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Homeless

Are you homeless?

We will try and prevent homelessness whenever we can by supporting you to remain in your current accommodation or find suitable alternative accommodation. We may not be able to prevent you from losing your home. If you have recently become homeless or have been homeless for some time then you should present to Housing Options.

If a Housing Options Adviser is satisfied that you are eligible for assistance and homeless then a relief duty will be owed towards you for 56 days. A Housing Options Adviser will conduct a housing needs and circumstances assessment on your situation, with you and we will work together to agree on reasonable actions for you and Wiltshire Council to complete which will form part of your Personal Housing Plan.

All our advisors are trained and will listen and respond sensitively to your needs. Information provided will be treated confidentially.

To help us give you the best possible service, we will need detailed information regarding your circumstances. This will include questions about where you have lived previously and who makes up your household.

We may also require more personal and sensitive information, for example, any medical conditions that you or a member of your household might have.

You will be expected to co-operate with the Housing Options team and if it is found that you are deliberately and unreasonably refused to co-operate this can result in Wiltshire Council discharging their relief duty towards your household.

The Housing Options Adviser will clearly explain the homelessness process to enable you to make an informed choice about the options available to you.

Homes4Wiltshire is Wiltshire Council’s housing register that advertises social housing, low cost home ownership properties, shared ownership properties and extra care housing.

If you haven’t done so already, you should go onto www.homes4wiltshire.co.uk and complete an online application. You will be asked to provide various documents and once you have done this, the Homes4Wiltshire team will assess your application and make a decision as to whether you are eligible to join Wiltshire Council’s housing register.

If you are eligible to join Homes4Wiltshire then you will be able to bid on properties, that are suitable for your needs, each week.

Needless to say, there is a high demand for social housing therefore you should not solely rely on this option to resolve your homelessness situation.

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There are various types of private rented accommodation but you will generally need enough money for a deposit, one months’ rent in advance and possibly money to cover letting agent fees and referencing checks.  Some landlords and letting agents may also run credit checks.  If you have any concerns regarding a credit check, you should contact the credit reference agency directly.

Some landlords may also want a 'guarantor' to give them greater security against rent arrears.

You should never put down a holding deposit on a property unless you are sure that you can raise all the monies required by the landlord/agent, and you should always get a receipt.   Most are non-returnable so you need to make sure everything is in order before committing money.

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You can look for available private rented properties in shop windows/notice boards. Try supermarkets, newsagents, corner shops, libraries and community centres.  You can also look in the local press.  Letting agents, estate agents or accommodation agencies or their websites will often allow prospective tenants sign up to mailing lists so that you get emails to alert you to new properties.  It is also worth going in person to meet with letting agents as developing a relationship with agents can be a useful way of hearing early when a property is due to become vacant.  You could also place your own advertisement on local notice boards or community/local groups on facebook/twitter/gumtree advising that you are seeking a property and giving details of what sort of accommodation you are looking for, as well as your contact details.Before taking up accommodation try to get as much information as possible to make sure that the accommodation is suitable for you and your household’s needs.

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A deposit is a sum of money that your landlord/agent requests at the beginning of the tenancy in order to safeguard them against any damage you may cause or any bills left unpaid etc. From the 6th April 2007, landlords/agents granting assured shorthold tenancies are required by law to protect your deposit in a government approved scheme. Your landlord/agent must notify you within 14 days of receiving your deposit as to which scheme they are using. If there is a dispute over the amount to be refunded at the end of a tenancy, the sum in dispute will be set aside until the matter is resolved by independent arbitration. The money should be returned to you in full when you leave, unless the arbitration service agrees that the landlord has good reason to keep all or part of it. Generally, a deposit will not be returned to you until after you have left the property and the landlord has conducted a thorough inspection of the premises. It may be advisable to take photographs of any property when you move in and also again when you leave to help deal with disputes.

Landlords/agents usually ask for the equivalent of one month's rent in advance.

Some agents may also require fees for referencing, to draft a tenancy agreement and general administration. These fees can only be charged if the agents have found accommodation for you. It is illegal for agencies to charge for registration only.  Agents must, be law, publish their fees and be transparent in the way they do business.  You can ask to see these.

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If you are eligible for assistance and are at risk of homelessness or already homeless, we can assist you with a deposit through our Wiltslet Scheme.  We may also, in some circumstances, be able to assist with rent in advance.  In order to make sure of the scheme, it is important that you do not sign agreements or pay any holding fees up front, as we cannot assist with agreements you have already entered into and we cannot refund you any monies lost as a result of an agreement not progressing.  If you find a private rented property you feel would be suitable for you and your family, please contact the Housing Options team as soon as possible.  They will ask you how much the monthly rent is, how much the landlord is asking for as a deposit and they will ask for you most recent bank statements, so they can make sure the property is affordable to you. 

In order to ensure a property is affordable to you, it can be useful to be aware of the Local Housing Allowance you may be entitled to if you are planning to claim Housing Benefit.

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Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal credit is help given to people to pay their rent. It is a means tested benefit so the amount you may be entitled to will depend on what other income you may have.  If you are working, but on a low income, you can still claim Housing Benefit/Universal Credit to help you meet the cost of your accommodation.  If the cost of your rent is higher than the Local Housing Allowance (the maximum in that district that you are entitled to depending on your household size), you may be required to pay a ‘top up’ to cover any shortfall Housing Benefit/Universal Credit does not cover.  You should ensure you can afford this ‘top up’ each month as, if you cannot, you are likely to accrue rent arrears and this will put your accommodation at risk.

From April 2008, the Government changed the way that it assessed the maximum amount of any housing benefit entitlement. From this date, the maximum amount of benefit will be based strictly on your family size and not on the property that you rent. You will need to work out your own family's Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and use this to find a property with a similar rental figure on the open market.

If you are unsure about which rate applies to you, please ask as it is vitally important that you understand how much your LHA rate is so that you can assess whether a tenancy is affordable for you. Remember - before you take on a tenancy you need to be sure that you can meet your rent commitment.

When viewing, check that the property is secure and that heating, lighting and plumbing are all working. Check the terms of the tenancy agreement and read it carefully before signing. You may want to get advice before taking up accommodation and try to get as much information as possible before viewing it.

Check the terms of the tenancy agreement and read it carefully before signing. You may want to get advice before signing it. Depending on the accommodation, verbal agreements may be as legally binding as written ones.

If you are renting accommodation and are having trouble managing your home or maintaining your tenancy, we can help you. 

If you’re having maintenance problems that your landlord won’t sort out, the Private Sector Housing Team can offer services, advice and in certain cases enforcement action but you need to ensure that you have exhausted trying to work with your landlord directly first and be able to demonstrate that you have reasonably given your landlord notice of issues and time to resolve them.

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Supported accommodation is a stepping stone into independent accommodation. Supported accommodation providers help individuals to prepare to living independently by equipping them with the necessary skills, such as:

  • Life and Social Skills
  • Managing Health Issues
  • Money/Budgeting/Benefits
  • Education/Training/Employment
  • Establishing and/or maintaining support networks
  • Managing a tenancy or finding long term accommodation
  • Dealing with other agencies
  • Form filing
  • Managing drug and/or alcohol misuse issues


The above list is not an exhaustive list however it gives you an idea of what our Housing Options Team view as a housing related support need when looking at assessing your needs.

If we have confirmed that you:

  • Eligible for assistance 
  • Are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • Have a housing related support need (see above)
  • Have a local connection to Wiltshire *

Then the Housing Options Team are able to explore supported accommodation if this is deemed as a suitable option. Supported accommodation is most suited to those that have not lived independently before or if they have, this has failed therefore require further support.

It is important for you to understand that we have various supported accommodation projects across Wiltshire and whilst we try to keep you in the same area you live at, this may not be possible. We have various general need projects that offer high/medium/low support. We also have access to specialist projects that support those who are dry and abstinent from alcohol and drugs, specialist mother and baby units and mental health projects.  We will look at your circumstances and match you to the best scheme for your needs.

If you were to move into supported accommodation then you would have to meet with your allocated support worker at least once a week to ensure you are working towards developing your individual needs. There are also other requirements set out by the providers that you must adhere to as a part of your placement. Housing Options will only consider a placement into support accommodation if you show a willingness to commit to the programme and work towards achieving your aims. Please note; if you stop participating in the programme and it is felt that you are no longer suitable for the placement then you may be asked to leave the project.

All referrals into supported accommodation must come through the Housing Options Team at Wiltshire Council.

* You can derive a local connection by

1) residing in Wiltshire for 6 out of the last 12 months or 3 out of the last 5 years

2) immediate family living in Wiltshire for 5 years

3) Being employed in Wiltshire

4) Any other special reason.

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We are required under homeless legislation to assess your application under the following areas:

  • Are you eligible for assistance? 
  • Are you homeless or threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days?
  • Does Wiltshire Council owe you a prevention duty or a relief duty?
  • Are you in priority need of assistance?
  • Have you made yourself intentionally homeless?

To help us with this assessment you may need to provide supporting documents, for example, a statement from your bank or building society or a letter from your doctor. 

Once your assessment has been completed, we will provide you with a notice of our decision.

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You have a right under section 202 of the 1996 Housing Act Part VII (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002) to request a review of the council's decision. Under the homelessness legislation you have the right to request a review of the decision made about your homelessness application if you feel it is incorrect.

To request a review, you must put in writing the reasons why you feel the decision is incorrect. You should also include any additional information or changes in your circumstances, which could affect the outcome of your application.

Where appropriate, please send any new documents in support of your request for a review, for example, from your doctor, if you have not sent them before.

Your letter and any supporting documentation should be sent to the local Housing Options team. The reviews are conducted by an officer senior to the original decision maker.

You will be sent a letter advising you of the outcome of your review within 56 days.

Should your review be unsuccessful in changing the decision, you have the right to appeal to a county court within 21 days of receiving your letter. You should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor.

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Last updated: 20 March 2019 | Last reviewed: 20 March 2019