Grenfell Tower disaster – Council’s duty to homeless
After the horrifying fire at Grenfell Tower, there has been much concern over what will happen for those whose homes were destroyed.
For all who lost their homes, if they are eligible for assistance (which is a matter of immigration status), the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea owes a statutory duty to provide immediate accommodation, while it reaches a decision as to the duty it owes.
It is likely that this will be a quick decision, as anyone made homeless as a result of an emergency such as a fire is in ‘priority need’ and owed the duty to accommodate.
This will be the same for council tenants, private tenants of leaseholders in the block, or for leaseholders if they were living there.
The Council must arrange accommodation while it reaches a decision and then make sure that suitable temporary accommodation continues to be provided until longer term accommodation is found. Initially the accommodation is likely to be emergency accommodation, but this should only be for a short period.
The council’s duty continues until longer term accommodation is found. This may be a private tenancy, or a social tenancy. However it must be suitable for the homeless person’s household and needs, and affordable for them.
Both temporary and permanent accommodation offers may be outside the council’s own area. However, for a property to be suitable, it must meet any needs to be in the council’s area that the homeless person or their household must have, such as employment, education, medical care, or family support.
The Housing Minster has announced that all those made homeless by the Grenfell fire will be ‘rehoused in the local area’. It appears Government funds have been approved for this purpose. It is not yet clear whether this includes temporary as well as permanent accommodation.
Anyone made homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire who has not been provided with accommodation, or who is concerned about an offer of accommodation not being suitable, should seek legal advice, as some decisions can result in the Council ending its duty to accommodate.
Legal Aid is available, but Anthony Gold are also working with other solicitors and organisations to provide free advice and assistance to anyone made homeless by the Grenfell Towers fire. If you are affected, you are welcome to contact us directly.