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NEW RIGHTS FOR HOMELESS

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New measures to improve access to housing and strengthen the rights of homeless people have been announced. ...
New measures to improve access to housing and strengthen the rights of homeless people have been announced.

From 1 April everyone aged 16 or over in Scotland will have the right to register on any Scottish local authority or Registered Social Landlord's housing list.

Other new provisions will result in the following improvements to rights for homeless people:

* a statutory right to request a review of decisions taken by the local authority

* a change in the definition of 'threatened with homelessness' which will extend the period in which local authorities can act to support those facing homelessness from 28 days to 2 months

* accommodation provided by authorities for homeless applicants must meet their special needs and be reasonable to occupy

These measures will contribute to a strengthening of the rights of homeless people and the duties that are owed to them and are based on the recommendations contained in the homelessness task force's first report.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 (Commencement No.4, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2002, has been made by Iain Gray, minister for social justice today. The Order commences certain provisions in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 ('The Act'), with effect from 1 April 2002.

Section 3(1)(a) - amends section 24(1) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987so that a person is homeless if he has no accommodation in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, rather than in Scotland, England or Wales as at present.

Section 3(1)(c) - amends section 24(4) of the 1987 Act so that a person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he will become homeless within 2 months rather than within 28 days as at present.

Section 3(4)(b) - amends section 32 of the 1987 Act so that accommodation provided under sections 31 or 32 of that Act must meet any special needs of the applicant and be reasonable to occupy.

Section 4 - amends the 1987 Act to introduce a right to request review of homeless decisions for applicants; a duty on local authorites to notify applicants of that right; and the procedures to be followed on review.

Sections 9 and 10 amend the provisions in sections 19 and 20 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 ('the 1987 Act'), which govern admission to a local authority housing list and allocation of local authority housing.

Section 19(1) of the 1987 Act as amended will now extend a right to register on a housing list for accommodation held by local authorities or registered social landlords to anyone aged 16 or over.

Section 20 of the 1987 Act as amended provides additional criteria governing the operation of the housing list by a local authority or registered social landlord.

The 2001 Act both amends these provisions and extends them to registered social landlords to create a common legislative framework for all social landlords. These provisions, therefore, complement the new Scottish secure tenancy and single regulatory framework (established by Parts 2 and 3 of the 2001 Act) which will apply equally to local authorities and registered social landlords.

The provisions relating to housing lists and allocations commenced under this Order, together with guidance on implementation, were set out in SEDD Circular 1/2002, Housing (Scotland) Act 2001: Housing Lists and Allocations, issued to social landlords and other housing interests 27 February 2001 (see here).

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