Duty to refer (homelessness)

Our duties as a local housing authority are defined within the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and are set out fully on the Government’s website as a series of fact sheets.

You can also find further information in the Government's Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities

Requirements of the duty to refer

The duty requires the specified public authorities to identify and refer a service user who is homeless or may be threatened with homelessness, to a local housing authority of the service user’s choice.

The service user must consent to the referral being made. The consent can be made in writing or given orally, although the person referring should follow the agreed processes set out in their agency’s internal guidance, if applicable.

A person is considered homeless if:

  • they do not have any accommodation which is available for them which they have a legal right to occupy; or,
  • it is not reasonable for the person to occupy their current accommodation. For example, because they would be at risk of domestic abuse (see paragraphs 6.3 and 6.4 of the Homelessness code of guidance).

Someone is defined as being threatened with homelessness where they are likely to become homeless within 56 days, or have been served with a valid notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 by their landlord, which expires within 56 days.

The specified public authorities subject to the duty to refer are (in England only):

  • prisons
  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Job centres in England
  • social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

The duty to refer only applies to the specified public authorities in England and individuals can only be referred to a local housing authority in England (see paragraph 4.2 of the Homelessness code of guidance).

More information

For more information about the duty to refer, please visit the Government website.

Contact us

If you have a query about our duty to refer, please email dutytorefer@dacorum.gov.uk.

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