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The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales) Order 2015

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Welsh Statutory Instruments

2015 No. 1268 (W. 87)

Housing, Wales

The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales) Order 2015

Made

21 April 2015

Coming into force

27 April 2015

The Welsh Ministers make the following Order in exercise of the powers conferred on them by sections 59(3) and 142(2) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014(1).

A draft of this instrument was laid before and approved by resolution of the National Assembly for Wales in accordance with section 142(3)(b)(i) of that Act.

Title and commencement

1.—(1) The title of this Order is the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales) Order 2015.

(2) This Order comes into force on 27 April 2015.

Interpretation

2.  In this Order—

“the 2014 Act” (“Deddf 2014”) means the Housing (Wales) Act 2014; and any reference to a numbered section is a reference to a section of that Act;

“authority” (“awdurdod”) means the relevant local housing authority(2) which owes a duty to a homeless person under sections 68, 75 or 82;

“B&B accommodation” (“llety Gwely a Brecwast”) means commercially provided accommodation (whether or not breakfast is included)—

(a)

which is not separate and self-contained premises;

(b)

in which any of the following amenities is not available to the applicant or is shared by more than one household—

(i)

a toilet;

(ii)

personal washing facilities;

(iii)

cooking facilities;

(c)

which is not accommodation which is owned or managed by a local housing authority, a registered social landlord or a voluntary organisation; or

(d)

which is not an establishment registered under the provisions of the Care Standards Act 2000(3);

and “B&B” (“Gwely a Brecwast”) is to be construed accordingly;

“basic standard accommodation” (“llety o safon sylfaenol”) means accommodation that—

(a)

complies with all statutory requirements (such as, where applicable, requirements relating to fire, gas, electrical, and other safety; planning; and licences for houses in multiple occupation); and

(b)

has a manager deemed by the authority to be a fit and proper person with the ability to manage B&B accommodation;

and “basic standard” (“safon sylfaenol”) is to be construed accordingly;

“higher standard accommodation” (“llety o safon uwch”) means accommodation that meets—

(a)

the basic standard; and

(b)

the standards contained in the Schedule to this Order,

and “higher standard” (“safon uwch”) is to be construed accordingly;

“member of a person’s household” (“aelod o aelwyd y person”) bears the same meaning as in section 57(2), and “household” (“aelwyd”) is to be construed accordingly;

“shared accommodation” (“llety a rennir”) means accommodation—

(a)

which is not separate and self-contained premises; or

(b)

in which any of the following amenities is not available to the applicant or is shared by more than one household—

(i)

a toilet;

(ii)

personal washing facilities;

(iii)

cooking facilities; or

(c)

which is not an establishment registered under the provisions of the Care Standards Act 2000;

“small B&B” (“llety Gwely a Brecwast bach”) means—

  • B&B accommodation—

    (i)

    where the manager resides on the premises; and

    (ii)

    which has fewer than 7 bedrooms available for letting.

PART 1Matters to be taken into account in determining whether accommodation is suitable for persons who are, or may be in priority need

3.  In determining for the purposes of Part 2 of the 2014 Act whether accommodation is suitable for a person who is, or may be in priority need(4), there must be taken into account, where appropriate, the following matters relating to a person who is either the applicant, or who is a member of the applicant’s household—

(a)the specific health needs of the person;

(b)the proximity and accessibility of family support;

(c)any disability of the person;

(d)the proximity and accessibility of medical facilities, and other support services which—

(i)are currently used by or provided to the person; and

(ii)are essential to the well-being of the person;

(e)where the accommodation is situated outside the area of the authority, the distance of the accommodation from the area of the authority;

(f)the significance of any disruption which would be caused by the location of the accommodation to the employment, caring responsibilities or education of the person; and

(g)the proximity of alleged perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse.

PART 2Circumstances in which B&B and shared accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable for persons who are, or may be in priority need

B&B accommodation unsuitable unless an exception applies

4.  For the purposes of Part 2 of the 2014 Act, B&B accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable for a person who is, or may be in priority need unless at least one of the exceptions in article 6 or article 7(1) applies.

Shared accommodation unsuitable unless it meets the higher standard or an exception applies

5.  For the purposes of Part 2 of the 2014 Act and subject to the exceptions contained in articles 6 and 7(2), shared accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable for a person who is, or may be in priority need unless it meets the higher standard.

Exceptions to articles 4 and 5 for all types of accommodation

6.  Articles 4 and 5 do not apply where—

(a)the authority believes that the applicant may be homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as fire, flood or other disaster, and no other accommodation is reasonably available to the authority; or

(b)the authority has offered suitable accommodation to the applicant, but the applicant wishes to be accommodated in other accommodation.

Exceptions to articles 4 and 5 where accommodation meets a standard

7.—(1) Article 4 does not apply where—

(a)the person occupies a basic standard B&B for a period, or a total of periods, which does not exceed 2 weeks;

(b)the person occupies a higher standard B&B for a period, or a total of periods which does not exceed 6 weeks;

(c)the person occupies a basic standard small B&B for a period, or a total of periods, which does not exceed 6 weeks, and the authority has, before the expiry of the two-week period referred to in sub-paragraph (a), offered suitable alternative accommodation, but the person has chosen to remain in the said B&B;

(d)the person occupies a basic standard small B&B after exercising the choice referred to in sub-paragraph (c), and the authority has offered suitable alternative accommodation before the end of the six-week period referred to in sub-paragraph (c), but the person has chosen to remain in the said B&B;

(e)the person occupies a higher standard small B&B, and the authority has offered suitable alternative accommodation, before the expiry of the six-week period referred to in sub-paragraph (b), but the person has chosen to remain in the said B&B.

(2) Article 5 does not apply where—

(a)the person occupies basic standard shared accommodation for a period, or a total of periods, which does not exceed 2 weeks;

(b)the person occupies, for a period, or a total of periods, which does not exceed 6 weeks, basic standard shared accommodation owned or managed by a local housing authority or registered social landlord, and the authority has offered suitable alternative accommodation before the expiry of the two-week period referred to in sub-paragraph (a), but the person has chosen to remain in the said accommodation; or

(c)(i)the person occupies basic standard shared accommodation which is used wholly or mainly to provide temporary accommodation to persons who have left their homes as a result of domestic abuse, and is managed by an organisation which—

(aa)is not a local housing authority; and

(bb)does not trade for profit; and

(ii)the authority has offered suitable alternative accommodation before the end of the six-week period referred to in sub-paragraph (b), but the person has chosen to remain in the said accommodation.

(3) If the suitable alternative accommodation offered for the purposes of paragraphs (1) or (2) is shared, it must meet the higher standard.

(4) In the case of households with dependant children or a pregnant woman, the offer made under paragraph (1)(d) or (e), or paragraph (2)(c) must be of suitable self-contained accommodation. In the case of an applicant who is a minor, the offer must be of suitable accommodation with support.

(5) In calculating a period, or total period, of a person’s occupation of shared accommodation for the purposes of paragraphs (1) or (2), there must be disregarded any period before an authority became subject to the duty under section 73 by virtue of sections 82(4) or 83(2) (local connection referrals).

PART 3Suitability of private rented sector accommodation for ending the section 75 duty to homeless applicants

8.  For the purposes of a private rented sector offer under section 76 (circumstances when the duty to secure accommodation for applicants in priority need ends), accommodation must not be regarded as suitable where one or more of the following apply—

(a)the authority is of the view that the accommodation is not in a reasonable physical condition;

(b)the authority is of the view that the accommodation does not comply with all statutory requirements (such as, where applicable, requirements relating to fire, gas, electrical, carbon monoxide and other safety; planning; and licences for houses in multiple occupation); or

(c)the authority is of the view that the landlord is not a fit and proper person within the meaning of section 20 to act in the capacity of landlord.

Revocation, transitional and saving provisions

9.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the following Orders are revoked—

(a)the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) Order 1996(5) insofar as it applies to Wales;

(b)the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Amendment) Order 1997(6) insofar as it applies to Wales; and

(c)the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales) Order 2006(7).

(2) The Orders revoked under paragraph (1) continue in force in respect of any application made under section 183 of the Housing Act 1996 prior to the date this Order comes into force.

Lesley Griffiths

Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, one of the Welsh Ministers

21 April 2015

Article 2

SCHEDULEHigher Standard

Space Standards

Space standards for sleeping accommodation

Room sizes where cooking facilities provided in a separate room/kitchen

Floor Area of RoomMaximum No of Persons
Not less than 6.5 square metres1 person
Not less than 10.2 square metres2 persons
Not less than 14.9 square metres3 persons
Not less than 19.6 square metres4 persons

Room sizes where cooking facilities provided within the room

Floor area of roomMaximum No of Persons
Not less than 10.2 square metres1 person
Not less than 13.9 square metres2 persons
Not less than 18.6 square metres3 persons
Not less than 23.2 square metres4 persons

For the purposes of the room size calculations above, a child less than 10 years old is treated as a half person.

(a)No room to be occupied by more than 4 persons, except where the occupants consent.

(b)No sharing of rooms for those of opposite genders, aged 10 or above unless they are living together as partners and both are over the age of consent, or where a parent or guardian elects to share with an older child.

(c)All rooms must have a floor to ceiling height of at least 2.1 metres over not less than 75% of the room area. Any part of the room where the ceiling height is less than 1.5 metres must be disregarded when calculating the floor area.

(d)Separate kitchens and bathrooms are unsuitable for sleeping accommodation.

Installation for heating

2.  The accommodation must have adequate provision for heating. All habitable rooms and bath- or shower-rooms must be capable of maintaining the room at a minimum temperature of 18°C when the outside temperature is minus 1°C.

Facilities for storage, preparation and cooking of food within the unit of accommodation

3.—(1) In a unit of accommodation accommodating more than one person, the food preparation area provided within the unit must include the following facilities:

(a)four burners/hobs, conventional oven and grill, or two burners/hobs and a microwave with a built in oven and grill;

(b)a sink and integral drainer, with a constant supply of hot water and cold drinking water;

(c)a storage cupboard of a minimum capacity 0.2 cubic metres excluding storage beneath the sink;

(d)a refrigerator;

(e)a minimum of four 13 amp sockets (single or double) situated over the worktop;

(f)a worktop for food preparation of minimum dimensions 1 metre x 0.6 metre; and

(g)a minimum of 1 metre circulation space from facilities to other furniture in the room.

(2) In a unit of accommodation accommodating one person, the food preparation area provided within the unit of accommodation must include the following facilities:

as (a) – (g) above but (a) to have a minimum of two burners/hobs.

Storage, preparation and cooking of food in a shared facility

4.—(1) Where food preparation areas are shared between more than one household there must be one set of kitchen facilities for:

(a)every 3 family households or fewer;

(b)every 5 single-person households or fewer (for between 6 and 9 single-person households an additional oven or microwave is required);

(c)every 10 persons or fewer where there is a mixture of family and single-person households within the same premises.

(2) Each set of shared facilities must provide the following facilities:

(a)as those in paragraph 3(1)(a) to (g) except that cooking facilities must consist of 4 burners or hobs, and a conventional oven, a grill and a microwave;

(b)an electric kettle; and

(c)a toaster.

(3) The food preparation area used by the manager may be included when calculating the ratio, provided it meets the criteria for storage, preparation and cooking of food in a shared facility.

(4) Where residents have no access to kitchen facilities and the manager provides at least a breakfast and evening-meal for residents, the requirements for shared kitchen facilities will be deemed to have been met.

(5) Additional facilities to be provided in each bedroom or within the total accommodation occupied exclusively by each household must include;

(a)a refrigerator; and

(b)lockable storage.

Alternatively, these may be provided elsewhere within the building.

Toilet and washing facilities

5.—(1) Facilities for the exclusive use of the person or household must include:

(a)a bath or shower;

(b)a wash hand basin with a constant supply of hot and cold water; and

(c)a water-closet either en-suite or in a separate room reserved for the exclusive use of a person or a household.

(2) Shared facilities must include:

(a)one water closet and wash hand basin with a constant supply of hot and cold water within the building for every five households or fewer. This must be located not more than one floor away from the intended users. For the first five households the water closet and wash hand basin may be in the shower or bathroom. All additional water closets and wash hand basins for occupancies of six households or more must be in a separate compartment;

(b)one bathroom or shower-room to be provided for every five persons. This must be located not more than one floor away from the intended users; and

(c)in premises accommodating children under the age of 10, at least half of the bathing facilities must contain baths suitable for children.

(3) The number of persons occupying a unit of accommodation with a water closet facility provided for their exclusive use must not be included in the calculation for shared water closets.

Security

6.  The entrance door to each unit of accommodation must be lockable and be capable of being unlocked from inside without the use of a key.

Common Room (s)

7.  Every premises must have a common room of at least 12 square metres unless all households have a living area separate from their sleeping area that is available for their exclusive use, or the premises are for single person households only.

Management Standards(8)

8.—(1) Each household must be issued with written ‘house rules’ which include details as to how sanctions for breach of the rules will be applied. The house rules must be approved by the authority placing homeless households in the premises.

(2) Each household must be issued with written information relating to the premises including how to operate all installations, for example heating and hot water appliances and fire fighting equipment.

(3) Written information must be made available to residents relating to the local area including the location or contact details of local facilities, laundrettes, doctors’ surgeries and schools.

(4) Residents must have access to their rooms at all times except when rooms are being cleaned or otherwise maintained. Provision must be made to accommodate residents at these times.

(5) Access must be allowed for the appropriate officers of the local housing authority in whose area the premises are situated, and officers of any authority placing homeless households in the premises, to inspect the premises as and when they consider necessary, to ensure that the relevant standards are being complied with; and that the manager will allow such inspections to take place, if necessary without notice.

(6) Access must be allowed for the officers of the local authority and authorised health and community workers for the area in which the accommodation is situated, to visit the homeless households occupying the accommodation and interview them in private in the room(s) they occupy.

(7) A manager with adequate day to day responsibility to ensure the good management of the property who can be contacted at all times. A notice giving the name, address and telephone number of the manager must be displayed in a readily visible position in the property.

(8) A clear emergency evacuation plan must be in place setting out action required upon hearing the fire alarm, escape routes and safe assembly points. A manager must ensure that each person newly arriving at the premises is told what to do in the event of a fire and about fire precautions provided.

(9) Each household must be issued with a complaints procedure which specifies how a complaint can be made. This information must also include where the complainant can obtain further advice and assistance.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order)

When discharging a housing function to secure that accommodation is available for an applicant who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, under Part 2 (Homelessness) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”), a local housing authority (“authority”) must ensure that the accommodation is suitable. Section 59 of the 2014 Act (suitability of accommodation) specifies certain matters to be taken into account when determining suitability for the purposes of Part 2 of the 2014 Act.

By section 59(3)(a) of the 2014 Act, the Welsh Ministers have the power to specify circumstances in which accommodation is, or is not, to be regarded as suitable for a person. By section 59(3)(b), the Welsh Ministers may also specify matters which an authority must take into account, or disregard, in determining whether accommodation is suitable.

This Order is divided into three parts. Part 1 specifies matters which authorities must take into account in determining the suitability of accommodation. Part 2 specifies when B&B and shared accommodation are not suitable to be used for temporary accommodation. Part 3 specifies when private rented sector accommodation is not suitable for discharging the duties under section 75 of the 2014 Act. This Order comes into force on 27 April 2015.

This Order applies to a household which the authority has reason to believe, or is satisfied, is owed a duty under sections 68, 75 or 82 of the 2014 Act.

Part 1 of this Order applies to households containing persons who are, or may be in priority need. Article 3 specifies matters to be taken into account, where appropriate, in determining whether accommodation is suitable for a person. These matters relate to the health needs or disability of an applicant or a member of the applicant’s household, and the proximity of social services, medical facilities and other essential support. Possible disruption to employment, education or caring responsibilities must also be considered, as must the proximity of any relevant domestic abuse perpetrator or victim.

Part 2 applies to interim accommodation made available, under the duties in section 68 of the 2014 Act, to those who are, or may be in priority need. It also applies to temporary accommodation provided, under the duties in sections 75 and 82 of the 2014 Act, to those in priority need.

Article 4 of Part 2 specifies when Bed and Breakfast (“B&B”) accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable accommodation for a person who is, or may be, in priority need. B&B accommodation is defined as commercially provided accommodation which, whether or not breakfast is provided, is not self contained or which involves sharing certain amenities with another household.

Article 5 provides that shared accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable for a person who is, or may be in priority need unless it meets the higher standard as defined in article 2 of this Order.

Articles 4 and 5 are subject to the exceptions in articles 6 and 7.

Article 6 sets out the exceptions to articles 4 and 5 for all types of accommodation.

Article 7(1) sets out the exceptions to article 4 on the use of B&B accommodation. These exceptions relate to minimum standards, duration of occupation, and the choice of the applicant. Except where the higher standard is required (and subject to the exceptions in article 6), B&B accommodation must be of at least the basic standard to be regarded as suitable for the purposes of providing temporary accommodation for households who are or may be in priority need under Part 2 of the 2014 Act. The basic standard requires that the B&B accommodation must meet all statutory requirements. Some examples are fire and gas safety, planning permission and HMO licencing (where required). The premises must also be managed by a fit and proper person.

Article 7(2) sets out the exceptions to article 5 on the use of shared accommodation. These relate to minimum standards of accommodation, duration of occupation, and the choice of the applicant. It also provides an exception for some refuges from domestic abuse.

Article 7 also specifies circumstances in which accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable. It does this by specifying higher minimum standards for shared B&B and shared accommodation which is used for longer periods of temporary accommodation for households who are, or may be in priority need of accommodation.

In calculating the total period of time during which a household containing a person in priority need has been housed in B&B accommodation, an authority is to disregard any period spent in such accommodation where such an applicant was being housed by another local housing authority prior to the conditions for a referral being met in accordance with sections 80 to 83 of the 2014 Act. Those sections provide that, where an authority is of the opinion that the conditions for a referral are met and that an applicant has a local connection with the area of another local housing authority, it may refer the applicant to that authority and, if the conditions for referral are met, the second local housing authority is subject to the duty under section 73 of the 2014 Act in respect of the applicant.

Part 3 of the Order relates to private rented sector accommodation offered in discharge of an authority’s duties to homeless applicants in priority need of accommodation as provided by section 76(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. Article 8 specifies circumstances in which such accommodation is not to be regarded as suitable.

Article 9 makes provision for revocation of the previous suitability Orders in Wales made under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. Paragraph (2) makes transitional and saving provisions for those applicants who have applied before this Order has come into force.

(2)

See the definition of “local housing authority” in section 99 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

(4)

See the definition of “priority need” in section 70 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

(8)

The management standards are in addition to the standards contained in the Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990.

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