Homes Bill - continued        House of Commons

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  PART II
  HOMELESSNESS AND ALLOCATION OF HOUSING ACCOMMODATION
 
Homelessness reviews and strategies
Duty of local housing authority to formulate a homelessness strategy.     16. - (1) A local housing authority ("the authority") may from time to time-
 
 
    (a) carry out a homelessness review for their district; and
 
    (b) formulate and publish a homelessness strategy based on the results of that review.
      (2) The social services authority for the district of the authority (where that is a different local authority) shall give such assistance in connection with the exercise of the power under subsection (1) as the authority may reasonably require.
 
      (3) The authority shall exercise that power so as to ensure that the first homelessness strategy for their district is published within the period of twelve months beginning with the day on which this section comes into force.
 
      (4) The authority shall exercise that power so as to ensure that a new homelessness strategy for their district is published within the period of five years beginning with the day on which their last homelessness strategy was published.
 
      (5) A local housing authority shall take their homelessness strategy into account in the exercise of their functions.
 
      (6) A social services authority shall take the homelessness strategy for the district of a local housing authority into account in the exercise of their functions in relation to that district.
 
      (7) Nothing in subsection (5) or (6) affects any duty or requirement arising apart from this section.
 
Homelessness reviews.     17. - (1) For the purposes of this Part "homelessness review" means a review by a local housing authority of-
 
 
    (a) the levels, and likely future levels, of homelessness in their district;
 
    (b) the activities which are carried out for any purpose mentioned in subsection (2) (or which contribute to their achievement); and
 
    (c) the resources available to the authority, the social services authority for their district, other public authorities, voluntary organisations and other persons for such activities.
      (2) Those purposes are -
 
 
    (a) preventing homelessness in the district of the authority;
 
    (b) securing that accommodation is or will be available for people in the district who are or may become homeless;
 
    (c) providing support for people in the district-
 
      (i) who are or may become homeless; or
 
      (ii) who have been homeless and need support to prevent them becoming homeless again.
      (3) A local housing authority shall, after completing a homelessness review-
 
 
    (a) arrange for the results of the review to be available at its principal office for inspection at all reasonable hours, without charge, by members of the public; and
 
    (b) provide (on payment if required by the authority of a reasonable charge) a copy of those results to any member of the public who asks for one.
Homelessness strategies.     18. - (1) For the purposes of this Part "homelessness strategy" means a strategy formulated by a local housing authority for-
 
 
    (a) preventing homelessness in their district;
 
    (b) securing that sufficient accommodation is and will be available for people in their district who are or may become homeless;
 
    (c) securing the satisfactory provision of support for people in their district-
 
      (i) who are or may become homeless; or
 
      (ii) who have been homeless and need support to prevent them becoming homeless again.
      (2) A homelessness strategy may include specific objectives to be pursued, and specific action planned to be taken, in the course of the exercise of-
 
 
    (a) the functions of the authority as a local housing authority; or
 
    (b) the functions of the social services authority for the district.
      (3) A homelessness strategy may also include provision relating to specific action which the authority expects to be taken-
 
 
    (a) by any public authority with functions (not being functions mentioned in subsection (2)) which are capable of contributing to the achievement of any of the objectives mentioned in subsection (1); or
 
    (b) by any voluntary organisation or other person whose activities are capable of contributing to the achievement of any of those objectives.
      (4) The inclusion in a homelessness strategy of any provision relating to action mentioned in subsection (3) requires the approval of the body or person concerned.
 
      (5) In formulating a homelessness strategy the authority shall consider (among other things) the extent to which any of the objectives mentioned in subsection (1) can be achieved through action involving two or more of the bodies or other persons mentioned in subsections (2) and (3).
 
      (6) The authority shall keep their homelessness strategy under review and may modify it from time to time.
 
      (7) If the authority modify their homelessness strategy, they shall publish the modifications or the strategy as modified (as they consider most appropriate).
 
      (8) Before adopting or modifying a homelessness strategy the authority shall consult such public or local authorities, voluntary organisations or other persons as they consider appropriate.
 
      (9) The authority shall-
 
 
    (a) make a copy of each document published under this section available at its principal office for inspection at all reasonable hours, without charge, by members of the public; and
 
    (b) provide (on payment if required by the authority of a reasonable charge) a copy of a document so published to any member of the public who asks for one.
Sections 16 to 18: supplementary.     19. In sections 16 to 18-
 
 
    "homeless" and "homelessness" have the same meaning as in Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 (in this Part referred to as "the 1996 Act");
 
    "local housing authority" and "district" have the same meaning as in the Housing Act 1985;
 
    "social services authority" means a local authority for the purposes of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970;
 
    "support" means advice, information or assistance; and
 
    "voluntary organisation" has the same meaning as in section 180(3) of the 1996 Act.
 
Other functions relating to homelessness
Provision of accommodation for persons not in priority need who are not homeless intentionally.     20. - (1) In section 192 of the 1996 Act (duty to persons not in priority need who are not homeless intentionally), after subsection (2) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(3) The authority may secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant".
 
      (2) In section 195 of that Act (duties in cases of threatened homelessness), after subsection (5) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(6) If the authority-
 
 
    (a) are not satisfied that the applicant has a priority need; and
 
    (b) are not satisfied that he became homeless intentionally,
       the authority may take reasonable steps to secure that accommodation does not cease to be available for the applicant's occupation."
 
Abolition of minimum period for which an authority is subject to main homelessness duty.     21. - (1) For subsections (3) and (4) of section 193 (period for which main homelessness duty is owed to person with priority need) of the 1996 Act there is substituted-
 
 
    "(3) The authority are subject to the duty under this section until it ceases by virtue of any of the following provisions of this section."
 
      (2) Subsection (1) applies to a person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, is owed the duty under section 193 as it applies to a person who comes to be owed that duty after that commencement.
 
      (3) Section 194 of the 1996 Act (power to continue to secure accommodation after minimum period) shall cease to have effect.
 
      (4) Any person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, is a person in relation to whom a local housing authority are exercising their power under section 194 of the 1996 Act shall be treated at that commencement as a person to whom the authority owe the duty under section 193 of that Act.
 
Events which cause the duty to cease.     22. - (1) Subsections (6) to (8) of section 193 of the 1996 Act (events which bring main homelessness duty to an end) are amended as follows.
 
      (2) In subsection (6), after paragraph (c) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(cc) accepts an offer of an assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) from a private landlord,".
      (3) For subsection (7) there is substituted-
 
 
    "(7) The local housing authority shall also cease to be subject to the duty under this section if the applicant, having been informed of the possible consequence of refusal, refuses a final offer of accommodation under Part VI.
 
      (7A) An offer of accommodation under Part VI is a final offer for the purposes of subsection (7) if it is made in writing and states that it is a final offer for the purposes of subsection (7)."
 
      (4) After subsection (7A) (which is inserted by subsection (3) above) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(7B) The authority shall also cease to be subject to the duty under this section if the applicant accepts a qualifying offer of an assured shorthold tenancy which is made by a private landlord in relation to any accommodation which is, or may become, available for the applicant's occupation.
 
      (7C) The applicant is free to reject a qualifying offer without affecting the duty owed to him under this section by the authority.
 
      (7D) For the purposes of subsection (7B) an offer of an assured shorthold tenancy is a qualifying offer if-
 
 
    (a) it is made, with the approval of the authority, in pursuance of arrangements made by the authority with the landlord with a view to bringing the authority's duty under this section to an end;
 
    (b) the tenancy being offered is a fixed term tenancy (within the meaning of Part I of the Housing Act 1988); and
 
    (c) it is accompanied by a statement in writing which states the term of the tenancy being offered and explains in ordinary language that-
 
      (i) there is no obligation to accept the offer, but
 
      (ii) if the offer is accepted the local housing authority will cease to be subject to the duty under this section in relation to the applicant.
      (7E) An acceptance of a qualifying offer is only effective for the purposes of subsection (7B) if the applicant signs a statement acknowledging that he has read and understood the statement mentioned in subsection (7D).
 
      (7F) The local housing authority shall not-
 
 
    (a) make a final offer of accommodation under Part VI for the purposes of subsection (7); or
 
    (b) approve an offer of an assured shorthold tenancy for the purposes of subsection (7B),
       unless they are satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the applicant and that it is reasonable for him to accept the offer."
 
      (5) In subsection (8), for "subsection (7)" there is inserted "subsection (7F)" and the words "of accommodation under Part VI" shall cease to have effect.
 
      (6) Nothing in this section affects the operation of section 193 in relation to an offer of accommodation under Part VI which is made before the commencement of subsection (3) above.
 
Abolition of duty under section 197.     23. - (1) Section 197 of the 1996 Act (duty where other suitable accommodation available) shall cease to have effect.
 
      (2) A person who, immediately before commencement is a person to whom a local housing authority owe the duty under section 197(2) (instead of the duty under section 193 or 195) shall be treated at commencement as a person to whom the authority owe the duty under section 193 (the main homelessness duty) or, if at that time he is threatened with homelessness, section 195(2) (duty in case of threatened homelessness).
 
      (3) In subsection (2) "commencement" means the commencement of this section.
 
 
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