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A bluffers guide to the Homeless Reduction Act 2017



The Homelessness Reduction Act has now received royal assent. The Act itself is here. There is no date yet for it to come into force – there will need to be statutory guidance produced first – and the current guess is that it is likely to be in 2018.  Of course, what the Act mostly does is amend Housing Act 1996 Part VII.

Mark Prichard has a very helpful version of Part VII as it will be amended – this was done before the Lords stage, but there were no amends in the Lords.

What follows is an overview. The statutory guidance that has yet to be released will be important, so this cannot be at all definitive. However, DCLG explanatory factsheets from November 2016 can be found here.

Threatened with homelessness

S.175 is amended at (4) and has a new (5)

(4)  A person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he will become homeless within 56 days.

(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 termination 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.

This extends the previous 28 day period for ‘threatened homelessness’  to 56 days and makes clear that a valid section 21 notice that expires within 56 days also constitutes being ‘threatened with homelessness’.

Two things to note on this s.21 point. First, one would expect housing options units to be buffing up on the conditions required for service of a valid s.21 notice (our attempt at a flowchart for guidance is here), as if the notice is not valid, there is no ‘threatened with homelessness’ trigger under s.175(5).

The second is that this does NOT amount to the end of councils’ frequent practice of insisting that tenants await possession proceedings, possession order and sometimes even a date for execution of warrant before they will be considered to be homeless. (This was a topic giving rise to considerable friction during the passage of the Bill. Suffice it to say the LGA and DCLG were not prepared to countenance the expiry of a s.21 giving rise to actual homelessness, despite the current statutory guidance). However, while being ‘threatened with homelessness’ triggers the 56 day prevention and help duty – see below – the new s.195(6) means that the prevention duty will continue for longer than 56 days if the applicant remains in the property, unless terminated for some other reason. So, where a s.21 notice has been served and will expire within 56 days, the prevention duty will potentially continue up to the point that the applicant is homeless.

We will see what the forthcoming guidance has to say on this topic and when an applicant should ordinarily be considered to be homeless after the expiry of a s.21 notice.

Duty to provide advisory services

I’m not going to dwell on this, but it is worth noting that the new s.179 is considerably more detailed on the extent, scope and targeting of the advisory services that the council must secure are provided by themselves or others.

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

The new s.189A is key. The council must carry out an assessment in all cases where an eligible applicant is homeless, or threatened with homelessness. This is regardless of whether there is any priority need or possible intentional homelessness.

The assessment must include:

(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 accommodation 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 accommodation.

The assessment must be provided to the applicant in writing. Following this, the council must ‘try’ to agree with the applicant:

(a) any 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.

If there is agreement, this must be recorded in writing. If there is no agreement, the council must set out in writing:

(a) why they could not agree,
(b) any 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.

Not to forget the immortal addition:

The 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).

Both the assessment and the appropriateness of the agreement and steps to be taken by the council must be kept under continuous review until the end of duty in one form or another, and any changes to the council’s assessment notified to the applicant in writing. Likewise if any agreement or step is no longer considered appropriate by the council.

So there is an initial and continuing assessment duty, which would mean, for example, that any questions of priority need and intentional homelessness should have been addressed at an early stage – although they do not affect the prevention duty.

Duties in cases of threatened homelessness

The new s.195 sets out the ‘prevention duty’. This applies to all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need or intentional homelessness.

The duty is “to take reasonable steps to help the applicant to secure that accommodation does not cease to be available for the applicant’s occupation”.

The reasonable steps must be with regard to the s.189A assessment.

This may extend to providing accommodation but certainly does not have to.

This duty ends when:

  • The authority is satisfied that the applicant has suitable accommodation available, with a reasonable prospect of this being for at least the next 6 months (s.195(8)(a)). The definition of “reasonable prospect” is going to be interesting.
  • Or, the 56 day ‘threatened with homelessness’ period has expired (save where a s.21 notice will expire in the next 56 days or has expired – s.195(6)), even if the applicant is still threatened with homelessness.
  • Or, the applicant has become homeless (in which case the new s.189B duty kicks in – see below)
  • Or, the applicant has refused an offer of suitable accommodation (available for longer than 6 months)
  • Or, the applicant has become homeless intentionally from any accommodation ‘made available’ to the applicant by the authority under the ‘help to secure’ provision at s.195A(2).
  • Or, through the applicant’s ‘deliberate and unreasonable refusal to co-operate’ under new s.193B and 193C (see below).

Notice of the end of this duty must be given in writing and is potentially subject to s.202 review.

Initial duty owed to all eligible persons who are homeless

Assuming that the applicant has become homeless, or is homeless at presentation, then the new s.189B duty applies.

It is worth noting that referral to another local authority  in England can take place at this stage under new s.198(A1) – see below.

The duty is that 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 six months (or such longer period up to twelve months as may be prescribed)”.

Steps taken by the Authority must be decided with regard to the s.189A assessment.

Under new s.189B(4)

Where the authority—
(a) are 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 mentioned in subsection (1).

Thus the usual main housing duty under s.193 does not kick in until 56 days after the Authority is satisfied that the applicant is homeless, where the applicant has a priority need and is not intentionally homeless.

Note that the 56 days is from the Authority being satisfied the applicant is homeless, not when the Authority is satisfied that they are in priority need and not intentionally homeless. So, for an applicant who first approaches the Authority as homeless, that 56 days includes the period of s.189A assessment and s.184 enquiries. On the other hand, for someone who approached as threatened with homeless and where the s.189A and s.184 assessment and decisions have already been made, the Authority has a clear 56 day window to ‘help to secure accommodation’ before the s.193 full housing duty kicks in.

That said, the s.188(1) duty to secure that accommodation is available for the applicant if the Authority has reason to believe that they may be eligible, homeless and have a priority need still applies, slightly amended.

So, while the ‘help to secure’ duty in general does not mean a duty to accommodate, for those who may be eligible, homeless and in priority need, there is a duty to accommodate, and, for those found homeless, eligible, priority and not intentionally homeless, this lasts until the end of the s.189B(2) duty (as provided in new s.188(1ZB)).

For those subsequently found not to be in priority need, the s.188 duty ends with the end of the s.189B(2) duty.

In general, for everyone else, the ‘help to secure’ duty does not mean a duty to secure accommodation by the Authority. However, for those not in priority need, this is a further duty to assist the applicant to secure suitable accommodation.

This duty can be ended where (s.189B(7)):

(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 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 authority 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 suitable 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 as 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).

In addition it can be ended (s.189B(9)) under:

(a)section 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).

Any decision to end the duty is subject to s.202 review.

Duties to the intentionally homeless (beyond the s.189B and s.188 duties)

Under amended s.190, duties to those in priority need but intentionally homeless are now (s.190(2)(a)) to secure accommodation is available for such period as will give the applicant a reasonable opportunity of securing accommodation, such period commencing after the end of the s.189B(2) duty. This is potentially a longer period overall than in the current position.

Ending duty – Final Accommodation Offer

The s.189B duty is ended (and the s.193 duty does not arise) if a ‘final accommodation offer’  or a ‘final Part 6 offer’ is refused in the s.189B period, assuming the applicant is notified of consequences of refusal and right to request a review.

A final accommodation offer is of an assured shorthold tenancy of at least 6 months term.

A final Part 6 offer is what you’d expect – an offer under Part 6 Housing Act 1996.

The offer must be suitable and the Authority must be satisfied that the applicant is under no contractual obligation (on a current tenancy) that could not be ended before they would have to take up the offer.

Ending duty – Deliberate and Unreasonable Refusal to Co-operate

Oh, but this was a hot potato in the development and progress of the Bill…

Both the ‘prevention’ duty and the ‘help to secure’ duty can be ended if the applicant has deliberately and unreasonably refused to co-operate. The procedure is set out in new section 193B and the effects in the new section 193C.

Procedurally, if the Authority considers, with regard to the applicant’s particular circumstances and needs, that the applicant:

has deliberately and unreasonably refused to take any step—

(a) that the applicant agreed to take under subsection (4) of section 189A, or
(b) that was recorded by the authority under subsection (6)(b) of that section.

then the Authority must first give a ‘relevant warning’ notice (s.193B(5)) setting out the failure and warning of the intention to serve a notice if the steps aren’t taken. If, after a ‘reasonable period’, the Authority consider that the Applicant has still unreasonably refused to take the specified step, the Authority may serve a notice under s.193B(2)

The notice must (s.193B(3)):

(a) explain why the authority are giving the notice and its effect, and
(b) inform the applicant that the applicant has a right to request a review of the authority’s decision to give the notice and of the time within which such a request must be made.

The notice is subject to s.202 review.

The effect of the notice is to end the s.189B(2) or s.195(2) duty. However, where the authority are satisfied that the applicant is homeless, eligible, in priority need and not intentionally homeless (s.193C(4)):

Section 193 (the main housing duty) does not apply, but the authority must secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant.

This ongoing duty ends if the applicant ceases to be eligible, becomes homeless intentionally from the accommodation made available, accepts an offer of ‘an assured tenancy from a private landlord’, or ceases to occupy the accommodation made available. It also ends if the applicant refuses a suitable final offer of private or Part 6 accommodation.

Referral to another Authority

A new section 198(A1) provides that a s.198 referral to another Authority can be made at the stage where the first Authority would otherwise be subject to the s.189B(2) duty – the help to secure duty. By new section 199A, on notification, the first Authority is not under a s.188 interim duty or a s.189B duty, but if the Authority has reason to believe that the applicant may be in priority need, they must secure accommodation until the applicant is notified of the decision as to whether the conditions for referral are met.

If the conditions for referral are met, then the notifying Authority must pass the s.189A assessment and any decisions on eligibility, homelessness, priority need and intentional homelessness to the notified Authority. The notified Authority may come to a different decision if the applicant’s circumstances have changed or further information has come to light and this would justify a different decision.

A notification of a s.199(1) referral may not be made until the s.189B(2) duty has come to an end (s.200(1A)).

Local connection

The new section 199(8) makes provisions about deemed local connection for former relevant children.


S.202 is amended to add provision for reviews of decisions as to duty owed under section 189B to 193C. Also added are reviews of (s.202(1)):

(ba) any decision of a local housing authority—
(i) as to the steps they are to take under subsection (2) of section 189B, or
(ii) to give notice under subsection (5) of that section bringing to an end their duty to the applicant under subsection (2) of that section,
(bb) any decision of a local housing authority to give notice to the applicant under section 193B(2) (notice given to those who deliberately and unreasonably refuse to co-operate),
(bc) any decision of a local housing authority—
(i) as to the steps they are to take under subsection (2) of section 195, or
(ii) to give notice under subsection (5) of that section bringing to an end their duty to the applicant under subsection (2) of that section,”

and of the suitability of any ‘final accommodation offer’ or ‘part 6 offer’.

Protection of Property

The s.211 duty to take reasonable steps to protect the applicant’s property is extended to include when a s.189B duty is owed – so encompasses all eligible homeless.

Duty of public authority to refer cases in England to local housing authority

This is a new and wide duty, under new section 213B under which a ‘specified public authority’, where it considers that a person in relation to whom it exercises its function ‘is or may be homeless or threatened with homelessness’.

The public authority must ask the person to agree to being referred – with contact details – and if the person agrees and specifies a council – the public authority must notify.

‘Public authority’ is very widely defined as “a person (other than a local housing authority) who has functions of a public nature”. This would include NHS Trusts, GPs, schools and all manner of council services.

Codes of practice

Finally, the new section 214A makes provision for the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice, to which Authorities must have regard.


There is a lot there to bed down, and no doubt to be tested in reviews and appeals.

I suspect that the extent of the ‘help to secure’ duty and the threshold of ‘unreasonable refusal to co-operate’ will both be up for early challenges. There will also, quite possibly, be a lot of judicial review pre-action protocol action on Authorities not complying with the s.189A assessment duty, or the s.195 and s.185B duties. We shall see.

The trade offs are that private sector discharge will be – at least initially – for a 6 month tenancy, and the possibility of early referral to another Authority. Moreover, there is the 56 day ‘help to secure’ window for those who will be owed the main housing duty (though in practice, I suspect that this will make little difference, save in discharge by a 6 month PRS term during that 56 day window, while s.193 duty still requires a 12 month term).

We await the code of guidance, which will clearly have significance for many of the decisions under the new provisions, but whatever that contains, or doesn’t, these will be interesting times.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Mark Davies

    Quite likely the most unhelpful shortsighted nebulous simple minded piece of legislation of recent years.Just an ineffective reaction to a housing crisis,that simply puts more pressure,on Council’s with already stretched resources.
    There is no imagination or creativity,just added complication and confusion.

    To be perfectly honest our politicians today are next to useless.

    None of them have any courage or moral conviction to put into effect the real solutions required.

    To re-introduce a radical council house building program.A substantial change to the Criminal Justice system and a radical pursuit of effective social care and the re-introduction of proper care homes for those with mental illness.

    And of course to remove itself completely from the sanitised and halting influence of the EU.

    The fact is Governments are tied in to the power of private corporations.Hamstrung to the extent that they can do nothing without the approving power of the elite.

    This legislation does nothing to address the serious issues facing our society,and the fact that your website has ignorantly missed this is a tacit comment on the veracity of your views of decisions made by governments and politicians that are nothing short of incompetent.

  2. Mark Davies

    By making such a fatuous remark, you clearly have not grasped the seriousness of the situation in which we find ourselves.

    • Giles Peaker


      I’m afraid the remark was what the ridiculous accusation in your first comment merited. Even a cursory look around this side would have shown you that we are well aware of the scale and severity of the housing crisis, and of the limits of the HRA. In fact, it is even mentioned there in in my post above.

      The post is an examination of what will be the new law. This is a site for the analysis and discussion of housing law. We would not be very good at it if the extent of the analysis was ‘it is completely insufficient to solve homelessness’.

      I’d completely agree about the need for a large scale council house building programme, which made your finger wagging even more amusing. But the EU has got nothing whatsoever to do with the problem.

  3. Josh

    This Act is going to make the situation worse for homeless young people, and make it less likely for kids to be placed in care when they need to be

    • Giles Peaker

      It makes no difference at all to that.

  4. Josh

    I think you need to check out the inverse intervention law, Mr Peaker! The more expensive it becomes for a local authority to place a child in care, the less likely they are to be placed in care. The HRB increases the cost of after care. It will have a significant negative impact on young people – and that’s just one argument

    • Giles Peaker

      Except that this isn’t aftercare. It is also an opportunity to avoid the significantly greater costs of a full housing duty – as Wales has found – and it is a statutory duty, not a discretionary decision on the exercise of a power. All in all, a completely wrong analogy.

  5. Josh

    Paragraph 2(2): Local Authorities will be required to design their services to meet the needs of care leavers because of this Act. The more care leavers there are, the more accommodation may be required to find. This is a form of after care, whether or not all care leavers will find themselves in need of these services

    • Giles Peaker

      Care leavers are already priority need under the 1996 Act (as amended). The HRA has precisely zero to do with increasing or decreasing the number of care leavers (or indeed, their status as priority need).

  6. Josh

    Investing in early intervention, and providing housing when its needed, is a long running argument which hasn’t fully accepted by government. This Act may be an opportunity, but believing that this is the smoking gun to end homelessness ignores the fact that so many people sleeping rough and developing expensive and distressing complex needs will have been considered “intentionally” homeless. Many in this sector have a bit of a habit of kicking the can down the road

    • Giles Peaker

      I think you will struggle to find me saying anything like this being ‘the smoking gun to end homelessness’. However, it does include new levels of support (short of full housing duty) for those who are intentionally homeless. I agree on investment (or the lack of it).

  7. Josh

    Perhaps it doesn’t intentionally increase the number of care leavers, but there are also changes to the local connection definition which will potentially increase the cost for LAs. We can agree to disagree on my points, but I’m certain that it will have an effect. There’s a few things that have popped up in the Brexit negotiations from Mr Davis which make me think this is less about “support” for the “intentionally” homeless, and more about covering one’s back. I’m going to leave it here before I take up your page, but I’ll send you something through in the next few weeks which may be of interest.

    • Josh

      *Perhaps it doesn’t intentionally DEcrease the number of care leavers

    • Giles Peaker

      Not really. The local connection provision simply means that there is a deemed local connection to any housing authority in the are of the social services authority that provided accommodation under care provisions for two years – at least till 21. There won’t be any *more* or indeed *fewer* care leavers as a result. It has absolutely none, zero, nil effect on care. Housing and social services are usually completely separate even if they are in the same unitary authority.

  8. Chris Daniel

    Why has the Govt made these changes ? – well my short version is – Councils were being found ‘At fault ‘ by LGO for dismissing out of hand those with Sec 21, deferring them until Bailiff’s, creating debt and CCJ’s for the tenants.

    Also, importantly, the extra expense of ‘advisory services’ to those presenting with Homelessness [ whether sec 21 or otherwise ] would be far out-weighed by the expense of actually housing them (either in short-term B&B, or longer term.

    • Giles Peaker

      Chris, I can assure you that isn’t the case on s.21. I and others were making the case for a meaningful address to the s.21 issue during the progress of the Bill – but it doesn’t make that change. There is still no requirement to treat as homeless (rather than threatened with homeless) until eviction. Though the draft code of guidance recommends otherwise, that is ‘just’ the guidance.

      Whether the extra advisory expense will be outweighed by savings on housing those owed a full duty remains to be seen. It has in Wales, but the housing situation there is very different to, say, London, Birmingham or Brighton. I suspect some areas it will, some it won’t.

  9. APM

    Late comment but irrespective of the duty to assess it will not prevent councils HOST teams determining that someone “popped in to make an enquiry” thereby managing figures as before. As a redacted example “I am homeless- did you wait for the Police to come to remove you- no- then you are intentionally homeless and we are unlikely to be able to help you so do you want to continue?” down as an enquiry.

    • Giles Peaker

      It will be much harder to do so. Duties include to those threatened with homelessness, but as those duties don’t necessarily include providing housing, much less incentive to gatekeep. There is no such thing as ‘an enquiry’ under the HRA…

  10. Paul B

    Ok, so I think I have got my head around this, but confirmation would be great…

    So an applicant (assuming passing all tests) applies when they receive a valid s.21 expiring within 56 days:

    A s.184 should be undertaken and an assessment and action plan made.

    Passes to the prevention stage – 56 days. If no positive result or the applicant becomes homeless, passes to the relief stage. (P/R of 6 months can be offered at this stage).

    Relief stage, further 56 days. If no positive result, passes to s.193 duty. (P/R of 6 months can be offered at this stage).

    If 56 days elapses, the applicant is owed the old 193 duty. (Part VI or if discharged in to P/R minimum 12 months with further P/R offer if breaks down up to 24 months).

    If the applicant refuses final offer of accommodation or does not co-operate (receives appropriate warnings etc), s.193 duty does not apply and any duty discharged – potentially with an intentional decision as per s. 193 B or C?

    I have simplified this, but could you let me know if my interpretation of the stages is correct?

    I am concerned as early prevention by discharge into the P/R sector at either the prevention or relief stages does not attribute an automatic priority need if the applicant returns to the council within 2 years wheras this would apply after 56 days pass after a relief duty is accepted?


    • Giles Peaker

      Not quite…

      Applicant gets valid s.21. If it expires within 56 days, they are threatened with homelessness. At this point duty to assess case and agree a plan kicks in – s189B – and the new s.195 prevention duty.

      This expires after 56 days. Except(!) where the applicant had been served a s.21 which will or has expired. Then the prevention duty under s.195 continues!

      Assuming not a s.21 case, then prevention duty ends. Unless applicant has become homeless. At which point s.189B relief duty kicks in.

      At s.189B stage at the latest there will have to be the start of s.184 enquiries (better done before, even if no formal s.184 decision), because at this point, the s.188 interim accommodation duty kicks in as usual. For those not prima facie in priority need, there is no obligation to accommodate, but the s.189B duty to ‘take reasonable steps to secure’.

      For everyone, s.189B lasts 56 days. For those owed the full duty, after that, s.193 kicks in.

      At s.189A stage and s.189B stage, a private sector 6 month tenancy is sufficient (subject to review of suitability etc.). The 12 months tenancy (and 2 years return) is indeed required at s.193 stage.

      But the whole set of duties will be owed again if someone is then threatened with homelessness from that 6 month tenancy…

      For s.21 people, the prevention duty continues, potentially up to the point of homelessness (Possession order/warrant). The Draft Code of Guidance says at 6.34

      “Authorities should not adopt a blanket policy or practice on the point at which it will no longer be reasonable for an applicant to occupy following the expiry of a section 21 notice. As well as the factors set out elsewhere in this chapter, factors which may be relevant include the preference of the applicant (who may, for example, want to remain in the property until they can move into alternative settled accommodation if there is the prospect of a timely move, or alternatively to leave the property to avoid incurring a county court judgement that could affect their future housing prospects); the position of the landlord; the financial impact of court action and any build up of rent arrears on both landlord and tenant; the burden on the courts of unnecessary proceedings where there is no defence to a possession claim; and the general cost to the housing authority. Housing authorities will be mindful of the need to maintain good relations with landlords providing accommodation in the district.”

      But, well, meh…

  11. Paul B

    Bril. Thanks Giles a super help as always.

  12. Paul B

    Another thought about approach tactics.

    So if a household were to be owed full housing duty, say with a dependent aged just under 18, it may be advisable to delay an approach until they are going to be street homeless? They may be found accommodation – 6 month AST within 56 days of approach resulting in a 189B discharge, but if not, it may be more likely that a s.193 (6) c or (6) cc offer may be obtained. (Unless the L/A secures units of accommodation for this purpose).

    They would at least preserve P/N for 2 years if the P/R were to break down in this circumstance rather than if they accepted accommodation at the prevention or relief stage?

    Just thinking out loud as this may affect a fair few clients with children in this age range, who if provided the 189 A / B duty may not be priority need if they need to re-approach after 6 months. Of course if 189 A / B accommodation is refused they become intentional, so is there any benefit in these clients making an early approach?

    • Giles Peaker

      Frankly, that is a high risk tactic, given the s.189B period. Refusing offers in the hope of a s.193 offer down the line would certainly not be advisable. And of course, they’d face the court costs on the possession claim.

      I think the number of clients whose priority need rests solely on a 17 yo child would not be very large. I’d even suggest that having the opportunity to chose a reasonable property in the s.189A period, rather than face the ‘one off’ of a s.193 offer, might be an advantage. But swings and roundabouts, yes.

  13. kingie102

    Hi Giles, I’m musing about how HRA will affect victims of domestic violence living in refuges. As these women are considered homeless under Moran, am I right in thinking that when she goes to the authority from the refuge, the s.189B duty will immediately apply? and then as the authority can’t assume the refuge is suitable accommodation to satisfy the relief duty, they would have to take reasonable steps to find other accommodation? Refuges are concerned about bed-blocking.

    • Giles Peaker

      Hmm. Can’t see it changing the position under Moran. Might even improve it whe it comes to s.193 duty as there will already have been the 56 days. So, yes homeless, so s.189B duty. Refuge itself can’t be enough to end that duty. And then s.193 duty after 56 days if no suitable accommodation secured.

  14. kingie102

    Hi Giles, thanks so much, that is very helpful. When you say that the position of the refuges might even be improved, do you mean that there are effectively two chances for this client group to obtain suitable accommodation: relief duty and s.193 duty?

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes. Though I’d make no great claims about how effective this will be. But I actually meant the period of 56 days relief would count against the short time period for the applicant to remain in the hostel.

  15. Gabriel

    Great stuff as usual….Thank you.

    With regards to Local Connection……Will the new changes mean that for those applicants where there is no

    reason to believe that the applicant is in priority need that they will be referred immediately to another authority

    and when there is reason to believe, interim accommodation will be provided by the first authority and then

    referred on without any further inquiries being undertaken?

    • Giles Peaker

      “Section 198(A1) provides that a s.198 referral to another Authority can be made at the stage where the first Authority would otherwise be subject to the s.189B(2) duty – the help to secure duty. By new section 199A, on notification, the first Authority is not under a s.188 interim duty or a s.189B duty, but if the Authority has reason to believe that the applicant may be in priority need, they must secure accommodation until the applicant is notified of the decision as to whether the conditions for referral are met.”

      So. No reason to believe = referred at help to secure stage (s.189B)
      Reason to belive = referred at s.189B stage, but interim accommodation must be secured pending notification of the decision.

  16. Kathy Duffet

    I note that under the new Housing Act 1996, section 179 (1)(c), “authorities must provide information and advice on…… the rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and the duties of the authority.” What impact will that have on the behaviour of local authorities? I’m thinking that under the current PartVII, it is commonplace for councils to bend over backwards lest they reveal the duties and services etc., applicants are actually entitled to – it interferes with gatekeeping. Presumably under the new regime that has to stop?

    • Giles Peaker

      Well, they will have to talk about prevention and help to secure duties – but these wil be couched as ‘housing options’ no doubt. There should be more clarity. But enforcing it will be a bind…

  17. Mark Davies

    “But the EU has got nothing whatsoever to do with the problem”
    Uncontrolled mass immigration has put massive pressure on everything,including the uptake of a large amount of social and private housing.This is so obvious,I find your comment completely ludicrous.
    All this Act does is to impose a bureaucratic regime on local authorities,who are ill disposed to act on it.
    In actuality all that will happen,is that they will try and make it work in the real world,coping with exactly the same resources they had before.In fact those resources will be less,as more and more funding is reduced.I’m am astonished you see this as a solution for people who are homeless (and homelessness is multi faceted thing in itself).All it shows is that law and statute is very distant and divorced from the very serious threats posed to our society as a whole,which government refuses to discuss or acknowledge.This is merely another sign of that utter failure and ignorance.

    • Giles Peaker

      Ah, a statement from ‘common sense’. And yet, you are still wrong. Witness, for example, the rise in homelessness in areas with little immigration. (Oh and immigration, whether from the EU or elsewhere, is not uncontrolled.)

      And if you actually read my post as saying that the HRA was a solution for homeless people, you are clearly incapable of even basic levels of comprehension.

  18. DW

    Hi Giles,
    A quick query:
    Can I just check the position of non-priority need applicants in the women’s refuge under HRA with regard to suitability of accommodation?
    Am I right in thinking that if the LA offer private rented accommodation to these women in satisfaction of the relief duty or the main housing duty, then Article 3 of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 does not apply to NPN applicants (17.15 code of guidance)?
    Two questions:
    1. Even though article 3 does not apply, can we still argue Article 2 for NPN cases?
    2. and if accommodation offered is not private rented, then would it still need to be suitable under article 2 and case law?
    Thank you!

    • Giles Peaker

      Art 3 and Art 2 concern B&B. That would not be sufficient to meet s.195(8)(a) – prevention duty. Suitable accommodation available for at least 6 months, or s.198B(7) – relief duty, suitable accommodation with reasonable prospect of being available for 6 months. I don’t think one could say B&B accommodation would be available or have a reasonable prospect of being available for 6 months.

      The test for suitability is unchanged – s.210 HA 1996.

      I’m not sure how you get non-priority need cases that would fall under Art 2 or 3 anyway – only applies where pregnancy or children in the household, so priority need (unless intentional).

  19. DW

    Thanks for your reply. I meant the Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012, not the 2003 order. Does that make a difference?

    • Giles Peaker

      Ah, gotcha

      S.3 won’t apply. S.2 should do.

  20. DW

    That’s what I thought too! Many thanks.

  21. Mark Davies

    “(Oh and immigration, whether from the EU or elsewhere, is not uncontrolled.)”

    “And if you actually read my post as saying that the HRA was a solution for homeless people, you are clearly incapable of even basic levels of comprehension.”

    Not uncontrolled ! Of course it is,and I prefer to use ordinary language to describe what is the plain and obvious experience of many people.Erudite Commentators like Peter Hitchen’s don’t use the term lightly either.
    The fact that I was aware that you appreciate the HRA is not a solution only makes me more convinced that a totally useless Government introduced it to merely tick a box and point the finger at local authorities.It’s like a sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound.
    You cannot deal with Homelessness without changing the law and introducing other legislation to deal with the sort of cultural revolution this nation has become victim to.
    I can’t believe you never heard of a systems based thinking,and being aware of Government’s over the years making decisions which should not reflect multi-culturalism and the egalitarian obsession.

    • Giles Peaker

      I think you need a bit of a sit down, Mark, you’ve gone a dangerous shade of puce.

  22. kingie102

    Hi Giles,I’ve been monitoring the response of councils to women in refuges since he implementation of HRA.I’ve got two questions for you and would appreciate your comments:

    1. Many councils appear to be applying the Prevention Duty, rather than Relief, where the woman is on a licence in the refuge. This is the council reasoning from a recent case:

    ‘We accept that her current accommodation in the refuge is not settled and therefore she is at risk of homelessness within 56 days. Therefore the Council will take a prevention application and work with her to try and prevent her homelessness while she remains in the refuge i.e. by securing alternative accommodation. If her time in the refuge ends before the Council has managed to do this, temporary accommodation will be provided which will trigger a relieve application.’

    We still believe that this is legally incorrect and that women on licences in the refuge should go straight to Relief. Any thoughts?

    2. A recent comment from another local council:

    ‘Residents of the refuge who have worked cooperatively with the council throughout the 56 day Relief period will be classified as band A cases providing they qualify for assistance as per the usual homelessness criteria….. Some applicants will be demoted to receiving private rented sector offers only – subject to their level of cooperation.’

    Assuming the woman is not classified as ‘unreasonable and deliberate refusal to cooperate’, this policy seems somehow a bit troublesome. Any thoughts?

    • Giles Peaker

      1. Appears to go against Moran v Manchester Refuge is ‘not reasonable to remain’ – but at the same time, effect of Birmingham v Ali in the same appeal may make it not unreasonable to stay there in the short term. So, I think that their reasoning is wrong, but in practice it may make little difference. There should be a proper assessment of the person as homeless at the relief point too.

      2. OMG. Oh my, that is dreadful. There is no legal or statutory basis for that! That is surely a judicial review.

  23. kingie102

    Hi Giles, do you know the time limit on councils to assess the case before the Prevention or Relief Duty kicks in? there is no mention of this in the English Code of Guidance 2018, although I believe that the Welsh Code of Guidance says the time limit is 10 working days. We are submitting an application to a London council who are taking weeks before they apply the duties under HRA.

    • Giles Peaker

      A good question – but the qualifying thresholds are simple. I’d need to think about this, but sounds like a prospective JR

      • kingie102

        Thanks Giles. There seems to be a practice with regard to applications from women’s refuges in London, where the council accept the homeless application, but then just sit on the case for weeks without creating a PHP or applying the Relief Duty.



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