When main housing duty ends

The main housing duty can only come to an end in specific circumstances. 

This content applies to England

When the main housing duty can end

The main housing duty continues until one of the situations in the Housing Act applies, even if the applicant loses their priority need.[1]

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

  • ceases to be eligible for assistance

  • becomes homeless intentionally from accommodation provided under the main duty

  • voluntarily ceases to occupy the accommodation provided

  • accepts an offer of a fully assured tenancy from a private landlord, including a housing association

  • accepts a private rented sector offer or a final offer under the authority's Part 6 allocation scheme

  • refuses certain offers of accommodation

Applicant accepts an offer of accommodation

The main housing duty ends where an applicant accepts an offer of a fully assured tenancy from a private landlord (including a housing association)[3] or 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 them from requesting a review of suitability of that offer.

If the review is successful, the local authority must make another offer.[4]

Applicant refuses an offer of accommodation 

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 must inform the applicant, in writing, of:[5]

  • the consequences of refusal or acceptance

  • their 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 (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 ends automatically

  • if the applicant refuses an offer of temporary accommodation, the authority can serve notice to end the main housing duty

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

Before ending the main housing duty the authority must be satisfied that the actual property offered was available and 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 their obligations regarding their current accommodation (for example by giving notice).[9]

For the main housing duty to end, the applicant must refuse the accommodation offered – not simply failing to accept it and/or failing to reply to the making of an offer. The local housing authority must be able to identify something that amounts to unequivocal rejection following receipt of the offer.[10]

Application made before 9 November 2012

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.[11]

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 continues.

Suitability and time to consider offers

All offers must be suitable.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance suggests that the local authority should give the applicant:[12]

  • the opportunity to view the accommodation before they are required to decide whether to accept it 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 depends on the applicant's circumstances

Ending the main housing duty in a restricted case

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). [13]

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.[14]

In a restricted case, an authority must bring its duty to an end by way of a private rented sector offer so far as reasonably practicable.[15] 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 is not entitled to the reasonable preference given to other applicants by virtue of their homeless status.[16]

Fresh applications after the main housing duty ends

If the duty ceases, the applicant may make a fresh application to the authority for accommodation or help in obtaining accommodation.[17]

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.

An applicant may be found intentionally homeless if they had been placed in accommodation as part of the previous application, and had to leave when duty was ended.

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references here are to this Code.

For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

Last updated: 27 April 2021

Footnotes

  • [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(7AA) and (7AB) Housing Act 1996; R (on the application of SH) v Waltham Forest LBC [2019] EWHC 2618 (Admin).

  • [6]

    s.193(5)(a), s.193(7) and s.193(7AA) Housing Act 1996; Godson v Enfield LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 486; 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; Nikolaeva v Redbridge LBC [2020] EWCA Civ 1586.

  • [9]

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

  • [10]

    R v Haringey LBC ex p Muslu (2001) February Legal Action, p. 29, QBD; Nikolaeva v Redbridge LBC [2020] EWCA Civ 1586.

  • [11]

    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.

  • [12]

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

  • [13]

    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).

  • [14]

    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).

  • [15]

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

  • [16]

    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).

  • [17]

    s.193(9) Housing Act 1996.