Homelessness

Housing Options Team

Our housing team will always try to prevent homelessness. The following notes explain what we will do if you become threatened with homelessness or if you are already homeless.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force on 3rd April 2018.  It made significant changes to how we help you if you are at risk of becoming homeless or if you are already homeless.

Duty to prevent homelessness

If you are threatened with homelessness please contact our housing team on (01935) 462462 to make an appointment to see an Officer.  We will have a duty to assess your circumstances and if you are eligible for assistance we will have a duty to take reasonable steps to help you keep your accommodation.  We will have a duty to write a personalised housing plan for you and we will ask you to agree to the steps that you and the Council will take to retain your accommodation.

Our duty to you will last for 56 days unless it is brought to an end by an event eg. you find other accommodation or you become homeless.

If you follow the steps in your housing plan but we are unable to prevent you from becoming homeless, then we will have a duty to relieve your homelessness.

Duty to relieve homelessness

If you are homeless please contact our housing team immediately on (01935) 462462 to make an appointment to see an Officer.  We will have a duty to assess your circumstances and if you are eligible for assistance we will have a duty to take reasonable steps to help you find accommodation.  We will have a duty to write a personalised housing plan for you and we will ask you to agree to the steps that you and the Council will take to find other accommodation.

Our duty to you will last for 56 days unless it is brought to an end eg. you find accommodation. 

If at any point we have reason to believe that you are homeless, eligible and in priority need then we will have a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation.  The type and location of the temporary accommodation will depend on your circumstances and what is available at the time.  But we will only ever use bed and breakfast in an emergency.

If you follow the steps in your housing plan, but we are unable to relieve your homelessness, then we will assess whether we still have a duty to help.  We will have a duty if you are in priorty need and if you have not made yourself homeless intentionally.

 

What do we mean by '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

You are threatened with homelessness if:

  • You will become homeless within 56 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.

Am I 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)

 

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.