Are You Facing Homelessness?
All local authorities must provide or secure the provision of a service to provide, information and advice to help prevent homelessness; secure accommodation when homeless or likely to become homeless and help households gain access to other services which they may need.
We provide a service that not only means explaining your rights under the law on homelessness, it also includes advice on our housing options, such as how to join the housing register, and how other organisations can help you with needs that may affect your housing.
Other agencies that you may be referred to are Citizens Advice, floating support providers, Adult or Children’s Social Care and mental health services amongst others.
If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, we will provide a service tailored to your needs, which will be assessed at a Housing Options Assessment.
Following the assessment you will be given a personal housing plan with steps that both yourself, us and other identified agencies are going to follow to enable you to either keep your current housing or access alternative accommodation.
If your households fits into one of the following categories it may be that there are other specific actions that we can take to help with this;
(a) people leaving prison or youth detention accommodation,
(b) young people leaving care,
(c) people leaving the regular armed forces of the Crown,
(d) people leaving hospital after medical treatment for physical injury or illness or mental illness or disorder as an inpatient,
(e) people with a learning disability, or
(f) people receiving mental health services in the community.
These actions may involve us visiting you in prison or hospital to assess your needs before you leave.
It may also involve accessing specific help with other professional agencies that you are dealing with such as welfare officers within the armed forces, or care co-coordinators within mental health services.
Whatever your situation, please call us so that we can discuss your housing situation and individual needs and how best to proceed.
How to make initial enquiries
Please call 01306 885001 and ask to speak to a Housing Options Officer.
If you need to come and see us, we can make an appointment for you.
If you have any of these documents, you must bring them with you:
- notice to quit
- mortgage details and associated correspondence
- court papers
- passport or other proof that you are entitled to live in England
- pregnancy certificate
- proof of where you have lived during the last five years
- your tenancy agreement
If you are homeless and 16 or 17 years old, please contact Surrey Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) on 0300 470 9100 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or 01483 517898 if outside these times or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens next
The Prevention Duty
We will consider the information you have provided to establish your situation.
The first step will be a Housing Options Assessment so that we can understand your situation and any areas of support that you may require.
A 56 day Prevention Duty may be triggered, which will mean that we will try for 56 days to prevent you from becoming homeless.
Prevention could be attempted through negotiation with your landlord or mortgage company; resolving any financial problems that you may be facing; or helping you find alternative accommodation.
You will be given a personal housing plan which identifies actions for both you, us and other agencies to take to attempt to prevent your homelessness.
What if my Homelessness is not prevented? – The Relief Duty
If your homelessness has not been prevented by the end of the 56 day period (or earlier) then we may be under a 56 day Relief Duty to you.
Where you do not have a local connection with the local authority, you will be referred to a local authority where you do hold a local connection for them to fulfil the Relief Duty.
During this period, where you have a local connection we should be trying to help you to secure accommodation over a further 56 day period.
A local connection with a particular area means that you:
- have family associations in that area;
- normally live there by choice; and
- work there
Living in armed forces accommodation or staying in a hospital or any place that is not your home, but that you only occupy in order to receive some kind or care or support, does not count as a local connection.
Will I be provided with accommodation at the relief stage?
If at the Relief Stage you are eligible for assistance, we will then decide whether it believes that you are in a priority need group.
If you are in a priority need group then we are under a duty to provide you with accommodation through out the 56 days of the relief duty.
If at the end of the relief duty you have still not secured accommodation then we will consider whether any longer term duty to accommodate you under the law on homelessness is owed to you and your family.
Priority need groups
- families with dependent children
- pregnant households
- people who are otherwise considered by us to be vulnerable, e.g. someone with a physical disability
- people who have become homeless following an emergency, such as a flood or fire
You may also be considered to be homeless if we considers you to be vulnerable as a result of the following;
- had to leave your home because of violence or harassment
- have been in care
- were in the armed forces
- have been in a young offenders’ institute or prison in the past
What happens if I am found to be intentionally homeless?
If you are still homeless at the end of the Relief Duty and we have found that you are in priority need then it will consider whether you are intentionally homeless.
This is when it is felt that you are homeless because of something that you have deliberately done or failed to do (e.g.. knowingly not paid your rent to your landlord)
Being intentionally homeless does not necessarily mean that you wanted to be homeless.
If we believe that you are intentionally homeless, even if you are in a priority group, you will only be offered emergency accommodation for long enough to give you time to find something else.
Am I entitled to longer term assistance and emergency accommodation?
Yes, if we are satisfied that:
- you are homeless
- you have a local connection
- you are in a priority group
- you did not become homeless intentionally
You will be told in writing that we are satisfied with your circumstances.
You will also be told how we can help you. This could include:
- nomination to a private sector tenancy (in some cases the council may also be able to help with a rent deposit bond);
- nomination to a housing association tenancy;
- emergency accommodation; and
- we will do its best to meet reasonable preferences about the location of the accommodation, but housing is scarce and opportunities do not necessarily arise in the right place at the right time. If the only option is to go somewhere that is not your preference, you may have the chance to move later on, but that will also depend on availability.
What if I disagree with the decision?
You have a right to ask for a review.
The request must be lodged, verbally or in writing, within 21 days of the date of the letter telling you about our decision.
For more information about the process, read ‘requesting a review of your homelessness decision‘.
Other areas of the homelessness stages detailed above also have review rights and these will be notified to you when they apply.
Longer term housing
Homeless people can apply for permanent housing.
You must first apply to go on the Housing Register.
Being offered help as a homeless person may make you a qualifying person for the register, but it does not give you automatic access to a permanent tenancy.
You have to qualify in accordance with the Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme.
It is important to complete the housing register application form and to keep your registration up to date. If you do not, you may delay the consideration of your application for eventual permanent housing.
Information on our homelessness performance is reported quarterly to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
For further details on our performance and also comparative information on other local authorities, visit GOV.UK.