The Party is over!!
Yesterday in what was quite frankly a bold and brassy move by the Majority Labour Party Administration who put forward plans for a major change to local homeless policy which essentially says; the party is over!
Councillors from all parties unanimously voted through a change in policy to be applied from today, which will bring the city into alignment with government policy to discharge homelessness duty into the private rented sector. And Out of Area Placements are Cemented, with an amendment offering a safeguarding mechanism /guarantee for those with a genuine local connection to Brighton & Hove voted though.
It is worth noting their has been absolutely no consultation.
I was lobbying hard on social media, and in private as the first draft, for many reasons it read like locals could also be purged. I often get people who are homeless and grew up here, locals and they would find themselves placed in temporary accommodation, these people placed out of area would tell me of the impacts on their day to day activities, stress and issues around disruption for their children, particularly those with autistic children, or other specific health or sensory impairments.
For many reasons also, section 21 no fault evictions, overcrowding at home, domestic violence, care leavers or young people with no family to really depend / rely on.
There are also cases after cases of people with complex issues and needs placed out of area, whom take their lives, get into hard drugs or develop severe health related issues, placed 30 miles away in towns like Eastbourne who are left and forgotten, I know of so many who go there on a bus and return in a body bag. Families are distraught.
Its for these people, and once I was that person and remember because I was blogging about the awful Percival Terrace Hostel I was staying at, the private landlords didn’t like and tried three times to revenge evict me, they failed but I needed powerful allies to go against the council, even without this policy, they was Newhaven and at that time terrified me due to being so unwell.
Vice-Chair Cllr Andrei Czolak chaired yesterdays Housing & New Homes Committee meeting in substitute for Absent but Expected Chair Cllr Williams and even told me off for jeering in the public gallery. A public gallery empty…
PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR OFFER POLICY Recommendations Voted for
RESOLVED: That Housing Committee:
Agree to insert into the policy that any out of city placement would only be undertaken as a last resort and in consultation with each household.
This will be inserted as an amendment therefore point 3.26 will be amended to state:
The policy allows the Council to also offer accommodation outside of the city to someone accepted as homeless by Brighton & Hove City Council. Any out of city placements would only be undertaken as a last resort and in consultation with each household. This means we will always present an option which would enable the household to be accommodated within Brighton & Hove. It would be that household’s choice whether they wanted to pursue the offer within Brighton & Hove. Examples where they may not want to consider this could be it is unsafe for them to live in the city; or they are already settled outside the city and feel moving back would cause disruption. This will be based on individual circumstances, but where a household choose the option within Brighton & Hove, this will be the option we prioritise.
Key Policy Changes To Note
- The policy would be applied on a case-by-case basis. However it considers a series of groups that will ordinarily be prioritised for private rented sector offers, such as households who have settled outside Brighton & Hove or those who have settled in Temporary Accommodation and can now be offered an Assured Short hold Tenancy.
- One suitable offer will be made, and the duty will be discharged if a household refuses the offer of accommodation, although households will have the right to request a statutory review of the discharge.
- Households may be made a private rented sector offer outside of Brighton & Hove, where appropriate, and support may be offered help to move.
- Households will mainly be offered Assured Shorthold Tenancy of at least 12- months
Key Changes To Note Personal Housing Plan
- The council homeless prevention officers will now be setting out a Personalised Housing Plans which outlines the reasonable steps that the Council and the person experiencing homelessness will take to ‘prevent’ or ‘relieve’ their homelessness.
- This will mean greater expectation of the homeless customer to be actively pursuing, viewing and trying to secure Private Rented Accommodation.
- I wouldn’t bet against staff also looking and suggesting properties / making it clear, that if you do not have a genuine local connection to the city that you would be where it is safe to do so be expected to look for private rentals where your local connection will be. So if you have come here from Manchester, it will likely be that your personal housing plan will include you looking for properties their or the council will do it for you to discharge its homeless duty.
The suitability assessment will have regard to:
The household size and bedroom needs
Maintenance and security of the property
Location to services, amenities, support and place of work
Public Sector Equality Duty
Child welfare considerations (including educational needs).
Households have the statutory right to request a review of the suitability of the accommodation offer. The Council will determine that a property is not suitable if it is ‘of the view’ that in addition to the above any of the following apply:
The property is not in reasonable physical condition
any electrical equipment supplied with the accommodation does not meet legal requirements
The landlord has not taken reasonable fire safety precautions with the accommodation and any furnishings supplied with it
The landlord has not taken reasonable precautions to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning
The landlord is not a fit and proper person to act in the capacity of landlord
The accommodation is a house in multiple occupation subject to licensing and or additional licensing and is not licensed
The accommodation is or forms part of residential property which does not have a valid energy performance certificate
The accommodation is or forms part of relevant premises which do not have a current gas safety record
The landlord has not provided to the local housing authority a written tenancy agreement
Be aware you should really never complete a suitability review alone, due to the technical nature and the need to often evidence your households needs. We recommend Lawstop Brighton or Shelter who can assist you with a suitability review, if there is merit.
Remember you are expected to move into a property and then do a suitability review in general, so if this is PRS Id contact councillors & or an MP if you have concerns the policy is being misapplied and copy in [email protected] in.
If you read between the lines, I honestly think the council would do a lot in the 8 weeks to ensure the property is suitable before they concede and take a homeless duty another way, that could still be a private rented sector discharge of duty offer which is suitable.
When I write the party is over its because...
Well Brighton and Hove is known as a party town, boys meet girls, come here, girl leaves boy, he stays. Parties, goes down hill because of the issues in homeless hostels and other places and find themselves kinda trapped, I guess if they can lift themselves out of homelessness thats great, but gone are the more humanitarian days of the past in terms of policy and secure council homes after long waits in temporary accommodation these are gone.
If you have no claim to the city from today you will be relocated back to where you come from if it is safe to do so. No more parties in Brighton, the holiday is over.
Internal Fraud / Favouring
Right To Buy Increases As Demographic Changes, aka a loss of council homes.
Misuse of the policy and social injustice / legally challengeable decisions / Judicial Reviews
More Complaints to the Housing Ombudsman
More officer Time Spend Challenging Review Decisions over homeless prevention
There are a few more commitment the council make for a private rented sector homeless discharge offer:
Verify the tenancy that is being offered by the landlord to the household
Check the condition and standard of the property
Ensure that the landlord is a ‘fit and proper person’
Help to sustain a tenancy if things start to go wrong
Ensure that minimum standard repairs and safety requirements are met
The Council would also still retain a responsibility to households offered accommodation under this policy, including those who have accommodation offered outside of Brighton & Hove. This responsibility means that households that make a homeless application within two years of the date of their acceptance of a PRSO will be provided suitable interim accommodation, regardless of whether the household has a ‘priority need’, if the Council is satisfied that there is reason to believe that the household is eligible for assistance, homeless and not intentionally homeless.
So you will need to watch out for
Not being a contributing factor to the eviction, for example refusal to pay rent, damaging the property or anti social behaviour / criminal activity. If thats the case this would be deemed as Intentionally Homeless, not the councils issue, approach tour local council where you are placed.
Also if you are say placed in lewes thinking I will be back, if you get evicted or lose your Private Rented Sector Discharge after the two years, say though a section 21 or the landlord sells up, you will no longer have a local connection with Brighton and Hove and the location you were placed in the private sector will be local authority area you would need to approach for any new homeless help your household may need sadly.
Remember this Significant Amendment if in doubt...
The policy allows the Council to also offer accommodation outside of the city to someone accepted as homeless by Brighton & Hove City Council. Any out of city placements would only be undertaken as a last resort and in consultation with each household.
This means we will always present an option which would enable the household to be accommodated within Brighton & Hove.
It would be that household’s choice whether they wanted to pursue the offer within Brighton & Hove.
Examples where they may not want to consider this could be it is unsafe for them to live in the city; or they are already settled outside the city and feel moving back would cause disruption.
This will be based on individual circumstances, but where a household choose the option within Brighton & Hove, this will be the option we prioritise.