We will help you if you’re legally homeless or are likely to become homeless.
The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) became law on the 3 April 2018. It changes how we help people who are – or may become – homeless within the next 56 days. We will work with you where possible to prevent you from becoming homeless, and to reduce the need for temporary or emergency housing.
The type and level of help depends upon your personal situation, but we’ll always provide you with advice and assistance wherever possible.
You can complete a 10 minute online assessment (Enhanced Housing Options Wizard) which will provide advice and guidance tailored to your current situation. It will give you the next steps that you should take to address your current situation and if you are homeless or threatened with homeless in 56 days and are unable to help yourself you will be able to self-book an appointment with a Housing Solutions Officer at a date and time to suit your needs.
If you do not have access to a smart phone/computer and/or the internet you can contact the Housing Solutions Team on 01206 580290 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, who will provide you with advice and assistance on how to book an appointment. In the Colchester area we have asked all of our partners to automatically refer their customers to us if they meet the criteria and assist them where needed to complete the EHO.
If you are unable to complete the online assessment and are already engaged with services, you may be able to complete this with the assistance of your support worker. Some public bodies will also have a duty to notify the Council if they are aware that you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, or are currently homeless.
If you have not got a support worker, you can telephone our customer service centre on 01206 282569 to find out where you can find support to enable you to complete this form and any enquires about accessing the housing solutions service.
You can email the Housing Solutions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Government recognises that some private renters have rent arrears that have built up because of the pandemic, and that vulnerable households may need additional financial support.
In October 2021 the Government announced that additional funds will be made to local authorities in 2021/22 to help vulnerable households with rent arrears to reduce the risk of them being evicted and becoming homeless.
The purpose of this exceptional one-off payment is to support low-income private renters with COVID-19 related rent arrears to avoid eviction or find a new home where necessary to prevent homelessness, with local authorities able to target funding to those who need it the most and help them get back on their feet.
Will the Council find me somewhere to live?
We will carry out an assessment to see whether you and your household:
- are eligible for help
- are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days
- are homeless or threatened with homelessness through no fault of your own
- have a priority need
- have a local connection
If you are eligible, we will assess your current situation, housing needs, requirements and your household’s support needs.
Using this information we will, with your involvement, develop and agree a personalised housing plan which will help you explore your choices in a clear and realistic way. It will state what actions you should do and what actions we will do to resolve your current housing situation. This may include talking to your landlord, mortgage lender or family to negotiate a positive outcome to resolve your current threat of homelessness. We are able to negotiate with landlords and lettings agents and can sometimes assist with paying off rent arrears and other housing costs should you be threatened with homelessness. It may also include referring you to other helpful organisations to enable you to sustain your current housing or find alternative accommodation.
We will work with you for:
- up to 8 weeks if you’re threatened with homelessness
- a further 8 weeks if you become homeless
If you are subject to immigration control you will be asked to provide further information.
What happens if you cannot prevent me from becoming homeless?
If we are unable to prevent you becoming homeless or find you another home, our next duty is to relieve your homelessness by assisting you in securing alternative accommodation.
We can provide financial assistance to obtain alternative accommodation, this can be rent in advance and help towards a deposit or both.
If you have no connection to Colchester, the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 (S198(1A) states that under the relief duty, we can refer you to the local authority where you have a connection. If you are homeless and we have a ‘reason to believe’ you are in Priority Need, we may have a duty to provide you with interim (short term) accommodation also known as S.188 accommodation. If you have a local connection to Colchester and we are unable to prevent your homelessness, we have a duty to complete another assessment and Personalised Housing Plan.
This housing plan will identify how and what actions we will take to assist you to relieve your homelessness and what actions you are required to do. If we have reason to believe that you have a priority need we will have a duty to provide you with interim accommodation for a further 56 days.
What happens if you cannot relieve my homelessness?
If after the 56 days we have not been able to relieve your homelessness, enquiries will be made to determine if a full housing duty is owed. At this point we will be required to determine if you have a Priority Need and if you have taken an action which has caused you to lose your home, which was reasonable for you to continue to occupy.
- Are you are in priority need – Shelter Priority Need
- Are you intentionally homeless – Shelter Intentionally Homeless
- Do you have a local connection – Shelter Local Connection
Each case is assessed individually by an allocated case officer who will work with you throughout the above process. You can use the above guides to give you an idea of whether you fall into these categories and whether you can expect help from us under the Full Duty.
If we do have a duty to find you housing, this could be in the private sector, supported housing, council or housing association accommodation.
What kind of accommodation will I get if I am owed a Full Duty?
If we are unable to prevent and/or relieve your homelessness once the 56 days of relief duty have finished and we have accepted a full homeless duty to you, we will make accommodation available to you. This accommodation will be called Temporary Accommodation, most of which is in the Colchester Area. Where possible, we will take your circumstances into account when offering Temporary Accommodation. However, we can use accommodation in the private sector to end our Full Duty which would not require your consent.
The Council’s duty to accommodate you will continue until one of the following circumstances occurs:
- You refuse suitable temporary accommodation (S193(5))
- You stop being eligible for assistance (S195(6a));
- You become homeless intentionally from the accommodation made available to you (S193(6b));
- You accept an offer of accommodation through the Council’s Housing Register (S193(6c));
- You accept an offer of an Assured Tenancy from a private landlord (S193(6cc));
- You voluntarily vacate the accommodation made available to you (S193(6d));
- You refuse or accept an offer of accommodation through the Council’s Housing Register, having been informed of the consequences (S193(7a))
- You refuse or accept an offer of a suitable Assured Shorthold tenancy from a private landlord (S193(7aa)).
All Council and Housing Association tenancies are allocated by means of Housing Registers (sometimes called Waiting Lists). For more information on the housing register see the housing applications page Gateway to Homechoice.