Homelessness

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came into force on Tuesday 3 April 2018. This is a new law that is changing how we help people who are, or may become, homeless.

The new law focuses on preventing people from becoming homelessness, and aims to reduce the need for people to go into emergency or temporary accommodation. It also aims to deliver better outcomes for single homeless people.

1. What this means for you

​Under the Homeless Reduction Act we are required to provide free information and advice to everybody who makes contact with the Homeless Prevention Service who is homeless or threatened with homelessness in the future. This includes advice on:

  • preventing homelessness
  • how to secure accommodation when homeless
  • the rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and the duties of the local authority (explained in the next section) 
  • the help available to people who are threatened with homelessness
  • how to access the help that is available

We are also required to provide specialist information and advice for specific vulnerable groups who may find themselves threatened with homelessness or without accommodation. This specific advice will be made available to:

If you think you might become homeless, you must get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity.

2. Prevention and relief duties

Prevention Duty

If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days you will be owed the Prevention Duty. If you are already homeless you will move directly onto the Relief Duty. During the Prevention Duty we must take reasonable steps to prevent any eligible applicant from becoming homeless, regardless of priority need status, intentionality and whether they have a local connection. This can involve assisting you to stay in your current accommodation or helping you to find a new place to live. 

Personalised Housing Plans

We will carry out an assessment of your circumstances and your needs and will work with you to create a Personalised Housing Plan. Your Personalised Housing Plan will set out the reasonable steps that both you and we will take to prevent you from becoming homeless. Your plan will contain mandatory actions and recommended steps which could relate to your wider circumstances.  If you are working with other agencies they can be involved in your plan and it can be shared with them, with your consent. Your Personalised Housing Plan will be reviewed on a regular basis with your Housing Officer.

If you deliberately and unreasonably refuse to cooperate with the required steps identified within your Personalised Housing Plan then you could be issued with a notice which will bring the Prevention Duty to an end.

Relief Duty

If we have not been able to prevent you from becoming homeless under the Prevention Duty, you will be owed the Relief Duty. During the Relief Duty we must take reasonable steps to help you to secure suitable accommodation. The Relief Duty lasts for up to 56 days and is available to all households who are homeless and eligible, regardless of whether they have a priority need. If you are a priority need household, for example you have dependent children or are vulnerable in some way, then you will be provided with interim accommodation whilst we carry out reasonable steps to help you secure alternative accommodation. Your Personalised Housing Plan will be updated to reflect that you are now in the Relief Duty and new actions are likely to be set to enable you to secure suitable accommodation.

The Relief Duty can be ended in the following ways:

  • if we have successfully relieved your homelessness  and we are satisfied that you have suitable accommodation that has been secured for you and is expected to be available for at least 6 months 
  • if you accept or refuse a final offer of accommodation 
  • if you withdraw your application or we are not able to make contact with you
  • if you cease to be eligible for Housing Assistance
  • if you lose interim accommodation intentionally that has been provided to you under the Relief Duty 
  • if we have taken reasonable steps for 56 days to help you secure accommodation - if this has not been successful and you/ your household is in priority need and homeless through no fault of your own then you will be owed the main homelessness duty
  • if you deliberately and unreasonably refuse to co-operate with your personalised housing plan - if you are in priority need and not intentionally homeless, you will be made a final offer of a tenancy lasting at least 6 months but you will not be owed the full housing duty
  • if you refuse an offer of suitable accommodation which is expected to be available for at least 6 months

You will be notified in writing if the Relief Duty is going to end. If you disagree with a decision to end your Relief Duty you can request a review of this decision. 

 

 

 

3. Get help with homelessness

Contact us immediately if you think you are at risk of losing your home. You can contact the service by registering for housing advice below:

Register for housing advice

Once you have registered you can log into the housing advice portal below:

Login - housing advice portal

A member of the team will contact you shortly, an appointment will be made with the appropriate officer and you will be advised of the documents and information that you will need to bring with you to this appointment.

 

4. Help and assistance for families

If you have a housing problem and you think you may have to leave your home then we would like to help.  The Shelter Outreach team is located in the community providing specialist advice with a focus on early intervention and homelessness prevention. The Shelter Advisors bring a range of expertise on housing matters as well as welfare and benefits advice. Anyone worried about their current housing situation can attend one of our Shelter outreach surgeries.

Find your nearest Shelter outreach surgery

The following locations are accessible to anyone who wishes to use the outreach service:

Day / time

Outreach

Mondays 1pm to 4pm

Advice Shop, Beethoven Centre, Third Avenue, London, W10 4JL

Tuesday 4 Dec, 2pm to 5pm (fortnightly after that)

Victoria Library, 160 Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 9UD

Tuesdays 11 Dec 1pm to 4.30pm (fortnightly after that)

Westminster Reference Library, 4-6 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HF

Wednesdays 10.30am to 12.30pm

Advice Shop, Church Street Library, 67 Church Street, NW8 8EU

Thursdays 1pm to 4.30pm

Bessborough Family Hub, 1 Bessborough Street, Ranelagh Road SW1V 2JD

Thursdays 10am to 12pm

Churchill Gardens Residence Hall, Glasgow Terrace, SW1V 3AL

Shelter also holds surgeries at several more locations, listed below. However these locations are only available to residents who have already registered to use that service.

Day / time

Outreach

Mondays 9am to 1pm

Portman Early Childhood Centre, 4 Lilestone Street, London, NW8 8SU

Mondays 1pm to 4.30pm

Migrant's Resource Centre, Derry House, Penfold Street, London NW8 8HJ

Wednesdays 9.30am to 12.30pm

North Paddington Foodbank, W.E.C.H Community Centre, W9 3RR

Thursdays 9:30am to 1pm​

Queen’s Park Early Childhood Centre, 88 Bravington Rd, London W9 3AL

 

Shelter is also hosting free housing advice sessions for City West Homes tenants:

North Area Service Centre (PDF, 905KB)

South Area Service Centre (PDF, 905KB)

West Area Service Centre (PDF, 905KB)

Central Area Service Centre (PDF, 905KB)

Contact the Shelter team on 0344 515 2048 or email westminster@shelter.gov.uk

 

Trailblazer confidential support and advice service

Alternatively you may be able to use Westminster City Councils new Trailblazer Service if you are Westminster resident who is experiencing challenges, including:

• difficulties with your landlord or tenancy

• overcrowding in your home

• family or relationship problems

• paying your bills, finances and benefits

• finding somewhere affordable to live

• coping with stress or health concerns

If so, a dedicated personal advisor can work with you, to support you, and to help resolve any issues which you may be facing.

If you would like to talk to someone in confidence about how we can help you, please contact us on:

Phone: 020 7641 5021

Email: trailblazer@westminster.gov.uk

5. Help and assistance for singles

If you're single, please visit The Passage, St Vincent's Centre, Carlisle Place, London SW1P 1NL. Opening hours are 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with the exception on Thursdays when they open at 1pm. Call them on 0207 592 1850 or email HSSreferral@passage.org.uk.

Both the Shelter Outreach Team and the Passage will work with our Housing Solutions Service to help to secure sustainable housing solutions for anyone facing homelessness.

You will need to provide some of the following;

•    proof of identity
•    full birth certificates or passports for all the people in your household
•    documents concerning the loss of your housing, for example: letters from your landlord or the court informing you that you must leave
•    proof of income, for example: wage slips, benefit books, P45, bank statements and savings books
•    details of where you have lived for the last five years, such as: tenancy agreements, rent books or receipts for rent , postmarked letters, bills, bank statements, medical cards
•    if relevant, documents confirming: you are married or divorced, you have custody of children, you are pregnant

We must still consider certain tests under the 1996 Housing Act (as amended by the 2002 Homelessness Act) to decide whether we have a duty to house you. For those not in priority need, we still offer alternative practical support and additional services for Rough Sleepers.

Find out how to get help if you're a rough sleeper

Trailblazer confidential support and advice service

Alternatively you may be able to use Westminster City Councils new Trailblazer Service if you are Westminster resident who is experiencing challenges, including:

• difficulties with your landlord or tenancy

• overcrowding in your home

• family or relationship problems

• paying your bills, finances and benefits

• finding somewhere affordable to live

• coping with stress or health concerns

If so, a dedicated personal advisor can work with you, to support you, and to help resolve any issues which you may be facing.

If you would like to talk to someone in confidence about how we can help you, please contact us on:

Phone: 020 7641 5021

Email: trailblazer@westminster.gov.uk

 


Last updated: 13 February 2019
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