DCLoG have put out supplementary guidance to local authorities on intentional homelessness in the context of applicants who face homelessness following difficulties with mortgage commitments. I suspect if you look hard enough, you’ll find it, but it’s not obvious on the DCLoG website (it wasn’t on the “what’s new” section, even though it came out today). It’s short and the key paras are 3-4 and 10-12. These are generally concerned with establishing that owner-occupiers deal with mortgage difficulties in different ways, and local authorities need to be sensitive to those without just a knee-jerk IH finding. There’s also the Birmingham v Ali decision to tie into/digest.
At para 10, the addendum draws attention to the following:
some former homeowners may seek housing assistance from a
local housing authority having lost their home in one of the following circumstances:
i) having voluntarily surrendered the property (handed the keys back);
ii) having sold the property;
iii) where the property was repossessed after the applicant refused an offer under the MRS;
iv) where the property was repossessed after the applicant refused an offer of HMS;
v) where the property was repossessed and the applicant had not sought help.
There should be no general presumption that a homeowner will have brought homelessness on him or herself in any of the above scenarios.
The addendum then goes on to deal with homelessness, and makes the important point that:
Consequently, where someone was already homeless before surrendering or selling their home or refusing an offer under MRS or HMS, the ‘acts’ of surrender or sale, and the ‘omission’ of refusing an offer of MRS or HMS cannot be treated as the cause of homelessness.
As regards IH, the addendum makes clear that local authorities, in those circumstances, “… will need to look at the substantive causes of that homelessness prior to surrender or sale of the property or refusal of an offer of assistance under the MRS or HMS” (para 12).
This has left me with a warm feeling – DCLoG are clearly trying to do the right thing – but also slightly uneasy – they must have felt it necessary to clarify the CoG with this addendum on the basis that there’s dodgy decision-making going on (or, possibly, might be going on).