This information sets out Rochford District Council’s policy for the placement of households in temporary accommodation and private rented accommodation, both inside and outside the District. It covers both interim placements made under Section 188 Housing Act 1996 (“HA96”), while homelessness enquires are made, longer term temporary accommodation placements for households accepted as homeless under Section 193 HA 1996 and a private rented sector offer defined by section 193(7AC) with a view to bringing the section 193(2), 195 and 189b duties to an end. The policy complies with:
- The Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002
- The Localism Act 2011
- Equality Act 2010
- Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) orders 1996, 2003 & 2012.
- Supplementary Guidance on the Homelessness changes in the Localism Act 2011 & the homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012
- The Homelessness Code of Guidance
- The Housing Strategy
- Children Act 1989 (in particular S.17)
- Children Act 2004 (in particular S.11)
- The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) 2017
As per section 208 HA 1996, and paragraph 16.7 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance, so far as reasonably practicable, the Council seeks to accommodate homeless households in the Rochford District and always considers the suitability of the accommodation, taking into account the circumstances of the individual household. However, due to an acute shortage of affordable housing locally, and rising rental costs, an increasing number of households are likely to be placed outside the district, as it will not be reasonably practicable to provide accommodation within the Rochford District. The application of housing benefit caps, LHA rates within the district, welfare reform, Universal Credit, together with restrictions upon overall benefit entitlement, has further restricted the number of properties that will be affordable to homeless households in the Rochford district.
In offering temporary or private sector accommodation, the Council will consider the suitability of the offer, taking in to account the following factors:
- Accommodation available in the district- if suitable accommodation is available in the Rochford District, applicants will be housed within the local area. However, when there is a lack of suitable accommodation in the district, out of area placements will be used to meet the Council’s housing duties. Given the shortage of accommodation locally, bed and breakfast accommodation and nightly paid accommodation outside of the district may be considered suitable for short-term interim placements.
- Affordability- An affordability assessment will be carried out by Rochford District Council with due regard to s.17.39 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance 2006.
- Size and standard of the property- accommodation must provide adequate space and room standards for the household and be fit to inhabit. The quality of decoration/furniture, the layout/type of accommodation, provision of parking and lack of access to a garden are unlikely to be an acceptable reason for a refusal.
- Health factors- The Council will consider health factors, such as the ability to get up the stairs, care and support provided by other statutory agencies and the need to access any specialist medical services in the Rochford District. If the applicant or a member of the resident household is citing medical grounds that were not identified during the initial assessment, the applicant must submit medical evidence within 24 hours. The key test in determining the impact of medical issues is whether the condition itself makes the property offered unsuitable. Problems such as depression, asthma, diabetes or back pain would not normally make a property unsuitable, as the problem would persist in any sort of accommodation.
- Proximity to schools and services- Attendance at local schools will not be considered a reason to refuse accommodation, though some priority will be given to special educational needs and students who are close to taking public examinations in determining priority for placements in the district. Proximity to schools, public transport links and primary care services will be considered.
- Employment- The Council will consider the need of applicants who are in paid employment to reach their usual place of work from the accommodation that is secured.
- Households with pets- The Council will be sensitive to the importance of pets to some applicants, with due regard to S17.62 Homelessness Code of Guidance 2018. Unfortunately, it will not always be possible to make provisions for pets however the Council will give consideration to this aspect when making provisions for applicants who wish to retain their pet.
- Any special circumstances- The Council will consider any other reasons for refusal put forward by the applicant and come to an overall view about whether the offer is suitable.