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Wales: interim accommodation duty

This content applies to Wales

The interim accommodation duty under Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

Interim accommodation duty

A local authority must secure that suitable interim accommodation is available for an applicant and her/his household if it has reason to believe that the applicant may:[1]

Having ‘reason to believe’ is a lower test than ‘being satisfied’. If the authority is in any doubt about whether or not the applicant meets any of these criteria, then it must accept an interim duty to accommodate pending completion of its enquiries.[2]

Local connection referrals

The interim accommodation duty applies even if the authority considers that the conditions for a local connection referral to another authority in Wales or England are met.

The referring authority must provide interim accommodation until the receiving authority accepts the referral.[3] The receiving authority in Wales will then owe to the applicant and her/his household the following duties concurrently:[4]

If the referral is accepted by a local authority in England, this will owe to the applicant the duties applicable there.

Stay put option

The authority may agree with the applicant that s/he and her/his household stay in their current accommodation  until more suitable accommodation is found, provided that the applicant is well informed and freely consents to the arrangement.[5] The current accommodation could be, for example, with a friend or family member or in other accommodation considered not reasonable to continue to occupy in the longer-term.

This will not end the authority’s duty to provide interim accommodation unless the applicant, having been notified of the possible consequence of a refusal, refuses an offer of suitable interim accommodation.[6]

Suitability of accommodation

The authority must ensure that any accommodation provided to applicants in discharge of any duty under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 complies with relevant legislation on health and safety standards, and arrange appropriate inspections.[7] Regulations made under the Act set out:[8]

  • matters to be taken into account when determining suitability
  • restrictions on the use of ‘basic standard’ and ‘higher standard’ B&Bs and shared accommodation
  • time limits on use of B&B and shared accommodation
  • general suitability factors for offers in the private rented sector.

See Wales: suitability of accommodation for more details about deciding whether accommodation is suitable.

Protection of property

While the authority provides interim accommodation to an applicant, it must take reasonable steps to prevent the loss of the applicant’s personal property, or mitigate damage to it, if the authority has reason to believe that:[9]

  • there is danger of loss or damage due to the applicant’s inability to deal with it, and
  • no other suitable arrangements have been or are being made.

The authority’s duty to protect property may continue after the end of the interim accommodation duty.[10]

See Wales: duty to protect property for more information on:

  • when the duty to protect property ends
  • guidance on households with pets.

Circumstances in which the duty ends

The interim accommodation duty will end in any of the following circumstances.[11]

‘Help to secure’ duty is not owed

On completion of its enquiries, the authority may decide that it does not owe a ‘help to secure’ duty to the applicant and her/his household. This would happen if the authority is satisfied that the applicant is:

  • not homeless
  • ineligible for help, or
  • referred to another authority under the local connection provisions.

‘Help to secure’ duty ends

The authority’s interim accommodation duty will end in all the circumstances in which its ‘help to secure’ duty comes to an end.

However, if the authority’s ‘help to secure’ duty ends and no final duty arises because the authority is satisfied that the applicant became homeless intentionally, the interim accommodation duty will continue for a sufficient period to allow the applicant a reasonable opportunity of securing her/his own accommodation. In this situation, a sufficient period:[12]

  • cannot be less than 56 days running from the date that the applicant was notified that the ‘help to secure’ duty applied, and
  • must include a reasonable period after the applicant is notified that the final duty does not apply.

See Wales: 'help to secure' duty for information about all the circumstances in which this duty ends.

Refusal of suitable interim accommodation

The authority’s interim accommodation duty will end if the applicant, having been notified of the possible consequence of a refusal, refuses an offer of suitable interim accommodation.

Other circumstances where the interim accommodation duty ends

The interim accommodation duty will also end if the applicant:[13]

  • becomes homeless intentionally from suitable interim accommodation
  • voluntarily ceases to occupy suitable interim accommodation as only or principal home
  • becomes ineligible for help
  • is notified that a mistake of fact led to the duty arising in the first place
  • withdraws the application
  • unreasonably fails to co-operate with the authority.

Notice of end of duty

In all cases where a local authority decides that its interim accommodation duty has ended, it must send a notice of end of duty to the applicant. Dissatisfied applicants have a right to request a review of the authority's decision within 21 days.

Flowchart

A useful flowchart, with a visual map of all stages of the interim accommodation duty, can be found at the end of Annex 19 of the Code of Guidance for Local Authorities in Wales.

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.68(1)-(2) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[2] R (on the application of IA) v City of Westminster Council [2013] EWHC 1273; para 11.4 Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, Welsh Government, March 2016.

[3] paras 11.6-11.7 Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, Welsh Government, March 2016.

[4] s.68(3) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[5] para 11.5 Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, Welsh Government, March 2016.

[6] s.69(7) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[7] s.59 Housing (Wales) Act 2014; para 11.12 Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, Welsh Government, March 2016.

[8] Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales) Order 2015 SI 2015/1268.

[9] s.93(1) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[10] s.93(3) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[11] s.69 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[12] s.69(6) Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

[13] s.69 and s.79 Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

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