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The use of mediation in preventing homelessness in England

Patricia Ng (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Article publication date: 12 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the appropriateness of mediation as a homelessness prevention tool for statutorily homeless people who are in need of emergency housing assistance from local authorities in England. It is argued that although mediation is potentially an effective method for facilitating communication as a homelessness prevention tool, caution needs to be exercised in its use in attempting to prevent immediate homelessness.

Design/methodology/approach

In‐depth interviews were carried out with five housing law practitioners and six mediators. The paper also draws on observations made by commentators on homelessness legislation as well as ADR. Government papers, including guidance and policy papers and statutes, have been examined.

Findings

Mediation could potentially offer effective assistance to homeless people, although it is questionable whether immediate homelessness could genuinely be prevented. In addition, in order to prevent potentially unlawful decisions being made, local authority officers need to take into account their reactive duties under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002.

Research limitations/implications

Findings from the research address homelessness mediation, an area that requires discussion. More research is needed on the benefits of mediation to homeless people.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to discussions between a range of academics and practitioners interested in the potential benefits of mediation in the context of homelessness work.

Keywords

Citation

Ng, P. (2011), "The use of mediation in preventing homelessness in England", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 146-158. https://doi.org/10.1108/17561451111148257

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited