What are the key measures taken to prevent homelessness and protect the existing homeless population during the pandemic?
What are the implications of the crisis for the application of the existing homelessness legal regime;
How are the courts handling homelessness cases in practice during the emergency period?
The impact of Covid-19 on the homeless has been significant but largely unquantified
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry to examine:
How effective has the support provided by MHCLG and other Government departments in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on those in the private rented sector, rough sleepers, and the homeless?
What problems remain a current and immediate concern for these groups?
What might be the immediate post-lockdown impacts for these groups, and what action is needed to help with these?
KEY MEASURES TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS
Stay on possession proceedings
Notice period extended to three months
Extension of the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims to the cover claims by private landlords
Mortgage holidays for buy-to-let landlords and owner occupiers
Increase of housing benefit and universal credit
KEY MEASURES TO PROTECT THE HOMELESS
Exemptions from restrictions on movement for the homeless
Strategy to ‘bring in those on the streets to protect their health and stop wider transmission’ set out by the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness
£3.2 million in emergency funding for local authorities to support rough sleepers and vulnerable homeless people
Use of third party accommodation including hotels and B&Bs
Exemptions are available for providers who would have otherwise been required to close
Social landlords continue to move tenants on from temporary accommodation
IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19 FOR THE APPLICATION OF HOMELESSNESS LAW
Authorities must continue to accept homelessness applications
Housing relief duty
Those categorised as being particularly vulnerable to coronavirus
Victims of domestic violence
Reasonableness of continued occupation
Accommodation pending review
Proceeding by phone
Essential to have a channel of communication between legal representatives during the hearing
Protocol Regarding Remote Hearings
Public counters at the Administrative Court Office are now closed
Applications for immediate or urgent consideration should be made electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-urgent claims should be sent electronically to the general court office email address email@example.com.
The Administrative Court is now working remotely by Skype or BT meet me
Orders will be served on the parties by email
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL CARE OMBUDSMAN
The LGSCO has temporarily suspended all proceedings which require information from or action by local authorities or care providers
This will inevitably impact complaints about the handling of homelessness applications