This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Overview of local connection provisions

This content applies to England & Wales

An overview of the local connection provisions.

Inquiries

A local housing authority may make inquiries as to whether a homeless applicant has a local connection with another housing authority in England, Wales or Scotland.[1] The authority does not have to consider the question of a local connection[2] and can only do so if it is satisfied that the applicant is homeless, eligible for assistance, in priority need, and not intentionally homeless, and therefore owed the main housing duty[3] (see the page on the Main housing duty in the section on LA duties: advice and accommodation for more information).

No inquiries are to be made into whether an applicant is in priority need, for the main duty to arise, if s/he is reapplying for homelessness assistance within two years of having accepted a final 'private rented sector (PRS) offer' from another authority (see the page on Cessation of duty for more about PRS offers).

The Homelessness Code of Guidance states that an applicant can only be referred to another local authority when s/he is owed the main housing duty, and not if s/he is owed any other duty (eg the interim duty to provide accommodation).[4] Where there is a local connection with another authority, the applicant can only be referred to that authority if the conditions for referral are met. The authority does not have to make a referral[5] and may therefore choose to accept the main housing duty towards the applicant.[6] See the section Referral to another local authority for details of when and how a local authority can refer an applicant to another authority.

Local authority guidelines

When a local authority makes a decision about local connection, it may wish to refer to the Local Authority Guidelines contained in 'Procedures for Referrals of Homeless Applicants on the Grounds of Local Connection with another Local Authority' (to be found at Annex 18 of the Code of Guidance). These guidelines have been agreed by the local government associations for England, Wales, Scotland, and London.

The guidelines state that there are considerable areas of possible disagreement and dispute in the interpretation of the Housing Act 1996, and the purpose of the guidelines is therefore to avoid, as far as possible, legal disputes between local authorities. However, the guidelines also stress that the agreement between various local authorities does not replace the duty of such authorities to treat each case on its merits and take into account existing and future case law.[7]

The guidance also set out guidelines on the procedure and criteria by which local authorities can make referrals on the basis of local connection, and recommend it for general adoption by all authorities. They also set out the mechanisms for resolving disputes between local authorities, together with a standard notification form.[8]

Wales

The information on this page reflects the local connection provisions under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. These apply to all homelessness applications made to local authoirities in England and to applications made in Wales before 27 April 2015 (with some possible variations contained in Welsh regulations and code of guidance).

For the rules under Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 applicable in Wales from 27 April 2015 see Wales: local connection provisions or visit Shelter Cymru.

[1] s.184(2) Housing Act 1996.

[2] para 18.4 Homelessness Code of Guidance, July 2006.

[3] para 18.3 Homelessness Code of Guidance, July 2006.

[4] para 18.3 Homelessness Code of Guidance, July 2006.

[5] para 18.4 Homelessness Code of Guidance, July 2006.

[6] s.193(2) Housing Act 1996.

[7] para 1.3 Procedures for Referrals of Homeless Applicants on the grounds of Local Connection with another Local Authority, agreed by ALG, CoSLA, LGA, WLGA (Annex 18 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, July 2006) referred to below as Local Authority Guidelines.

[8] para 1.3 Local Authority Guidelines.

Back to top