What the changes in homelessness legislation mean for you
On 3 April 2018 the law in England changed. The Homelessness Reduction Act means local councils now have to give more help to people who are homeless or might lose their homes. If you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, the council are now likely to have a duty to help you stay in your home and find accommodation.
In Stockport, this service is managed by Stockport Homes on behalf of the council. Here is a breakdown of the key changes in the law and what you can expect.
You can get advice and information that is more specific to your situation
Local councils have to give everyone advice and information about homelessness, free of charge. This includes information about your rights, what help you can expect to receive and practical help for you to stay in your home or find somewhere else to live. The council should give you specific advice and information if you are: experiencing domestic abuse or mental health issues, leaving hospital or leaving care, if you have recently left prison or youth detention, or if you have been in the armed forces.
You can access this advice and information in Stockport by contacting Stockport Homes (in person at Cornerstone, 2 Edward St, SK1 3NQ / via telephone 0161 217 6016) and reading the information available here.
You can get help earlier if you are going to be homeless
Help starts sooner if you are threatened with homelessness. If you are likely to lose your home within 56 days the council should work with you to stop this from happening. Before the new law this help only began at 28 days.
Local councils have new duties to help stop you losing your home, or help you find somewhere to stay if you are homeless
Every person asking a local council for help will have a conversation with a housing officer. The council will decide if you are eligible for help (this means if you are a British national or have a permanent right to reside in the UK). If you are eligible the council need to offer help. If you are at risk of losing your home this is called a prevention duty. If you are already homeless this is called a relief duty.
This is new. The council must help you regardless of whether you have a priority need (for example if you have disabilities or dependent children) or if they think you have made yourself intentionally homeless. If you are homeless, the council might have to provide you with temporary housing. Both the relief duty and prevention duty last up to 56 days.
In this time you and the council will work together to prevent or resolve your homelessness. If you are still homeless at the end of this time, the council will decide if you meet the criteria for temporary housing and settled accommodation.
Introduction of personalised plans
A housing officer will talk to you about what has caused you to be homeless or threatened with homelessness. They will also ask about your housing needs and any other help that you or your family need.
You and the council should work together to list the reasonable steps you will both take to help you keep your home or find somewhere suitable to live. These steps need to be right for you and your situation, so they should take your needs into account. The results of this conversation will be written down to form your personalised plan. Both you and the council should regularly review the plan.
It’s important that you keep in touch with the council to discuss any changes. They should also keep you updated.
This information has been sourced from Crisis.
You can get further advice from Shelter’s free housing advice helpline (0808 800 4444), a local Shelter advice service or local Citizens Advice office, or by visiting shelter.org.uk/advice or adviceguide.org.uk