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Homelessness

homelessness

If you're homeless, or think you might soon become homeless then your local authority might have a duty to re-house you under homelessness regulations.

If you're homeless, or think you might soon become homeless then your local authority might have a duty to re-house you under homelessness regulations.

For this to happen you'll need to satisfy five tests which consist of the following conditions:

  • You need to be homeless or will lose your home in 28 days.
  • You need to be eligible for assistance: you won't be eligible if you are a ‘person from abroad’ who is subject to immigration control and has “no recourse to public funds”, an EEA national who does not have a right to reside and is not deemed habitually resident for housing and benefits purposes or a UK national returning from living abroad who is not deemed “habitually resident”.
  • You need to be 'in priority need'. HA 1996 s189 states that:-

    (1) The following have a priority need for accommodation-
    (a) A pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;
    (b) A person with whom dependant children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside;
    (c) A person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness, handicap or physical disability or other special reason or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;
    (d) A person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency, such as flood, fire or other disaster'

To be deemed priority need on health grounds, local authorities have become much stricter in how they apply the test in recent years and it may be that in certain cases people who have a manageable or chronic illness may be not deemed to be in priority need. In many areas if your only health problem is managed HIV, even if this requires medication, then you are unlikely to be deemed to have a priority need for this reason alone.

  • You are not intentionally homeless; that is, you are homeless not because you deliberately did or failed to do something which resulted in you losing your accommodation.
  • You need to have a connection with the local authority where you are making the application. You may have a local connection if you live or work in the area, or if 'there are other special circumstances', which is where a local authority must exercise its discretion.

If you satisfy all the above requirements, the local authority will have a duty to house you. If you don't, it will only have a duty to advise you.

If you need to talk these things through, get in contact with THT Direct.

Your rights

  • Remember: if you're making a homeless application to the local authority, it has the following duties:
    to investigate
  • to provide housing while it investigates if they have reason to believe you are homeless and in priority need
  • to protect property in certain circumstances.

Your local authority also has a duty to give you a decision in writing. For the decision to be valid it needs to set out your right to ask for a review and the reason for the refusal.

In the event that you are not happy with the decision you should ask for a review within 21 days of the date of the decision. It is important you act as quickly as possible and so at this point we suggest that you call THT Direct who will try to signpost you to housing specialist in your area.

If you are not entitled to be re-housed under the homelessness regulations you should ask the local authority for further advice and look for private rented accommodation. If you don’t have enough money for your deposit you should find out whether your local authority has a guaranteed deposit scheme which may help you with this. You might also be eligible to claim Housing Benefit to help you with your rent. Follow this link for further information on finding accommodation.

Under the new Localism Act 2011 which came into force on 9 November 2012, the local authority will be able to discharge their s193 homelessness duty with an offer of “suitable” accommodation in the private rented sector, you may have to accept this offer or the local authority will be able to discharge their duty to you. This sort of offer may be made if a local authority is not able to offer social housing or feels it meets your housing needs more effectively. The offer of an assured shorthold tenancy in the private rented accommodation has to be for a fixed term of at least 12 months.

There is no review or appeal, unless the offer of accommodation is not suitable. If it is suitable, then you have to accept the offer or make your own alternative arrangements.

If you need support or information, or perhaps just need to talk things through, then contact THT Direct for emotional support.

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 2/5/2013 by T. Kelaart

Date due for the next review: 31/1/2014

Content Author: R. Kaye

Current Owner: R. Kaye

More information:

Astin, Diane. Housing Law: an advisor's handbook 2008 Ch 13, 476-477

Adviceguide - Finding a place to live - 2013