Homelessness

If you are homeless or about to be homeless, we may have a duty to help you (under the Housing Act 1996, Part VII, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002). This guide gives you basic information about our homeless policy, and what happens if we are able to give you help.

Am I eligible for help?

We have a duty to make sure you have somewhere to live if you are homeless, you are eligible, you have a priority need and you are not intentionally homeless. We will consider you to be eligible as homeless if:

  • You have nowhere to live.
  • You have been living somewhere, but have no legal right to stay there and have been told to leave.
  • You have somewhere to live, but cannot get into it.
  • You have somewhere to live but another resident there has been, or is likely to be, violent towards you.
  • Your home is a caravan or houseboat and you have nowhere to legally park it or moor it.
  • You have somewhere to live but you cannot house the people who normally live with you.
  • You have been made homeless as a result of an emergency, such as fire, flood or some other disaster.

Some people are not eligible for our help because they do not usually live in the UK or are subject to some form of immigration control. You are usually eligible if you satisfy the immigration laws. This is a very complicated area and if you need further advice, please ask the Case Worker who is dealing with your homeless application.

Priority need

You may be a priority homeless person or household if you are eligible and:

  • You have dependent children living with you who are under 16, or under 19 if they are in full time education.
  • You, or any member of your household is pregnant.
  • You have been made homeless as a result of fire, flood or some other disaster.
  • You are ‘vulnerable' because of old age, mental or physical illness, disability, because of fleeing violence, because you have been in the armed forces, serving a prison sentence or have a background of being 'in care', or other special reasons.
  • You are 16 or 17 years old.

Local connection

We have to find out if you have a local connection with Stevenage, which could be if:

  • You have lived in the borough for six out of the last 12 months.
  • You have lived in the borough for three out of the last five years.
  • You have permanent employment in the borough.
  • You have a close relative who has lived in the borough for the last five years (for example, mother, father, sister, brother, adult son or daughter).

If you do not have a local connection with Stevenage, we will work with other local authorities in England, Scotland or Wales to decide if you have a local connection with them. We have to make sure that the other council has agreed to help you before sending you there. Whilst arrangements are being made, we must offer you a temporary home if needed. If you have no connection with any area, we may still have a duty to find a home for you, or help you find your own home.

Am I intentionally homeless?

We may consider you to be intentionally homeless if you have nowhere to live because of something you have deliberately done or not done. As this is a complicated area, each application is treated on an individual basis. The Case Worker who is dealing with your application will be able to tell you if this applies to your situation.

Where can I get help?

Contact the Homelessness or Housing Advice teams on the contact details above or see the link below to complete our online form.

Homelessness advice online form

Appointments

You do not need to make an appointment in an emergency as we can usually give you an appointment that day. However, it is better to ring first so we can make sure a Case Worker can see you.

Visits outside the office

If you cannot come to see us because you are unwell, in hospital or have mobility problems, we can come to where you are staying or another location such as a hospital or community centre.

Outside office hours

We run an out-of-hours service, so if you become homeless outside office hours and you think you are in priority need, call us on 01438 314963.

IMPORTANT
The out of hours service should only be used in the case of a real emergency that cannot wait until the office re-opens.

What will happen next

You will be interviewed by a Case Worker who will ask you some questions to find out about your situation. This is so we can decide what help we may be able to offer you and to make sure people do not abuse the service by making false claims.

The Case Worker will continue to deal with your case until a decision has been made, and will be able to answer any questions you may have. If they are not available and you have an urgent issue, then someone else can help, but as they will not be familiar with your case you may have to wait. Please try to contact your own Case Worker if possible.

IMPORTANT
All interviews take place in private and any information you give the Case Worker is treated as confidential. They will not pass on ANY information to anyone without your permission.

Documents to support my case

Your Case Worker will tell you which documents you need to show us as this depends on your case. The following list is for guidance only:

  • Proof of homelessness - for example:
    • A Notice letter from your landlord
    • A letter from a friend or relative asking you to leave
    • A Court Order or Bailiff's Warrant
  • Proof of identification for everyone in your household (any of the following):
    • Birth Certificate
    • Passport
    • Proof of Age ID Card
    • Employment identification (including HM Forces identification)
    • EU Identification card
    • Approved Immigration Status document
    • Certificate of Adoption
    • Photocard driving licence
  • Proof of residence (you will need at least TWO recent items):
    • Household bills
    • Tenancy Agreement
    • DSS Benefit Book
    • Driving Licence
    • Bank Statement

IMPORTANT

  • We will NOT accept photocopies - please bring the original documents.
  • If you are on the Housing Register and have already brought in documents you will not need to bring them again, but we may ask to see other documents.
  • If you are asked to bring in documents, it is important that you do so as soon as possible or there will be a delay in making a decision on your case.

How do you make your decision?

Your Case Worker will look at your statements (on your application form or as case notes), the documents you have given us, and information they have gained as a result of their own enquiries. They will then make a recommendation based on this information. This is passed to a senior officer who will make the final decision.

What happens if my application is approved?

If we have a duty to help you under the law, one of the following can happen:

  • We will help you find your own home in the private sector
  • We will house in temporary accommodation
  • We will refer your case to another council for help

Your Case Worker will give you details about the type of help you will be offered. We can help you find a home in the private sector, possibly help with a deposit and if you are on low income, you may get help with the rent.

What happens if I refuse the help offered?

If you refuse the offer of a temporary home we may no longer have a duty to help you. If you are thinking of refusing an offer, please discuss the situation with your Case Worker urgently.

Appeals and complaints

If you are unhappy with our final decision, you can appeal against it, in writing, within 21 days of the original decision. A senior officer will look into your case and if they feel it is appropriate, they may ask your Case Worker to look into the case a second time. If you give us new information as part of your appeal, we may not take this to be an appeal and your Case Officer may use the new information to make a fresh decision.

If you have a complaint about any part of the Housing Service, you should first contact your Case Worker. If you are not happy with their response and would like to make a formal complaint, use the Council's complaints procedure.

 

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