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I am homeless

Guidance if you are homeless

We recognise that homelessness results in disruption to you and your family and can be very stressful for you.

If you need accommodation in an emergency situation due to you becoming homeless, this often results in you having less choice about where you live and the accommodation provided can be very cramped with you having to live in one room rather than a flat or house.

Please take note that becoming homeless does not give you an overriding priority for social housing and does not fast track you into your own home.

What can I do if I am homeless?

Adur & Worthing Councils will always try to work with you to try to prevent or resolve homelessness.

Although you may think you are going to become homeless, you may not be aware of any rights you may have to remain in your accommodation - we can give you advice about this and liaise with family and friends, private landlords and mortgage lenders on your behalf when appropriate.

If you think you may be at risk of becoming homeless or are already homeless, you need to contact us.

We can give you advice about your situation and explore any solutions there may be to try to resolve your situation.

If we are unable to prevent or resolve the homelessness problem then we will consider what duties may be owed under the homeless legislation.

In order to qualify for housing from the Council due to being homeless you must satisfy certain legal rules. The following guidance explains these rules and provides further advice about the homeless process that would be followed if you applied to Adur District Council or to Worthing Borough Council.

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The homeless assessment process

What is 'eligibility' for homelessness?

If you are a person from abroad and subject to immigration control, you may not be entitled to any assistance with housing. Adur & Worthing Councils needs to make sure that people who may be homeless are eligible for assistance and therefore require you to provide appropriate identification for you and any family members to determine your immigration status in the UK. In addition, enquiries may be carried out with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA).

If you are not eligible for housing assistance, you may still be able to seek advice about your situation.

What is homelessness?

You will usually be considered to be homeless if you have no accommodation available to you in the UK or abroad. Alternatively, you may have accommodation available to you but it would not be suitable to live there. Each assessment as to whether you are considered to be homeless is carried out on a case by case basis to take into account your individual circumstances.

You will not be considered to be homeless if you have suitable accommodation available to you but you do not want to live there anymore.

What does priority need mean?

The Council is only obliged to provide accommodation for people who are homeless if they also have a priority need for accommodation, not just because they are homeless.

What are the categories of priority need?

Priority need is used to describe certain categories of people who are considered to need assistance with accommodation if they are homeless.

These categories include people who are pregnant, have dependent children, are elderly, have a mental illness or physical disability, have previously been in care or an institutional setting, are vulnerable due to another reason or are homeless in an emergency.

Have I become homeless intentionally?

People may be deemed to have become homeless intentionally when homelessness is the consequence of a deliberate act or omission (unless this was made in good faith in ignorance of a relevant fact).

A deliberate act might be a decision to leave previous accommodation even though it would have been reasonable to stay there. A deliberate omission might be non-payment of rent that led to rent arrears and eviction.

The Council you have applied to will look at why you have become homeless. It is important that you tell us about all the circumstances that may have contributed to you becoming homeless.

If you think you are at risk of losing your home seek advice immediately.

If you leave your accommodation whilst you have a legal right to remain there and you have not arranged other secure accommodation, it may affect the help you receive from the Council should you become homeless.

What is Local Connection if I am homeless?

Local Connection is considered after other enquiries have been carried out to decide which Council should have the responsibility to provide accommodation for you on an on-going basis.

You are usually considered to have a Local Connection if you or anyone who lives with you have:

  • Normally resided in the area you are applying to for six months in the past year or three years in the past five years; or 
  • You have permanent employment in the area covered by the Council you are applying to; or 
  • You have close blood relative/s who have lived in the area covered by the Council you are applying to; or 
  • You have another special reason or connection to the area you are applying to.

If a decision is made that you are homeless, you have a priority need, you are not intentionally homeless, but you do not have a local connection to the Council you have applied to, you may be referred to another Council where you do have a local connection.

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Furniture, Removals and Pets

What happens to my furniture if I have nowhere to live?

You will usually need to arrange for your furniture to be stored. Help with storage or removals will only be provided in circumstances when you are unable to make your own arrangements. When assistance is provided, Adur & Worthing Councils reserve the right to recover any costs associated with storage and removal from you.

What happens to my pets if I am homeless?

You will need to arrange to re-home your pets as interim accommodation will not be suitable for pets.

Most providers of temporary accommodation will not allow pets. You will be responsible for making provision for your animals. The Council will only make arrangements for the boarding of pets in exceptional circumstances. Where these services are arranged Adur or Worthing Councils, the appropriate Council reserves the right to make a reasonable charge.

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Homeless Decisions

What can I do if I am not happy with the decision the Council has made about my homelessness?

Adur District Council or Worthing Borough Council will provide you with a written notification of the decision that has been made regarding your application.

If you do not agree with the decision that has been made, you have the right to request a review of that decision.

How do I ask for a review of a homeless decision?

If you wish to request a review of the decision that has been made, you must do so within 21 days of being notified of the decision. Details of how to do this are set out in the Council's decision letter.

The review is carried out by a Senior Officer of the Council who was not involved in the original decision. The reviewing officer can either uphold the original decision, overturn the original decision or change the original decision to reach a different decision.

If you are not happy with the review decision you have the right to appeal to the County Court on a point of law. You must submit an appeal to the Court within 21 days of the notification of the review decision.

If you are requesting a review or are appealing against a decision, you are strongly advised to seek independent advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter, or a solicitor.

Adur District Council or Worthing Borough Council does not have to provide accommodation for you while a review is being considered. However, the Council does have discretion to provide accommodation and would consider each case on its merit taking into account any supporting information provided.

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Housing for people who are homeless

Does the Council have to provide accommodation for me if I am homeless?

The Council is not required to house everyone that becomes homeless. This means that even if you have no roof over your head, the Council does not always have to provide any accommodation for you.

How do I get temporary accommodation?

There are specific groups of people that the Council has a duty to re-house but sometimes this is only for a short time. If you fall within one of the priority need groups, you may be entitled to interim accommodation which usually consists of one room for you and any family members included on your application. It is often not possible for us to find emergency accommodation in the Adur or Worthing areas so you may be offered accommodation on a short term basis in another area.

Once a decision is made about your homelessness application, you will be told if the Council has to offer you temporary accommodation. While you are in temporary accommodation you will be in Band C on the Housing Register. It will take an average of two to three years before you are rehoused into permanent accommodation but it could take longer as it depends on how many properties become available.

Do I have to pay for accommodation if I am homeless?

You will have to pay rent and service charges for any accommodation that is provided for you. No accommodation is provided free of charge even if you are homeless. If you claim benefits, you may be entitled to assistance with Housing Benefit to help you with the rent charge but you will still have to pay a service charge from your own income or benefits.

Does the Council have to provide permanent housing for me if I am homeless?

Only people whose names are on the Council's Register of Housing Need can be considered for permanent housing. You should complete an application form if you have not already done so. You are not given overriding priority for housing just because you are homeless. Your need for permanent housing will be compared with the needs of everyone else.

How long does it take to be rehoused if I am homeless?

Adur & Worthing Councils operate a Choice Based Lettings system which determines priority via a Banding system. There are four Bands A, B, C and D, with A being the highest. Applicants owed the main housing duty under the homelessness legislation are generally in Band C and approximately 50% of available properties are let to people in Band C.

See also: Choice Based Lettings (Housing Register)

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