22 March 2019 | Comment | Article by Rebecca Rees

Will the Renting Homes (Wales) Act impact hostel license exclusions?

In this blog, we will look at a recent case, Kirby v Salvation Army Hostel Association (unrep). The Claimant, Mr Kirby, had been occupying a room in the Salvation Army’s hostel but had fallen into arrears of £13,000. The hostel provided accommodation for homeless persons. The Salvation Army served a Notice to Quit, to end his licence. Mr Kirby then went to the High Court and obtained a ‘without notice injunction’ to prevent the Salvation Army from evicting him. Nonetheless, the Salvation Army evicted him; Mr Kirby obtained a further High Court order requiring the Salvation Army to re-admit him. The Salvation Army complied.

Eviction without a court order

Mr Kirby argued that the arrears were a result of the Salvation Army’s failure to complete a housing benefit application. He alleged the eviction breached the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the Protection from Harassment Act 1977. Mr Kirby argued that the court should continue with the injunction and view the threat of eviction as harassment.

The judge held that the court that granted the injunction had been misled as to its powers, where the occupant had a licence which did not fall within the Protection From Eviction Act. This does not apply to accommodation provided in a hostel. As such, the Salvation Army were entitled to end it and evict Mr Kirby without a court order. Furthermore, the Claimant should not have issued proceedings in The High Court.

Will this case look different in Wales once the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force?

Possibly! The full judgment is not to hand and so at the time of writing, we do not know the exact circumstances in which Mr Kirby came to be housed in the hostel. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act does not provide a blanket exclusion for hostels in the same way as the 1977 Act does. Only Direct Access Hostels – those providing accommodation for 24 hours or less – are excluded automatically.

Supported Accommodation

If Mr Kirby was housed in Wales, by an organisation's arrangement with the local authority to provide accommodation to assist the local authority to discharge its homelessness functions, then his occupation would not fall within the 2016 Act, until a year has passed from the outcome of his homelessness assessment. As such, he could still be given a licence, which will operate in exactly the same way as in this case for that period.

Alternatively, if he was housed in “supported accommodation” as defined by the Act, he could have a licence for a period of up to 6 months.

However, he is likely to have an occupation contract under the 2016 Act, if;

  • the organisation housed him on any other basis than as a result of the local authority’s homelessness functions
  • the accommodation does not fall within the definition of “supported accommodation”;
  • he stayed for a period beyond those allowed by the Act.

In either case this would take much longer to end (and could in some circumstances be secure).

For more information on this topic or to speak to our Housing Management team, please contact us on 029 2267 5560.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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