Homelessness legislation - London Borough of Hillingdon

hillingdon.gov.uk

Homelessness legislation - London Borough of Hillingdon

Homelessness

legislation

and how it affects you


Contents

Homelessness legislation and how

it affects you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The information we need to assess

your homeless application . . . . . . . . . . 5

The support we can give you if we turn

down your application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Homeless applicants your right of

review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Confidentiality and telling others . . . . . 10

Housing Needs service standards

– our commitment to you . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Homelessness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


Homelessness legislation and

how it affects you

What is homelessness?

Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 (as

amended by the Homelessness Act 2002)

sets out the duties we have towards

homeless people.

This is a guide to how we can help you and

what you are entitled to by law.

Are you homeless?

We may consider you to be homeless if one

of the following applies.

• You have nowhere to live.

• You have been living somewhere, but you

have no legal right to stay there and you

have been asked to leave.

• You have somewhere to live but cannot

gain access to it.

• You have somewhere to live, but

someone else who lives there has been

violent towards you or is likely to be

violent towards you.

• You have been made homeless as a

result of an emergency, such as fire,

flood or some other disaster.

We may also consider you homeless or

threatened with homelessness if you are

likely to become homeless within the next

28 days.

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This may be because:

• you have been living with friends or

relatives who have told you to leave, or

• your landlord has taken you to court

and the court has ordered that you

must leave

Are you eligible for support?

When assessing each case, by law we must

confirm that people applying for support are

eligible. You may not be eligible for support

if one of the following applies.

• You have entered the UK illegally.

• You are a student or a sponsored

immigrant.

• You are a visitor to the UK.

• You were refused asylum from the Home

Office after 5 February 1996.

• You did not make a claim at the port

you entered the UK and so were

refused asylum.

• You are an asylum seeker but you have

somewhere to stay (even if it is only

temporary).

• You do not normally live in the UK.

Do you have a priority need?

We may consider you to be in priority

need if:

• you are 16 or 17 years old (with

exceptions)

2


• you are 18 to 21 years old and are

leaving care

• you have dependent children aged under

16, or under 19 if they are in full-time

education and live with you

• you, or a member of your household,

are pregnant

• you are at risk of violence

• you have been made homeless as a

result of fire, flood or some other

disaster, or

• you are considered vulnerable in line with

government guidelines on homelessness

Are you intentionally homeless?

After we have considered whether you are

in priority need, we must then look at

whether your homelessness is as a result

of something you have done deliberately

or failed to do.

Examples of these cases may be:

• continually refusing to pay your rent or

mortgage

• voluntarily giving up adequate accommodation

in the UK or abroad, which it

would be reasonable for you to live in,

and

• being evicted due to antisocial behaviour

such as repeated noise, nuisance,

harassment, vandalism and so on

3


Do you have a local connection?

We would also have to check whether any

of the following applies.

• You have lived in the borough for at

least six months in the last 12 months

(with exceptions for people living in

temporary accommodation).

• You have lived in the borough for three

out of the last five years (with exceptions).

• You have permanent employment in

the borough.

• You have a close relative who has lived

in the borough for the last five years.

How we can help

We provide support and advice (24 hours a

day, seven days a week) to people who are

homeless or threatened with homelessness.

We are mainly responsible for dealing with

homelessness applications.

You can visit our reception during these

hours:

Mondays 9.00am to 4.30pm

Tuesdays 9.00am to 4.30pm

Wednesdays 1pm to 4.30pm

(phone lines are open all day)

Thursdays 9.00am to 4.30pm

Fridays 9.00am to 4.30pm

If you apply to us as homeless, we may

provide temporary accommodation such

as hostel, bed-and-breakfast or privatelyrented

accommodation for a short time.

4


The information we need

to assess your homeless

application

This leaflet explains what information you

may need to bring with you if you are

homeless and ask us for help and advice.

The officer who sees you will take details

of your enquiry and may ask you to provide

relevant documents. Please bring with you

the original documents, which we will

photocopy and return to you.

Listed below are the things we may have

to investigate and some suggested

documents that will help us.

Important note

We can deal with your enquiry more quickly

if you are able to provide the documents

we ask for either at the first interview or

within the following five days.

Identification for all people on the

application

• Full birth certificate

• Driving licence

• Passport

• ID card

• Medical card

• Marriage certificate

• Immigration paperwork

5


Proof of homelessness

• Eviction notice (from your landlord)

• Letters from your landlord

• Bailiff's warrant

• A court order (such as a possession

order)

• Summons

• A letter from a friend or relative where

you are staying

Proof of eligibility

• Passport

• Home Office documents

• Travel documents

Proof of priority

• Antenatal card

• Pregnancy certificate

• Correspondence from your doctor or

hospital about a relevant medical

condition

• Children's full birth certificates

• Child Benefit book

• Pension book

• Probation report or discharge letter

from prison

• Paperwork relating to the care or

control of your children

• Letters from college or schools showing

that your children study there full time

6


• Referral or reports from your social

worker

• Reports from the police or support

workers

Proof of where you live

• Official letters (such as from the

Department for Work and Pensions) or

gas, electricity or water bills for where

you have lived in the last five years

• Council Tax letters

• Medical cards

• Tenancy agreements

• Bank statement

• Rent receipts showing addresses and

dates

• Rent book

• Mortgage statements

Proof of employment, income and

savings

• Letter from the Department for Work

and Pensions or benefit books

• Payslips

• Bank or building society statements or

book

• P45

You may contact your case worker direct

about any of the information in this leaflet.

7


The support we can give you if

we turn down your application

If we turn down your application, we do not

have a duty to provide you with temporary

accommodation.

We will still provide you with support and

advice on how you may find a place to live.

If we find that you are intentionally homeless,

we have a limited duty to provide support

and advice. If you are vulnerable, we may

refer you to social services.

If we turn down your application and you

do not agree with our decision, we will tell

you how to ask for a review of our decision.

Homeless applicants your

right of review

What is a right of review?

When we have made a decision about your

homelessness application and you do not

agree with our decision, by law you have

the right to ask us to review our decision.

When can I ask for a review?

You can ask for a review if:

• we have decided that you are not

homeless

• we have decided that you are not in

priority need

8


• we have decided that you are

intentionally homeless

• you are not happy with the way we have

passed on any responsibility we may

have (that is, by referring your case to

another authority), or

• you do not think that the accommodation

we offered you or your family is suitable

How do I ask for a review?

If you want us to review our decision, you

or your representative must tell us within

21 days of receiving our decision.

If you do not tell us within the 21 days, you

must be able to show good reason for not

doing so before we consider your request.

You do not have to give your reasons but it

may help your case if you do.

You should give your reasons in writing.

Your housing officer may be able to help

you write them down.

What happens next?

Once we have received your request for

review, a senior officer will review it. If the

officer needs more information on your

housing application, they may invite you to

a hearing to discuss your case. This is

called an oral hearing.

When the officer has considered all of the

facts of your case, they will make a decision

and tell you in writing within 56 days. If

9


we need more time, we will write to you to

explain this. If after the 56 days we haven't

agreed an extended time with you or have

not made a decision, you have the right to

appeal to the county court.

You also have the right to appeal to the

county court if you have asked for and

received a review decision and you do not

agree with it. You would need to appeal

within 21 days of the date of the letter

that tells you about the review decision.

If you do not do this within the 21 days,

you must be able to show good reason for

not doing so to the county court for them

to consider your request for an appeal.

We would strongly urge you to get legal

advice if you want to ask for a review.

You can get legal advice from:

• local solicitors

• a citizens advice bureau

Hillingdon Law Centre, and

• Shelter

Confidentiality and telling

others

Why we need information from you

We need to assess whether we have a duty

towards you and members of your

household. To do this, we need to ask you

a number of questions about:

• where you have been living

10


• your immigration status

• your children

• any medical problems you may have, and

• your personal circumstances, such as

income and savings

We will then carry out further enquiries

to confirm what you have told us. We have

to do this by law. We also need to make

sure that we deal with only genuine

applications.

We also need information about any

special needs, so we can take them into

consideration if we offer you any

temporary accommodation.

Will you keep the information

I give confidential?

Yes. Only staff involved in your homeless

and housing register application will have

access to our files or computer records.

Your computer records are also protected

by the Data Protection Act 1998. This sets

out what we can and cannot do with our

computerised records.

However, we will ask you for your permission

to contact people such as doctors, building

societies, banks and other local authorities

so that we are able to confirm the information

you have given us. We will not give these

people your information.

11


Will you give any information to

other housing staff?

Yes, but only information that is needed to

process your application as quickly and as

fairly as possible. An example of this would

be where we need to pass on information

about you, to make sure details on our

housing register are up to date.

Important note

However, we will warn other relevant

officers if:

• you behave threateningly during an

interview (for example, if you are violent,

or make threats or racist or sexist

comments), or

• we think you may be a danger to others

If this happens, we may send you a letter

telling you that we do not accept this

behaviour. We may also set out standards

for your future behaviour.

Do you give information to other

departments?

Yes, but only in specific circumstances.

For example, if you have a social worker,

we may want to speak to them about you.

Or, they may be helping you with your

application so they may contact us.

We may also speak to medical staff who

are involved with you, or anyone else who

is working with you professionally (for

example, the probation service or solicitors).

12


We also have a ‘notification procedure’,

where we send out information about your

household to housing departments, social

services, education departments and

health authorities. This allows them to

plan for any services you may want in the

area where we place you in temporary

accommodation. Your emergency housing

officer will explain this to you.

In certain circumstances we may also

contact other council staff if we suspect

fraud.

What about other organisations

such as the Department for Work

and Pensions or other government

departments?

By law, we have to send details to some

other organisations and departments. For

example, if you are an asylum seeker, we

have to send some details to the Home

Office to confirm your immigration status.

We will always tell you before doing this.

Fraudulent information

We must protect the public money we

handle so we may check the information

you provide against other information we

hold.

We may also pass this information to other

public organisations, or similar outside

agencies, but only for preventing or

detecting fraud.

13


However, you must sign a declaration on

the application form to say that you will

give us correct information, and will not

withhold relevant information or mislead

us in any way.

You must also keep us informed of any

changes in your circumstances.

The declaration says that we may prosecute

you if you provide any false information. If

we prosecute you and you are found

guilty, you could be ordered to pay a fine

of up to £5000 (as set out in section 214

of the Housing Act 1996 – amended by

the Homelessness Act 2000).

Can I see my own files?

Yes, you have a legal right to see them. We

are happy for you to see the file although we

will charge a fee for the administration

costs (currently £10 for each file).

However, we would need to get permission

from the doctors, social workers and so on

before we made this information available

to you.

Will you give out my address?

No. Your address is completely confidential

and we will not give it out without your

permission, unless the law says we have to.

14


Telling others

We have introduced a ‘notification procedure’,

which helps homeless people receive

services from the health authority, education

departments and social services in the

area where we place them in temporary

accommodation. By law, we must also

tell the local housing department.

We deal with a large number of homeless

people who are living in temporary

accommodation. Due to this large number,

we may need to place some people in

different types of temporary accommodation

(for example, when the lease is due to end

on accommodation we are using).

When this happens, we want to make sure

the appropriate services are available to

you as soon as possible. You may not have

the time to contact the new department,

or you may not know who to contact. We

will help you by passing your details to

the appropriate departments each time we

place you in temporary accommodation.

This can be particularly helpful if you are

expecting a baby or have young children.

What is the information used for?

The different departments will use the

information to make sure they have upto-date

records on where you are living.

Some boroughs will send out information

packs with useful information about the

borough you are living in.

15


Education departments will use the information

to make sure the appropriate

education is available for your children (if

you have any).

Social services will be able to keep in touch

with people who have asked for help.

Housing services will use the information

to monitor the number of homeless

people in their area. They will also use

this information to see whether you have

a local connection to the area (for

example, family) or another council.

How will you know if I want

my details to be included in this

procedure?

When the emergency housing officer

interviews you, they will tell you that we

are sending your name and details to the

housing department, health authority,

education department and social services

in any area where you are placed.

If you do not want us to send your details to

the health authority, education department

and social services, you must tell us and

the officer will then record this on our

computer system.

However, by law we must send your details

to the housing department where you are

placed in temporary accommodation.

16


Can I change my mind about who

should receive this information?

Yes. If you want to have your name added

to or removed from any list (other than the

housing department's), you can do this by

contacting your emergency housing officer.

We will then record this new information.

Who has access to this

information?

We give this information only to named

officers in the council.

We will not give this information to any

other people unless you ask us to do so. If

you ask us to give out information, we will

do so. However, you must ask us in writing.

How often do you provide the

information?

We provide the information every two weeks

for all people who have moved or have

been placed in temporary accommodation

during this period.

Where can I find out more about

this procedure?

We are happy to give you more information

on this or on any other procedures we have.

Please ask at the Housing Needs reception

or phone us. Details of when we are open

and our address and phone number are

at the end of this leaflet.

17


Housing Needs service

standards – our commitment

to you

This section sets out our commitment to

delivering excellent customer service to you.

We have developed it after consulting our

customers.

General standards

• We will make our reception and interview

facilities welcoming, safe and private,

and make sure that everyone is able to

use them.

• We will set aside enough time for your

first interview with us so that we can

listen to and understand your personal

circumstances.

• We will make sure that our staff are

professional, understand your needs

and do not judge you.

• We will give you clear information on

the housing processes and options

available to you.

Contacting us

Our opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm

Monday to Friday, except on Wednesdays

when we are closed between 9am and

1pm for staff training (you can still phone

us during those hours).

18


• We will offer you a range of methods for

contacting us, including phone, e-mail,

post and our website.

• We will reply to you within seven calendar

days if you write to us or three working

days if you e-mail us. If your enquiry

needs a detailed investigation, we will

let you know within seven calendar days

what we need to do and tell you when

you can expect a reply.

• We will answer your phone calls within

three rings wherever possible.

• If you have an appointment, we will

interview you in our offices within 15

minutes of when you arrive. If you do not

have an appointment, we will interview

you within 30 minutes. If there is likely

to be a delay, we will tell you how long

you might have to wait and give the

reasons for the delay.

• If you need an interpreter, a lip speaker

or a signer, we will provide one within

three working days. We can also translate

documents within five working days.

However, if your enquiry is urgent and

you do not understand English, we can

provide an immediate interpreting

service over the phone.

• We will provide information about our

services in Braille, in large print, on

audio cassette, on DVD and in a range

of languages (within ten working days

of you asking us).

19


Homelessness

If you are homeless

• We will assess your application and tell

you our decision within 33 working days.

• If we accept your application, we will

make sure you have a named case officer

who will continue to support you.

• We will tell you in writing if we need to

change your case officer.

• We will assess your appeal against our

decision and tell you within 56 days.

If we provide you with temporary

accommodation

Bed-and-breakfast accommodation

We will make sure that the accommodation

meets the following standards.

• The accommodation is clean and safe.

• Breakfast is provided.

• Adequate cooking facilities (including

cutlery and crockery) are provided.

• Repairs are carried out within the agreed

target response times.

We will visit you within one month of moving

into bed-and-breakfast accommodation,

and at least four times a year after that. We

will have a quality promise for people who

live in bed-and-breakfast accommodation.

(See our leaflet Quality promise for people

living in bed-and-breakfast accomodation.)

20


Hostel accommodation

We will make sure that the accommodation

meets the following standards.

• The accommodation is clean and safe.

• Adequate furniture is provided.

• On-site support is available.

• Repairs are carried out within the agreed

target response times.

We will visit you at least four times a year.

Short-life accommodation

Short-life accommodation is homes we own

that we use as part of our temporary

accommodation. We will make sure that

the accommodation meets the following

standards.

• The accommodation is clean and safe.

• Repairs are carried out within the agreed

target response times.

We will visit you at least four times a year.

Private-sector leased accommodation

We will make sure that the

accommodation meets the following

standards.

• The accommodation is clean and safe.

• Repairs are carried out within the agreed

target response times.

• Furniture is provided if you need it.

• Advice and support are provided.

We will visit you every six months.

21


If you apply to join the housing

register

• We will process your application within

14 working days of receiving it.

• We will assess your medical

circumstances within seven working

days of receiving your application.

• We will amend any change of

circumstances (but not a change of

address) to your application within

seven working days of receiving it.

• We will process your appeal against

our decision within 28 working days of

receiving your appeal.

• We will review all applications on the

housing register once a year to make

sure we have the most up-to-date

information.

You may contact us by visiting, phoning,

faxing or e-mailing us as shown on the

front of this leaflet. You can also contact

us by text phone on 01895 556487. All our

information is also available in other

languages, in large print, on audio

cassette and in Braille. Please call our

communications team on 01895 277033

for details.

22


How to contact us

• Housing Needs Reception

Phase 2, Zone 10, Civic Centre, High

Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1UW

Phone: 01895 250147, 01895 277779 or

01895 250389

Fax: 01895 556881

Text Phone: 01895 556 487

E-mail: nmailbox@hillingdon.gov.uk

Website: www.hillingdon.gov.uk

Privacy and confidentiality

• We will maintain information in line

with the Data Protection Act 1998.

• We will not pass personal information

to anyone else without your

permission, unless we have to do so by

law.

• You have the right to see information

we hold about you. Certain conditions

apply and we will explain these to you

if you want to know more.

Consultation and feedback

We will learn from your views of our

services by:

• running a range of satisfaction

surveys, and

• analysing complaints

23


Equal opportunities

We have an equal opportunities policy to

provide services regardless of gender, race,

religion, sexual orientation or ability/

disability.

Comments and complaints

We value and welcome any comments (good

or bad) on our service. We will analyse and

learn from them so that we can continue

to make things better for you.

If you would like to make a complaint about

the service we have provided, we will do

the following.

• Ask how you would like us to deal with

the issue.

• Try to solve the complaint with you.

• Record the complaint formally if you

want us to do so.

• Respond in full to your complaint within

ten working days of receiving it. If we

cannot fully solve your complaint within

ten working days, we will write to you to

tell you when you will receive a full

response.

• Give you information about our

complaints procedure.

• Make sure we solve your complaint

and follow it up if necessary.

• Analyse complaints so that we can

learn from them.

24


You can get a separate leaflet about our

complaints procedure in all council offices,

or you can ask us to send you one.

If you praise a member of staff or a team,

we will thank that person or team for you.

25


Produced by the London Borough of Hillingdon. October 2007

ref: 9167

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