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Important Note:
Under the Housing Act 1996 Part VII the Council must inform all applicants for Housing that it is a criminal offence to make incorrect, misleading or inaccurate statements with a view to misleading the Council about whether a duty is owed under Part VII.

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How we can help with homelessness

If you are in danger of losing your home, it is important that you contact the Housing Options Team as soon as possible.

How We Can Help

  • Give you advice on your legal rights to prevent you from losing your home
  • Where appropriate, suggest ways in which you may solve your problems yourself
  • Provide you and your family with a temporary home if appropriate

You ARE homeless if you do not have a home that you can use. Your home must also be available to any other member of your family or household with whom you normally live.

You may be legally homeless if:

  • You have no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world.
  • You cannot get into your home - eg your landlord has locked you out.
  • It is not reasonable to stay in your home - eg risk of violence or abuse.
  • You are forced to live apart from your family or people you normally live with because there is no suitable accommodation for you.
  • You are living in very poor conditions - eg overcrowding.

Please ask for advice before you give up any home which you have a right or permission to occupy as this may impact on any future homelessness application you make to a local authority. You should seek legal advice before you leave your home. You can get this from an independent advice agency such as Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB), Shelter or a solicitor.

Housing in Mendip is in short supply and therefore officers will always try to prevent homelessness occurring in the first instance. We cannot provide accommodation to everyone who has a housing problem but we will work with you to help you to find an alternative solution.

Private Rented Sector Offer (PRSO)

Due to new legislation (Localism Act 2011), a local authority can discharge its full homelessness duty by arranging an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector without requiring the applicants agreement. The Housing Options Team have been successfully using the pdf icon Private Rented Sector Offer Policy [93kb]since April 2013.

Temporary Housing when Presenting as Homeless to the Council

If you ask the Council for help because you are homeless, it will look into your situation. If the Council decides that you meet certain criteria, it will have a duty to provide temporary accommodation for you.

Key Advice:

  • We may not help further if you turn down an offer. Get advice before saying No.
  • You will have to pay a charge, or rent along with Council Tax, and in some cases a charge for hot water, heating and communal services.
  • If you have household furniture and other items that you are unable to take to your temporary accommodation and need to store it, we can advise you on the options available and how you will be able to finance this.

You will remain in the accommodation while the Council investigate your homeless application, and then depending on the outcome, you will either remain in your current temporary accommodation, or move to alternative temporary accommodation as and when it is available, or be asked to leave the accommodation and given reasonable time to find alternative accommodation for yourself.

What will Temporary Accommodation be Like?

Councils can provide temporary accommodation in a range of different types of housing. You may get placed in B&B accommodation or a flat, and sometimes a house. The type of accommodation will depend on availability and your circumstances. There will be charges incurred in all accommodation. If you claim housing benefit, this may cover the cost of the charge or rent for the accommodation, but you may have to contribute depending on your circumstances, and you will have to pay Council Tax, and other charges depending on the accommodation.

The Council have accommodation across the Mendip district but cannot guarantee that accommodation will be available in your area of choice when you approach the Council or during your stay in temporary accommodation.

Refusing Offers of Temporary Accommodation

If you refuse the temporary accommodation offered without a valid reason, the Council will not provide any other accommodation, and you will have to make your own arrangements. However, we will continue to assess your homeless application until we have decided what duties (if any) we owe you.

If you are offered temporary accommodation that you do not think is suitable, get advice before you turn it down. If you refuse temporary accommodation that the Council thinks is suitable for you, it may not have to give you any more help. In some cases it may better to accept an offer because:

  • You can ask the Council to review its decision about whether the accommodation is suitable after you move in.
  • You will have somewhere to stay while the Council reviews its decision.
  • You will have somewhere to stay if your review is unsuccessful.
     

How Long Can You Stay in Temporary Accommodation?

There is no limit to the amount of time you can stay. The Council has to continue to provide temporary accommodation until you are :

  • Able to move into settled accommodation arranged by the Council.
  • You are no longer eligible for assistance.
  • You move out because, for example, you have found other accommodation where you would rather live.
  • You are evicted because of something you have done such as have rent arrears or cause antisocial behaviour,
  • or refuse a final offer of settled accommodation that is suitable for you.
  • If you lose the accommodation through your own fault, for example, by failing to pay appropriate charges or failing to stay in the provided accommodation, we may discharge our duty to you. This means that we will not provide you with any further temporary accommodation, and we may not have a duty to assist you with finding permanent accommodation.
     

What Happens if Your Circumstances Change?

You must inform the Council if your circumstances change whilst in temporary accommodation, before or after a decision has been made on your homeless application.

Your Responsibilities

  • You must use the accommodation provided for you.
  • You must be able to be contacted or you could lose out on an offer of accommodation and then the Council will not be obliged to help you any further.
  • You must pay all the charges/rent as any arrears may prevent you from moving on or result in eviction and thus the loss of any duty owed to you.
  • You must follow any 'house rules' because if you did not do so this may result in the loss of your accommodation because you made yourself 'intentionally homeless', and the loss of any duty owed to you.
     

Please Remember

The Council is committed to preventing and detecting all fraud. It is an offence to give false information, or hold or present false documents, with a view to obtaining services such as temporary accommodation.

 

Last modified: 26 October 2016