Homelessness - Advice for All
Important Notice: As from tomorrow (Thursday 19th March 2020) all Town Hall reception services will be available online or by telephone (01277 312500) only. Please do not visit the Town Hall.
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. 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 our Housing Options Income and Expenditure online form.
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. 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.
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.
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.
How to make a referral:
Please complete the Housing Advice Request form through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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