Worried about becoming homeless?

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness you should contact our Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team who will aim to prevent you from becoming homeless or to delay this wherever possible.

It is important that you do not give up any accommodation voluntarily before checking what your rights and options are.  Do not leave contacting us until the last minute. You can contact us at housingoptions@elmbridge.gov.uk or call us on 01372 474590 but you should also read the information below.

Are you homeless?

This is set out in law but in summary you can be considered as homeless if:

  • you don’t have anywhere to live
  • you are likely to lose your home in the next 56 days
  • it is not reasonable for you to remain in your home
  • you cannot gain entry to your property
  • you are at risk of violence in your property

For more information visit the Shelter website.

If someone is homeless or threatened with homelessness, all housing authorities must:

  •  provide (or secure the provision of a service to provide) information and advice to help prevent homelessness

  • help those who might become homeless to be able to remain in their homes wherever possible

  • help to secure accommodation if someone is homeless or likely to become homeless

  • carry out an assessment of the person’s circumstances and needs and agree a personalised housing plan with the person. The personalised housing plan contains steps that the housing authority and the person have agreed to both take to help them to secure accommodation or prevent them from becoming homeless.

If you are homeless or facing homelessness within 56 days:

  • You should contact the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team for advice and assistance.
  • The Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team will interview you by appointment and can provide a service tailored to your needs. You will have a Housing Options Assessment following which we will determine what duties if any will be owed to you under homelessness legislation.
  • You can also access online housing advice and obtain an action plan if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness by completing part one of the online application process for the Housing Register.

What happens once I contact the Housing Options Team?

You may be asked to attend a housing options interview or for a homeless application to be taken so we can find out more about your situation. You will be asked to provide the following documents to confirm your situation to your interview

  • proof of identity including the birth certificates (full version) and passports of all the people in your application
  • proof that you are or will be homeless e.g. a notice to quit from your landlord, friend or relative
  • letters from the building society showing that it intends to repossess your home; and a court order or bailiff's warrant
  • proof of income and savings including: Wage slips, benefit books, P45, bank statements and savings books
  • proof of where you and all the people in your application have lived for each of the last five years, including: tenancy agreements, rent books or receipts for rent, postmarked letters, bills, bank statements, driving licenses, and medical cards
  • if relevant, documents proving: you are married, you are divorced, you have custody of children, you are pregnant, you are asking for or have been given asylum

If we take a homeless application we will investigate your case to decide if there is a duty to secure accommodation against each of the five tests in the homeless legislation to establish whether you are:

  • eligible for assistance, and
  • homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, and
  • in priority need, and
  • not intentionally homeless, and
  • if you have a local connection with Elmbridge or any other housing authority area

Preventing homelessness - the Prevention Duty

The Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team will consider the information you provide and will carry out a Housing Options Assessment so that we can understand your situation, what circumstances have led to the current situation and any areas of support that you may require.  

If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, A Prevention Duty may be triggered, which will mean that we will try for 56 days to prevent you from becoming homeless or help you to find alternative accommodation. You will be given a personal housing plan which identifies actions you, us and other agencies should take to attempt to prevent your homelessness.

Depending on your circumstances this might include:

  • advising you of your legal rights if you have been served with a notice to leave your home or if this is not possible to try and help you find other accommodation
  • negotiating with your landlord or the person you live with to let you stay, or stay for longer
  • providing advice on claiming housing benefit to assist with your housing costs
  • offering general advice including on the housing options that might be available to you

If homelessness is not prevented - the Relief Duty

If your homelessness has not been prevented by the end of the 56 day period (or earlier) and you become homeless then we may have a Relief Duty to you. This means that we will try for a further 56 days to help you to find alternative accommodation.  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 the council where you have a local connection should be trying to help you to secure accommodation over the 56 day relief period.

Will you provide me with accommodation at the Relief Stage?

If at the Relief Stage, you are eligible for assistance, we will then decide whether we believe 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 interim accommodation. 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 are:

  • families with dependent children

  • pregnant households

  • care leavers       

People who are considered to be significantly vulnerable if homeless due to:

  • disability or mental illness

  • old age

  • having to leave your home due to violence or threats of violence

  • serving in the armed forces

  • being in custody or prison       

  • people who have become homeless following an emergency, such as a flood or fire.

What if I disagree with your decision?

If you disagree with our decision about your homelessness, you may 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 the council's decision. There is a separate leaflet available ‘Procedures for Requesting a Review’ which describes the process in more detail.

Seen someone sleeping rough?

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough in Elmbridge, you can inform StreetLink online or call them on 0300 500 0914. StreetLink can help to connect the person to the local services and support available to them, or you can contact us at housingoptions@elmbridge.gov.uk or call us on 01372 474590.

Out of hours

If you are homeless and need assistance outside of our normal opening times, please call our out of hours service on 0300 123 7719.

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