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Ending main housing duty

This content applies to England

The prescribed circumstances in which the main housing duty can be brought to an end.

How the duty comes to an end

The main housing duty will continue until one of the situations in the Housing Act applies, even if the applicant loses her/his priority need.[1]

The main housing duty can be brought to an end where the applicant:[2]

Accepting offers

The main housing duty will end where an applicant accepts an offer of:

  • a fully assured tenancy from a private landlord (including a housing association)[3]
  • a  private rented sector offer or a final offer under the allocation scheme

Where an applicant refuses a private rented sector offer or a final offer under the allocation scheme, this does not prevent her/him from requesting a review of suitability of that offer. If the review is successful, then the local authority will have to make another offer.[4]

Refusing offers

See offers of accommodation for a description of the offers referred to below.

If a local authority makes a private rented sector offer or a final offer under its part 6 allocation scheme or an offer of temporary accommodation, it can inform the applicant in writing of:[5]

  • the consequences of refusal or acceptance
  • her/his right to request a review of suitability
  • (in the case of a private rented sector offer) the effect of reapplying within two years of acceptance (ie that a further duty will not require the applicant to be in priority need)

Where the authority gives this information:[6]

  • if the applicant refuses a private rented sector offer or final offer under part 6, the main housing duty will end automatically
  • if the applicant refuses an offer of temporary accomodation, the authority can serve notice to end the main housing duty.

The consequences of refusal do not have to be spelled out in detail: it will be enough for the authority to say that if the applicant refuses, it will not make another offer.[7]

In order to end its duty because of a refusal, an authority must be satisfied that the accommodation offered was suitable.[8] In addition, where a private rented sector offer or a final offer of accommodation was made, the tenancy must not begin before the applicant is able to end her/his obligations regarding her/his current accommodation (eg, by giving notice).[9]

Application made before 9 November 2012

It should be noted that, before 9 November 2012, an authority could also end its main duty if an applicant accepted a ‘qualifying offer’ of an assured shorthold tenancy (of a fixed term of any length) from a private landlord - but not if the applicant refused. The provisions relating to qualifying offers were repealed by the Localism Act 2011.[10] However, the changes introduced by the 2011 Act do not apply to applicants who applied as homeless before 9 November 2012 and were owed an accommodation duty on that date, including the duty to provide interim accommodation. If such an applicant is made a qualifying offer and refuses, the main housing duty will continue.

Making a suitable offer

All offers must be suitable. See the Suitability of accommodation section for full details.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance suggests that the local authority should give the applicant:[11]

  • the opportunity to view the accommodation before s/he is required to decide whether to accept it and/or to sign any written agreement relating to the offer, although there is no obligation to do so.
  • a reasonable period to consider an offer of accommodation. What is a reasonable period will depend on the applicant's circumstances.

Restricted cases

An application is a 'restricted case' when an eligible applicant who is not subject to immigration control gains priority need or statutory homelessness status through a 'restricted person' (a household member who is ineligible for assistance).[12] When notifying an applicant that it is a restricted case, the authority must include the name of the 'restricted person' and the reason why that person is a restricted person.[13]

In a restricted case, an authority must bring its duty to an end by way of a PRS offer so far as reasonably practicable.[14] Only where it cannot bring the duty to an end in such a way, can it make an offer of accommodation under Part 6.

It should be noted that an applicant in a restricted case will not be entitled to the reasonable preference given to other applicants by virtue of their homeless status.[15]

Fresh applications

If the duty ceases, the applicant may make a fresh application to the authority for accommodation or help in obtaining accommodation.[16] If the applicant returns to the same authority and there has been no change of circumstances, the authority may be able to rely on the previous decision to end duty and may not have to accept a fresh application. If the applicant had been placed in accommodation as part of the previous application, and had to leave when duty was ended, s/he may be found intentionally homeless.

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references on this page are to this Code. For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

[1] R v Brent LBC ex p Sadiq (2000) 33 HLR 47, QBD.

[2] ss.193(5), s.193(6), s.193(7) and s.193(7AA) Housing Act 1996, as amended by s.148 Localism Act 2011; para 15.41 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[3] s.193(6)(cc) and s.217(1) Housing Act 1996.

[4] s.202(1A) Housing Act 1996.

[5] s.193(5)(a), s.193(7) and s.193(7AB) Housing Act 1996.

[6] s.193(5)(a), s.193(7) and s.193(7AA) Housing Act 1996; Obiorah v Lewisham LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 325; R v Brent LBC ex p Awua (1995) 27 HLR 453, HL; Griffiths v St Helens [2006] EWCA Civ 160; Muse v Brent LBC [2008] EWCA Civ 1447..

[7] Maswaku v Westminster CC [2012] EWCA Civ 669.

[8] s.193(5)(a) Housing Act 1996 and s.193(7F) Housing Act 1996

[9] s.193(7F) and s.193(8) Housing Act 1996.

[10] s.193(7B) to (7F) repealed by s.148(8) Localism Act 2011, with effect from 9 November 2012, under Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provisions) (England) Order 2012 SI 2012/2599; paras 15.44 and 15.45 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[11] paras 15.46 and 15.48 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018; Newham LBC v Khatun & Ors [2004] EWCA Civ 55.

[12] s.193(3B) Housing Act 1996 as introduced by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

[13] s.184(3A) Housing Act 1996 as introduced by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

[14] s.193(7AD) Housing Act 1996 as amended by Localism Act 2011; para 15.43 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[15] s.167(2ZA) Housing Act 1996 as introduced by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

[16] s.193(9) Housing Act 1996.

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