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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

VOICES homes fit for
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, SNSCAB   Introduction Last month saw the introduction of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018’) which aims to strengthen the rights of renters in England and enshrine a legal minimum standard of the condition of their rented home. It will also give renters a legal mechanism to take their landlord to court for breach of contract if they do not comply with their obligations.   Why was the Act Introduced? According to the 2015/2016 English Housing Survey over a million tenants in the private and social rented sector live in accommodation with at least one category 1 hazard, which is defined as a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety’.  The tragedy at Grenfell highlighted the lack of redress for social tenants.   Social tenancies currently have no effective means of redress over poor conditions. Private tenants have to rely on overstretched local authority Environmental Health Teams to investigate and evidence poor conditions. The main disrepair provision that tenants use (s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) is not concerned with whether a home is fit or safe – rather to keep in repair the structure or exterior of the property or certain installations in the property.… Continue Reading

Supported housing and hospital admission

VOICES case study 11
*Names have been changed to protect identity.   There were two main bodies involved during the time Adam was noticeably exposed to complex exclusion barriers. These were the local authority and the last hostel that Adam’s bed was closed at whilst he was in hospital. Adam has been homeless or residing within hostels for many years, suffering from substance misuse and mental illness. Recently Adam was admitted to hospital following serious health concerns. During his inpatient stay and subsequent operation his bed space at the hostel was closed leaving Adam homeless when fit for discharge from the hospital. The hostels reasoning was that Housing Benefit will not pay for more than 7 nights whilst absent from the hostel and therefore the bed was closed. This presented a major problem for Adam to get another form of housing in place to prevent homelessness. The barriers Adam faced were in line with the findings of Public Health England’s health profile of Stoke on Trent’, published in June 2015, which concluded that the health of people in the city is generally poor and stating People facing homelessness, who are often already struggling financially, have far less choice and frequently end up in poor quality accommodation. Bruno Ornelas… Continue Reading

Is out of the area accommodation a reasonable offer?

VOICES case study 2
Homelessness in Stoke-On-Trent is on the rise.  Even when you take into account homeless shelters, hostels, supported housing, council housing, social housing, and private rented properties, there is not enough accommodation available for everyone who presents as homeless. People who have been entrenched rough sleepers for many years, who have had regular, short stints in accommodation, but have lost this accommodation for some reason. Often the reasons can be traced back to poor mental health, inability to maintain a tenancy, lack of support, or offending and re-offending.  One solution being offered by Local Authorities that I have experienced when providing support to people presenting as homeless is an offer of accommodation out of the area. This is usually offered when there is no space at local hostels or night shelters or the customer is being refused access to these.   Service Co-ordinator Rachael Quarmby discusses a typical example and questions whether this is sometimes merely the least worst option.   A woman presented as homeless after being evicted from her property.  She was assessed as not being vulnerable compared to an ‘ordinary person’.  This was despite a history of substance use and mental health difficulties. She was offered out of area accommodation and advised… Continue Reading

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