Homeless or at risk of being homeless?
We will try and prevent homelessness wherever we can by supporting people to remain in their accommodation or finding suitable alternative accommodation. We can advise people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home e.g. because of a dispute with the landlord or problems paying rent. All our advisors are trained and will listen and respond sensitively to your needs. Information will be treated confidentially.
Housing Options will assess your situation and develop a personal action plan with you. This may include reasonable actions for you and Wiltshire Council to take to resolve the situation. If Housing Options are satisfied that you are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness due to a Section 21 Notice or within 56 days, then a prevention duty will be owed to you. A relief duty will also be owed to you for 56 days in these circumstances.
To help us give the best possible service, we will need information about your circumstances such as where you have previously lived and who makes up your household. We may also need personal information such as any medical conditions that you or a member of your household might have. You will be expected to co-operate with Housing Options and if it is found that you are deliberately and unreasonably refusing to co-operate this can result in Wiltshire Council discharging their relief duty towards your household.
The UK formally withdrew from the EU on 31 December 2020. Many EEA and Swiss citizens living or working here by this date will continue to qualify for benefits and homelessness assistance from the Council. People arriving from 1 January 2021 will qualify in specified circumstances. To find out how to continue to live in the UK and apply for settled status see the government guidance available online.
Shelter has guidance for homeless EU citizens living in the UK.
Homes4Wiltshire is the local housing register and advertises social and affordable rented housing, low cost home ownership and shared ownership properties, and extra care housing. If you are eligible to join Homes4Wiltshire, you will be able to bid for properties suitable for your needs each week.
To complete an online application form go onto Homes4Wiltshire You must provide various documents and once you have done this, the Homes4Wiltshire team will assess your application and make a decision as to whether you qualify to join Wiltshire Council's housing register.
There is a high demand for social housing therefore you should not solely rely on this option to resolve your housing situation.
You can look for private rented properties in shop windows and on notice boards. Try supermarkets, newsagents, corner shops, libraries, community centres and the local press. You may be able to sign up for email alerts when new properties become available with lettings, estate and accommodation agencies. It may be worth going in person to meet with agencies as developing a relationship can be a useful way of hearing early when a property is due to become vacant.
You could place your own advert on local notice boards or community/local groups on Facebook/twitter/gumtree advising that you are seeking a property. Give details of what sort of accommodation you are looking for, as well as your contact details. Before viewing try to get as much information as possible to check whether it is suitable for you and your household's needs.
When viewing, check that the property is secure and that the 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 the accommodation.
Take care if you are asked for a holding deposit on a property you are viewing as most are non returnable. Make sure that everything is in order before committing money and always ask for a receipt.
You will probably be asked for a damages deposit in order to rent a property. This is a safeguard against damage or bills left unpaid. Landlords and 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.
Generally, a deposit will not be returned to you until after you have left the property and the landlord has inspected the property. It may be advisable to take photographs of the property when you move in and when you leave, to help deal with disputes. 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.
A landlord may also ask for rent in advance. This could be 1 month's rent or for a longer period. Some landlords ask for a guarantor to give them greater security against rent arrears. Some landlords and letting agents run credit checks. If you have concerns about a credit check, contact the credit reference agency direct.
If you are eligible for assistance and are at risk of homelessness or already homeless, we may be able to assist you with a deposit through our Wiltslet Scheme. We may also, in some circumstances, be able to assist with rent in advance. It is important that you do not sign an agreement or pay any holding fees before you talk to us, as we cannot assist with agreements that you have already entered into and we cannot refund 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 as soon as possible. We will ask how much the monthly rent is, how much the landlord is asking for as a deposit and for recent bank statements, to ensure that the property is affordable to you.
You may be able to claim Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal credit to help with your rent costs. These are means tested benefits and so income and savings can be taken into account.
If you are renting in the private sector the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will apply. The LHA depends on where you live and your household size. Look for accommodation at a similar rent or less, as you may be required to pay a top up to your landlord to cover any shortfall in benefit. Make sure you can afford any top up. See the current Local Housing Allowance rates for any area of the country
For more information about Housing Benefit and help with housing costs and other benefits, please see the GOV.UK - Housing Benefit web page.
The Council also has information about Housing benefit, how to make a claim and additional help that may be available.
Supported housing is a stepping stone to independence. It can suit people who have not lived independently before, or where this has broken down and support is needed. It offers short term furnished accommodation and support to develop life skills such as:
- Managing money and claiming benefits
- Taking up education and training opportunities
- Managing wellbeing
- Developing employability skills
- Managing a tenancy and finding long term accommodation
- Dealing with agencies and form filling
- Accessing support for specialist needs such as drug or alcohol problems
The above is not an exhaustive list but it gives an idea as to what is viewed as a housing support need. We can look at supported housing if you are interested and you are:
- Eligible for assistance
- Homeless or threatened with homelessness
- Have a housing support need (see above)
- Have a local connection to Wiltshire *
There is supported housing across Wiltshire and we will try to keep you in the same area that you live in as far as possible. There are different levels of support on offer as well as specialist projects for people who are abstinent, for young mothers and baby and people with mental health support needs. We will look at your circumstances and match you to the best project for your needs.
Supported housing offers support tailored to each person's needs aimed at enabling them to move on successfully. Staff meet with residents on a regular basis and there may also be other requirements. Housing Options will only consider supported housing for those committed to the programme and achieving their support aims. If you stop participating or it is felt that it is no longer suitable for you, then you may be asked to leave.
* You can gain 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.
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.
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, 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, attach 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 your 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.