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Homelessness FAQ

Are you worried about losing your home, homeless or experiencing domestic abuse?

Uttlesford District Council's Housing Options Team provides free housing advice and can:

  • Offer a Housing Options appointment to assess your needs

  • Talk through the housing options relevant to you and create a Personalised Housing Plan

We understand how challenging and stressful it can be when you are worried about your housing situation. Your options may be limited but we are here to guide you through your choices. The Council has very limited housing resources so we recommend that you make every effort to try to resolve your housing difficulties with our help by seeking advice as soon as possible.

A Housing Options Officer will work with you to try to prevent you losing your current home, discuss the options available to you to prevent you from becoming homeless or relieve homelessness if you have already lost your home.

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 Options Officer. If you are coming into the office please try to come in an hour before the office closes.

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.

► Click here to visit Shelter's site

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Homeless application if threatened with homelessness

On the 3rd April 2018 there are changes to legislation: the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. These changes mean if you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days the Council has a duty to assess your needs and work with you to develop a Personalised Housing Plan to prevent your homelessness. You will be making a homeless application to initiate this assistance. 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 need to complete an online form before you see a Housing Options Officer to discuss your situation and usually agree a Personal Housing Plan.

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.

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 be given temporary accommodation?

Temporary accommodation will only be provided for those people found to be homeless and 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 and we will write to you giving our reasons for this decision.

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.

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 reasonable 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 offer advice to anyone threatened with homelessness within 56 days but if you become homeless we will 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 to try to relieve your homelessness and establish their duty to provide longer-term housing. 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 will come to an end in the future. You will continue to be offered with temporary accommodation until the full duty ends.

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 full 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 homelessness 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.

Accepted homelessness applicants who are not eligible to join the Home Option scheme to bid through the Housing Register will be made one direct offer of accommodation to meet the Council's duty to accommodate.

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.

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.

If you wish to request a review, you are strongly advised to accept any offer of accommodation you have been made 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