Advice for all

Council services are available online, by telephone 01277 312500 or by appointment only. Please do not visit the Town Hall.

Due to the challenges Local Authorities face from COVID-19 we would urge anyone who is allowing an individual or family to stay with them to allow them to continue to do so. We recognise the challenges this may present but currently due to high demand we are having to place homeless households in bed & breakfast accommodation, which could be anywhere within the country. 

Unless there are exceptional circumstances any duty to provide permanent accommodation to a homeless household may be made through the private rented sector (as per the Localism Act 2011) whether in the Borough of Brentwood or elsewhere.

Are you homeless or about to become homeless?

If you are at risk of becoming homeless, you should contact us as soon as possible so that we can work with you to try and prevent this happening.

The Council can help if:

  • You have been asked to leave your accommodation by your family or friends that you have been staying with
  • You have been served notice by your landlord
  • You cannot afford your rent or your accommodation is in disrepair
  • Your are homeless and have nowhere to go

To access help please complete our online Housing Advice Request form through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal:

Submit a housing advice request

Following completion of this form a Housing Advice & Homeless Prevention Officer will contact you. Depending on your circumstances you may receive housing advice or be allocated an individual case Officer for further assistance.

Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Since April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act has changed the homelessness duties for all Local Authorities in England.

The new legislation means that all applicants who are eligible and about to become homeless will be entitled to receive advice and assistance in order to prevent them from becoming homeless.

The Act changes the way councils address and resolve the issues around homelessness by introducing two new duties in addition to the main housing duty. These two duties are:

Duty to prevent homelessness

Brentwood Borough Council will provide advice and assistance to people who are about to become homeless within 56 days. If you are eligible for assistance and at risk of losing your home, we will try to prevent your homelessness by working with you to, either, help you remain in your current accommodation or help you find somewhere else suitable for you and your household. Under the Law and as part of our prevention duty, all applicants will be required to work and engage with the Council as we take steps to prevent their homelessness together.

Duty to relieve homelessness

If you are already homeless, and considered eligible,  or if we cannot prevent your eviction from your current accommodation, and if you are considered to be a ‘vulnerable person’, or a person considered to in “Priority Need” the Council can offer you emergency accommodation while we continue to work with you to find alternative accommodation that is suitable for you and your household. Under the new Act and as part of our effort to find you alternative accommodation, all applicants will be required to work and engage with the Council as we take steps to end their homelessness.

The main housing duty

If we have been unsuccessful in securing alternative suitable accommodation after 56 days, this duty will come to an end and Brentwood Borough Council will make a decision as to whether or not a main housing duty will be owed to you. If, after 56 days, it is assessed that you are homeless, eligible for assistance, in priority need and you did not become homeless intentionally, the Council will be under a duty to find you a long term alternative, suitable accommodation. An offer of suitable accommodation can be in the private sector or social housing and could be outside of Brentwood Borough Council.

Showing us you are eligible and homeless or at risk of homelessness

You will need to be able to prove that you are eligible for help (by showing proof of citizenship/immigration status) and are actually homeless or at risk of homelessness. That may include a section 21 Notice (if you are privately renting) or a letter confirming your circumstances. If you are already homeless and do not have a connection to Brentwood, we may refer your application to another authority.

Getting an initial assessment and creating your Personal Housing Plan

Once we have confirmed your eligibility and circumstances, you will meet with a Housing Advice & Homelessness Prevention Officer for an initial assessment and to discuss your options. If we are able to assist, you will then be allocated a caseworker and invited to create your own Personal Housing Plan on how you will address your housing problems. The most likely option will be a home in the private rented sector.

You may be asked to provide details of your income and expenditure by completing the form below: 

Submit your income and expenditure to Housing Options  

Private rented sector accommodation

If you are struggling with accessing a private tenancy, we may be able to help. If you are at risk of homelessness or are homeless please complete a Housing Advice Request form through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal.

Submit a housing advice request

We may be able to help with advice on benefits, areas of affordability in the region and potentially financial assistance.

You may be eligible for financial assistance through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), through Prevention budgets or through our Rent Deposit Scheme (RDS). Your allocated case Officer will be able to advise your further.

The Rent Deposit Scheme offers bond-scheme deposits for landlords, as well as interest-free loans to applicants for Rent in Advance. Assistance is offered to households who meet the terms of the scheme which your allocated Officer will be able to explain to you.

Domestic violence

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness please read our Domestic Violence page.

If you require additional support, please complete the Housing Advice request form through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal:

Submit a housing advice request

Duty to refer

From 1st October 2018 certain professional organisations will have a duty to refer to a local housing authority anybody who they believe might be homeless. Organisations responsible for making these referrals include:

  • Prisons and youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres and colleges
  • Youth offending teams and probation services
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • Urgent treatment centres (such as walk-in centres)
  • In-patient hospitals
  • Social service authorities
  • Ministry of Defence (for members of the regular armed forces)

What to ask:

Prior to making a referral please ensure you have checked if:

  • You have consent from the customer to make the referral.
  • You know which local Housing Authority the customer wants to be referred to.
  • Has a referral already been made by another Agency – multiple referrals may cause delays.

Choose an appropriate local housing authority:

The customer can choose where to be referred to. Under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 if the individual is at risk of homelessness within 56 days then the Local Authority must assess housing needs and circumstances and produce a Personal Housing Plan.

If the client is already homeless then the Council will investigate whether there is a local connection to the Borough of Brentwood. If there is not then we’ll refer them to the Local Authority where they do have a previous connection, unless they do not have one or it would not be safe.

Placement policy

Placement Policy 2020

Brentwood Borough Council (the Council) has statutory and non-statutory duties to assist homeless households. The Council works hard to prevent homelessness, however not every prevention case is successful and some households will require temporary accommodation (TA).

TA is provided whilst a Part VII Housing Act 1996 (the Act) homeless application is being assessed. The legal term for this is ‘interim accommodation pending enquiries’ (as per s.188 of the Act).

TA is also provided where a legal duty to provide permanent accommodation has been accepted by the Council and permanent accommodation is being sourced (as per s.193 of the Act). TA will also be provided in other circumstances where applicable (for example under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol).

The Council’s primary aim is to provide accommodation within the Borough of Brentwood whenever possible, but unfortunately this is not always achievable. The Council is dependent on actual accommodations being available, often at very short or no notice.

The Council has adopted the Placement Policy 2020 which outlines the approach taken to the above.

The policy covers both the provision of TA under the Housing Act 1996 and any offers of Private Rented Sector Offer (PRSO) accommodation.

The policy is compliant with the Housing Act 1996, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation Order 2012) and has regard to the Homelessness Code of Guidance, as well as relevant case law.

View the Placement Policy pdf

How to make a referral

Please complete the Housing Advice Request form through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal:

Submit a housing advice request

Please ensure it is fully completed to allow for us to communicate with the customer and to ensure we have sufficient details to take the matter forwards. If you are unable to complete the form please email full details of the referral to dutytorefer@brentwood.gov.uk.

Homeless application (Housing Act 1996)

The Council will only offer emergency accommodation if we have reason to believe you are:

  • Eligible: Whether you are eligible for assistance depends on your immigration status. For EEA nationals, including UK nationals, a habitual residence test will also be applied. If you are not eligible for assistance you may be referred to Social Services or the Home Office.
  • Homeless: Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days
  • Priority Need: Just because an individual is homeless does not make them in priority need under the law. Only certain categories of applicants will be in Priority Need. You would need to contact us to find out more.

If we have reason to believe all of the three categories above are met, then emergency accommodation will be provided whilst further investigations are conducted.

Our resources for emergency housing include shared accommodation and the use of hostel or bed & breakfast accommodation. Accommodations may be outside of the Borough in areas such as Harlow, Southend or Ilford (depending on availability) in the short term. All applicants have to pay a daily amenity charge and a daily room charge. If you are eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit this may pay all or part of the room charge. All applicants have to pay the full amenity charge.

The Council has limited emergency accommodation within the Borough which is heavily over-subscribed. We do everything to try to ensure households are offered in-Borough accommodation as soon as possible.

Emergency accommodation is only offered if you have no family or friends or other alternative accommodation for the period in which your full homeless application is being investigated.

Data protection and privacy: Our Privacy Notice, information and policies may be found on our Data Protection - Privacy Notice web page.

Care leavers

If you are a care leaver with a local connection to Essex then you may be able to get help with housing from any Council in Essex, although this will be dependent on your age and circumstances.

Planned move to independence

The vast majority of care leavers in Essex should not need to approach a homeless service as this will be prevented by a planned move to independence with your personal advisor from Essex Social Care.

You may be offered short term supported housing to gain the skills to live independently and then be moved on into independent accommodation. In some cases, if you personal advisor believes that you are already have the skills to manage your own home you may be assisted by the local council to move into your own independent accommodation.

However there are circumstances in which you may not meet all the criteria.

Homelessness

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness please read the advice contained in this section and complete the online form below:

 Apply for housing assistance

Ex-armed forces

If you are a former member of the armed forces who is now homeless, or if you are planning to leave the armed forces and facing the threat of becoming homeless, you may wish to approach the Housing Solutions service for assistance and advice. You can self-refer through our online portal:

Submit a housing advice request

Approaches for homelessness advice and support

If you approach us for assistance, the Housing Options team may consider:

  • How long you were in the armed forces and what role you had
  • Whether you spent any time in a military hospital
  • If you have been issued a medical history release form and released from service on medical grounds
  • How long it has been since you left the armed services
  • Whether you have been able to find and maintain your own accommodation since leaving the armed forces
  • Your existing support networks

Your Housing Advice & Homelessness Prevention Officer will discuss your housing options, providing advice and assistance.

Housing register applications

If you make a housing register application you may qualify under the armed forces local residence exceptions. further information is available on our Housing Register page.

Useful links

Veterans Gateway

Veterans Aid

Family/friend evictions

Brentwood Borough Council recognises that being asked to leave by family or friends is one of the highest causes of homelessness in the borough and this can be very distressing for all parties involved. However, we will try and negotiate with the family or friends to allow you to remain within the home environment. 

The security provided by remaining in the home will enable you to plan your future accommodation needs, with the help of the Housing Options team, avoiding any unnecessary disruption, especially for families with children.

What happens next?

After you have self-referred through our Housing Assistance Referral Portal (see the advice for all section) an officer will contact you by telephone to confirm your situation and speak with the excluder. Once we are satisfied that you are at risk of homelessness the Officer will arrange a home visit. The excluder will need to be present at the home visit.

During this meeting your housing options will be discussed in full and we will try to prevent your homelessness. Our Options Officer will work with you and the excluder to achieve a planned move on, with the expectation that you will remain within the home while we explore your housing options.

Specific advice for 16/17 year olds

If you are 16-17 years of age, and are being asked to leave the home of family or friends, you should contact Social Services as soon as possible. We will then carry out a joint home visit with Social Services to discuss your housing options.

Useful links

Relate

Essex Effective Support - Family Solutions

Essex County Council Social Services

Hospital discharge

If you expect to be discharged from hospital soon but still have nowhere to live it is important that you take immediate action. You should inform hospital staff who will be able to arrange for appropriate support.

Most British residents are eligible to apply for rehousing assistance, though separate rules may apply for those who have just returned from abroad.

What to expect?

An assessment will take place in order to determine whether you are:

  • Genuinely homeless
  • A priority need for rehousing consideration, and/or are otherwise significantly more vulnerable then an average person
  • Locally connected to the Brentwood Borough

Our Housing Options team are able to give housing advice and provide you with the best suited Personal Housing Plan to prevent or relieve your homelessness.

What we will do?

  • Identify whether there is anywhere for you to return to or negotiate for your return if possible
  • Discuss your options for housing and work with you to prevent homelessness
  • Work with a range of other agencies to assess whether you are likely to need help living independently
  • If hostel, refuge or other forms of temporary accommodation are required, we will identify the most suitable options and search for availability
  • If there is no accommodation available in the South East Region, the Housing Advice & Homelessness Prevention Officer may seek options outside the area
  • We will work on getting you into settled housing. Our advice and support workers will also help you move into independent accommodation (where possible)
  • Mental health patients will be assisted to get support from a Psychiatric Nurse or a Social Worker

What the Occupational Therapist will do?

We work with Essex County Council social care to ensure that appropriate Occupational Therapy assessments are carried out.

Typically an Occupational therapist will:

  • Liaise with hospital multi disciplinary teams and a range of agencies
  • Assess whether you would be eligible for mobile/temporary equipment e.g. bath hoists and walking aids
  • Help plan moves for people with a range of physical health needs
  • Organise adaptations to new or existing homes to meet your needs
  • Ensure an adequate care package is in place prior to your discharge if required

Useful links

How to get an occupational therapy assessment

How to adapt your home to work for you

Leaving prison

If you have been released from prison and are now homeless, or if you are due to be released from prison and facing the threat of becoming homeless, then you may want to seek advice and support from our Housing Solutions service.

You can self-refer via our Housing Assistance Referal Portal:

Submit a housing advice request

How we can help

We will help to identify your support needs and work to relieve your homelessness. A Housing Advice & Homelessness Prevention Officer will provide you with a personal housing plan, which will identify actions that need to be carried out by yourself and your officer. This may include engaging with organisations that assist ex-offenders and looking for suitable private rented accommodation.

Help finding accommodation

We will look into supporting you into the private rented sector through our Rent Deposit scheme, which can help provide rent in advance and a deposit bond (please see Homelessness - 'Advice for All' section.

What you will need to bring to your appointment

We will need to determine if you are eligible for assistance. If you are offered an appointment you must bring with you:

  • A valid passport
  • A full birth certificate
  • or valid immigration documents

Also, you will need to provide a risk assessment from your probation officer if you have one.

Useful links

Phoenix Futures

Essex Youth Offending Service

NACRO

Essex Community Rehabilitation Company

Private tenants

If you are a Private Rented tenant threatened with homelessness then you may wish to approach our Housing Solutions service. If you have been served a section 21 notice, our Housing Advice & Homelessness Prevention officers will check the notice is valid, and can speak to your landlord on your behalf.

Rights and responsibilities

As a tenant you have the right to:

  • Live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair
  • Have your deposit protected and returned when the tenancy ends
  • Live in the property undisturbed
  • Know who your landlord is
  • Challenge excessively high charges
  • See the Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • See the Gas Safety Certificate for the property
  • Be protected from unfair eviction
  • Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years

Your responsibilities as a tenant mean that you must:

  • Give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs, as long as they have given you 24 hours notice.
  • Take good care of the property
  • Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or if you're in dispute with your landlord
  • Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example, Council Tax or Utility Bills
  • Repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family, or your friends
  • Only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it

You may be legally evicted by your landlord if you do not meet your responsibilities.

Protection from harassment and illegal eviction

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it an offence to:

  • Do acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with them; or
  • persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home

If you are facing harassment or have been illegally evicted then you should approach the Housing Solutions service. We would strongly recommend that you immediately obtain independent legal advice, from a qualified lawyer or reputable advice organisation such as Citizen's Advice.

Useful links

Assured Shorthold Tenancies: Top tips for Tenants

GOV.UK - Guide to Private Renting

Rough sleepers

What is a rough sleeper?

The term 'rough sleeper' refers to people who are street homeless, with no access to accommodation. Rough sleepers may sleep in tents, doorways, alleyways or subways, amongst other places.

What should I do when I find someone sleeping rough?

If you find someone sleeping rough, you can report it via:

  • The national service website StreetLink
  • The phone, calling StreetLink on their 24/7 number 0300 500 0914.
  • Or even through the StreetLink app, available on both Android and Apple products.

If you ever see a rough sleeper and want to make a report please make note of any details you can, such as their location, buildings nearby, clothes they are wearing etc.

What do we do?

When a report is made on StreetLink or directly to the Council our Housing Options team will investigate and seek to remedy the situation.

Severe weather provisions

We also have the option to provide temporary accommodation to rough sleepers when very cold weather is forecast, at less than 0 degrees for 3 days, for the duration of the bad weather. When this type of weather occurs and it is accepted that the rough sleeper has nowhere to go, then

What about those that are on the street but may not be rough-sleeping?

Some people who appear to be sleeping rough may be engaged in street activities, such as drinking or begging, but in fact have somewhere to stay.

They may need a different type of response from local services, and this may mean that you do not see a change straight away.

This doesn't mean your alert to StreetLink is wasted, it is always better to get in touch about someone you think may be rough sleeping, so that local services can provide support if needed.

Useful links

Crisis - Rough Sleeping

Homeless Link - Assisting the Homeless sector

Shelter - Homeless and on the streets

St Mungos - Homeless Charity