Homelessness: code of guidance
Code of guidance to help guide local authorities in their duties to assist people who are threatened with or who are experiencing homelessness.
Annex A: Advisory Standards for Temporary Accommodation
This guidance provides a set of advisory standards to be applied by local authorities to their temporary accommodation and also to any temporary accommodation provided from other providers. These standards relate to all types of temporary accommodation including Bed and Breakfast, to ensure that the quality of temporary accommodation is of good standard and to meet the needs of the household.
Local Authorities across Scotland utilise a diverse portfolio of temporary accommodation beyond bed and breakfast accommodation including local authority, housing association and private rented stock as well as hostels. The majority of people who are homeless are housed on a temporary basis in the social rented sector.
Across all of these different types of accommodation there already exists a wide variety of legislation that cater for physical standards of accommodation which are largely tenure specific. These include the Tolerable Standard which applies to all property, the Scottish Housing Quality Standard which applies to social rented sector properties, HMO Licencing for B&B and hostels and the Repairing Standard in the private rented sector.
The following details the physical standards that should apply where appropriate across all tenures to ensure that temporary accommodation is an adequate, safe and secure space for the household. The temporary accommodation should:
- Be accessible and able to meet the needs of any disabled person within the household;
- Comply with relevant housing quality standards including health andsafety, hygiene, fire, furniture and electrical equipment legislation and regulations;
- Provide units that are secure with individual locks so people feel that their belongings are safe;
- Provide a facility to secure personal mail, where appropriate;
- Have sufficient bedroom space to meet the needs of the household in line with the overcrowding and HMO standards;
- Have adequate communal living space which includes, for example, space for children to play or do homework;
- Have adequate toilet and personal washing facilities for the exclusive use of the household;
- Have access to on site laundry facilities;
- Have access to adequate cooking facilities for the needs of the household;
- Have a suitable standard and minimum level of furniture to meet the household's needs, where relevant;
- Have a good standard of cleanliness;
- Have a sufficient and affordable heating system at an acceptable efficiency rating in line with those published in the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing and those for Private Rented Property;
- Be accessible 24 hours a day with no curfews;
- Include a household assessment to consider whether the temporary accommodation being offered is affordable by the household;
- Allow access to digital technologies (e.g. via WiFi), where possible, so households can access online facilities e.g. welfare benefits, choice based letting systems;
- Have the means to support people to maintain relationships with their pets; and
- Have provision to allow visitors, including provision for visits from children, where possible.
When considering offering a household temporary accommodation it is important to discuss with the household the location of the property and its proximity to services and local amenities.
- Accommodation provided should be located so that the main essential services used by a household can be reached by foot, by public transport or by transport provided by a local authority. Services to include education/school/nursery, supermarket or convenience store, doctors, dentists, support or other health providers and advice agencies (where applicable);
- The location of the property should also take into account the needs of all household members in terms of reasonable access to place of employment and formal or informal support networks.
- Cultural or religious need should also be identified and met through the location of accommodation where possible;
- The location of the accommodation also needs to take into account the social and economic needs of the household; and
- An assessment of personal safety of the household, specifically households fleeing domestic abuse, predominately women, and whether the temporary accommodation being offered is in an area that is close to the perpetrators family and/or is too far from children's school, social network etc.
For some families a stay in temporary accommodation can be long term as they wait for suitable permanent property to become available. It is crucial that households receive a consistent standard of service delivery in order to sustain their temporary accommodation and facilitate a move into settled accommodation.
Service delivery standards include providing:
- Services identified by an assessment of the needs of all household members, followed up with referrals and support to engage with the relevant housing, health, education, social care services and independent advice services;
- Support to access different types of accommodation especially where households are fleeing domestic abuse and the accommodation is used by mixed sex and/or only has male or female staff;
- Support to access flexible and ongoing needs led support, specifically where households have multiple and complex needs;
- Support to access the necessary information of the appropriate services including counselling, addictions, mental health, medical, dental, optical and money/welfare advice to signpost the household to relevant and available support;
- Psychologically Informed Environments, where appropriate, and if required, ensuring staff have been trained in trauma informed care to ensure person-centred needs are met;
- Regular reviews of household's needs on a case by case basis, agreed by the household, and taking into account any change in circumstances;
- Regular and sustained home visits by allocated officers to identify any unmet needs of the household; and
- Ongoing communication with the household with easy access to Housing Officers to discuss issues, ensuring that any information provided is available in different formats and an interpreter is provided where necessary.
The following standards will ensure that a resident is aware of their rights and responsibilities during their stay in temporary accommodation, including any procedures that they need to follow. Providing a household with relevant information at the time of moving in or relocating to alternative temporary accommodation, as well as supporting the household to understand the information can help to ensure the best possible outcome for the household.
This includes ensuring:
- A written occupancy agreement is in place and has been explained to the household which includes an agreed minimum amount of notice (at least 24 hours) that a landlord must give before accessing a person's property/unit and under what circumstances they would give such notice;
- Information on any House rules has been provided, including an appropriate set of procedures to demonstrate that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated especially in shared accommodation such as B&B's;
- Information on the Repairs procedure has been provided;
- The household is provided with or can access all relevant information applicable to the household's requirements whilst in temporary accommodation and this information is available in different formats;
- Information on the Notice period to end an occupancy agreement, including the right to appeal is provided;
- Procedures are in place to ensure there is minimum disruption to the household when moving in and out of the accommodation and made aware of any support available to help with the move;
- Procedures are in place to protect personal possessions and provide support, advice and information on storage where necessary;
- That residents are involved in all discussions surrounding their needs including relocation and changes to occupancy agreements;
- That staffing levels match those required to meet the services of the household and all staff have been appropriately trained to understand the needs of the household;
- That households are made aware of the Local Authority's Complaints procedure and how to access it; and
- That households are provided with a rent statement of charges and how they are paid, in light of the introduction of Universal Credit.
It is recommended that the advisory standards in this annex should be available in leaflet format in every individual local authority housing and homelessness office as well as publishing the standards on the local authority website.
The leaflet should be included in any information pack that the household receive when they move into temporary accommodation and it should be explained by staff that check the household into the accommodation.
It should also be distributed amongst organisations that provide independent housing advice for display in their waiting rooms in the local authority area and should be made available for publishing on public advice websites such as Citizen's Advice Scotland and Shelter Scotland.
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