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Homelessness Act 2002

Allocations under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996

37.Section 13 amends section 159 of the 1996 Act (allocation of housing accommodation) to provide that an allocation of accommodation to an existing tenant falls within Part 6 of the 1996 Act where the allocation involves a transfer of accommodation made in response to an application by the transferee.   All other allocations made to existing tenants remain outside Part 6.

38.Section 14 provides that authorities are no longer required to maintain a housing register (and, in consequence, sections 161 to 165 of the 1996 Act are repealed).

39.Section 14 also inserts a new section 160A into the 1996 Act. Section 160A concerns eligibility for an allocation of accommodation (and replaces section 161). Any person is eligible unless they are subject to immigration control, or they are fall within a class of persons from abroad prescribed by the Secretary of State as ineligible. If they are a person subject to immigration control they are eligible if they fall within a class of persons prescribed by the Secretary of State as eligible.

40.Section 160A also provides that housing authorities may treat an applicant as ineligible for accommodation if he or a member of his household has been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make him unsuitable to be a tenant of the authority.  Unacceptable behaviour can only be behaviour that would entitle the housing authority to a possession order if the applicant were a secure tenant of the authority.

41.The housing authority must notify the applicant in writing where it decides that he is ineligible, or to be treated as ineligible, giving grounds for their decision.  Applicants who consider they should no longer be treated as ineligible by a housing authority may make a fresh application for an allocation.

42.Section 14 also provides that those who, immediately prior to commencement of the section, were either on the housing register, or had made an application to be put on the housing register which had not been determined, must be treated on commencement as having applied to the housing authority for housing accommodation.

43.Section 15 substitutes new section 166 (applications for housing accommodation) for that relating to information about the housing register (in consequence of the abolition of the requirement to maintain a register).

44.New section 166(1) concerns the provision of advisory services. Housing authorities must ensure that advice and information is available free to everyone in its district about the right to make applications for housing accommodation.  Housing authorities must also ensure that any necessary assistance is available free of charge to those within their district who are likely to have difficulty in making an application.

45.Under new section 166(2) applicants are required to inform applicants of the rights they have under new section 167(4A) (see paragraphs 50 and 51 below).  Under new section 166(4) authorities are prohibited from divulging to the public (without his consent) that a person has applied for housing.

46.Section 16 amends section 167 of the 1996 Act (allocation in accordance with allocation scheme). Section 167(2) is substituted by new provisions that set out revised categories of applicants who must be given reasonable preference in allocations. These are:

  • people who are homeless;

  • people owed certain homelessness duties;

  • people living in unsatisfactory housing conditions (including insanitary or overcrowded housing);

  • people with a particular need to move on medical or welfare grounds; and

  • people with a particular need to move to avoid hardship to themselves or others.

47.New section 167(2) also provides that allocations may be framed so as to give additional preference to particular descriptions of people who fall within the reasonable preference categories and have urgent housing needs.

48.Section 16(3) inserts new subsections (2A) to (2D) in section 167 of the 1996 Act to supplement the provisions on the giving of reasonable preference in an allocation scheme.

49.New subsection 167(2A) provides that allocation schemes may include provision for determining priorities as between applicants who fall within the reasonable and additional preference categories. The factors which can be taken into account in determining priorities may include:

  • the financial resources available to an applicant to meet his housing costs;

  • any behaviour of a person (or a member of his household) which affects his suitability to be a tenant; or

  • any links which a person has with the local authority district.

50.New subsections 167(2B) to 167(2D) provide that nothing in new section 167(2) requires a scheme to provide for any preference to be given to any person if the housing authority is satisfied that he (or a member of his household) is guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make him unsuitable to be a tenant and that at the time his case is considered he does not deserve to be accorded any preference.

The test of unacceptable behaviour set out in new section 160A (8) (see paragraph 40 above) applies here.

51.Section 16(3) also inserts new section 167(2E) which provides that, subject to  new section 167(2), allocation schemes may contain provisions about allocating particular accommodation to:

  • persons who make a specific application for that accommodation; or

  • persons of a particular description (whether or not they fall within the reasonable preference categories).

52.Section 16(4) inserts a new subsection 167(4A).  This requires allocation schemes to be framed to give an applicant the right to request information which will enable him to assess how his application is likely to be treated (for example, whether he will attract reasonable preference), whether appropriate accommodation is likely to be made available and, if so, when. In addition, authorities are required to notify an applicant in writing of any decision that he is not to be given preference because of unacceptable behaviour, and the grounds for the decision.

53.New section 167(4A) also requires allocation schemes to be framed so as to secure that an applicant for housing accommodation has the right to request the authority to inform him of any decision about the facts of his case which have been, or are likely to be, taken into account in considering whether to allocate accommodation to him.  Schemes must also be framed so as to secure that applicants have the right to request a review of decisions not to give any preference under new section 167(2C),  decisions about the facts of their case and decisions to treat as ineligible under section 160A(9)).

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