The Homelessness Reduction Bill is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Bob Blackman, backbench Conservative MP for Harrow East. The Bill, which is based upon recommendations contained in a report commissioned by numerous housing groups including the charity Crisis, aims to amend the Housing Act 1996.
The Bill will require local authorities to demonstrate that they are taking reasonable steps to prevent homelessness. The Bill details the types of housing advice and information local authorities must provide before people become homeless or are threatened with homelessness. The Bill will also include guidance for local authorities to intervene with landlords to prevent evictions. The duty placed on these authorities would apply to all eligible households irrespective of priority need and intentional homelessness.
Currently a person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he will become homeless within 28 days. The Bill proposes to extend that period to 56 days to enable local authorities to respond to the threat of homelessness at a much earlier point. It will further provide that local authorities will have to accept a valid notice to quit, such as a Section 21, as evidence that the tenant is threatened with homelessness.
Where a local authority is unable to prevent an applicant’s homelessness, they should help to secure alternative accommodation in the private rented sector. The Bill will also require authorities to provide emergency accommodation for those with nowhere safe to stay.
The second reading of the Bill is scheduled for Friday 28th October 2016.
The Bill has a huge amount of support from various housing charities and numerous MPs. Landlords have also welcomed the news because properties could be returned to them much sooner than at present. However, London local authorities have expressed concerns over their ability to cope with a sharp increase in homelessness cases which may have an impact on the Bill that is finally adopted.