EPCs essential before moving homeless into privately rented homes says Shapps

Posted: 12/06/2012

The housing minister Grant Shapps announced yesterday that an Energy Performance Certificate is part of the essential criteria before councils can move vulnerable homeless families into privately rented accommodation.

The announcement is part of a group of measures to help councils tackle the longest waiting lists for social housing in history, which has doubled in the last 15 years. The record amount of people waiting for council housing must be tackled before more and more families are forced onto the streets.

The new guidance that will be finalised on the 26th July is designed to allow local authorities to discharge their legal duty to vulnerable residents who are homeless through no fault of their own and can offer them privately rented accommodation.

The current law mean that homeless have the right to refuse privately rented accommodation but councils must still find housing for them. This leads to expensive temporary housing which could be a thing of the past once the new laws come into effect.

Grant Shapps announced the proposed guidance for councils yesterday which contains a list of safeguards that private landlords must meet before councils can use their housing for homeless families.

The safeguard list includes the following essential criteria;

> Valid EPC

> Up to date Gas Safety record

> Fire and electrical safety checks on all appliances and furnishings

> Local authority approved written tenancy agreement

The criteria is there to guarantee the accommodation meets the highest standard of safe and secure living and the new act will ensure the privately rented accommodation will be available for a minimum fixed term of a year. However, a contract can be cancelled if suitable social housing has been allocated for the family.

The Government believes that an EPC provides an indication of good management practice by the landlord and energy efficiency will also be an important issue for low income households. Local Authorities must ensure that the landlord has an EPC for the properby however. if the landlord is unable to produce a valid EPC, the accommodation should not to be regarded as suitable.

Although there is no requirements by law for landlords to provide a written tenancy agreement, The Government believes it is important that homeless families are provided with a clear statement of the rent and other charges, their obligations and those of the landlord. Accommodation will not be suitable to be used as homeless accommodation unless the landlord provides a written tenancy agreement and the local authority approves the written agreement.

If you’re a landlord, would you offer your property to the council to help the homeless? What problems and benefits do you think you could face as a landlord if you’re renting your property as an alternative to social housing?

To purchase Energy Performance Certificates direct from Pali please call 0151 691 1170

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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