If you consider yourself to be homeless, the council must investigate this.
The law about homelessness guides us on how we should respond. We have to ask you a set of questions, but we will explain to you why we need to do this.
In return, you need to answer these questions as openly and honestly as you can, giving as much detail as possible. Once we know more about your situation, the law tells us what help we must give you. As a minimum, we must give you advice on how you can help yourself. As a maximum, we will provide some form of housing for you.
We need to ask the following questions:
- Do you qualify for help?
- Are you homeless, or at risk of homelessness in the next 28 days?
- Are you in priority need?
- Are you homeless, or at risk of homelessness through a situation that you were not responsible for?
- Do you have a local connection to Tameside?
If the answer to all five questions above is ‘yes’, you will be able to get the maximum help from us. Whatever decision we make, we will be able to offer you advice and practical help on your situation.
The sections below explain all of this in more detail.
Most people qualify, but not everyone will.
If you have entered the United Kingdom from abroad, you may not be eligible for assistance if you are subject to immigration control under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. If you contact us, we need to see proof that you are allowed to live in this country. If these regulations apply to you, you should get independent advice.
There are other rules that cover people who do not normally live or work in the United Kingdom, including British passport holders. If you are unsure of your position, you should get independent advice.
The law says that you are homeless if:
- You do not have any property that you have a legal right to live in anywhere in the world
- You do have a home, but you cannot get into it
- You do have a home, but are at risk of violence from someone else who lives there
- You do have a home, but by living in that home you are not able to live with someone who normally lives with you or would reasonably be expected to live with you
- You do have a home, but it is so unreasonable for you to continue living there that you have no real option but to leave
- You home is a caravan, mobile home or boat, and there is nowhere to put it and live in it
There are many things that can lead to you becoming homeless.
No matter why you are homeless or about to become homeless, it is important to get help as quickly as possible.
If you let us know early enough, there may be something that we can do to prevent you from losing your home. Even if it is too late to prevent you from losing your home, we may be able to help you move in a more planned way so that you do not have to face the trauma and distress of being homeless.
If you are homeless and eligible for assistance, then the Council needs to determine whether you are also in priority need. This is because the Council has a duty to provide immediate temporary accommodation, if needed, for people who are homeless, eligible for assistance, and who may be in a priority need.
You are considered to be in priority need if:
- You, someone you live with or someone who might reasonably be expected to live with you is pregnant.
- You have dependant children living with you or who might be expected to live with you.
- You may be priority need because you are classed as vulnerable if you:
- Are an older person
- Have a physical or learning disability or mental health problems
- Had to leave your home because of violence or harassment
- Have been in care
- Were in the armed forces
- Have been in a young offenders institute or prison in the past
- You are aged 21 or over, and are vulnerable as a result of having been looked after, accommodated or fostered (as defined by s.24 (2) of the Children Act 1989).
- You are under 21, and were (but no longer) looked after, accommodated or fostered between the ages of 16 and 18 (except for a person who is a “relevant student” as defined by s.24 (B) of the Children Act 1989).
- You are aged 16 or 17, and are not:
- A relevant child (a child aged 16 or 17 who has been looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and has been looked after at some time while 16 or 17 and who is not currently being looked after) or,
- A child in need who is owed a duty under s.20 of the Children Act 1989 (The Children Act 1989 (s.20(3)) places a duty on social services authorities to provide accommodation for a child in need aged 16 or over whose welfare is otherwise likely to be seriously prejudiced if they do not provide accommodation).
- You are homeless as a result of flood or other disaster. If you are not “in priority need” you are entitled to advice and assistance to help you to find your own accommodation, or to prevent you from losing any accommodation you may have at the moment. If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness and in priority need then further enquiries, need to be made.
If you have nowhere to stay and we believe that you are in priority need, we will provide you with temporary accommodation. This accommodation may not be ideal for you and your family, but we will only expect you to stay here for a short period of time whilst we make a decision about your homeless application. We will do everything we can to check all the details of your situation and to give you a decision as quickly as possible.
If you have nowhere to stay but we do not think that you are in priority need, we will give you advice on how to find other housing.
We will give you the maximum amount of help if we have investigated your situation and have decided that:
- You do quality for help
- You are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless in 28 days
- You are in priority need
- You were not responsible for your homelessness
- You have a connection with Tameside.
Find out more about the maximum help we can give you
We will then have a legal duty to make sure that a home is available for you and your household. We may not be able to re-house you exactly where you want to live. It may be anywhere in the borough. We will consider the needs of you and your household when we offer you a new home. If you refuse our offer of a suitable home, without good reason, we do not have to offer another, alternative home for you.
If you have nowhere to stay when we first start to help you, or if you have to leave your home and have nowhere else to go whilst we are helping you, it is likely that at first we will provide temporary accommodation.
It is our policy that we do not use bed and breakfast accommodation except in an emergency. As with all housing, when you are in temporary accommodation you will need to pay the rent or other charges. You may be entitled to housing benefit to help with these costs, and we will advise you of this when we speak to you.
We will discuss all of this in more detail with you and advise you about the housing options available as part of your interview. Whether or not you are in temporary accommodation, we will stay in touch with you and keep working with you to find a long term home.
We do not have a legal duty to provide you with housing if we have investigated your situation and decided that:
- You do not qualify
- You are not homeless or about to become homeless within 28 days
- You are not in priority need
- You were responsible for your own homelessness (intentionally homeless)
Find out more about the minimum help we can give you
We call these ‘negative decisions’. If we think we are likely to make a negative decision in your case, we will contact you to tell you why we are considering this decision. This gives you the chance to tell us about anything else we might need to know or that might change our decision.
If, when we make a negative decision, you are staying in temporary accommodation that we have provided, we will ask you to leave. We will give you a reasonable amount of notice to do this and will give you advice on what you can do to help find your own housing.
Even if we do not have a legal duty to provide housing for you, we will still give you advice on how you can find your own housing.
When we make a decision, we must provide it to you in writing, clearly explaining all of the reasons for the decision. Our letter should help you fully understand why we have made the decision and you should check that the information we have used is correct.
You have a legal right to ask us to review the decision and to look at your circumstances again. The review will be carried out by someone who wasn’t involved in the original decision. If you want us to review your decision, you must tell us within 28 days of the date on our decision letter. We will also provide you with details of agencies that can give you independent advice and help.
If you are un-happy with any housing that we have arranged for you because it is unsuitable, you can also ask us to look at this decision again. If we offer you a home as part of our legal duty to you, we will send you a letter to explain what this means. You should read this letter carefully so that you understand what rights you have. You can still ask for a review of suitability, even if you have moved into the house. We will also provide you with details of agencies that can give you independent advice and help if you are un-happy with the homes we have offered you.
Pets – it is likely that if you go into temporary or emergency accommodation you will not be able to take any pets with you. You will need to make arrangements for your pets to be looked after.