Housing Lawyer
Shapps consults on safeguards over private rented sector offers PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 June 2012 00:00

The Housing Minister is to consult on safeguards for vulnerable families for when local authorities are allowed to end the main homelessness duty by arranging an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector, without requiring the applicant’s agreement.

The change – enabled by the Localism Act 2011 – is intended to help councils tackle waiting lists and move people out of temporary accommodation.

Protections under the 2011 Act include a requirement that the assured shorthold tenancy must be for a minimum fixed term of 12 months. If the applicant becomes unintentionally homeless again within two years of accepting the private rented sector offer, the main homelessness duty will recur regardless of priority need.

The proposed draft Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 now sets out the circumstances in which accommodation used for the private rented sector offer to end the main homelessness duty is not to be regarded as suitable.

The safeguards private landlords will have to meet before councils can place homeless families in their accommodation include:

  • a current Gas Safety record;
  • the accommodation and any appliances or furnishings provided conforming to standards on fire and electrical safety;
  • precautions to be taken by landlords to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning;
  • the need for a valid Energy Performance Certificate; and
  • a written tenancy agreement that the local authority considers adequate.

The Government is also consulting on ways to strengthen the location aspect of suitability of the accommodation, to ensure that, wherever possible, families are not subject to a long-distance move.

Shapps said: "With record numbers on housing waiting lists, we're absolutely determined to give councils the flexibility they need to fulfil their statutory duties to the homeless while managing their housing stock in a way that's fair to all residents.

"At the same time, the most vulnerable in our communities who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own deserve a safe and secure roof over their heads, close to their community wherever possible. These new safeguards will ensure vulnerable families have this reassurance whether they're placed in the private or social rented sector."

The consultation, which runs until 26 July 2012, can be viewed here.

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