24/03/2020

Throwing out the homeless – hotels and coronavirus

MHCLG have – to their credit – been quite clear about the position for some hotels – where they are providing room for the homeless by arrangement with a local authority, they should remain open.

 

MHCLG on hotels

Unfortunately, it appears that some hotel chains, at extremely short notice, have decided otherwise.

Travelodge – used by many local authorities as emergency accommodation for homeless applicants – was apparently proposing to close on Thursday. Today (Tuesday 24 March) Travelodge apparently decided they would close immediately today. There was little or no notification to local authorities. One found out when the people placed there got notes under their door, another was given four hours notice:

Homeless temporary accommodation teams were left desperately scrambling to find alternative accommodation:

And it may not be just Travelodge:

This need urgent national level intervention. For all that I might criticise councils for putting people into basic hotels and then leaving them there for long periods, we all know the huge pressures on the availability of temporary and emergency accommodation for council homeless units. Past this immediate crisis of today, there will be virtually no emergency accommodation for homeless applicants.

 

 

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.

16 Comments

  1. kjetilniki

    Perhaps the relevant travelodges should be requisitioned

    Reply
  2. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    I hate to always carp on about the rogue side of things but after 30 years I know their mentality. Small dodgy providers, already supplying properties for temporary accommodation will swell to fill in the gap. Procurement officers wont have resources for quality control. I know of one such supplier who has been prosecuted twice for demanding money with menaces who provides 29 units for one local authority and I know of complaints from B&B residents about one owner who blackmails the occupants for £10 on threats that he will tell the council they aren’t staying there.

    I agree with kjetlinki, requisition the hotels. Lets face it, they aren’t being used for holidays

    Reply
    • Orson

      Who’s going to staff the hotels, the hotels have a responsibility to keep their staff safe, perhaps LA staff could fill the gap……..no thought not.

      Reply
      • Giles Peaker

        There are ways to keep the staff safe. That is not why they closed. (Otherwise they won’t be keeping *some* open, would they?).

        Homeless Unit staff are dealing with people face to face every day, as urgent key workers. Your inability to recognise that speaks ill of you as a human being.

        And… you are blocked.

        Reply
  3. James Roberts

    If only we still had a ready supply of decent private landlords available to help take up the slack, but luckily Peaker, the govt and other haters – including local authorities – have all done their bit to chase them away! It’s times like this you almost wish they hadn’t introduced such extreme taxation to ensure no rented property was available, eh?

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      And how did I do that, my only slightly foaming at the mouth friend? By working to ensure landlord must meet standards that they should have met anyway?

      By the way, neither I nor local authorities introduced ‘extreme taxation’. That really isn’t my job…

      When did you give up letting to people on LHA/Universal Credit? Did you ever let to them? I would hate for you to be a hypocrite.

      If so why did you give up? Was it about the cuts in the levels of benefit?

      Reply
  4. landlordperspective

    Indeed James. Peaker needs to take a long hard look at himself and understand that he is without question one of the drivers behind the homelessness epidemic that this country is experiencing. Of course it’s great for him on legal aid, but not so great for the tens of thousands of families that wish they could find somewhere to rent that they can afford.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Oh my word. And you were surprised I put your comments into moderation? We don’t bother with sad trolls, I’m afraid.

      And same question to you, when you did you last let on LHA/UC, or did you ever?

      Assuming you aren’t a hypocrite – a big assumption, but I’ll make it – when did you give up letting to people on LHA/UC, and was it because of the cuts in the benefit levels below the rent you wanted?

      Reply
  5. James Roberts

    I see Peaker’s his usual sensitive self, deleting reasonable comments and sensible debate that disagrees with his agenda.

    Reply
      • Giles Peaker

        Ah, there we are. You are both banned as deliberate time wasters, and in the case of James, pretending to be Karen (or Karen pretending to be James. Or someone being multiple sock puppets. Whatever is the equally sad answer).

        Seriously, both. This is how you think you will get support for landlords? And you wonder why landlords keep losing the PR wars… (Don’t bother replying. You won’t be allowed to.)

        Reply
  6. Phill Warren

    A letter has gone out from Luke Hall to the CEO’s of chain hotels –
    “I welcomed the opportunity to speak with many of you at a meeting that was chaired by my colleague Nigel Huddleston MP last week regarding how we can use hotel accommodation to support our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. I am extremely grateful for those who have been able to offer accommodation to support rough sleepers off the streets or into more suitable accommodation.
    Yesterday the Government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These are vitally important steps to encourage people to stay at home, and in doing so protect the NHS and save lives. As part of this package certain businesses, including retail selling non-essential goods, and other venues must close. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs going about normal business are included.
    However there are exceptions, such as providing accommodation to key workers and vulnerable people. In particular, I want to make clear that where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless people, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open. Rooms may also be provided to frontline homelessness workers who are included in the key worker category.
    The guidance, available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-advice-for-accommodation-providers, has been updated to make these exceptions clear.
    If you have closed services for homeless people today as a result of the measures announced this week, I would be very grateful if you could reverse these decisions as soon as possible.
    Thank you very much for everything you are doing to save lives and provide care for some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

    Reply
  7. Ruth

    The dodgy providers will get away with it, only the decent PRS is constantly under attack and many are leaving.
    But there are also many dodgy tenants which will see this as an opportunity not to pay even if they can.
    This will create the dominoe effect with many casualties

    Reply
  8. NR

    Agree with the comment by Ruth above. The system was already at breaking point with austerity, this virus has firmly removed the fraying sticking plaster. It will surely end up causing utter devastation in the months and years to come.
    Stay safe. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
    Great blog GP!

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      It has certainly made the very serious issues with housing starkly clear – through a full blown crisis.

      Reply
  9. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    Also starkly clear are issues with zero hours employment homelessness and employee/employer power imbalance. All ongoing debates that get swept under the carpet in other times

    Reply

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