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Homelessness FAQs

Last Modified October 19, 2015

This information explains our legal duty if you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless soon. Our housing options team will be happy to give further detailed advice.

What are my rights?

If you are homeless, or threatened with being homeless within 28 days of contacting the council, we have a duty to help you in some way. For some people we have to provide emergency temporary accommodation whilst we investigate their situation to see if we have a duty, by law, to secure suitable accommodation. For other people we will only have to provide advice.

Am I homeless? 

You do not have to be living on the streets to be homeless. You can be considered as homeless if you:

  • have nowhere to live
  • have been taken to court by your landlord or mortgage lender and the court has said you must leave
  • have been living with friends or relatives who have asked you to leave
  • are living in a home that is unfit for habitation owing to its condition or lack of services
  • are afraid to go home because someone living there has been, or may be, violent to you.

If you are having difficulties where you are living and think you may become homeless, please contact us to get advice.

What should I do if I think I am going to be homeless?

If you are threatened with homelessness please contact our housing options team for advice.  We aim to prevent you becoming homeless and find the best solution to your housing needs.

You will need to complete some forms, which we can help you with. A member of our housing team will then contact you and, depending on your circumstances, you will either be asked to attend an interview at our offices in Borehamwood or will be given advice over the telephone.

If you are required to attend an interview this will usually last between one and two hours.

We will check that:

  • you are eligible for help
  • you are homeless, or becoming homeless
  • you are considered a priority need
  • you are not intentionally homeless

Homeless appointments and emergency interviews

We operate a strict appointment system and sometimes, due to demand, there can be a two or three week wait for an appointment.

If you know you are going to be homeless before an appointment is available, and you are likely to be in priority need, we may be able to see you as an emergency case.

What should I bring with me to the first interview?

When you come for your interview, please bring with you:

  • proof of your homelessness (i.e. a court order, eviction notice)
  • proof of income (i.e. wage slips, benefits, child benefits)
  • proof of identity (i.e. passport, driving licence)
  • proof of residence at the property you are having to leave (i.e. a utility bill in your name)
  • proof of any benefit received (i.e. child benefit/housing benefit etc)
  • proof of your right to reside in the UK (if applicable)
  • full birth certificates for any children

What if I become homeless when your offices are closed?

We provide an emergency service outside normal office hours. If you become homeless outside office hours and have absolutely nowhere you can stay until the office re-opens please phone our out-of-hours emergency switchboard.

What do you mean by eligibility?

You have to be eligible to be entitled to housing via the council. Eligibility is a very complicated issue, and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Eligibility is a legal definition and it refers to your right to remain in the UK and your right to access public funds. You may not be eligible for help if you are:

  • an asylum seeker
  • from a foreign country
  • a UK citizen who has been living abroad.

Please note: You must be eligible for help in order to make a homelessness application. If you are not eligible your application will not be processed further.

What do you mean by priority need?

You are in priority need if:

  • you are responsible for dependent children, usually those under 16, or under 19 years old if in full time education
  • you, or your partner, is pregnant
  • you are homeless as a result of an emergency, such as a fire or flood or other disaster
  • you are suffering from mental illness, disabled or vulnerable for another reason.

If we are satisfied that you are eligible for help, homeless and in priority need, we will:

  • find you somewhere to stay while we investigate the circumstances of your homelessness
  • find you suitable accommodation for you to live in, (if you did not deliberately make yourself homeless and we have not been able to prevent you becoming homeless.)  This could either be with a private landlord or a housing association. 

What if I am not priority need?

If we decide you are not in priority need, you will be offered advice and help to try to prevent you becoming homeless. This will include referral to alternative support agencies such as housing providers, social services, Herts Young Homeless, mediation services and the Citizens Advice Bureau. At this time, you may wish to apply to be on our housing register.

Am I intentionally homeless?

We may decide that you have made yourself homeless if it is found that:

  • you left a property that you could have stayed in
  • it was your fault that you lost your home
  • you arranged to be made homeless, for example agreeing with your landlord or parents to evict you.

This list is not exhaustive; each case is assessed on its own merits.

If you are found to be intentionally homeless we will not have a duty to provide you with accommodation. You will be given limited time in temporary accommodation to give you the chance to find somewhere else to live.

What do you mean by a local connection and have I got one with Hertsmere?

You are likely to have a local connection with Hertsmere if:

  • you have lived within this borough by choice for six out of the last 12 months, in accommodation considered by us as permanent
  • you have lived within this borough by choice for three of the last five years
  • you have a permanent job based in the borough
  • you have close family who have lived  more than five  years in this borough (i.e. parents or siblings).

If you have spent time in college, prison, hospital or supported accommodation, this will not usually count as a local connection.

What will you do if I do not have a local connection with the area?

If  we decide that you are homeless, in priority need and are not intentionally homeless but you do not have a local connection with this area, we will refer you to the council area that you do have a connection to.

If you have more than one local connection, we will ask you which area you would prefer to live in before we contact another council to help you.

If you have no local connection with any council then the first council you approach has the duty to offer advice and assistance.

If you are fleeing domestic violence you do not need to have a local connection.

What if I disagree with your decision?

If you are not happy with our decision, you can ask us to review it.

You must put your request in writing within 21 days, telling us the reasons you would like it to be reviewed.

Reviews are considered and determined by an independent person, who will not have been involved in the original decision. The reviewer will consider the information on your file, along with your written submission and any further evidence in support of your appeal.


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