Ending the S188(1) Interim Accommodation Duty

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

It has been generally thought that issuing a S184 not in priority need decision was sufficient for a local authority to terminate S188(1) interim accommodation which had been provided to the applicant pending the outcome of their homeless application. Such accommodation was provided on the basis that the local authority had reason to believe that the applicant was homeless, eligible and have a priority need. In R(Mitchell) v. Islington LBC [2020] EWHC, the High Court held that this was not sufficient.

S188 of the Housing Act 1996 states:

Interim duty to accommodate in case of apparent priority need.

(1) If the local housing authority have reason to believe that an applicant may be homeless, eligible for assistance and have a priority need, they must secure that accommodation is available for the applicant's occupation.

(1ZA) In a case in which the local housing authority conclude their inquiries undersection 184 and decide that the applicant does not have a priority need—

(a) where the authority decide that they do not owe the applicant a duty undersection 189B(2), the duty under subsection (1) comes to an end when the authority notify the applicant of that decision, or

(b) otherwise, the duty under subsection (1) comes to an end upon the authority notifying the applicant of their decision that, upon the duty undersection 189B(2) coming to an end, they do not owe the applicant any duty under section 190 or 193.

The High Court held that where S188(1ZA)(b) applies not only does a local authority have to issue a S184 not in priority need decision it also has to notify the applicant that it has decided that when its duty under S189B(2) comes to an end, it will not owe the applicant a duty under section 190 or section 193 of the 1996 Act. The notification, however, does not need to be sent in a separate letter and can be included in the S184 not in priority need letter. It is important to note that Section 190 relates to duties to those found intentionally homeless and Section 193 relates to the main duty.

It also important to inform the applicant that the relief duty will continue, assuming that you have not issued the S184 not in priority need decision after the relief duty has been brought to an end.

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