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6 Losing your Home

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1. Introduction

2. Will the council find me somewhere to live?

3. Does it matter how I became homeless?

The way you became homeless may affect how long the council has to help you for. You may be entitled to only short-term accommodation if the council decides that you are 'intentionally homeless'. This may happen if:

  • you chose to leave a home you could have stayed in;
  • you didn't pay the rent when you could have afforded to;
  • you made yourself homeless to take advantage of the system; or
  • you were evicted because of anti-social behaviour by you or someone else in your household.

However, the council should not decide that you are intentionally homeless if:

  • your home was less fit to live in than other properties in the area;
  • you lost your home for failing to pay your rent or mortgage for reasons outside your control, for example because you lost your job or your benefit was not paid on time;
  • you left your previous home because you genuinely did not know you had the right to stay there;
  • you were evicted because someone in your household did something that you did not know about, or that you had no control over; or
  • you (or someone else in your household) were the victim of violence at your home.

Even if the council says you are intentionally homeless, it must still house you for a time, if you are eligible for assistance and in priority need. The length of time will depend on your circumstances but may be only 28 days.

If the council says you are intentionally homeless, you need to get expert advice about what to do as the law is very complicated.

What if the council says another council must find me somewhere to live?
Even if the council accepts that you are homeless and entitled to long-term accommodation, it might decide that another council should take responsibility for finding you somewhere to live. But it can only do this if you have no ‘local connection’ in its area, and you do have a local connection with another council area.

A local connection usually means you (or someone in your household) have:

  • lived in the area for at least six months in the last year, or three years in the last five years;
  • a job in the area; or
  • a close relative who has lived in the area for some time and you want or need to live near them.

You may also have a local connection for a special reason, for example if you have a serious health condition and are receiving specialist treatment that could not be given elsewhere.

If you have been granted refugee status and you were housed by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) while your asylum application was being considered, you have a local connection with the council area where your last NASS home was.

The council you apply to for somewhere to live can send you to another council only if it follows a certain procedure, and the other council has agreed to help you.

If you do not want to be sent to another council, you should get advice.

The council cannot send you back to a place where you would be at risk of violence.

Even if you are not in priority need, as long as you meet the other conditions the council must still give you advice and help you to find somewhere else to live. You will also be able to apply for permanent housing.

4. What if the council offers me somewhere unsuitable?

5. What can I do if I disagree with the council´s decision?

6. Where can I go if I need somewhere to stay urgently?

7. What if my landlord wants to evict me?

8. What can I do if my landlord is harassing me?

9. Further help

10 About this leaflet

Logo of Shelter

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Shelter.

Leaflet version: May 2008

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