Worried about becoming homeless?

Due to COVID-19 our services are operating differently. We are open for pre-booked appointments only. During the pandemic we have resolved customer enquiries online or by phone. If we consider an appointment is necessary, it will be a telephone appointment. 

Homeless prevention and advice

If you are homeless there will be a Homelessness Prevention and Advice Officer available by telephone only during office hours of 8.45am to 5pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 11am to 5pm on Wednesdays and 8.45am to 4.45pm on Fridays (note these times may change depending on staffing levels). This will be an emergency screening service only. Please call 01372 474 590, or email housingoptions@elmbridge.gov.uk. Further information for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness is given below.

For emergency homelessness outside of office hours, customers should telephone 0300 123 7718 and our out of hours service will help.

If you are sleeping rough, or know of someone who is sleeping rough please contact Elmbridge Rentstart Rough Sleeper Outreach on 01372 477167, or email hello@elmbridgerentstart.org.uk.

Social and supported housing

The Social and Supported Housing Team will be available by telephone or email. Please call 01372 474 590, or email socialhousing@elmbridge.gov.uk.

Private rented sector and temporary accommodation

The Private Rented Sector and Temporary Accommodation Team will be available by telephone or email. Please call 01372 474 590, or email rss@elmbridge.gov.uk.

For further information, please see our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Worried about becoming homeless? 

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness you should contact our Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team for advice and 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.

The Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team is situated within the housing Options Unit that comprises of three teams. Their roles are summarised below.

Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team - which owes prevention duties for those who are threatened with homelessness within 56 days and work to prevent homelessness wherever possible and where it can’t be prevented they will assess the relief duties owed to applicants in accordance with homelessness legislation. The team will issue personal housing plans (PHP) and provide advice on housing options for applicants who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and will decide if temporary accommodation needs to be provided and if so decide what would be suitable accommodation for applicants based upon individual assessment. The team also gives general housing advice.

Private Rented Sector and Temporary Accommodation Team – which operates the council’s Rental Support Scheme to secure accommodation in the private rented sector for applicants referred by the Homelessness Prevention and Advice team. They visit bed and breakfast and nightly paid accommodation and work to make the best use of all temporary accommodation available, working to provide move on from it depending on the duty owed to applicants under homelessness legislation.

Social and Supported Housing Team – which  assesses applicant’s eligibility to join the council’s Housing Register, verify applications, assess their priority under the council’s Allocations Policy and nominate applicants for accommodation advertised through Search Moves, the council’s choice based lettings scheme.

The work of the three teams is closely interlinked and together they work to assess and meet housing need wherever they can.

Overall aims and objectives of the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team

Service standards for the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Team

For practical information on the procedures followed by the Homelessness Prevention and Advice team and what they do please read the following information.

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.

If your households fits into one of the following categories it may be that there are other specific actions that the Council can take to help with your threat of homelessness

(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 would often involve us visiting you in prison or hospital to assess your needs before you leave but given the current situation with Covid 19 this is likely to be telephone call to start with. It may also involve accessing specific help with other professional agencies that may be dealing you or who might be able to offer help  such as welfare officers within the armed forces, or care co-coordinators within mental health services.    

What happens once I contact the Homelessness Prevention and Advice 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       

  • those who are homeless as a result of being a victim of domestic abuse.

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

  • disability or mental illness

  • old age

  • serving in the armed forces

  • being in custody, prison or young offenders institution      

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

What type of accommodation might be secured and where might it be situated?

If we have reason to believe you are homeless and have a priority need we will need to secure accommodation for you. We will try and accommodate you in Elmbridge whenever we can and seek to avoid placements in bed and breakfast or nightly paid accommodation which is normally situated outside of the borough but this is not always possible. If we do find accommodation for you outside of Elmbridge we will move you back in borough as soon as we can. Any accommodation that is secured needs to be suitable for you. We have a policy which sets out the matters considered in determining if accommodation is suitable and how a decision is reached between applicants to place outside of Elmbridge if necessary and priority to place back within the Borough. For more information please see the temporary accommodation out of area placement policy.

What happens if I am found intentionally homeless?

If you are still homeless at the end of the 56 day Relief Duty and the Council has 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) If the Council believes that you are intentionally homeless, even if you are in a priority need group, you will only be offered emergency accommodation for a period of  time that we believe should be long enough for you find something else.

Am I entitled to longer term assistance if I become homeless?

You will be entitled if we are satisfied, after our enquiries, that:

  • you are homeless

  • you have a local connection

  • you are in a priority group

  • you did not become homeless intentionally

You will be provided with a letter after the relief period, advising the Council is satisfied with your circumstances and how we might assist with you.

Sometimes, depending on the complexity of the case for example, we are not able to issue a decision immediately after the 56 day relief period. Our decision will be issued as soon as we can.

If we accept the main housing duty to you we will tell you how we may help you. This could include securing a private sector tenancy (in some cases the council may also be able to help with a rent deposit bond), hostels or a nomination to a housing association tenancy.

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, as not all decisions carry a right of 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. A leaflet entitled Procedures for Requesting a Review describes the process in more detail.

Are you a public body with a duty to refer?

Public Body - duty to refer information should be read if you are a public body that needs to notify us of someone who is homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Seen someone sleeping rough?

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough in Elmbridge, please contact Elmbridge Rentstart Rough Sleeper Outreach on 01372 477167, or email hello@elmbridgerentstart.org.uk. Alternatively, you can inform StreetLink online or call on 0300 500 0914. StreetLink can help to connect the person to the local services and support available to them.

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 7718

Useful websites and further advice

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