned in
subsection (4)(a), and

(c) the steps the authority are to take under this Part for those
purposes.

(7) 20The authority may include in a written record produced under
subsection (5) or (6) any advice for the applicant that the authority
consider appropriate (including any steps the authority consider it
would be a good idea for the applicant to take but which the applicant
should not be required to take).

(8) 25The authority must give to the applicant a copy of any written record
produced under subsection (5) or (6).

(9) Until such time as the authority consider that they owe the applicant no
duty under any of the following sections of this Part, the authority must
keep under review—

(a) 30their assessment of the applicant’s case, and

(b) the appropriateness of any agreement reached under
subsection (4) or steps recorded under subsection (6)(b) or (c).

(10) If—

(a) the authority’s assessment of any of the matters mentioned in
35subsection (2) changes, or

(b) the authority’s assessment of the applicant’s case otherwise
changes such that the authority consider it appropriate to do so,

the authority must notify the applicant, in writing, of how their
assessment of the applicant’s case has changed (whether by providing
40the applicant with a revised written assessment or otherwise).

(11) If the authority consider that any agreement reached under subsection
(4) or any step recorded under subsection (6)(b) or (c) is no longer
appropriate—

(a) the authority must notify the applicant, in writing, that they
45consider the agreement or step is no longer appropriate,

(b) any failure, after the notification is given, to take a step that was
agreed to in the agreement or recorded under subsection (6)(b)
or (c) is to be disregarded for the purposes of this Part, and

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(c) subsections (4) to (8) apply as they applied after the assessment
was made.

(12) A notification under this section or a copy of any written record
produced under subsection (5) or (6), if not received by the applicant, is
5to be treated as having been given to the applicant if it is made available
at the authority’s office for a reasonable period for collection by or on
behalf of the applicant.”

(2) In section 190 of that Act (duties to persons becoming homeless intentionally),
for subsection (4) substitute—

(4) 10In deciding what advice and assistance is to be provided under this
section, the authority must have regard to their assessment of the
applicant’s case under section 189A.”

Duties to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness

4 Duty in cases of threatened homelessness

(1) 15The Housing Act 1996 is amended as follows.

(2) For section 195 (duties in case of threatened homelessness) substitute—

195 Duties in cases of threatened homelessness

(1) This section applies where the local housing authority are satisfied that
an applicant is—

(a) 20threatened with homelessness, and

(b) eligible for assistance.

(2) The authority must take reasonable steps to help the applicant to secure
that accommodation does not cease to be available for the applicant’s
occupation.

(3) 25In deciding what steps they are to take, the authority must have regard
to their assessment of the applicant’s case under section 189A.

(4) Subsection (2) does not affect any right of the authority, whether by
virtue of contract, enactment or rule of law, to secure vacant possession
of any accommodation.

(5) 30If any of the circumstances mentioned in subsection (8) apply, the
authority may give notice to the applicant bringing the duty under
subsection (2) to an end.

(6) But the authority may not give notice to the applicant under subsection
(5) on the basis that the circumstances in subsection (8)(b) apply if a
35valid notice has been given to the applicant under section 21 of the
Housing Act 1988 (orders for possession on expiry or termination of
assured shorthold tenancy) that—

(a) will expire within 56 days or has expired, and

(b) is in respect of the only accommodation that is available for the
40applicant’s occupation.

(7) The notice must—

(a) specify which of the circumstances apply, and

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(b) inform the applicant that the applicant has a right to request a
review of the authority’s decision to bring the duty under
subsection (2) to an end and of the time within which such a
request must be made.

(8) 5The circumstances are that the authority are satisfied that—

(a) the applicant has—

(i) suitable accommodation available for occupation, and

(ii) a reasonable prospect of having suitable
accommodation available for occupation for at least 6
10months, or such longer period not exceeding 12 months
as may be prescribed, from the date of the notice,

(b) the authority have complied with the duty under subsection (2)
and the period of 56 days beginning with the day that the
authority are first satisfied as mentioned in subsection (1) has
15ended (whether or not the applicant is still threatened with
homelessness),

(c) the applicant has become homeless,

(d) the applicant has refused an offer of suitable accommodation
and, on the date of refusal, there was a reasonable prospect that
20suitable accommodation would be available for occupation by
the applicant for at least 6 months or such longer period not
exceeding 12 months as may be prescribed,

(e) the applicant has become homeless intentionally from any
accommodation that has been made available to the applicant
25as a result of the authority’s exercise of their functions under
subsection (2),

(f) the applicant is no longer eligible for assistance, or

(g) the applicant has withdrawn the application mentioned in
section 183(1).

(9) 30A notice under this section must be given in writing and, if not received
by the applicant, is to be treated as having been given to the applicant
if it is made available at the authority’s office for a reasonable period for
collection by or on behalf of the applicant.

(10) The duty under subsection (2) can also be brought to an end under
35sections 193B and 193C (notices in cases of applicant’s deliberate and
unreasonable refusal to co-operate).”

(3) In section 184 (inquiry into cases of homelessness or threatened homelessness),
in subsection (3A)—

(a) omit “or 195(2)”;

(b) 40omit “or (as the case may be) section 195(4A)”.

(4) In section 195A (re-application after private rented sector offer)—

(a) omit subsections (3) and (4);

(b) in subsection (5), omit “or (3)”;

(c) in subsection (6), omit “or (3)” (in both places).

(5) 45Omit section 196 (becoming threatened with homelessness intentionally).

(6) In section 204 (right of appeal to the county court on point of law), in subsection
(4), omit “or had the power under section 195(8) to do so,”.

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(7) In section 213A (co-operation in certain cases involving children)—

(a) in subsection (1)—

(i) at the end of paragraph (a) insert “or”;

(ii) omit paragraph (c) and the “or” preceding it;

(b) 5in subsection (5)(a), for the words from “assistance” to the second
“intentionally” substitute “assistance or became homeless
intentionally”.

(8) In section 218 (index of defined expressions: Part 7), in the Table, omit the entry
for “intentionally threatened with homelessness”.

5 10Duties owed to those who are homeless

(1) The Housing Act 1996 is amended as follows.

(2) Before section 190, but after the heading before that section (duties to persons
found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness), insert—

189B Initial duty owed to all eligible persons who are homeless

(1) 15This section applies where the local housing authority are satisfied that
an applicant is—

(a) homeless, and

(b) eligible for assistance.

(2) Unless the authority refer the application to another local housing
20authority in England (see section 198(A1)), the authority must take
reasonable steps to help the applicant to secure that suitable
accommodation becomes available for the applicant’s occupation for at
least—

(a) 6 months, or

(b) 25such longer period not exceeding 12 months as may be
prescribed.

(3) In deciding what steps they are to take, the authority must have regard
to their assessment of the applicant’s case under section 189A.

(4) Where the authority—

(a) 30are satisfied that the applicant has a priority need, and

(b) are not satisfied that the applicant became homeless
intentionally,

the duty under subsection (2) comes to an end at the end of the period
of 56 days beginning with the day the authority are first satisfied as
35mentioned in subsection (1).

(5) If any of the circumstances mentioned in subsection (7) apply, the
authority may give notice to the applicant bringing the duty under
subsection (2) to an end.

(6) The notice must—

(a) 40specify which of the circumstances apply, and

(b) inform the applicant that the applicant has a right to request a
review of the authority’s decision to bring the duty under
subsection (2) to an end and of the time within which such a
request must be made.

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(7) The circumstances are that the authority are satisfied that—

(a) the applicant has—

(i) suitable accommodation available for occupation, and

(ii) a reasonable prospect of having suitable
5accommodation available for occupation for at least 6
months, or such longer period not exceeding 12 months
as may be prescribed, from the date of the notice,

(b) the authority have complied with the duty under subsection (2)
and the period of 56 days beginning with the day that the
10authority are first satisfied as mentioned in subsection (1) has
ended (whether or not the applicant has secured
accommodation),

(c) the applicant has refused an offer of suitable accommodation
and, on the date of refusal, there was a reasonable prospect that
15suitable accommodation would be available for occupation by
the applicant for at least 6 months or such longer period not
exceeding 12 months as may be prescribed,

(d) the applicant has become homeless intentionally from any
accommodation that has been made available to the applicant
20as a result of the authority’s exercise of their functions under
subsection (2),

(e) the applicant is no longer eligible for assistance, or

(f) the applicant has withdrawn the application mentioned in
section 183(1).

(8) 25A notice under this section must be given in writing and, if not received
by the applicant, is to be treated as having been given to the applicant
if it is made available at the authority’s office for a reasonable period for
collection by or on behalf of the applicant.

(9) The duty under subsection (2) can also be brought to an end under—

(a) 30section 193A (consequences of refusal of final accommodation
offer or final Part 6 offer at the initial relief stage), or

(b) sections 193B and 193C (notices in cases of applicant’s
deliberate and unreasonable refusal to co-operate).”

(3) In section 184 (inquiry into cases of homelessness)—

(a) 35in subsection (3A), after “duty is” insert “, or after the authority’s duty
to the applicant under section 189B(2) comes to an end would be,”;

(b) in subsection (4), for “under section 198 (referral of cases)” substitute
“in England under section 198(A1) (referral of cases where section 189B
applies)”.

(4) 40In section 188 (interim duty to accommodate in case of apparent priority
need)—

(a) for subsection (1) substitute—

(1) If the local housing authority have reason to believe that an
applicant may be homeless, eligible for assistance and have a
45priority need, they must secure that accommodation is available
for the applicant’s occupation.

(1ZA) In a case in which the local housing authority conclude their
inquiries under section 184 and decide that the applicant does
not have a priority need—

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(a) where the authority decide that they do not owe the
applicant a duty under section 189B(2), the duty under
subsection (1) comes to an end when the authority notify
the applicant of that decision, or

(b) 5otherwise, the duty under subsection (1) comes to an
end upon the authority notifying the applicant of their
decision that, upon the duty under section 189B(2)
coming to an end, they do not owe the applicant any
duty under section 190 or 193.

(1ZB) 10In any other case, the duty under subsection (1) comes to an end
upon the later of—

(a) the duty owed to the applicant under section 189B(2)
coming to an end or the authority notifying the
applicant that they have decided that they do not owe
15the applicant a duty under that section, and

(b) the authority notifying the applicant of their decision as
to what other duty (if any) they owe to the applicant
under the following provisions of this Part upon the
duty under section 189B(2) coming to an end.”;

(b) 20in subsection (1A), for “pending a decision of the kind referred to in
subsection (1)” substitute “until the later of paragraph (a) or (b) of
subsection (1ZB).”;

(c) for subsection (3) substitute—

(2A) For the purposes of this section, where the applicant requests a
25review under section 202(1)(h) of the authority’s decision as to
the suitability of accommodation offered to the applicant by
way of a final accommodation offer or a final Part 6 offer (within
the meaning of section 193A), the authority’s duty to the
applicant under section 189B(2) is not to be taken to have come
30to an end under section 193A(2) until the decision on the review
has been notified to the applicant.

(3) Otherwise, the duty under this section comes to an end in
accordance with subsections (1ZA) to (1A), regardless of any
review requested by the applicant under section 202.

35But the authority may secure that accommodation is available
for the applicant’s occupation pending a decision on review.”

(5) In section 190 (duties to persons becoming homeless intentionally)—

(a) for subsection (1) substitute—

(1) This section applies where—

(a) 40the local housing authority are satisfied that an
applicant—

(i) is homeless and eligible for assistance, but

(ii) became homeless intentionally,

(b) the authority are also satisfied that the applicant has a
45priority need, and

(c) the authority’s duty to the applicant under section
189B(2) has come to an end.”;

(b) in subsection (2), for the words before paragraph (a) substitute “The
authority must—”;