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What to do if you are homeless

If you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless, you should contact us as soon as possible so we can advise you of your options. You can complete our online enquiry form, call us on 01508 533751 or freephone 0808 168 2222.

Being homeless doesn’t just mean having no accommodation. You can also be homeless if you have accommodation but:

  • You cannot gain access to it
  • It is unreasonable for you to live there
  • It is a movable structure and you have nowhere to keep it.

The Shelter website provides further information about homelessness.

In April 2018 the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) was introduced in England. This legislation placed new duties on Councils and other agencies to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

A new Homelessness Code of Guidance that Councils must follow has also been published and you can view this here

You may be owed a homeless prevention duty if you are likely to become homeless within 56 days (8 weeks). There are many reasons that someone may become threatened with homelessness. These can include:

  • Being served notice by a landlord
  • Being asked to leave by friends or family
  • Sofa surfing or have no fixed abode
  • A relationship breakdown (if you have no rights to remain in the property)
  • Being threatened with eviction from social housing or a supported housing provider
  • A mortgage company is seeking to repossess your property
  • Being unsafe in your home
  • Leaving the armed forces and not having any accommodation to go to

There are many other reasons that someone may become homeless. If you are worried about becoming homeless you should contact your local Council or the Council where you wish to live as soon as possible. Although the Homelessness Reduction Act places duties on Councils to help people who may become homeless within 56 days, if you have a housing need or are worried about becoming homeless you should seek assistance immediately. The earlier you seek help, the better chance you have of avoiding becoming homeless.

If you contact South Norfolk Council because you are worried about becoming homeless we will assess your case and investigate what duties, if any, we owe you. We will need to be satisfied that you are eligible for assistance and that you are likely to become homeless within 56 days.

If you are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness we will work with you to help you find a housing solution which prevents you from becoming homeless if possible. It is your responsibility to work with us to consider all suitable options available and we will create a personalised housing plan with you which will have actions that you should take and actions that South Norfolk Council will take. If you need additional support from other agencies we can help with referrals and are committed to working with partner agencies to get the best outcomes for all our customers.

Housing Options that we may explore with you can include:

  • Looking for a private rented property
  • Looking for a room to rent, house share or lodgings arrangement
  • Staying with friends and family
  • Working to avoid being evicted from your current home
  • Social housing through our housing register
  • Checking that any notice served is valid
  • Improvements or safety measures to your current home
  • Accessing supported accommodation or hostels
  • Accessing refuge accommodation or seeking support where you are at risk of violence
  • Working with your landlord to combat anti-social behaviour of neighbourhood issues
  • Budgeting and support to manage your home
  • If you are struggling to pay your rent we may be able to help with welfare benefit claims

If you are already homeless you should contact us immediately. If we have reason to believe that you are homeless then South Norfolk Council will take an application from you, we will then investigate whether you are owed a homeless relief duty (this means whether you are homeless). If you have a priority need for accommodation or are considered vulnerable, then emergency accommodation may be offered. More information regarding priority need and vulnerability can be found in the Homelessness Code of Guidance at the top of this page or on the Shelter website which can be viewed here.

A homeless relief duty can last for up to 56 days and during that time South Norfolk Council will work with you to help you find a solution to your housing need. If a homeless relief duty is accepted, we will work with you to help you find suitable accommodation.

South Norfolk Council will assess the reasons that you have become homeless, the types of accommodation which would be suitable for you and any support needs that you may have to access and maintain accommodation. It is your responsibility to work with us to consider all suitable options available and we will create a personalised housing plan with you which will have actions that you should take and actions that South Norfolk Council will take. If you need additional support from other agencies we can help with referrals and are committed to working with partner agencies to get the best outcomes for all our customers.

To assess whether you are owed a homeless relief duty South Norfolk Council will investigate whether you are eligible for assistance and whether you are homeless. We may also consider whether you have a local connection to South Norfolk.

Housing Options that we may explore with you can include:

  • Seeking a private rented property
  • Seeking a room to rent, house share or lodgings arrangement
  • Staying with friends and family
  • Working to return to your last settled home
  • Social housing through our housing register
  • Improvements or safety measures to allow you to return to you last settled home
  • Referral to another local authority
  • Accessing supported accommodation or hostels
  • Accessing refuge accommodation or seeking support where you are at risk of violence
  • Working with your landlord to combat anti-social behaviour of neighbourhood issues
  • Budgeting and support to manage your home
  • Providing legal advice or signposting you to agencies who provide legal advice

If you are not successful in finding accommodation during the homeless relief duty South Norfolk Council will assess whether any further duties are owed to you and whether you have become homeless intentionally.

South Norfolk Council and Broadland District Council are working together to deliver the FIRST Step project. This new service is designed to help and support those who are rough sleeping in either the South Norfolk or Broadland districts. Through this project, customers can access support, assistance with basic needs such as food and clothing as well as emergency accommodation.

If you are rough sleeping or concerned about someone who is rough sleeping please see the FIRST Step web page.

You can also make a referral if you are concerned about a rough sleeper through a service called Streeklink, they can be accessed through their website

The Homelessness Reduction Act placed a duty on some agencies to make Councils aware when their customers are homeless or at risk of homelessness, for more information please see the Duty to Refer page of our website.

In addition, social housing landlords have been encouraged to sign up to a voluntary commitment to refer which means they should make their local housing authority aware when they are seeking to evict a tenant or are aware that a tenant may be at risk of homelessness.

The best advice is to contact the Council responsible for the area you wish to live in. You should not be turned away without any advice or assistance or simply told to go to another Council without any help being offered.

Councils may consider whether you have a local connection with their area and whether or not you have a local connection may affect the types of assistance you are offered. Local connections may include:

  • Living in a Council area for a certain amount of time
  • Working in a particular area
  • Having close family members who have lived in the area for a period of time
  • Having been in care in a particular area
  • Having a special circumstance that means you need to live in a particular area.

For more information about homeless local connections please see the Shelter website.

If you do not have a local connection with a Council, it may limit the assistance they will offer if you are at risk of homelessness, but you should still be able to apply to see whether a homeless prevention duty is owed to you. If you are homeless, not having a local connection may mean that your case is referred to another Council that you do have a connection with provided it is safe to do so.

No council should ever refuse to help you because they do not consider you to be safe in their district or simply turn you away because you do not have a local connection.

 

If you would like independent advice around your housing options or homelessness there are a number of organisations you can approach. Shelter are a housing and homeless charity who have a lot of useful information on their website and can provide advice. Shelter may also be able to help or support you if you are unhappy with a decision that a Council has made regarding what homeless assistance they will give you.

Shelter have a considerable amount of information regarding homelessness on their website which can be accessed here.