“Homelessness” refers to the condition of not having a stable, safe, and adequate place to live. It is a complex social issue that affects individuals and families across the globe. People may become homeless due to various reasons, including economic hardship, job loss, mental health challenges, substance abuse, domestic violence, and lack of affordable housing.
You may be legally homeless if:
- you’ve no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world
- you cannot get into your home, for example, your landlord has locked you out
- it’s not reasonable to stay in your home, for example, you’re at risk of violence or abuse
- you’re forced to live apart from your family or people you normally live with because there’s no suitable accommodation for you
- you’re living in very poor conditions such as overcrowding
Triggers and Causes of Homelessness Duty
From economic instability and unemployment to personal crises and housing shortages, a multitude of factors contribute to homelessness in the UK. Acknowledging these root causes allows us to address the issue at its source.
When should the council help?
The council has a legal duty to provide emergency housing immediately if they have reason to believe you could become homeless, you meet immigration conditions, and you fall under a category of priority need (such as being a family with dependent children, a pregnant woman, or a vulnerable individual). T
In the UK, the duty of local councils to provide accommodation is primarily governed by the Housing Act 1996 (as amended by subsequent legislation). Below are the key duties of local councils regarding accommodation:
Assessment of Housing Needs: Local councils are required to assess the housing needs of their area. This includes identifying the demand for different types of housing, such as social housing, affordable housing, and private rented accommodation.
Allocation of Social Housing: Councils are responsible for managing and allocating social housing, which is housing provided by the local authority or housing associations. This involves maintaining waiting lists, prioritizing applicants based on need, and offering suitable properties to eligible individuals or families.
Homelessness Duty: Councils have a duty to assess and provide accommodation for individuals or families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This may involve offering temporary or emergency accommodation, and in some cases, longer-term housing solutions.
Provision of Temporary Accommodation: If a council determines that an individual or family is homeless, and they have no other place to stay, the council must provide temporary accommodation. This is intended to be a short-term solution while a more permanent housing arrangement is made.
Housing Advice and Support: Councils are required to offer advice and support to residents regarding their housing options. This includes information about finding and securing accommodation, as well as guidance on dealing with housing-related issues.
Preventing Homelessness Duty: Councils have a duty to try to prevent homelessness whenever possible. This can involve offering advice, support, and sometimes financial assistance to help individuals and families stay in their current accommodation.
Accommodation for Vulnerable Individuals: Local councils have a special duty to provide accommodation for vulnerable individuals, including those with mental health issues, disabilities, or other support needs.
Overcrowded or Unfit Housing: If a property is deemed overcrowded or unfit for habitation, the council may have powers to take action, which could include requiring repairs or taking enforcement measures against landlords.
Enforcement of Housing Standards: Councils are responsible for ensuring that private rented accommodation meets certain standards for safety, hygiene, and habitability. They have the authority to take action against landlords who fail to meet these standards.
Regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupations (HMOs): Councils have specific duties regarding properties that are considered HMOs. They must ensure that such properties meet certain safety and management standards.