Our Housing Options Team provide a free, confidential and impartial advice service for people in housing need, who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, who want to join the Housing Register or simply want advice on where to look for suitable accommodation. We aim to be a service that prevents homelessness when ever possible as the effects of homelessness can be stressful and detrimental to peoples lives. Where homelessness cannot be prevented, we make a full assessment of individuals support and accommodation needs so that appropriate services can be provided. We also aim to make sure that vulnerable people are supported so that they are less likely to become homeless again in the future.
Because of the high demand for social housing in Swale we cannot simply offer you permanent accommodation quickly, but we can work with you to try and find an alternative solution in a more managed and sustainable way. For this reason it is important that you contact the Housing Options Team as soon as you know that you may be at risk of losing your home.
Monday - Thursday: 8:45am - 5:00pm
Friday: 8:45am - 4:30pm
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Wednesday: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am - 12:00pm
We run an open access drop in service at Swale House and the Sheppey Gateway but we can also book appointments for interviews.
If you are unable to leave your home or there are reasons why we need to come and see you at home, an appointment can be arranged for an officer to visit you.
What do I do if I am homeless when the office is shut? If you find yourself without accommodation when the office is closed, over the weekend or on a public holiday you can contact our Emergency Out Of Hours Service on 01634 304400.
We aim to help people in Swale find a new home or to keep their current home. We provide advice and help to housing association tenants, tenants of private landlords, owner-occupiers and any other person in the Borough with a housing need.
When you contact the Housing Options Team for help we will need to ask you a few questions to enable us to give you the best advice at the right time.
We can help you to explore your housing options and advise you what options might be best for you. All our advice will be tailored to your needs following a thorough assessment of your circumstances.
Below are some of the housing options available in Swale.
Swale has a large private rented sector that offers a wide variety of accommodation in different price ranges. There is more choice on where you want to live which means you could choose a home near to your childs school or place of work. The standard of privately rented accommodation is improving and there are certain standards that Landlords must meet before they can rent out their properties. Rents can be higher than social housing tenancies although Local Housing Allowance may cover the rent for those entitled to claim housing benefit.
You can contact the Housing Benefit Team
Call: 01795 417555
Swale Borough Council allocates council tenancies through a choice based lettings scheme. In Swale all social housing is owned by Housing Associations. Demand is high and turnover low so waiting times can be very long. You can apply for social housing by putting your name on the Housing Register. You will be placed on the register according to your need; this is done through a banding system.
There are 6 bands and those placed in band 1 have the highest need for urgent housing. To register please call the Housing Options Team on 01795 417622.
There are homes in Swale specifically designed to cater for the needs of older adults. To access sheltered housing you will need to apply to the Housing Register and bid for properties when they are advertised. Alternatively if you would like to remain in your home our Staying Put Team may be able to help you with maintenance issues and adaptations. Staying Put can be contacted on 01795 417131.
If you are an existing social housing tenant and you want to move home you can do a mutual exchange as well as apply for a transfer. If you would like to be considered for a transfer to an alternative social housing property you will need to apply to the Housing Register and bid for properties when they are advertised. Please note that you need to have been in your current property for at least 12 months before you can be considered for a transfer.
A mutual exchange allows you to swap your home with another social housing tenant; this can be in the area that you are currently living or outside of the area. You will need permission from your Landlord and have your details included on the national website at Home Swapper.
There are three home ownership schemes allowing you to purchase all or part of a property. The schemes are HomeBuy, Right to Buy and Right to Acquire. These schemes are ideal for those who need financial help getting onto the first step of the home ownership ladder and who can meet the long-term financial commitment of home ownership. You will need a mortgage or savings to fund all or part of the purchase of the property and you will need to ensure you can afford to pay the rent for the share you do not own.
In Swale this is usually provided by Housing Associations and is an option if you need extra support to live independently. Supported accommodation usually has staff on site to ensure tenants can get help when needed. To access supported housing you will need to be referred by a Housing Options Officer or you will need to apply to the Housing Register and bid for properties when they are advertised.
Hostels provide accommodation and support and are normally for single people. The aim is to provide each tenant with the skills needed to secure and maintain long term independent accommodation.
Buying a home gives you choice on where you live and what type of property you live in. You will need to apply for a mortgage to buy the property; you will need to be employed to do this. You will also need a deposit; most mortgage lenders require you to have at least 5 % of the cost of the property. You will need to budget for repairs and maintenance of the property. If you are considering this option you should seek advice from a financial advisor.
Staying at home or lodging with family or friends can be a much cheaper option than setting up home on your own. If you have to pay bills they are usually shared and family and friends can provide company and support when needed.
For more information on the housing options available in Swale or to access choice based lettings visit the My Place web site. If you are already on the Housing Register you are able to log in using your reference (bidding) number and date of birth.
You may be finding it difficult to remain in your home and you may want to move, but there are a few things we can do to make it easier for you to either stay in your home or look at options to give you time to make a planned move. We may be able to help you access alternative accommodation and provide financial assistance to help you move or remain in your home.
If your landlord is asking you to leave or there are disrepair issues with the property we can negotiate with your landlord and refer your case to our Environmental Health Team. Contact the Environmental Health Team. If required we can also refer you to the Rent Deposit Scheme. We can also provide you with a landlords list that has information on property available to rent locally.
To qualify for this scheme you must be a resident of Swale, homeless or threatened with homelessness and in priority need. The Housing Options Team works with private landlords to provide better access to private tenancies. Acceptance onto the scheme means that your landlord will be provided with a bond (guarantee) for a deposit. You will need to find money for one months rent in advance and any administration fees that the landlord may ask for.
Family conflict is a major cause of homelessness. We can liaise with you and family members to resolve issues and prevent homelessness. The Swale Mediation Service may also be able to help you. You can find out more about the service they offer by visiting Swale Mediation or by calling 01795 471415.
We can assist you in negotiating with your mortgage lender to arrange an affordable payment plan and we can also refer you to the Mortgage Rescue Scheme. To be eligible for this scheme you have to be homeless and in priority need.
If you are aged 16-25 years old we can refer you to the Swale Foyer who can provide you with accommodation and assist you with education, training, employment and life skills. We can also refer young single mothers to the local mother and baby unit. Both of these schemes are managed by the local housing association AmicusHorizon.
If you are suffering domestic abuse there are several options to help you stay safe. We can provide extra security in your home with our Keep Safe Scheme, we can help you find accommodation in a women's refuge and we can refer you to the One-Stop-Shop, who can provide you with extra advice and support. We can also provide you with emergency accommodation and give you contacts for Womens Support Services in Kent.
We can refer you for Money Advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to help you prioritise any debts you may have and look at ways to make your future more financially stable.
If homelessness cannot be prevented, we will provide emergency accommodation for those people who we believe are eligible for assistance and who have a priority need. This accommodation is known as interim accommodation and will be either bed and breakfast or in a hostel. You will be provided with interim accommodation until your application has been assessed under homelessness law.
To get the full level of help as a homeless applicant the Housing Options Team has to be satisfied that it has reason to believe that you are:
We will make further enquiries under the above criteria and this will tell us what kind of help we have a duty to provide you. If your homeless application is accepted and you are given a full housing duty you will be made one suitable offer of temporary accommodation; this will be in the private rented sector and will be within the Swale area.
You will not be eligible for housing assistance if you are subject to immigration control or do not live in the UK as your usual place of residence.
You may have rights to stay or return to your home that you were not aware of or that you thought were unavailable to you. If you have no right to stay there, or your right to stay there will end soon or you cannot access your home then you may be legally homeless.
Legislation determines who is classed as being in priority as follows:
Some people lose their home as a result of something they have deliberately done or failed to do. These people will have become homeless intentionally through for example, being evicted because they have not paid their rent, or being evicted for causing anti social behaviour.
Having a local connection is defined as:
Homeless applicants will be required to apply to the Housing Register and bid for properties on the Choice Based Lettings Scheme every fortnight.
If you are given a full housing duty and subsequently refuse an offer of suitable accommodation that you have bid on; under homeless legislation we will discharge our duty towards you. This will mean that your homeless priority will be removed and your temporary accommodation will end. You have the right to request a review of any decision made on your case. (See below)
In the first instance you will be provided with interim accommodation; this will be bed and breakfast or a hostel with some shared facilities. If you are given a full duty as a homeless household we will provide you with temporary accommodation. This will be a privately leased property managed by Avenue Lettings who are part of the AmicusHorizon Group. All of our temporary accommodation is in Swale.
Everyone in temporary accommodation is visited on a regular basis to ensure we are supporting you to find a new home. If your rent is not covered in full by Housing Benefit you will have to contribute toward the cost of the accommodation; this will include paying all of your utility bills.
If you disagree with any decision made about your homeless application you have the right to request a review of that decision. This means we will look at your application and all the evidence we have again. We will also look at any new evidence you tell us about and decide whether the right decision has been made. If you have been offered a property as a homeless household and you do not think it is suitable for your needs you have a right to a review on the suitability of the offer. You also have the option to move into the accommodation and then ask for a review.
Please contact us if you are suffering domestic abuse. We will be able to advise you about remaining safely in your home or other safe places to live. We can also refer you to other support agencies such as the One-Stop-Shop and the Freedom Programme. Alternatively you can contact the Swale Domestic Abuse Information Line on 01795 434300.
If you are experiencing or have concerns about anti social behaviour in your neighbourhood you can contact the Community Safety Unit:
Call: 01795 417193
Whatever you want to tell us about, whether it is a complaint, a compliment, a comment or a suggestion, we want to hear from you:The Housing Options Team,Swale Borough Council,Swale House,East Street,Sittingbourne,ME10 3HT
Call: 01795 417622
Complete a feedback form that can be collected from any reception point.
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