When to Deliberately Go Out Of Your Way To Get Someone Made Homeless
Learn how you can be quickly rehoused, jump to the top of the waiting list and receive £4000 in compensation (more if you are a home owner), just for being made homeless.
Most of the time, anyone in the business of providing housing advice, is working hard focussed on trying to avoid a client becoming homeless. As individuals, we generally don't do things that we expect will result in our becoming homeless. Makes sense yes? Yet there exists a certain set of circumstances that, if you or a client fit within, mean it may prove very profitable indeed to go all out to getting this person made homeless. I'm talking about Housing Orders or Prohibition Orders (PO). Specifically, ones that the Land Compensation Act applies to.
Housing orders cover a variety of notices which a local authority can issue due to a Category 1 or 2 hazard being found. One of the options is to issue a Prohibition Order which means that the Council consider the accommodation unsuitable to be occupied and whoever the PO is applying to must move out of the dwelling. The guidance document for accommodation conditions and assessment is 'Housing Health and Safety Rating System Operating Guidance' along with the Housing Act 2004 itself (links below).
The guidance document for the compensation duties is ‘LACORS: Regulation of ‘Crowding and Space’ in Residential Premises’. (links below). Look on page 26: Part 8: Duties to rehouse or secure accommodation and page 30: Part 9: Compensation. These two sections set out the duties to rehouse and compensate anyone displaced from their accommodation due to a Prohibition Order being made by the Council.
The LACORS guidance says: "Where occupants may be displaced by the effect of a PO made under section 20 or 21 of the HA2004 councils have an obligation to re-house under section 39 of the LCA1973." Where the correct circumstances apply, yes, there really is a duty to rehouse.
Furthermore: "In such a case, the council will have a duty to secure that all displaced persons are provided with suitable alternative residential accommodation on reasonable terms. Unlike duties to secure accommodation under Part 7 HA1996 (the homelessness legislation), the duty to rehouse under section 39 of the LCA1973 applies to all displaced persons, not just those who the council consider to have a priority need for accommodation (and their household members)." The beauty of this is that it is about the building not the person, so priority need is completely irrelevant.
You can also jump over the entire 'waiting list': "...an offer of housing made to discharge a duty to rehouse under section 39 of the LCA1973 falls outside the council’s allocation scheme under Part 6, so priority under the Part 6 scheme would not be required before an allocation could be made. "
Not only can Prohibition Orders provide rehousing, they can also provide cash by way of compensation for the Council having forced someone to lose their home. "A council will have a duty to make a home loss payment when a person is displaced from a dwelling following the making of a Housing Order, which is deemed as a PO made under section 20 or 21 of the HA2004. … For owner-occupiers, a home loss payment is calculated as 10% of the market value of their interest in the dwelling up to a maximum of £47,000 and a minimum of £4,700. … Currently home loss payments for anyone other than an owner-occupier are set by regulation at £4,000. The home loss payment is only due where the displacement from the land occurs as a direct result of the requirements of a PO. … To qualify for a home loss payment, a person must have occupied the land as their only or main residence for at least one year up to the date of displacement and have an interest or right to occupy the dwelling, as de ned in section 29(4) of the LCA1973. "
How often you come across clients living in such sub-standard accommodation that you think a PO might apply will depend largely on the state of the housing stock in the area you live or work in (or that your clients do). It might crop up only occasionally or it might be common. If you think it is going to apply, use the two guidance documents to check the details of you or your client’s circumstances. If the criteria apply then the next step is to contact the Private Sector team of your local council. Remember - this has nothing to do with homelessness or the homeless team nor their legislation. This is to do with property conditions; we're bypassing the housing-options-prevention-homelessness-team entirely.
In reality, the best approach is to present the Private Sector team with your evidence and why you think that the grounds for issuing a Prohibition Order apply. Obviously, you will be arguing this because you just don’t want to see someone living in such bad conditions and you are hoping the council can help (what you are really hoping for of course is an apparently catastrophic eviction of the person from their home). Talk of rehousing and compensation at this stage would be premature and probably counter-productive. Enforcement Officers wont be rushed (you don’t want an Emergency PO issued after all - no grounds for compensation with those), and the issuing of a PO is not to be done lightly. Following any inspection and assessment, the landlord must also be given a chance to put things right and in any case, a person has 28 days to move out. These things are not issued lightly, so make your case smartly.
Once it is issued however, then you are quite within your rights to ask about the rehousing and when the compensation of £4000 or more will be paid and whether they need the person’s bank account details. You probably wouldn’t be asking this of the Enforcement Team directly. It is the Council, not the Department, that is making the payments (though of course Accounts and Directors will no shortly be discussing the case with the Enforcement Team internally).
What makes all of this so useful is that the officers responsible for issuing PO's typically have no idea of the existence of these compensation duties. Their focus is on health and safety and they have enough on their plate, in dealing with recalcitrant landlords and trying to understand and apply the complicated legislation of and guidance around the Housing Act 2004 that they work to. Compensation Orders are a different area of law and its not typically something they will be thinking about. In my experience, most of the time, they've never even heard of them. Something which an advisor can use to a client's advantage.
How many times you will get away with this is anyone’s guess. After being stung once, the Council is likely to try to find different ways to deal with families in poor housing conditions; ways that don’t incur compensation duties. For subsequent cases you will have to argue that remaining in the property is not reasonable and if the Council has a duty to act then it doesn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. Try to keep a straight face when innocently stating that you believe perhaps a PO might be called for. Though future cases may be more difficult, after winning this the first time you've effectively set a precedent. If similar circumstances arise again, your argument will may focus on inconsistency and reasonable expectations.
The links below point either to a shared Google drive with these and many more documents relevant to the book (as links change or die) or to current web pages. I have included a general link to the Google Drive folder and file specific links.
References and Links:
LACORS: Regulation of ‘Crowding and Space’ in Residential Premises.
On the web at: Not easy to find now. Stratford Council has a copy on their website: http://bit.ly/2nIloyx
On the Google Drive folder for the book here: https://goo.gl/CxJljE
Direct File link: http://bit.ly/2nIzi3R
Housing Orders: ODPM Housing Health and Safety Rating System Operating Guidance.
On the web at: http://bit.ly/1gp8MOB
On the Google Drive folder for the book here: https://goo.gl/CxJljE
Direct File link: http://bit.ly/2o7UvQS
For the legislation itself see:
Housing Act 2004: http://bit.ly/2o9oesI
Land Compensation Act 1973 (LCA1973): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/26/contents
and specifically Section 39: Duty to rehouse residential occupiers: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/26/section/39