If you are homeless or about to be homeless, we may have a duty to help you.
Am I eligible for help?
We have an interim duty to make sure you have somewhere to live if you are homeless (if you are eligible) and if you have a priority need while we look at your situation in more detail.
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 we will support you in addressing your eligibility.
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.
We have to find out if you have a local connection with Stevenage, which could be if:
- you have lived here for six out of the last 12 months
- you have lived here for three out of the last five years
- you have permanent employment here
- you have a close relative who has lived her 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 not have a long term housing duty to you. If we are satisfied that you are eligible, homeless, in priority need and not intentionally homeless, we will refer you to an authority where you do have a local connection. 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.
You do not need to make an appointment in an emergency as we will try our best to give you an appointment that day. However, it is better to ring first so we can make sure a case worker can see you or arrange an appointment to be held at another suitable time.
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.
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
Your case will be investigated 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. Please be aware that some of these questions may appear intrusive, however they are necessary for us to ensure we have all the information we need to make an appropriate decision.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
It is an offence to give false or deliberately misleading information to us in an attempt to gain assistance with housing. It is also an offence if you fail to notify us of any changes in your circumstances once we have started working with you. Any such offences will result in you being prosecuted and assistance will be withdrawn.
How we make our 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.
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 you 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 my application is refused or if I refuse the help offered?
If your application is refused you may be referred to another body. We have an agreement with Children's Services called the Joint Housing Protocol where we will automatically refer households with children to them for additional support. You will only receive one offer of accommodation. If you refuse this offer we will 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. We will look into your case and consider any grounds you may have in requesting your case is reviewed. If you give us new information as part of your appeal, we may use the new information to make a fresh decision.
If you have a complaint about any part of the Housing Service, you should contact your case worker or make a complaint online.
Housing Advice Service
Stevenage Borough Council