Where an applicant is homeless through no fault of their own, eligible for assistance and is in priority need, local housing authorities have a duty to secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant. This is known as the main homelessness duty. The Localism Act 2011 enables local authorities to end the main homelessness duty by arranging an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector, without requiring the applicant’s agreement. These changes to the homelessness legislation will give local authorities freedom to make better use of good-quality private rented sector accommodation that can provide suitable accommodation for households owed the main homelessness duty.
This consultation includes the a proposed Order that will set out the circumstances in which accommodation used for the purposes of a private rented sector offer to end the main homelessness duty will not be regarded as suitable, and also how best to strengthen requirements in relation to location and suitability when local authorities secure accommodation for the use of households owed duties under homelessness legislation. This proposed Order focuses specifically on physical and management standards as these were two aspects of private rented sector accommodation where additional protections were deemed necessary and are not covered by the current suitability requirements.
During the passage of the Localism Bill members and voluntary homelessness organisations raised the issue of the quality of private rented sector accommodation. Government accepted that additional regulatory safeguards were necessary to prevent the use of poor quality accommodation for households owed the main homelessness duty, given that homeless households may be vulnerable and offered accommodation over which they have less choice.
The consultation is aimed primarily at local authorities, landlords and their representative groups and homelessness organisations, and runs from 31 May to 26 July 2012. A summary of the responses to consultation will be published on the Department’s website within three months of the end of the consultation period.