Homes Bill - continued        House of Commons
PART II, HOMELESSNESS AND ALLOCATION OF HOUSING ACCOMMODATION - continued
Other functions relating to homelessness - continued

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Abolition of minimum period for which an authority is subject to main homelessness duty.     21. - (1) For subsections (3) and (4) of section 193 of the 1996 Act (period for which main homelessness duty is owed to person with priority need) 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 substituted "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.
 
 
Allocations under Part VI of the Housing Act 1996
Application of Part VI of 1996 Act.     24. - (1) Section 159 (allocation of housing accommodation) of the 1996 Act is amended as follows.
 
      (2) In subsection (5)-
 
 
    (a) at the beginning there is inserted "Subject to subsection (5A)"; and
 
    (b) paragraph (b) shall cease to have effect.
      (3) After subsection (5) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(5A) This Part applies to an allocation to a person mentioned in subsection (5) if the allocation involves a transfer of housing accommodation for that person and is made on his application."
 
      (4) In subsection (6)-
 
 
    (a) at the beginning there is inserted "Subject to subsection (6A),";
 
    (b) in paragraph (a), for "(5)(a), (b) or (c)" there is substituted "(5)(a) or (c)"; and
 
    (c) in paragraph (b), for the words from "excluded" to the end there is substituted "ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation by the authority by virtue of section 160A(3) or (5)".
      (5) After subsection (6) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(6A) This Part applies to an allocation mentioned in subsection (6) if the allocation involves a transfer of housing accommodation for the person or persons mentioned in subsection (6)(a) and is made on his or their application."
 
Abolition of duty to maintain housing register.     25. - (1) Local housing authorities are no longer required to maintain a housing register and, accordingly, sections 161 to 165 of the 1996 Act (the housing register) shall cease to have effect.
 
      (2) After section 160 of the 1996 Act (cases where provisions about allocations do not apply) there is inserted-
 
 

"Eligibility for allocation of housing accommodation
Allocation only to eligible persons.     160A. - (1) A local housing authority shall not allocate housing accommodation-
 
 
    (a) to a person who is ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation by that authority by virtue of subsection (3) or (5);
 
    (b) to two or more persons jointly if any of those persons is ineligible for such an allocation by virtue of subsection (3) or (5).
      (2) Except as provided by subsection (1), any person may be allocated housing accommodation by a local housing authority (whether on his application or otherwise).
 
      (3) A person subject to immigration control within the meaning of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 is (subject to subsection (6)) ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation by a local housing authority unless he is of a class prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State.
 
      (4) No person to whom section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (exclusion from benefits) applies shall be included in any class prescribed under subsection (3).
 
      (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe other classes of persons who are (subject to subsection (6)) ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation, either in relation to local housing authorities generally or any particular local housing authority.
 
      (6) Nothing in subsection (3) or (5) affects the eligibility of a person who is already-
 
 
    (a) a secure or introductory tenant;
 
    (b) an assured tenant of housing accommodation allocated to him by a local housing authority.
      (7) If a local housing authority decide that an applicant for housing accommodation is ineligible by virtue of subsection (3) or (5) for an allocation by them, they shall notify the applicant of their decision and the grounds for it.
 
      (8) That notice shall be given in writing and, if not received by the applicant, shall be treated as having been given if it is made available at the authority's office for a reasonable period for collection by him or on his behalf."
 
      (3) Any person-
 
 
    (a) who is on a housing register immediately before commencement; or
 
    (b) whose application to be put on a housing register has not been determined before commencement,
       shall be treated at commencement as a person who has applied to the authority concerned for an allocation of housing accommodation.
 
      (4) In subsection (3) "commencement" means the commencement of this section.
 
Applications for housing accommodation.     26. For section 166 (information about housing register) there is substituted-
 
 

"Applications for housing accommodation
Applications for housing accommodation.     166. - (1) A local housing authority shall secure that-
 
 
    (a) advice and information is available free of charge to persons in their district about the right to make an application for an allocation of housing accommodation; and
 
    (b) any necessary assistance in making such an application is available free of charge to persons in their district who are likely to have difficulty in doing so without assistance.
      (2) A person who applies to a local housing authority for an allocation of housing accommodation is entitled to be given such general information as will enable him to assess-
 
 
    (a) how his application is likely to be treated under the authority's allocation scheme (including in particular whether he is likely to be regarded as a person entitled to reasonable preference, or additional preference, under section 167(2)); and
 
    (b) how long it is likely to be before housing accommodation appropriate to his needs becomes available for allocation to him.
      (3) Every application made to a local housing authority for an allocation of housing accommodation shall (if made in accordance with the authority's allocation scheme) be considered by the authority.
 
      (4) The fact that a person has applied to a local housing authority for an allocation of housing accommodation (and any information relating to his application) shall not be divulged to any other member of the public.
 
      (5) In this Part "district" in relation to a local housing authority has the same meaning as in the Housing Act 1985."
 
Allocation schemes.     27. - (1) Section 167 of the 1996 Act (allocation in accordance with allocation scheme) is amended as follows.
 
      (2) After subsection (1) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(1A) The scheme shall include a statement of the authority's policy on offering people who are to be allocated housing accommodation-
 
 
    (a) a choice of housing accommodation; or
 
    (b) the opportunity to express preferences about the housing accommodation to be allocated to them."
      (3) For subsection (2) there is substituted-
 
 
    "(2) As regards priorities, the scheme shall be framed so as to secure that reasonable preference is given to-
 
 
    (a) people who are homeless (within the meaning of Part VII);
 
    (b) people who are owed a duty by any local housing authority under section 190(2), 193(2) or 195(2) (or under section 65(2) or 68(2) of the Housing Act 1985) or who are occupying accommodation secured by any such authority under section 192(3);
 
    (c) people occupying insanitary or overcrowded housing or otherwise living in unsatisfactory housing conditions;
 
    (d) people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds; and
 
    (e) people who need to move to a particular locality in the district of the authority, where failure to meet that need would cause hardship (to themselves or to others).
  The scheme may also be framed so as to give additional preference to particular descriptions of people within this subsection (being descriptions of people with urgent housing needs).
 
      (2A) The scheme may contain provision for determining priorities in allocating housing accommodation to people within subsection (2); and the factors which the scheme may allow to be taken into account include-
 
 
    (a) the financial resources available to a person to meet his housing costs;
 
    (b) any behaviour of a person (or of a member of his household) which affects his suitability to be a tenant;
 
    (c) any local connection (within the meaning of section 199) which exists between a person and the authority's district.
      (2B) Nothing in subsection (2) requires the scheme to provide for any preference to be given to people to whom subsection (2C) applies.
 
      (2C) This subsection applies to a person if the authority are satisfied (in the light of the circumstances at the time his case is considered) that he is unsuitable to be a tenant owing to unacceptable behaviour on his part or that of a member of his household.
 
      (2D) For this purpose "unacceptable behaviour" means behaviour which, if the person concerned were a secure tenant of the authority, would entitle the authority to a possession order under section 84 of the Housing Act 1985 on any ground mentioned in Part I of Schedule 2 to that Act (other than Ground 8).
 
      (2E) The scheme shall be framed so as to secure that a person who has applied to the authority for an allocation of housing accommodation has the right to request a review of any decision about the facts of his case (including a decision as to his suitability as a tenant) which is likely to be, or has been, taken into account in considering whether to allocate housing accommodation to him.
 
      (2F) Subject to subsection (2), the scheme may contain provision about the allocation of particular housing accommodation-
 
 
    (a) to a person who makes a specific application for that accommodation;
 
    (b) to persons of a particular description (whether or not they are within subsection (2))."
 
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