Homelessness - Support And Guidance
What should I do?
If you are homeless, or think that you are about to become homeless, we can provide you with help and advice. Please contact us as soon as possible so that we can assess your situation in detail.
- Got to and complete our online ‘help with homelessness’ self-assessment
- or call us on 01233 331111
The self-assessment website provides a wide range of advice for many housing related issue and for more urgent situations it will take you to a referral form.
For your quick access, you can find the self-help pages below, Advice if:
- you are a Young Person Aged 16 – 17
- you are a UK Armed Forces Veteran
- you are Leaving Care
- you are Leaving Prison
- you are Leaving a Mental Health In-patient Facility
- you are struggling with debt
- you are suffering domestic abuse
- you are suffering harassment from your landlord
- you need help with home repairs or adaptations
- you are in mortgage arrears
- you are in rent arrears
- you rent in the private sector and have received a Section 21 notice
What happens next?
If you have been directed to complete the referral form, please wait to hear from us.
If you are homeless, we will contact you the same day to make an initial assessment and offer advice. If you are threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days, but do have somewhere to stay, even if this is short term, then we aim to contact you within 3 working days to contact you.
In both cases we will undertake a brief assessment and undertake checks to verify the information you have stated, relating to your housing issue. For example, you will be asked to supply the contact details of the person asking you to leave and/or provide any notices you have received.
We may not be able to help you if you do not provide this.
If a more detailed investigation of your situation is required, you will be booked an advice appointment. Ahead of this appointment you will be required to provide documents such as ID, proof of income and any other evidence that you have which may help to explain what has happened.
For example, if your home is being repossessed because you have fallen behind on rent/mortgage payments then you be required to provide documents that show this.
If your circumstances trigger additional duties towards you, then we will work to support you with your housing issue, in line with these responsibilities and we will set out action that you will need to take to help retain your current home or secure alternative housing.
The legal background
We have a legal duty to provide anybody who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, with advice and appropriate assistance. The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 significantly amends the Housing Act 1996.
Under the Act, local housing authorities are required to intervene in order to prevent homelessness. We also have to take reasonable steps to help those who become homeless to secure accommodation.
(1) Duty to assess
If we are satisfied that you are eligible for assistance and you are either homeless or threatened with homelessness, we will carry out an assessment. The assessment will look at the reasons why you are homeless (or threatened with homelessness), what your housing needs are, and what support needs you may have.
Following this assessment, we will work with you to agree a personal housing plan. The plan will record actions to be taken by both parties to obtain/retain suitable accommodation.
(2) Duty to prevent homelessness
We have a duty to take reasonable steps to help you - as long as you are eligible for assistance and are homeless (or threatened with homelessness) - to prevent you being evicted from your existing accommodation.
The prevention duty starts at eight weeks before the anticipated date of actual homelessness, and will last for a period of 56 days. However, it may be brought to an end earlier where we are satisfied that you have found suitable accommodation. We will consider if there is a reasonable chance that it can be occupied for at least six months.
The prevention duty can also end if you deliberately and unreasonably refuse to cooperate with us, or become homeless. In these cases, you will proceed to the ‘relief’ stage.
(3) Duty to relieve homelessness
If you are homeless and eligible for assistance, we will take reasonable steps to relieve homelessness by helping you to secure suitable accommodation. This duty applies to all eligible applicants, regardless of priority need and whether or not you might be found intentionally homeless. If you have no local connection to Ashford, we can refer this duty to another local authority with which you do have a connection.
The relief duty lasts for a period of 56 days and can be brought to an end if you find suitable accommodation which is likely to last for at least six months. The duty will also end if you refuse an offer of suitable accommodation of at least six months’ duration or if you deliberately and unreasonably refuse to co-operate with the relief process.
The main homelessness duty
If you are a priority need, and are not intentionally homeless, we will owe you the ‘main’ housing duty (under section 193 Housing Act 1996).
However, if you have refused a suitable final offer at the relief stage, the main duty will not apply and we will owe no further duty.
If you have deliberately or unreasonably refused to co-operate with the steps set out in your personal housing plan, we will only owe a duty to make a ‘final accommodation offer’. This final offer will usually be a six months’ tenancy of private rented accommodation.