The Bill has now passed its third and final reading in the House of Lords and will get its Royal Assent shortly. It is likely to be in force in early 2018.
Our previous blog explaining the Homelessness Reduction Bill can be read here.
The Bill passed through its final stage in the House of Lords with no opposition and is likely to become an Act of parliament within the next few months. Despite this, Councils will need time and funding to prepare for the changes which is why we do not expect the Bill to be in force until early next year.
In summary, the key provisions are:
- Local authorities will be required to try and prevent the homelessness of people who are at risk of becoming homeless in the next 56 days. Any person seeking assistance will need to satisfy relevant immigration controls.
- Local authorities will be required to try and resolve the homelessness of people who are already homeless. To qualify, people will again need to satisfy immigration controls and have a connection to the local area. In the absence of a local connection, local authorities may refer people to another local authority in another part of the country.
- People being helped by local authorities will be expected to take reasonable steps to resolve their own homelessness.
- Other public services will be required to refer people to local authority homelessness teams if they are working with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Under existing law, local authorities are required to house homeless families, most readers will be familiar with the requirements where children are involved. The Bill will maintain this protection in cases where local authorities are unable to help families under these new duties.
There is real hope here that one of the most frustrating issues for both landlords and tenants, that of local authorities insisting on eviction before offering alternative housing, will be eliminated by this Bill. As the private rented sector adapts to new pressures hopefully the Homelessness Reduction Bill will help landlords to have confidence in their investment and help tenants to feel more secure in their homes.