Fresource Friday: Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 (as it will be amended)

07.07.2017

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 will amend the suitability order which currently imposes specific requirements in relation to private rented sector offers of accommodation to homeless households.

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This document shows how the text of the 2012 regulations will be amended in due course by section 12 of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

What is the effect?

At the moment the requirements contained in Article 3 of the English Suitability Regulations (2012 SI No 2601) only apply to offers of private rented accommodation which are made to bring the main housing duty to an end (under HA 1996, s.193(7AA)).

Article 3 sets out circumstances in which privately rented accommodation cannot be regarded as suitable. So for example, a proposed tenancy cannot be used to end the duty if the council is of the opinion that the landlord has not taken reasonable fire safety and carbon monoxide precautions, or if there is not a current gas safety record.

However as a result of section 12 of the 2017 Act the Article 3 requirements will also apply to:

  • any accommodation secured for a priority need applicant under a tenancy with a private landlord to meet or end the prevention or initial 56-day homelessness relief duty (Art.3(2)(c));
  • a final offer of privately rented accommodation during the initial 56-day s.189B homelessness relief stage (Art.3(2)(b)); and
  • a final offer of privately rented accommodation to end the s.193C duty - the replacement duty owed to unintentionally homeless and priority need applicants who have deliberately and unreasonably failed to co-operate (instead of the main housing duty) (Art.3(2)(b)).

This means that the Article 3 requirements, which currently only currently apply to private rented sector offers used to end the main duty, will apply to a much larger group of applicants.

Broadly speaking the Article 3 requirements, upon commencement, will apply to most private accommodation secured by an English authority for priority need applicants, but also (my interpretation) any privately rented accommodation secured by the authority to end the initial homelessness relief duty (whether or not the applicant has a priority need; see the wording of the amended Article (2)(b)).

This has significant implications if you manage a homelessness team or are involved in discharging homelessness duties. It would be wise to review your arrangements for checking private sector housing ahead of the 2017 Act coming into force.

After commencement Article 3 will provide applicants with new opportunities to challenge the suitability of accommodation the council has arranged for them. You'll be better prepared if you've future-proofed your procedures in advance.

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