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Government guidance on homelessness makes it clear that spent convictions should be ignored

In the government’s updated Homelessness code of practice, it has made clear that convictions that are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 should be ignored.

Chapter 23 focuses on “people with a offending history”, and section 23.29 reads:

“23.29 People with an offending history face barriers to accessing accommodation across tenures. Housing authorities providing help to secure or securing accommodation should be aware of the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (as amended by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012). The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 sets out timescales for when convictions become spent, after which it is unlawful for social and private landlords to take spent convictions into account when determining whether the person is suitable for housing.”

The government had recently consulted on updating this guidance, which we submitted a response to. As part of our submission, we made the point that the earlier version of this guidance should be strengthened. This is particularly important given a recent case where a local authority were challenged in court because they took into account an applicant’s spent criminal record.

Find out more information about our policy work on housing.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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