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Legislative changes needed to ensure homelessness does not rise during pandemic, says Crisis

Homelessness charity Crisis has drafted proposed emergency legislation that it believes will protect people from homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.

The legislation, which was drafted by Garden Court Chambers on behalf of the charity, would introduce a new duty on councils to provide emergency accommodation for all homeless people over the next 12 months.

Currently councils have a duty to provide accommodation only if an individual meets certain criteria, for example if they are considered to be in ‘priority need’.

Other proposed legislative changes include temporarily lifting the benefit cap, alongside the no recourse to public fund (NRPF) restrictions imposed on individuals because of their immigration status, for one year.

Amendments to eviction legislation are also being proposed so that judges are given greater discretion to decide whether a person who has suffered hardship as a result of the pandemic should be evicted.

These changes broadly echo those proposed by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, which would see judges given more power when a landlord is pursuing a Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction or using Ground 8 of Section 8, which is used when a tenant is in arrears.

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