Local authority ends interim duty to homeless applicants

The interim duty to accommodate applies where there is reason to believe an applicant may be homeless, eligible and in priority need. In certain circumstances, the interim duty comes to an end.

This content applies to England

Ending the interim duty where the applicant is not in priority need

Where the local authority completes its enquiries into priority need and is satisfied that the applicant does not have it, the way in which the interim accommodation duty comes to an end depends on whether the applicant is owed a relief duty.[1]

End of interim accommodation where no relief duty is owed

The interim duty to accommodate ends as soon as the applicant is notified that they are not owed a relief duty.[2] This could be the case where the local authority is not satisfied that the applicant is homeless or eligible.

End of interim accommodation in all other cases

The interim duty ends when the applicant is notified that after the relief duty ends, no other accommodation duty is owed to them.[3]

Where the authority notifies the applicant that they are not in priority need during the relief period, the duty to provide interim accommodation ends and the relief duty continues. In this case, the decision letter has to state that after the end of the relief duty no further accommodation duty is owed.[4]

Local authorities have power to secure accommodation for applicants who are not in priority need for the duration of the relief duty. [5]

Ending the interim duty where the applicant is in priority need

If the local authority is satisfied that the applicant is in priority need, the interim duty ends on the later of the following:[6]

  • the relief duty ending

  • notification that no relief duty is owed

  • the local authority notifying the applicant what other duty it owes them

For example, if the applicant in priority need is still homeless when the relief duty ends after 56 days, interim accommodation continues until the local authority issues a notification as to what other duty it owes them.

The authority has to continue securing that accommodation is available after the end of the interim duty under the main housing duty, duty in cases of non cooperation or duty to intentionally homeless people where the applicant is also eligible and homeless.

Ending the interim duty when an early local connection referral is made

At the relief stage, local authorities can refer homeless applicants who do not have a local connection to their area to another local authority in England.[7]

The interim accommodation duty ends when the local authority notifies the applicant of its decision to make a local connection referral.[8]

If the authority has a reason to believe that the applicant may be in priority need, it has a duty to continue providing accommodation under a different section of the Housing Act 1996 until the applicant is notified of the decision as to whether the conditions for a referral are met.[9]

A reason to believe is a low threshold, meaning the duty to provide accommodation during the early local connection referral process continues even if the local authority has not completed its enquiries into priority need.

If the conditions for referral are not met, the local authority that has accepted the homeless application continues to provide interim accommodation.

If the conditions for a referral are met, the local authority the applicant has been referred to becomes responsible for securing interim accommodation. This is because the applicant is treated as if they had made a homeless application the local authority they have been referred to.[10]

When interim accommodation can be ended early

In some cases, the local authority can argue that while the interim accommodation duty exists, it has done all it needs to in order to fulfill this duty and does not have to take any further steps. The courts have held that there is a difference between the existence and the performance of a duty.[11]

Refusing an offer of interim accommodation

In one case, an applicant refused a suitable offer of accommodation. The courts held that the interim duty had been performed. The local authority was under no obligation to keep the offer open, or to make a further offer of interim accommodation unless there was a change of circumstances.[12]

Persistent and unequivocal refusal to accept rules

The local authority can stop providing interim accommodation if the applicant acts in a wholly unreasonable manner for a period of time, for example by breaking rules of occupation.

In one case an applicant did not attend the B&B placement they were offered as they could not afford the fare to travel.[13] When the applicant arrived on the following day, the booking had been already cancelled. The courts held that this was not a persistent or unequivocal refusal to accept rules and so the accommodation should not have been ended.

Where the applicant has requested a review

The interim duty continues until the homeless applicant is notified of the outcome of the review if the review relates to the suitability of a final accommodation offer or a part 6 offer made at the relief stage.[14]

In all other cases the local authority has discretion to provide accommodation pending review.[15]

Eviction from interim accommodation

Homeless applicants in interim accommodation almost always have the status of excluded occupiers. They are entitled to a reasonable notice and can be evicted without a court order.[16]

Guidance for local authorities

The Homelessness Code of Guidance advises that local authorities:[17]

  • should consider the contractual terms of the agreement and the facts of each case when deciding the notice length

  • must act reasonably by giving the applicant at least some opportunity to find alternative accommodation

Reasonable notice should allow the applicant time to consider requesting a review of the decision.[18]

Reasonable notice period should take into account the needs of applicants who have been found ineligible and the time required by them to access assistance.[19]

Referral to Children's Services

The local authority is under a duty to make a referral to Children's Services where the applicant with dependent children is evicted from interim accommodation and the local authority believes that they may be:[20]

  • ineligible for assistance

  • intentionally homeless

The referral should be made with the applicant's consent unless there are safeguarding concerns.[21]

Local authorities should consider having arrangements in place to assist with transition of responsibilities.[22]

Local authorities do not have a positive duty to carry out an assessment of the best interests of the children under section 11 Children Act 2004 each time a household with children is evicted from interim accommodation. The housing department's duty to refer to Children's services is sufficient to ensure that the human rights and welfare of the children are considered.[23]

Applications made before 3 April 2018

In the case of homeless applications made before 3 April 2018 the interim duty ceased as soon as a decision was made on the duties owed, whether or not the applicant was in priority need.

The 2006 Code of Guidance applied to homeless applications made before 3 April 2018.

Last updated: 9 September 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.188(1ZA) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.5(4) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

  • [2]

    s.188(1ZA)(a) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.5(4) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

  • [3]

    s.188(1ZA)(b) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.5(4) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017; R (Mitchell) v Islington LBC [2020] EWHC 1478 (Admin).

  • [4]

    s.188(1ZA)(b) Housing Act 1996.

  • [5]

    para 25.34 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, February 2018.

  • [6]

    s.188(1ZB) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.5(4) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

  • [7]

    s. 198(A1) Housing Act 1996; para 10.30 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, February 2018.

  • [8]

    s.199A(1)(a) Housing Act 1996.

  • [9]

    s.199A(2) Housing Act 1996.

  • [10]

    s.199A(5) Housing Act 1996.

  • [11]

    R (Brooks) v Islington LBC [2015] EWHC 2657 (Admin).

  • [12]

    R (Brooks) v Islington LBC [2015] EWHC 2657 (Admin).

  • [13]

    R (Carstens) v Basildon DC [2007] EWHC 122 (Admin).

  • [14]

    s.188(2A) Housing Act 1996.

  • [15]

    s.188(3) Housing Act 1996.

  • [16]

    R (ZH and CN) v Newham LBC and Lewisham LBC and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Interested Party) [2014] UKSC 62; Mohamed v Manek and Kensington and Chelsea RLBC (1995) 27 HLR 439, CA.

  • [17]

    paras 15.19 and 15.20 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [18]

    para 15.20 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [19]

    para 15.12 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [20]

    s.213A(1) Housing Act 1996; para 15.21 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018

  • [21]

    s.213A(2)-(4) Housing Act 1996; para 15.21 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [22]

    para 14.12 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [23]

    Mohamoud v Kensington and Chelsea RLBC : Saleem v Wandsworth LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 780.