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Luton Borough Council

Policy and legislation


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Homeless Reduction Act 2017 (HRA)

In 2017, parliament passed the HRA. This is changing how we help people or households who are or may become homeless.

The new law focuses on preventing homelessness happening in the first place, and reduces the need for people to go into emergency or temporary accommodation. It also aims to deliver better outcomes for single homeless people.

What this means for you

From 3 April 2018, any person or household who asks us for help if they are homeless or are at risk of being homeless receives support under the new rules. This means that:

  • you can ask us for help up to 56 days before you think you might become homeless
  • if you're facing homelessness, we'll work with you to develop a personal housing plan - this plan sets out the steps that will help to prevent you losing your home, or to help you find another home
  • we'll support you to prevent your homelessness or help you find another home
  • we'll keep your circumstances under review, however if you do not work with us we can decide that we cannot help you further
  • you'll have the right to request a review of how we have tried to help

We must support you to resolve your homelessness, but this does not mean that we'll will accommodate you. If we're unable to stop you becoming homeless we'll assist you to find an alternative home.

If we're unable to do so and you remain homeless then those in priority need have a right to be rehoused, which is likely to be in temporary accommodation. Non-priority households will not be entitled to further help.

Helpful guidance explaining these changes can be found here:

HRA overview - GOV.UK

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Duty to refer

What is the duty to refer?

The Homeless Reduction Act 2017 introduced a new requirement on certain named public bodies to notify the council of services users who they think are homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days, to a local authority of the service users choice.

The following public authorities have the duty to refer:

  • prisons
  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentres in England
  • social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

I am part of an organisation, how can I refer someone?

If you are part of an organisation, whether it is specified above or not, please fill in the online form below or use the downloadable form and send to [email protected].

Housing referral form

Duty to refer form

Upon receipt of a referral, we'll investigate and establish whether the client should submit a full housing application.

Read duty to refer guidance

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Our duties to you

Prevention duty

’We will take reasonable steps to help you if you are threatened with homelessness. We’ll do everything that we can to help you to remain in your current home (if it is safe to do so). If we’re unable to keep you in your home we’ll try to help you to secure an alternative.

The prevention duty usually continues for 56 days unless it’s brought to an end by an event such as accommodation being secured for you, or by you becoming homeless.

Relief duty

If you're already homeless, or become homeless despite steps taken during the prevention stage, we'll focus on continuing to help you to secure accommodation. This relief duty lasts for 56 days unless it is ended in another way.

If we have reason to believe you may be eligible for assistance and have a priority need we'll provide you with interim accommodation while we continue to work with you to find a new home.

Main housing duty

If homelessness is not successfully prevented or relieved, we'll owe you what is called the main housing duty if you're:

  • still eligible
  • have a priority need for accommodation
  • not homeless intentionally

Under the main housing duty, we must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for you and your household until the duty is brought to an end. This can be ended in several ways such as an offer of suitable accommodation in the private sector.

The duty can also be brought to an end for other reasons, for example as a result of you turning down a suitable offer of temporary accommodation or because you are no longer eligible for assistance.

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Strategy and policy documents

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