Isabelle Knight explains how the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 facilitates the provision of accommodation to some of the most vulnerable people, by way of supported standard contracts. Pointing practitioners where they will find the detail they are likely to nee day-to-day.
The Senedd’s Memorandum to the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill described the provisions regarding supported housing in the following way:
“The Bill recognises the specific needs of people who live in supported housing and the providers of such accommodation. There are many types of supported housing, which are home to some of the most vulnerable people. It is also fair to say, when an individual needs to be temporarily excluded in order to protect other residents and staff, supported housing providers are at the very least testing the boundaries of current law. The Bill will establish, for the first time, a legal framework for supported housing. This recognises the particular challenges faced but also ensures residents of supported accommodation cannot be left indefinitely in an unjustifiably insecure situation.”
The Renting Homes Wales Act, in particular Part 8 and Schedule 2, part 5, has created this new legal framework.
Supported accommodation: special rules & extensions
Schedule 2, Part 5 sets out the special rules that apply to supported accommodation.
In a nutshell, where a landlord provides supported accommodation, they will not have to issue an occupation contract for the first six months of occupancy. After six months, the person(s) will become entitled to a supported standard contract which will operate in a similar way to a standard contract. However, specific additional terms may be included within the contract.
The landlord may (on one or more occasions) extend the relevant period (the six months) by giving the tenant or licensee a notice of extension in accordance with paragraph 15 of Part 5 of Schedule 2.
Certain requirements set out in paragraph 15 must be met to extend the relevant period. They include:
- The relevant period may not be extended by more than three months on any separate occasion;
- The notice of extension must be given at least four weeks before the date on which the relevant period would end (per paragraph 15(3));
- Before giving a notice of extension, the landlord must consult the tenant or licensee;
- A landlord (other than a local housing authority) may not give a notice of extension without the consent of the local housing authority in whose area the accommodation is provided;
- In the notice of extension, the landlord must set our prescribed information (per paragraph 15(6)); and
- The notice of extension must also inform the tenant or licensee that he or she has a right to apply for a review in the county court under paragraph 16, and of the time by which the application must be made.
Paragraph 15(8) sets out that in making a decision to extend the relevant period, the landlord may take into account the behaviour of the tenant or licensee.
Paragraph 16 takes us through the procedure where a tenant or licensee wants to apply for a review of the decision to extend. In brief, the tenant has 14 days from the day the landlord gives the notice of extension to make an application to the county court. A tenant can make an application after this time with the permission of the court and if they have good reason(s).
On hearing an application, the county court may (per paragraph 16(5)) —
- confirm or quash the decision, or
- vary the length of the extension (subject to paragraph 15(2)).
In considering whether to confirm or quash the decision or vary the length of the extension, the county court must apply the principles applied by the High Court on an application for judicial review.
What is supported accommodation?
Supported accommodation is defined in section 143 (2) – (5) of the Act. The provisions are:
(2) For the purposes of this Act accommodation is “supported accommodation” if—
(a)it is provided by a community landlord or a registered charity,
(b)the landlord or charity (or a person acting on behalf of the landlord or charity) provides support services to a person entitled to occupy the accommodation, and
(c)there is a connection between provision of the accommodation and provision of the support services.
(3) Accommodation in a care institution (within the meaning of paragraph 4 of Schedule 2) is not supported accommodation.
(4) “Support services” include—
(a)support in controlling or overcoming addiction,
(b)support in finding employment or alternative accommodation, and
(c)supporting someone who finds it difficult to live independently because of age, illness, disability or any other reason.
(5) “Support” includes the provision of advice, training, guidance and counselling.
Another aspect addressed in the new legal framework is mobility.
Section 144 of the Act provides that supported standard contract can include provision about ‘mobility’. This enables a landlord to relocate a contract-holder to a different dwelling within the same building without the need to end one contract and make another.
Temporary exclusion is governed by section 145 of the Act.
This provision allows the landlord (including persons designated by the landlord to act on the landlord’s behalf) to require a contract-holder to leave the dwelling for up to 48 hours where the landlord reasonably believes the contract-holder has engaged in certain kinds of behaviour.
That behaviour is set out at section 145 (2):
(a) using violence against any person in the dwelling,
(b) doing something in the dwelling which creates a risk of significant harm to any person, and
(c) behaving in the dwelling in a way which seriously impedes the ability of another resident of supported accommodation provided by the landlord to benefit from the support provided in connection with that accommodation.
A contract-holder cannot be excluded for more than 48 hours at a time and cannot be excluded more than three times in any six month period. A landlord must give notice to the contract-holder being excluded, explaining why he or she is being excluded. This notice should be given when the contract-holder is required to leave or as soon as possible afterwards.
Civitas Law is running seminars for Community Landlords on 5th and 6th April 2022. To book your place please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Isabelle Knight was part of the legal team intervening on behalf of Shelter Cymru in the case of Jarvis v Evans  EWCA Civ 854. She brings added depth of experience to her housing practice, having previously worked for NHS Continuing Healthcare Department at Hugh James Solicitors before taking up pupillage and tenancy at Civitas chambers.