Call to regulate PRS to prevent homelessness

Regulation of the private rented sector (PRS) is one of several measures being called for to help end homelessness in England.

Homeless Link, the umbrella body for homelessness charities, has mapped out steps that it believes need to be taken to prevent and tackle homelessness in the face of service cuts and the Government's forthcoming welfare changes.

With the latest government figures showing an 11 percent rise in the number of people becoming homeless, Homeless Link's 'A place to call your home' report sets out measures that it claims need to be taken in the next three, five and ten years.

One in five households becomes homeless because of the end of an assured short hold tenancy, so the measures include a new system that regulates the PRS to guarantee minimum quality standards, increase security and length of tenure, and safeguard against excessive rents.

Other initiatives include:

• Consistent help by councils to prevent those at risk of homelessness losing their accommodation in the first place, regardless of their legal duty
• Steps to increase housing supply so that if someone becomes homeless, they spend no more than six months in emergency accommodation
• New forms of long-term accommodation that support people with complex problems to get back on their feet and avoid homelessness in the future
• More effective pre-employment support to help those who have been homeless to get and keep a job
• Action from health, criminal justice, education and social care services to prevent their clients from becoming homeless
• A welfare system that is focussed on preventing homelessness and covers basic necessities

Reflecting the views of over 300 homelessness agencies, professionals and clients, the report also calls on all political parties to prioritise housing at the next election and commit to increased investment to combat homelessness.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: “Anyone can become homeless and it normally happens at the end of a long chain of other life events. It’s an issue that harms individuals, damages communities and costs the tax payer significant sums of money to sort out. Yet in most cases homelessness could be prevented.

“The number of people without a home is on the rise and if we do not take action, things could get worse. As a society, we need to act faster to prevent people from losing their homes, ensure if you become homeless it’s for the shortest time possible and support individuals to realise their potential and avoid becoming homeless again.

“Ensuring people have a place they can call home is ultimately better for all of us. We urge individuals and organisations to join with us to help put in place the policies, services and attitudes that are needed to help end homelessness.”