Private sector homeless option

Crawley Borough Council is to consider “discharging its homelessness duty” by using properties in the private rented sector to house people who come to it for help.

At a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (March 20), members agreed a recommendation to exercise the new discretionary power in an attempt to tackle the town’s homelessness “challenge”.

At the moment, the only options available to the council are social housing - of which there is a limited supply - bed and breakfast and temporary accommodation.

Until changes implemented by the Localism Act 2011 took effect, an offer of a home in the private rented was the only situation in which a homeless person was not obliged to accept.

Cllr Richard Burrett, Cabinet member for housing, assured members that accommodation would only be offered if all requirements were met.

He said that, if the council did not exercise the new powers, many people would have to stay in temporary accommodation.

He added: “Applicants made an offer would be able to request a review if they are unhappy.

“It’s not likely to be huge numbers but it will make a small dent in the numbers.

“Given the size and complexity of the problem, every little helps.”

Cllr Stephen Joyce, shadow Cabinet member for housing, said: “We just don’t have enough council properties to keep up with Crawley’s homelessness problem, but using the private sector is both expensive and only a short-term solution for the taxpayer.”