If you are worried about homelessness, contact us as soon as possible.
We will try and help you stay in your home unless it is unreasonable for you to live there, for example you are facing domestic abuse there.
If we cannot prevent your homelessness, we will work with you to find somewhere else to live. We have a duty to advise and support homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, although we do not have a duty to house everyone.
Rent or mortgage arrears? visit Money advice for help and support.
Get in touch
For Duty to Refer please use the Public body e-referral form.
If you have a Housing emergency and the offices are closed, call the Emergency Duty Service on 0300 456 0100.
If you are rough sleeping or you see someone who is rough sleeping, contact your local office.
We will ask about your situation, what has happened and why. It's important to tell us everything so that we can give you the right advice and support. We need to know whether you or anyone in you household has medical or other condition, and what type of housing you need. Also, whether you need any support to maintain a tenancy. We will give you a copy of our assessment.
When you contact us please have at hand details of any of the following that apply:
- Identification such as your passport or NI number
- Immigration status such as a passport or document that shows you have the right to live in the UK
- Children or pregnancy such as a child benefit letter or MATB1 form
- Medical conditions such as letters from your doctor or hospital, or details of prescriptions
- Income such as wages slips, benefit letters and bank or other statements
- Tenancy agreement, and eviction notice if you have been asked to leave by your landlord
- Rent or mortgage arrears, court orders
What happens next?
Eligible for assistance
If you are 'eligible for assistance' we will draw up a personal housing plan with you. Most people are eligible but you must meet immigration and residence conditions. If you are not eligible, we can still give advice and information.
The UK formally withdrew from the EU on 31 December 2020. Many EEA and Swiss citizens living and working here by this date qualify for benefits and homelessness assistance. People arriving from 1 January 2021 will qualify in specified circumstances. Shelter has guidance for homeless EU citizens living in the UK and there is a Chartered Institute of Housing website called Housing Rights Information for Migrants and Housing Advisors (England and Wales) (housing-rights.info). To find out how to continue to live in the UK and apply for settled status see the Government's guidance online.
Your personal housing plan
The Council has duties to prevent and relieve homelessness. To do this we will draw up a personal housing plan with you. This sets out practical steps that we each agree to take to stop you from becoming homeless (prevention) or to find alternative accommodation (relief). We will give you a copy of your plan and update it with you as things change.
If there are rent arrears you may agree to seek money advice, and we may advise on claiming benefits and/or discretionary housing payments. These steps could enable us to offer a repayment plan to your landlord and stop your eviction.
How long does the plan last?
We will help for as long as you face homelessness if you are under a Section 21 Notice from a private landlord. Otherwise we will help for at least 8 weeks while you are threatened with homelessness, and a further 8 weeks should you become homeless. If you are still homeless after 8 weeks of help, we will assess whether you qualify for longer term housing.
If you are unhappy with your plan
Tell us if you are unhappy. We want to work with you to improve your situation. We can decide to stop helping if you unreasonably refuse to take a required step. You have a right of review if we cannot agree the steps in your plan or we decide to end it.
What if I have to leave my home?
If we can't help you to stay in your home, we may try and negotiate extra time for you to find somewhere else to live. We can also advise you on finding other accommodation. Wiltshire has private rented, sheltered, adapted, social and affordable housing, supported housing, refuges and safe houses. Visit Looking for a home.
If you can't stay in your home and you have nowhere to go, we may provide emergency accommodation. We will do this if we think all of the following apply:
- You have nowhere safe to stay
- You meet the immigration and residence conditions
- You are in priority need.
Priority need is set out in law as:
- You have dependent children who normally live with you
- You or someone you normally live with is pregnant
- You are homeless as a result of fire, flood or other disaster
- You or someone you reasonably live with is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or disability, physical disability or other special reason
- You are vulnerable as a result of fleeing domestic abuse
- You are 16 or 17 years of age (unless the responsibility of social services for accommodation)
- You are under 21 and as a 16 or 17 year old were looked after, fostered or accommodated by social services (other than relevant students)
- You are vulnerable and aged 21 or over (unless a relevant student) as a result of being looked after, fostered or accommodated by social services
- You are vulnerable as a result of having been in Her Majesty's regular navy, military or air forces
- You are vulnerable as a result of having been remanded in custody
Emergency accommodation may be a flat, house, hostel, guest house, refuge or B&B. You may qualify for benefits to help with the costs and we can advise on this. If you have no right to emergency accommodation you may need to look at staying with family or friends, in a B&B or night shelter.
You may qualify for help to find longer term housing. We call this the 'main housing duty.' If you do we will provide you with suitable short term accommodation until a settled home is found. We will assess whether you qualify for the main housing duty and write to you with our decision. If you disagree with our assessment you have the right of review. To qualify you need to be:
- Eligible for assistance
- Legally homeless. This means you are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 8 weeks.
- In priority need
- Not intentionally homeless. This means that you have not lost your home because of a deliberate actions, such as not paying the rent, although you had the money to do so.
- Have a local connection to Wiltshire. A local connection could be because you live in a home in Wiltshire and have done so for the last 2 years, or you have a permanent job here or an employment contract or job offer of at least 1 year. If you are self-employed and mainly work here that will count too. Close family can give a connection if they have lived in Wiltshire for 5 years or more.
Care leavers under 25 years have a connection if they are supported through a pathway plan from social services. Care leavers under 21 have a connection if they were in care in Wiltshire for 2 years, even if they were placed by another local authority. Those placed under asylum support by the Home Office have a connection to the last council area that they were placed in.
We can sometimes give a local connection if you do not have one. Examples are where you are unsafe in another area due to domestic abuse, or need to live locally to take up specialist services. If you do not have a local connection, we may refer you to an area where you do. You have a right of review against a decision to refer you to another area.
If you qualify for the main housing duty
Under this, the council will provide you with suitable short term accommodation until a settled home is found. A settled home could be private rented accommodation that is available for at least 6 months or social or affordable housing. You have the right of review as to the suitability of any temporary or long term housing offered.
If you do not qualify for the main housing duty visit Looking for a home for more options.
Right of review
We want to give you the best possible service. If you think we've got a decision wrong, tell us. If we don't change the decision, check whether you have the right of review. When we advise you of our decisions we will tell you if you have a right of review and how to request one. Most decisions carry this right such as:
- of the steps set out in your personal housing plan
- a decision to end our help in your housing plan
- we refer you to a different council under local connection rules
- we decide you don't qualify for the main housing duty
- you think our offer of short or longer term housing is unsuitable. Please note that you can only challenge the suitability of emergency accommodation in court.
You need to ask for a review within 21 days. Tell us why you think our decision is wrong and include any evidence to support this such as a doctor's letter. Your request will be dealt with by a senior officer. If you are unhappy with their decision you may be able to ask for a further review in the county court. We recommend that you take independent advice on this.
Citizens Advice Wiltshire offers free advice on day to day legal problems such as housing, dealing with debt, employment and benefits.
Wiltshire Law Centre usually only offers housing advice to those who qualify for legal aid but due to Covid-19 is offering free initial housing advice to all. It also offers free advice to GreenSquare tenants on debt, benefits and housing matters.
Shelter England has lots of housing information on their website. This includes dealing with homelessness, evictions and repossessions. It also covers problems with private rented, council and housing association accommodation.
You may qualify for legal aid to help with the costs of a solicitor if you are on a low income. View a list of legal advisers with a legal aid contract.