Homelessness

Housing Options Team

Our Housing Options team will always try to prevent homelessness. The following notes explain what we do if someone becomes homeless.

We have a legal duty to assist people who are homeless or are likely to become homeless.

If you feel that you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, please contact our Housing Options team on 01935 462462 to make an appointment to see an Officer. The Officer's aim will be to see if we can prevent you from becoming homeless.

Dependant upon your circumstances, we will either offer you advice and assistance or take a homeless application from you.


Who is homeless?

You are homeless if:

  • You do not have anywhere to live or
  • You are at risk of violence if you try to live in your home or
  • You have a home but cannot live in it e.g. you have been evicted or forced to leave

A person is threatened with homelessness if they are likely to become homeless within 28 days.


Who is eligible for assistance?

To be eligible for assistance you will need to have legal rights to remain in the UK and be a habitual resident.  The area of the law covering this is complex so further advice will be available at the Housing Advice Centre.

Who is in priority need?

You may be in priority need if:

  • You have a child who would normally live with you
  • You or anyone living with you is pregnant
  • You are at risk of violence
  • You or anyone who would normally live with you is old, or has learning disabilities or physical disabilities or if you are vulnerable because of another reason
  • You are homeless due to an emergency e.g. fire, flood
  • You are a young person

What is intentional homelessness?

A person can be found to be intentionally homeless where the homelessness is the consequence of a deliberate action or omission by them. (e.g. decision to leave previous accommodation even though it would have been reasonable to remain there, or it could be non-payment of rent that led to rent arrears and eviction).

Intentionally homeless families will only be entitled to advice and assistance and temporary accommodation for a short period of time.


What is a local connection?

A person needs to have a local connection with the district.  For the purposes of the homelessness legislation, a person has a local connection with the district if they:

  • Have been resident here for a minimum period of 3 years out of the last 5 years, or 6 out of the last 12 months. There are exceptions to this that might apply to members of the Armed Forces. We will give advice on this at your appointment
  • Are employed in the district
  • Have close family connections

 

If you are found not to have a local connection with South Somerset you may be referred to another district where you have a local connection (some exceptions apply,  e.g. if you are fleeing domestic violence)


What can we do to help?

When unable to prevent your homelessness, we have a duty to offer you temporary accommodation if you are found to be unintentionally homeless, eligible for assistance, in priority need and have a local connection.  We will only offer bed and breakfast accommodation in an emergency and if we are unable to find any other temporary accommodation for you.

We will discuss all of the alternative options with you. The first option we will discuss with you is private rented accommodation. We place an increasing number of homeless families in to private rented accommodation. To help with this, we have:

  • An officer who specialises in developing links with landlords in the private sector
  • A scheme to provide a deposit guarantee directly to landlords
  • Officers who specialises in welfare benefits and who can advise on benefits that are available and that would make renting privately affordable

If we do not have a duty to re-house you because you do not fall in to a priority need for re-housing, we might still be able to help. The Council runs a deposit guarantee scheme to help people secure accommodation in the private sector.  Staff at the Housing Advice Centre will give you more information on the scheme.

Remember: If you think you are in danger of losing your home, you should seek advice immediately. Early action can prevent you from becoming homeless.

 

 

Find out how we plan our housing and homeless service - our Homeless Strategy and Action Plan, and our Temporary Accommodation Strategy

 

You can read how Avon and Somerset Rough Sleepers Group has made a real, practical, difference for single homeless people in 2013-14.  The Group's Legacy Document, published in May 2015, gives you the very latest on their successes, challenges and what they plan to do next.