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Homelessness and Allocations Ninth Edition, by Andrew Arden, Emily Orme and Toby Vanhegan

HomelessnessAllocationsA review by Ben Reeve Lewis.

LAG Publications are the industry standard for those working in the legal profession. Not just barristers and solicitors but advice workers and advocates like me.

In the past year I have reviewed several LAG books but always from the perspective of being the person who has to use them in frontline housing work.

However the new homelessness book couldn’t have dropped on my doorstep at a more prescient time but in a different context.

Regular readers will know that Tessa and I have joined forces and started Easy Law Training Ltd, in the firm belief that the main problems in housing world are caused by a lack of knowledge of the legal side of it.

This goes right across the board, through landlords, tenants, housing advisers, homelessness officers, housing management teams and letting agents.

While Tessa busies her running distance learning courses for private landlords and letting agents, I have taken up the cudgel to spread knowledge throughout the housing advice and social housing industry.

Course number one for January 2013 under the Easy Law banner has been training a West Country council in homelessness law.

Homelessness and Allocations Ninth Edition landed on my mat the day I started writing the training manual. Talk about serendipity. I have taught homelessness law since 1998 but the ninth edition is as bang up to date as anyone could possibly want.

It includes explanations of the new Homelessness Suitability Order and even the New statutory instrument that watered down the Zambrano decision and made homelessness officers breathe a collective sigh of relief from Lands’ End to John o’ Groats.

Don’t worry –  if you don’t understand that last sentence then the book isn’t for you anyway.

The layout of it is as good as Diane Astin’s ‘Housing Law’, another LAG publications that is similarly superb in its design and ease of use.

What makes homelessness legislation hard to keep up with are the constant changes in case law, many of which are subject to Human Rights legislation, which is always a stretch for frontline advocates.  But Homelessness and Allocations Ninth Edition walks the reader right through statutes, code of guidance and case law.

Ask any homelessness worker what the biggest drain on resources are (apart from provision of temporary accommodation) and they will tell you it is challenges to a range of homelessness decisions, both internally and through the courts. This latest addition to the LAG canon, if properly referenced should make any homelessness decision watertight.

Each individual part of the relevant legislation is broken down into separate segments that explain the statutory requirements, the guidance rules in the code and how case law impacts on each area. If you are following it making a homelessness decision it’s difficult to see how you could get it wrong.

Also, if your job is to challenge a homelessness decision then liberal use of this book will have homelessness officers coughing into their kit-kats.

Of course the balanced reviewer will always try to look at the whole picture, warts and all, and accordingly I searched through the book looking for weak areas but hand on heart I can’t find any. It works for me both as a TRO, whose main function is homelessness prevention and as a trainer of housing law.

Whether you are a homelessness worker in a local authority or someone who has to challenge their decisions I can’t think of a better resource. It also made my job designing a homelessness law course a breeze and I can rest confident in the knowledge that everything in my course is spot on the money.

I took it into work and was almost mugged by the homelessness reviews team who have yet to get a copy themselves. Luckily I have written “Ben’s” across the sides in felt tip pen and took it straight home again.

I read recently that it costs around £16,000 to rehouse a homeless family from start to finish. The cost of the book is a pittance compared to that. Of course homelessness law moves faster than Eric Pickles chasing a Mars Bar, which is why I expect a Tenth Edition within the year but this is just another reason to snap this up while it’s hot.

You can buy the book on Amazon >> here.

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About the post author:

Ben Reeve-Lewis

Ben is an enforcement officer for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes for the Guardian & occasionally pops up wittering away on TV. He also runs Easy Law Training with Tessa & Graeme. Occasionally he sleeps. Find him on Google, and Journalisted. Any opinions expressed are Ben's personal views & don't reflect those of any organisations he may refer to.

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