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Renters (Reform) Bill: A Tour Bus Guide – Stop 4: Homelessness

Renters (Reform) Bill: A Tour Bus Guide – Stop 4: Homelessness

The Renters (Reform) Bill has been published.  What does it say? What does it mean, for landlords and for tenants?

In this series, members of the 42BR Housing Team stop off at different landmarks, considering the implications of the new law along the way.

Homelessness, and the end of Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Max Gordon

Whilst the end of section 21 is being heralded as a great relief to tenants, some concerns have been raised as to the affects the Bill could have on the duties owed by local authorities to the homeless.

The Changes

What are the proposed changes to the Housing Act 1996, beyond the obvious removal of references to “section 21” and “assured shorthold tenancies”?

It is proposed that section 193 (the main housing duty) will be amended:

  • The duty will not be brought to an end by the authority giving notice to an applicant, who the authority thinks has deliberately and unreasonably refused to take a step in the process.
  • The duty will not be brought to an end if the applicant accepts an offer of an assured tenancy from a private landlord.
  • For the duty to cease, the matters the applicant has to be informed about in writing will no longer include the effect of section 195A (what happens if an applicant makes a further application to the authority within two years of accepting a private sector offer).
  • For a private rented sector offer to be counted under this section, it no longer has to be for a fixed term of no less than 12 months; instead, it simply has to be an offer from a private landlord, made with the approval of the authority.

Similarly, and logically, section 193A(4) will be amended: a final accommodation offer made under the relief duty (which may end the authority’s relief duty) no longer has to be for a minimum fixed term of 6 months.

Subsections (3) to (10) of section 193C will be removed: meaning that once a local authority gives notice that an applicant has deliberately and unreasonably refused to take a step (under the relief duty), the authority will no longer have a duty to secure accommodation.

Also, the reason that the warning in s193(7AB)(c) no longer has to be given is that section 195A is being removed entirely.  

Perhaps the most interesting proposal is the removal of section 188(1A): an authority’s interim duty to house an applicant pending enquiries will no longer apply, regardless of priority need, if the applicant makes the application within 2 years of accepting a private rented sector offer.

Comment

Some of these changes are no more than straightforward tidying up; others seem to be more far-reaching.  It is probably too soon to say what effect they will have, especially the interaction between Homelessness Reduction Act duties and the main housing duty: the complexities of that – even as originally in force – are still only beginning to be tested in the courts.

To read the Renters (Reform) Bill, click here.

 

A Tour Bus Guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill 

Stop 1: Deposits, gas safety certificates and more

Stop 2: Grounds for Possession

Stop 3: Pets 

Stop 4: Homelessness

Stop 5: Rent Increases


15th Jun 2023

Max Gordon

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Max Gordon

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