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Duty to intentionally homeless

This content applies to England

The duties a local authority has towards an applicant who is in priority need but intentionally homeless.

Duty to intentionally homeless applicant

Where the duty to relieve homelessness has ended, if the local authority is satisfied that an applicant is eligible for assistance, in priority need but intentionally homeless, it must:[1]

  • secure that suitable accommodation is available for such a period as the authority considers will give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to secure other accommodation
  • provide advice and assistance, based on the assessment of the applicant's needs,[2] to help her/him secure somewhere to live.

The advice and assistance provided must include information about the likely availability of accommodation that is appropriate to the applicant's housing needs, including, in particular, the location and source of such types of accommodation.[3]

Applications made before 3 April 2018

Where an person who applied as homeless before 3 April 2018 is found intentionally homeless, the duties will apply with the following differences:

  • the duty to secure accommodation for a reasonable period will apply from the point the applicant is found intentionally homeless
  • advice and assistance is to be given based on an assessment of need, but there is no statutory form for the assessment to take.

Length of time accommodation should be provided

The authority must assess each case individually in deciding what is a reasonable period of time to continue to provide accommodation. The Homelessness Code of Guidance suggests that 'a few weeks' may be reasonable.[4] However, the Code stresses that authorities need to consider each case on its merits and should take account of local circumstances. This includes how readily other accommodation is available in the area and the particular circumstances of the applicant, such as whether s/he can afford rent in advance or a deposit. [5]

See Ending the duty to intentionally homeless people for more detail.

Cooperation with social services

Where the applicant has a child under the age of 18 normally living with her/him, or who might reasonably be expected to live with her/him, and there is reason for the housing authority to believe that the applicant may be intentionally homeless, the authority must:[6]

  • offer to refer the essential facts of the applicant's case to social services (the applicant must consent), and
  • (if the applicant has consented), share the facts of the applicant's case and the local housing authority's decision with social services.

Action should not be delayed until a final decision on the application is made. For more information, see the section Cooperation with other agencies.

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] s.190(2) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.5(9) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[2] s.190(4) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.3(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[3] s.190(5) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.5(5) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[4] para 15.14 Homeless Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[5] para 15.15 Homeless Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[6] s.213A Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.12 Homelessness Act 2002 as amended by s.4(7) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

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