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Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA)

Find out how the HRA changed the way we deal with homelessness

The Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) came into force on 3 April 2018.

It places new duties on housing authorities to:

  • intervene earlier to prevent homelessness
  • take reasonable steps to relieve homelessness for all eligible people, not just those with 'priority need'

It doesn't replace previous legislation but adds new duties. 

The three main aims of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) are to:

  • prevent more people from becoming homeless by identifying people at risk and intervening earlier with solutions to fit their needs
  • intervene quickly so homelessness is brief and non-recurrent (if it occurs)
  • help more people recover from homelessness by getting them back on their feet

It aims to reduce homelessness by:

  • improving the quality of advice available
  • refocusing local authorities on prevention work
  • increasing support for single people
  • joining up services to provide better support for people, especially those leaving prison/hospital and other groups at increased risk of homelessness 

The HRA act made a number of changes to how local authorities deal with homelessness. These are explained below. 

Improved advice

Local Authorities must give free information and advice on:

  • preventing homelessness and securing accommodation when homeless
  • the rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • how to get help
  • information on:
    • tenants' rights
    • rights to benefits
    • advice on debt, rent and mortgage arrears
    • help for people at risk of violence and abuse
    • how to get accommodation in the social or private rented sector

New 'prevention duty'

Local Authorities must take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness for any eligible applicant at risk of homelessness within 56 days, regardless of priority need. This can involve assisting them to stay in their current accommodation or helping them find a new place to live. 

New 'relief duty'

Local Authorities must take reasonable steps to help the applicant secure suitable accommodation. Examples of this could include funding a rent deposit or working with a private landlord to make a property available. 

Personal housing plans and process changes

Local Authorities must carry out a holistic assessment of the applicant's housing needs, support needs and the circumstances that led them to becoming homeless. This will be carried out by our Housing team and may take up to 10 days to complete. Applicants may experience longer interviews as more in-depth information is needed to develop the following Personal Housing Plan. 

A Personal Housing Plan sets out the reasonable steps the applicant, Fenland District Council and other professionals (if applicable) will take to prevent or relieve their homelessness. 

Duty to refer

Specified 'public bodies' must refer (with consent) details of any person they are aware of who is at risk of homelessness within 56 days to the housing team. 

Care leaver

As well as having a local connection to the authority who looked after them, a care leaver will also have a local connection with an area if they have lived there for 2 years. This includes some time before their 16th birthday. 

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