We at Saint Edwards-Fairstore do all that we can to assist those in need when they seek our storage facilities through our charity partners. There is however provision for assistance within the government's Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities from the Department of Communities and Local Government .
We set out below a particular section of this code that sets out the guidance local councils should offer to those they have a duty to.
CHAPTER 20: PROTECTION OF PERSONAL PROPERTY
20.1. This chapter provides guidance on the duty and powers housing authorities have to protect the personal property of an applicant
20.2. Under s.211(1) and (2), where a housing authority has become subject to a duty to an applicant under specified provisions of Part 7 and it has reason to believe that:
i) there is a danger of loss of, or damage to, the applicant’s personal property because the applicant is unable to protect it or deal with it, and
ii) no other suitable arrangements have been, or are being, made,
then, whether or not the housing authority is still subject to such a duty, it must take reasonable steps to prevent the loss of, or to prevent or mitigate damage to, any personal property of the applicant.
20.3. The specified provisions are: • s.188 (interim duty to accommodate); • s.190, s.193 or s.195 (duties to persons found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness); or • s.200 (duties to applicant whose case is considered for referral or referred).
20.4. In all other circumstances, housing authorities have a power to take any steps they consider reasonable to protect in the same ways an applicant’s personal property (s.211(3)).
20.5. Section 212 makes provisions supplementing s.211. For the purposes of both s.211 and s.212, the personal property of an applicant includes the personal property of any person who might reasonably be expected to reside with him or her (s.211(5) and s.212(6)).
20.6. A danger of loss or damage to personal property means that there is a likelihood of harm, not just that harm is a possibility. Applicants may be unable to protect their property if, for example, they are ill or are unable to afford to have it stored themselves.
20.7. Under s.212(1), in order to protect an applicant’s personal property, a housing authority can enter, at all reasonable times, the applicant’s current or former home, and deal with the property in any way which seems reasonably necessary. In particular, it may store the property or arrange for it to be stored; this may be particularly appropriate where the applicant is accommodated by the housing authority in furnished accommodation for a period. In some cases, where the applicant’s previous home is not to be occupied immediately, it may be possible for the property to remain there, if it can be adequately protected.
159 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities
Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities 160
20.8. Where a housing authority does take steps to protect personal property, whether by storing it or otherwise, it must take reasonable care of it and deliver it to the owner when reasonably requested to do so.
20.9. The applicant can request the housing authority to move his or her property to a particular location. If the housing authority considers that the request is reasonable, they may discharge their responsibilities under s.211 by doing as the applicant asks. Where such a request is met, the housing authority will have no further duty or power to protect the applicant’s property, and it must inform the applicant of this consequence before complying with the request (s.212(2)).
20.10. Housing authorities may impose conditions on the assistance they provide where they consider these appropriate to the particular case. Conditions may include making a reasonable charge for storage of property and reserving the right to dispose of property in certain circumstances specified by the housing authority – e.g. if the applicant loses touch with them and cannot be traced after a certain period (s.211(4)).
20.11. Where a request to move personal property to another location is either not made or not carried out, the duty or power to take any action under s.211 ends when the housing authority believes there is no longer any danger of loss or damage to the property because of the applicant’s inability to deal with or protect it (s.212(3)). This may be the case, for example, where an applicant recovers from illness or finds accommodation where he or she is able to place his or her possessions, or becomes able to afford the storage costs him/herself. However, where the housing authority has discharged the duty under s.211 by placing property in storage, it has a discretionary power to continue to keep the property in storage. Where it does so, any conditions imposed by the housing authority continue to apply and may be modified as necessary.
20.12. Where the housing authority ceases to be under a duty, or ceases to have a power, to protect an applicant’s personal property under s.211, it must notify the applicant of this and give the reasons for it. The notification must be delivered to the applicant or sent to his or her last known address (s.212(5))