The law (the Homelessness Reduction Act 2018) says that Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) must
Prevent people from becoming homeless by identifying people at risk and intervening earlier with solutions we know work.
This can involve assisting you to stay in your current accommodation or helping you to find a new place to live.
Relieve homelessness – intervene rapidly if a homelessness crisis occurs, so it is brief and doesn’t keep happening.
Help could be, for example, providing a bond guarantee, funding a rent deposit or working with a private landlord to make properties available. If that isn’t possible there is a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation.
Help people recover from homelessness by getting them back on their feet.
Help could include advice about managing your finances, or about what is expected of you as a tenant.
Your LHA must provide you with free homelessness advice and information services about
- Prevention of homelessness
- Securing accommodation when homeless
- Your rights and their duties to you
- What help is available to you if you are threatened with homelessness or homeless
- How to access the available help
You can get this advice and information in Somerset through the P2i Hubs
What ‘threatened with homelessness’ means
You are threatened with homelessness if your current accommodation is only available for you to continue to stay in for 56 days or less. This could include, but is not restricted to, having been issued with a valid notice to end your tenancy or being asked to leave by friends or family.
Duty to refer people at risk of homelessness or who are homeless to Councils
There is a duty on ‘specified’ public authorities, including Children’s Services, to notify an LA (District Council) of someone thought to be homeless or at risk of homelessness within 56 days.
That can only be done with your consent.
You can also choose which Council you are referred to.
If you are already homeless, the ‘local connection rule’ would apply, but not if you are threatened with homelessness
The ‘local connection’ rule
Former relevant care leavers aged 18 to 20 have a local connection with the authority that has looked after them. If you were looked after by Somerset County Council that can be any of the Somerset housing authorities – Sedgemoor District Council, Mendip District Council, South Somerset District Council and Somerset West and Taunton Council.
And, you have a local connection with an area if you have lived there for 2 years, including time before your 16th birthday.
LHAs cannot refer their prevention duty to another LHA. The relief duty may be referred if you don’t have a local connection to them but do have a connection to another LHA area.
Assessments and Personalised Housing Plans
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, the District Council or housing authority where you live must carry out an assessment and they must share their assessment with you.
The assessment includes the circumstances leading to the threat of homelessness, housing needs and support needs
A Personalised Housing Plan (PHP) will be drawn up which sets out the ‘reasonable steps’ the authority, you and other agencies/people will take such as your Leaving Care Worker/Personal Adviser, former foster carer, P2i worker
‘Reasonable steps’ should be tailored to you and the plan should be realistic. It is really important that you engage with the reasonable steps contained within your PHP as they will all be included in the hope that they will prevent or relieve your homelessness.
How long the duties last for
LHAs have 56 days to provide advice and assistance to prevent you from becoming homeless. If you then become homeless, they have an additional 56 days to support you to relieve your homelessness irrespective of priority need and intentionally homeless status.
A LHA may end the prevention or relief duty before that if
- You have secured suitable accommodation for at least 6 months
- You have refused a suitable offer of accommodation
- You have deliberately and unreasonably refused to cooperate
- You withdraw your application
- You become intentionally homeless from accommodation that is provided for you under the relief duty
What ‘intentionally homeless’ means
Intentionally homeless means that you could have avoided becoming homeless. The LHA doesn’t have to help you if you left suitable accommodation that you could have stayed in or if you had to leave your home because of something you did or failed to do. Once an intentionally homeless decision is made the LHA is under no duty to provide accommodation but should continue to offer advice and assistance to resolve your housing difficulties.
Duties owed to you if you refuse to co-operate
LHAs should make every effort to engage you through the personalised plan if you continue to refuse to co-operate, you must be served with a warning notice. A final notice must be served to end the prevention or relief duty.
If you want to talk to someone because you are concerned about becoming homeless, you can talk to your Leaving Care Personal Advisor or contact your local P2i Homelessness Prevention Officer
South Somerset P2i Hub
93 Preston Road
Yeovil BA20 2DN
Phone 07523 645437
Mendip P2i Hub
Shape, Mendip District Council,
Cannards Grave Road,
Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT
Phone 0300 303 8588
Sedgemoor P2i Hub
14-16 St Marys Street
Bridgwater, TA6 3LT
Phone 01278 451204
Taunton Deane and West Somerset P2i Hub
Taunton Deane Borough Council
Taunton TA1 1HE
Phone 01823 356581 or 07876 131133