Glossary of terms

Contents

ALMO - Arm's length management organisation

A not-for-profit company set up by a local authority to manage and improve all or part of its housing stock. An ALMO is managed by a board of directors which includes tenants, local authority nominees, and independent members.

Child in need

Any person under 18 years of age who is in need of services to help them to maintain or achieve a reasonable standard of health and development, or who is disabled.

Code of Guidance

The Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities gives guidance to councils on how to apply the homelessness legislation. The Code of Guidance itself is not legally binding but councils must have regard to it when exercising their functions.

To download a copy of the Code of Guidance, visit the Communities and Local Government website.

Deposit guarantee/bond scheme

Schemes to help people on low incomes to access privately rented accommodation. In most cases, rather than making a cash payment to the landlord, the organisation makes a promise to pay should the tenant default.

Please see the page on bond schemes for more information.

Discretionary housing payment

An extra payment which councils can (but are not required to) make to people who are receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit but are having difficulty paying the shortfall.

Please see the advice page on discretionary housing payments for more information.

Duty

A legal obligation that must be met. This often refers to the obligations of councils under homelessness law. Legal action (eg judicial review) can be taken where a council fails to meet a duty.

Please see the advice page on council duties for more information.

Eligibility for assistance

One of the tests that councils apply when deciding what duties they have under the homelessness legislation. A person may not be eligible for assistance under homelessness law if they are a person from abroad subject to immigration control, or are not habitually resident in the UK. Where clients have problems with eligibility, Shelter recommends that Children's Centres seek specialist advice.

Please see the advice page on eligibility for assistance for more information.

Enquiries

Investigations made by a council to establish what duty they owe to a homeless applicant. These enquiries are often referred to as the five 'homelessness tests'.

Please see the advice page on what the council will check for more information.

Full housing duty

The duty a council has towards a homeless applicant who is homeless, eligible for assistance, in priority need, and is not intentionally homeless. The duty is to offer the applicant temporary accommodation until such time that the applicant can be offered settled accommodation. The duty may be referred to another council if the applicant does not have a local connection. The duty is also brought to an end if the applicant voluntarily leaves or becomes intentionally homeless from the temporary accommodation.

Please see the advice page on settled accommodation for more information.

Gatekeeping

Refusal to accept a homelessness application where there is a duty to do so.

Homelessness

Having nowhere to live. One of the tests that councils apply when deciding what duties they have under the homelessness legislation. The law defines homelessness more widely than sleeping rough. A person may be homeless, even if they have accommodation.

Please see the advice page on definition of homelessness for more information.

Homelessness application

An application to a council for housing assistance by someone who is homeless.

Please see the advice page on homelessness applications for more information.

Homelessness decision

A decision, made by the local authority, as to what duty a homelessness application is owed.

Please see the advice page on homelessness decisions for more information.

Homelessness law/legislation

The legal 'safety net' for homeless people. Under the legislation, which is contained in Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996, councils have a legal duty to help all homeless people. The level of help varies from a duty to offer advice the homeless person, to a duty to provide them with settled accommodation, depending on the homeless person's circumstances.

Homelessness prevention

Any attempt to prevent a person becoming homeless, by either helping them to maintain their current accommodation, or delaying eviction to allow them to make a planned move to alternative accommodation.

Hostel

Accommodation that is usually for homeless people. Hostels can be short- or long-stay, but do not provide permanent accommodation.

Please see the advice page on hostels for more information.

Housing benefit

A means tested benefit, administered by councils, to help people on low incomes to pay their rent.

Please see the advice section on housing benefit for more information.

Intentional homelessness

One of the tests that councils apply when deciding what duties they have under the homelessness legislation. A person becomes homeless intentionally if they have deliberately done (or failed to do) something that has caused them to lose their accommodation.

Please see the advice page on intentional homelessness for more information.

Interim accommodation

Accommodation offered to a homelessness applicant while inquiries are being made into their situation. Councils have a duty to offer interim accommodation where there is reason to believe that the applicant may be homeless, eligible for assistance, and in priority need. The duty comes to an end when the applicant is notified of decision on her/his application. If the applicant requests a review of the decision, the local authority has a power (but not a duty) to continue to provide interim accommodation.

Please see the advice page on temporary accommodation from the council for more information.

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