If you are homeless you have the legal right to make a homeless application. However, local authorities will look to see if you are in priority need under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homeless Act 2002. In England, you are only in priority need if:
- You or someone you live with is pregnant
- You are responsible for dependent children
- You are homeless as a result of flood, fire or other disaster
- You are a ‘vulnerable’ person, for example, through old age or medical difficulties
- You are aged 16 or 17, unless social services has a responsibility for you
- You are aged 18 to 20 and were ‘looked after’ by social services (even for one day) when you were 16 or 17
If none of these apply to you, you will be considered as not being in priority need and the Council’s duty to you will be limited to advice and assistance.
If you are not in priority need, the Council will still provide you with advice and help about your options. Some of these may include:
- Making sure you are on the Housing Register. If you already have a Housing Register application, an options officer can help you ensure your points are correct based on your current housing situation in order to increase your chance of getting a property through Choice Based Lettings.
- Helping you contact family or friends to see if you could stay with them until your circumstances change.
- Contacting homeless hostels to see if you could get direct access to any of them.
- Advising what benefits you may be entitled to, including housing benefit.
- Providing advice on how to find and rent a private property.
Housing benefit does not cover all my rent and I cannot afford the difference. What can I do so I am not evicted?
If you have rented a property that is too expensive, you may wish to:
- Apply for a working tax credit if you are on low income.
- Request a Discretionary Housing Payment from the Council. These are assessed on a case-by-case basis, but there is no guarantee that you will get it.
If you are in a fixed-term tenancy your landlord cannot raise the rent unless this was included in your tenancy agreement, or if you and the landlord agree to increased rent levels. If neither has been done, speak to a member of staff for advice.
Assessments are made on a case-by-case basis. However, it is unlikely that the Council will be able to help you with a deposit to privately rent a property unless you are in priority need.
I have a joint tenancy/own a property with my partner. We have had a non-violent relationship breakdown, and s/he wants me to move out. Can they do that?
No. You have the same right to remain in that property as your partner. You should seek legal advice if you would like help with dealing with this situation.
There are several places you could visit:
- Citizens Advice - for general and legal advice and help. Telephone: 08444 111 444.
- Shelter - for advice and information about homelessness and bad housing. Telephone: 0344 515 1944.
- Herts Young Homeless - for those aged between 16 to 25 years of age and facing housing difficulties. Telephone: 0844 833 0933.
- Jobcentre Plus - for general information and advice about benefits, loans and grants and help with finding a job. Telephone: 0845 604 3719.
There are many other places you could visit. For details, please go to the Housing Leaflets and Forms page to download a Useful Contacts leaflet, or request one by post.