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Homelessness FAQ

Homeless? Or threatened with homelessness or domestic violence?

Uttlesford District Council has very limited housing resources. You should make every effort to try to resolve the housing difficulties you may be facing and seek advice early.

A housing officer will work with you to try to prevent you losing your current home or discuss the options available to you, to prevent you from becoming homeless.

If you are worried about becoming homeless, please contact the housing department as soon as possible for housing advice.

A Housing Options/Homelessness Prevention Officer is available at the Council Offices, London Road, Saffron Walden, during normal working hours 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Fridays. Please telephone 01799 510510 and ask for the Duty Housing Officer. (If you are coming into the office please try to come in at least 30mins before the office closes.)

You may also receive advice at housing surgeries held at Dunmow Library on Tuesday afternoons. The surgeries are by appointment only: 

  • Residents applying for council housing or in need of housing options or homelessness advice can book an appointment between 2pm & 3pm by calling 01799 510507.
  • Council Tenants needing advice can book an appointment with a housing officer between 1pm and 2pm by calling 01799 510376.

 Uttlesford Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to offer you access to free legal advice. They can be found in Saffron Walden at Barnards Yard, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4EB. Tel advice line: 01799 618840.

If you are made homeless unexpectedly, out of hours you can call 01799 510510 and follow the instructions on the answer phone.

As well as the information on this page, more help can be found on charity Shelter's website.

► Click here to visit Shelter's site

Go straight to:

Homeless application

If it is not possible to prevent you from becoming homeless, you may make a homeless application. We have certain legal duties toward people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. This web page aims to give you information about the homeless application process. However, it cannot tell you what will happen in every case.

It is important to note that the homeless procedure is governed by housing law. Therefore some homeless applicants will qualify for temporary accommodation but some may only qualify for advice about finding alternative accommodation.

If you need to make a homeless application you will be given an appointment to be interviewed by a housing officer and complete a form.
At the interview the officer will address the following issues so that we can find out what duty we have to you under the homelessness legislation. You will also be asked to provide any other additional information that may be required to enable the Council to come to a decision regarding your homeless application.

When am I considered homeless?

You are homeless if there is no accommodation available to you that you can lawfully occupy that is reasonable for you and your household. This means that there must be no alternative accommodation available to you anywhere, not just in this area.

By law you are threatened with homelessness if you are likely to become homeless within 28 days. You should get help immediately if this applies to you.

Will I qualify for help?

Some applicants who are subject to immigration control or who have been living outside the UK may not qualify for help even if they have nowhere to live. If you do not qualify you will be given advice about other help that may be available to you, such as asking social services to consider you under other legislation.

If we find that you do not qualify for help we will write to you giving our reasons for this decision.

Will I be given accommodation?

Temporary accommodation will only be provided for those people found to be in priority need. You are in a priority need category if:

  • you have dependent children who live with you full time
  • you are pregnant
  • you are aged 16 / 17
  • you are vulnerable (see note below) due to age, mental illness, physical disability or as a result of spending time in the armed forces, serving a prison sentence or having been in care or some other special reason
  • you are homeless in an emergency due to, for example, fire or flood.

N.B. when assessing vulnerability, we will consider how these issues prevent you from finding accommodation and if you would be less able to cope than another person if you were homeless.

If you are not in priority need our duty to you will be limited to providing advice on finding alternative accommodation.

If you are found to not be in priority need we will write to you giving our reasons for this decision.

Do you consider why I am homeless?

The officer dealing with your application will investigate the reasons why you are homeless. These investigations will help us decide what duty if any we have to you and your family regarding temporary accommodation.

If you are found to be homeless due to a deliberate act or something you haven't done you may be found intentionally homeless. This will mean that we will not accept a full housing duty to you.

Instead temporary accommodation is provided for a limited period (usually 28 days) to give you time to find another place to stay. Examples of people being found intentionally homeless may include:

  • having lost accommodation by not paying the rent or mortgage when you had enough money and the ability to pay
  • having lost accommodation due to unreasonable behaviour.

If you are found to be intentionally homeless we will write to you giving our reasons for this decision.

Do I need to have lived in Uttlesford to get help?

We will also determine if you have a local connection with Uttlesford. You have a local connection if:

  • you have lived in the district for six of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years
  • you have a permanent job in the district
  • you have a close relative (parent, sister, brother or adult child) who has lived in the district for the last five years 
  • there is a special reason

If you do not have a local connection with Uttlesford, you may be referred to another local authority where you do have a local connection. If this happens we will write to you and tell you why.

If I am homeless through not fault of my own what help will I get?

If we decide that you are in priority need and homeless through no fault of your own and you meet all the other criteria, we will accept a full housing duty to you. We will write to you to tell you this. The decision letter will also tell you about reasons why this duty may stop in the future. You will be provided with temporary accommodation.

What temporary accommodation will I be offered?

It is important to note that temporary accommodation is likely to be a property that is one bedroom short of what you could be given on a permanent basis. This accommodation may be in any part of the district and we are unable to guarantee that it will be in your preferred area.

However, if there is no such temporary accommodation available we may have to put you in bed and breakfast accommodation until temporary accommodation is available. We cannot guarantee that the bed and breakfast accommodation will be in Uttlesford.

Your right to a review

Under the Housing Act you have the right to a formal review of some of the decisions made about your homeless application. A request is only valid if it is made within 21 days of us telling you about our decision.

How will I get permanent accommodation and will I have any choice over my permanent housing?

In the first instance the Council will look to discharge its homelessness duty for all accepted homeless applicants within the private rented sector. The Council will ensure that any offer of private rented housing is appropriate to the needs of the household, that the length of any tenancy is a minimum of 12 months and that the property meets the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012. An assessment will also be carried out to assess the affordability of the property, including the eligibility to receive Local Housing Allowance/Housing Benefit. The property may be outside the Uttlesford District.  

Whilst the Council is looking for suitable accommodation within the private sector, applicants will be allowed to make expressions of interest on suitable properties advertised through the CBL system. If after a period of 2 cycles from when the applicant received their S.184 decision letter they have either not been offered a suitable private sector property or been successful through the CBL system, the Council will express interest on their behalf and make one final offer of suitable accommodation. The property will be either a privately rented property or social housing depending of which type of accommodation is available first, and will generally be flatted accommodation. If this offer is refused, the Council's homelessness duty under the Housing Act 1996 to provide accommodation will be considered to have been discharged.

When a private rented property becomes available it will be offered to the accepted homeless applicant for whom the property is suitable and if this is more than one applicant, it will be offered to the applicant with the earliest homeless application date.

Any private rented tenancy that discharges the council's homelessness duty will be for a period of not less than 12 months. If within 2 years, beginning with the date on which the applicant accepts a private rented sector offer, the applicant re-applies for accommodation, or for assistance in obtaining accommodation, and if the applicant is found to be homeless (from the date of the expiry of the termination notice) and did not become homeless intentionally from the private rented accommodation, the Council will accept a homelessness duty regardless of whether the applicant has a priority need.

If you are offered accommodation that is suitable for you and your household, you will be informed that this is the council's final offer and of the consequences of refusing the offer. If you do refuse this final offer, our duties towards you will end, and you will be served notice to leave your temporary accommodation. You have the right to ask for a review of the suitability of any offer we make.

If you wish to request a review, you are strongly advised to accept the offer while the review is carried out. If your review is upheld and it is decided that the offer is not suitable, alternative accommodation will be provided as soon as possible. However, if our decision remains the same following the review, we will have no further duty to you.

Domestic violence

A housing officer can advise and help you if you feel you cannot remain in your home, or you just want to know about your housing options.  We can help you (and your family if you have any) find somewhere to stay at any time if it is not safe for you to remain in your home.

Advice on how to report domestic abuse and details of organisations who can help can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Points to remember

  • If you are at risk of losing your home, you must get help immediately. Early action can prevent you becoming homeless.
  • If you are a tenant, your landlord will normally have to apply to the County Court for a possession order before you can be legally evicted.
  • You must get advice before deciding to leave or sell accommodation you have rights to occupy.

We aim to deal with all applications in a sympathetic and polite way. We will always be fair and your case will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

In return we ask that our staff are treated in a polite and reasonable manner.

Contact Housing