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Homelessness- The suitability of bed and breakfast accommodation

Solicitors in London

News article published on: 25th March 2019

There is tremendous pressure on local authorities to house individuals and families for many reasons including unaffordable private rents and the cap on housing benefit as a result of which many poor and low earning families are priced out of the housing rental market and find themselves in desperate need and turn to their local authority for housing assistance.

However local authorities often respond by placing homeless households in bed and breakfast accommodation. But can this be challenged?

Bed and breakfast accommodation means accommodation (whether or not breakfast is included) which is not separate and self-contained premises; and in which any one of the following amenities is shared by more than one household;

  1. A toilet;
  2. Personal washing facilities;
  3. Cooking facilities,

Factors to consider when considering bed and breakfast

It is government policy to discourage local authorities from placing homeless individuals into bed and breakfast accommodation. This type of accommodation has always been considered undesirable for many reasons. The practical effects of living in such type of accommodation limits privacy for individuals and can lack the use of important amenities such as cooking and laundry facilities. In accordance with the Homelessness Code of Guidance 2006, living in bed and breakfast accommodation can be particularly detrimental to the health and development of children. Such accommodation, normally in hotels, is likely to fall into one of the most costly types of temporary accommodation available to house the homeless.

Bed and breakfast accommodation is not considered to be suitable at all for the following categories of individuals including;

  • Households with children
  • Households containing a pregnant woman.

If a household falls into one of the above two categories then bed and breakfast accommodation is only considered suitable for a very short period, if it is unavoidable. Local authorities, when placing these two groups into such accommodation, even for short periods must take into consideration factors such as whether the individual will have access to their room throughout the day and have adequate access to cooking facilities. In the case of families with young children, the facilities should include safe play areas, which are located away from sleeping accommodation and cooking areas.

Length of time in bed and breakfast accommodation

The Homeless (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003, SI no 3326 prohibits local authorities from using bed and breakfast accommodation for any period (or periods) exceeding 6 weeks, for the categories of individuals listed above. This does not apply to accommodation which is owned or managed by a local authority, a registered social landlord or a voluntary organisation.

The latest homelessness statistics show a 14% increase in both families in bed and breakfast accommodation and in applicants placed in temporary accommodation out-of-district. There are in the region of 760 families currently placed in bed and breakfast accommodation for a period longer than 6 weeks many of these households are based in London. Such is the magnitude of this housing crisis, that the government has now responded with an initiative and set up a £1.8m fund to help those local authorities which reply on bed and breakfast accommodation the most to enable them to try and find solutions to this problem.

Pregnancy and bed and breakfast accommodation

If you are pregnant or someone in your household is pregnant or have children living with you, then you must not be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation for a period exceeding 6 weeks.

How Osbornes can help you

If you have lived in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer then 6 weeks and wish to discuss your case with an experienced housing solicitor please do not hesitate to contact us at Osbornes Solicitors.

We will be able to advise you whether you are able to challenge your local authorities decision to leave you in such unsuitable accommodation.

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