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Wales: overview of homelessness duties

This content applies to Wales

Local authorities duties under Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 contains five fundamental duties.

Duty to assess

A local authority had a duty to assess an applicant's case if:[1]

  • s/he has applied to the authority for accommodation or help in retaining or obtaining accommodation, and
  • it appears to the authority that s/he may be homeless, or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

There is no duty to assess an applicant who has already been assessed if there has been no material change in circumstances and there is no new information which affects that assessment.[2]

See Wales: applications and duty to assess for more information on:

  • making a homeless application
  • the nature of the assessment
  • notification of the outcome of the assessment.

'Help to prevent' duty

A local authority has a duty to help an applicant avoid losing accommodation, if it is satisfied that the applicant is:[3]

This is essentially a homelessness prevention duty owed to all eligible applicants who are threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need, intentionality or local connection.

See Wales: 'help to prevent' duty for more information on:

  • reasonable steps an authority might take to prevent homelessness
  • circumstances in which the 'help to prevent' duty will end.

'Help to secure' duty

A local authority has a duty to help the applicant to secure that suitable accommodation is available for her/his occupation, if it is satisfied that s/he is:[4]

This duty is also described in the Code of Guidance as the 'relief duty'.[5] It is owed to eligible applicants regardless of priority need or intentionality. However, it does not apply if the applicant is referred to another authority under the local connection provisions.

The duty to help to secure accommodation runs for 56 days. It can end earlier in a number of specified circumstances.

See Wales: 'help to secure' duty for more information on:

  • reasonable steps the local authority might take to help to secure suitable accommodation
  • circumstances in which the 'help to secure' duty will end.

Interim accommodation duty

A local authority has a duty to provide suitable interim accommodation, if it has is reason to believe that the applicant may be:[6]

  • homeless
  • eligible for help, and
  • in priority need for accommodation.

The duty is triggered at a lower threshold and may arise before the 'help to secure' duty. The authority does not need to be satisfied that applicants in apparent priority need are homeless and eligible before providing interim accommodation. It just needs to have reason to believe that they may be.

Once the authority is satisfied as to homelessness and eligibility, then the interim accommodation duty will run concurrently with the 'help to secure' duty.

This duty will also be owed to applicants who have been referred to a Welsh authority by an English authority under the local connection provisions.[7]

See Wales: interim accommodation duty for more information on:

  • suitability of accommodation
  • circumstances in which the interim accommodation duty will end
  • interim accommodation duty to applicants found to be intentionally homeless.

Final duty

The final duty is owed to certain homeless applicants in priority need who have been assisted under the 'help to secure' duty for up to 56 days but no suitable accommodation (other than interim accommodation) has been secured.

A local authority has a duty to secure that suitable accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant and her/his household, if it is satisfied that the applicant does not have suitable accommodation likely to last for at least six months and is:[8]

  • eligible for help
  • in priority need for accommodation, and
  • not intentionally homeless (where the authority has chosen to have regard to intentionality).

It is important to note that not all applicants in priority need for accommodation will be owed the final duty and that even when the final duty is owed it will not necessarily end with an offer of social housing for the applicant.

See Wales: final duty for more information on:

  • situations where the final duty will not arise
  • circumstances in which the final duty will end
  • how the final duty can be discharged into the private rented sector.

Applications made before 27 April 2015

The provisions in Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 apply to homelessness applications made to local authorities in Wales on or after 27 April 2015.

For the law applicable to applications made in Wales before that date, contact Shelter Cymru.

[1] s.62 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[2] s.62(2) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[3] s.66 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[4] ss.73-75 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[5] ch.13 Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, Welsh Government, March 2016.

[6] s.68(1) and (2) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[7] s.198(1) Housing Act 1996.

[8] s.75 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

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