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Contact the Housing Options Team

Preventing Homelessness

Are you homeless or about to be made homeless and need help?

We appreciate the immense difficulties people face when dealing with both homelessness and the threat of it and would urge anyone to make contact with us as early into a problem as possible so we can seek to resolve any issue or offer alternative options to support you. Our aim is to prevent homelessness whenever possible.

Please contact the Housing Options Team for advice and assistance or visit the team at either the Sittingbourne office in Sittingbourne or The Gateway in Sheerness. For example, if you have been served notice by your landlord, you have mortgage arrears or you are being asked to leave by family or friends.

In certain circumstances we may be able to visit you at home to discuss your situation.

Before contacting the team, please make sure that you have all relevant details to hand, as this will enable us to provide you with a higher level of service.

If you are calling outside opening hours please call the out of hours service available from 5:50 pm - 8:30am and will also be available on weekends and Bank holidays: 01634 30 44 00

What happens if you are homeless?

The kind of homelessness assistance you are entitled to depends on your circumstances and how you became homeless. The Housing Act 1996 (amended 2002) states that enquiries must be made about all homeless applicants to establish if we have a duty to help, and if so, what kind of help we should give. Every council must, by law, ensure that enquiries are made into all homeless applications.

Our enquiries will be made under the following five criteria. This will tell us what kind of help we have a duty to provide for you. It is important that you provide full and truthful information.

1. Are you Homeless?

The Housing Act 1996 (amended 2002) states that you are homeless if you have no accommodation available in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. This means that if you have suitable accommodation anywhere in the world, which is available to you, you are NOT homeless.

The Housing Act also says that you are threatened with homelessness if you are likely to become homeless within 28 days.

You are also considered to be homeless if you have accommodation available to you but:

If you are worried about becoming homeless, you should get advice as soon as possible. There is no need to wait until you are actually homeless or threatened with homelessness within 28 days. In fact, it may be possible for you to get advice, which may prevent you from losing your home. If you need to find other accommodation you can also get advice about this.

2. Are you eligible for assistance?

Everyone is entitled to housing advice from their local council. If you need further assistance then we can find out whether you are eligible to receive further assistance. You will not be eligible for assistance if you are subject to immigration control, although there are exceptions. You will be subject to immigration control if you are not in one of these groups:

In addition, you must be habitually resident. In other words you must live in this country. This means that even if you are a British Citizen, if you have lived away from the country for a length of time you may not be eligible for assistance.

The habitually resident rule does not apply to you if you:

If you are NOT eligible for assistance then you will be given advice about how you can find accommodation, and it might be possible to put you in contact with other organisations that may be able to assist you.

If you ARE eligible for assistance then further enquiries will be made as explained below.

In certain circumstances we may be able to visit you at home to discuss your situation.

3. Are you in priority need?

If you are homeless and eligible for assistance, we then need to determine whether you are also in priority need. This is because we have a duty to provide immediate temporary accommodation, if needed, for people who are homeless, eligible for assistance and who may be in priority need.

You are considered to be in priority need if you:

The critical test for vulnerability is whether the applicant is less able to fend for him / herself so that he / she will suffer injury or detriment, in circumstances where a less vulnerable person would be able to cope without harmful effects.

If you are not in priority need you are entitled to advice and assistance to help you find your own accommodation or to prevent you from losing any accommodation you may have at the moment.

If you are homeless or threatened with homeless and in priority need we will make further enquiries into your homeless claim. We may provide interim accommodation in some circumstances.

4. Are you intentionally homeless?

By law, it is necessary to find out whether you are homeless through no fault of your own. If you lost your accommodation through a deliberate act which you knew would make you homeless then you may be found intentionally homeless.

For example, you are intentionally homeless if you:

If you are intentionally homeless then you are entitled to advice and assistance to prevent you from losing your home (if you have one). If you are already homeless then you may be entitled to accommodation for a reasonable period of time, usually 28 days, while you find accommodation of your own.

5. Do you have a local connection?

You have a local connection with Swale if:

If you have a local connection with Swale, then any assistance you may be entitled to will be provided by us.

If you do not have a local connection with Swale, but you have a connection with another borough, then this council will refer you to the borough where you have the local connection. If you have a local connection with several other boroughs, but not Swale, you can choose which one you would like to go to. You will not be referred to another borough if you are at risk from domestic violence there.

If you do not have a local connection in any area, then the first council you applied to as homeless has the duty to provide you with advice and assistance. You cannot be referred to another council if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally. You can make an application to any authority, particularly if you are at risk of violence and need to leave the area urgently.

Discharging the homeless duty into the private sector.

New powers under the Localism Act (2011) mean that the local authorities can now end the main homelessness duty with offers of accommodation in the private rented sector without obtaining the applicants consent.

To provide reassurance for households the following must apply:

The demand for social housing far outweighs the supply meaning that there is not enough social housing for everyone. In light of this and because of the change to the law, we are looking for suitable private rented accommodation as a means to discharge the main homelessness duty owed towards you. Whilst we do not need an applicants consent to do this we will always taken into account any special circumstances of you and your household.

You should start to look for your own private rented accommodation to ensure as much choice and flexibility as possible and to avoid the restrictions of the one offer that we will make if you are owed the main homelessness duty.

Other websites

Rent Deposit Bond Scheme

The scheme offers a deposit bond to applicants who we have been approved.
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