Housing problem

Any experts on housing/homelessness out there?

13 messages
28/10/2008 at 12:29

Hello everyone

I’m looking for some advice to give a friend who may potentially be homeless soon.

She’s lost her job and hasn’t been able to find a new one yet. A couple of her friends have advised her to make herself homeless as they say the council will have to find her somewhere to live as she’s unemployed and has no money now but I’m not sure this is a good idea. I’m worried that she wouldn’t get anywhere immediately and would end up somewhere really dodgy. Does anyone here know what is likely to happen? I’ve advised her to hang on for one more month but maybe she would be better off getting help from somewhere now?

Any advice from people in the housing sector or who work with homeless charities would be very welcome. I’m worried that the advice she’s getting (from her friends or from me) isn’t accurate and is maybe making things worse.

Thanks

Ye Olde Dragon    pirate
28/10/2008 at 12:40

you are right to be cautious Li'l Nemo. different LA's have different rules by and large, but usually, unless she is in a vulnerable group she is unlikely to be rehoused - particularly if she deliberately makes herself homeless. Having said that, there should be some finiancial benefit help for her if she is either in her own home, or rented privately.

Good luck to  her.

28/10/2008 at 12:55

Tell your friend to get down her local Citizens Advice Bureau a.s.a.p.
A friend of mine was laid off recently and the CAB helped with everything from sorting out his rent to talking to everyone he was in debt to.

28/10/2008 at 12:56

hi Little Nemo

having worked in housing in the past for a local authority, i would advise against her making herself homeless. this is a stressful situation and she could get some support in place before this needs to happen. i agree with Lady Sue, i would advise that she gets some proper expert advice about what her options are. if she is renting she may be entitled to housing benefit. she should speak to a Welfare Rights advisor at her local council welfare rights service or at the Citizens Advise Bureau, who would be able to do a benefits check for her and give her advice about what she is and isn't entitled to, including benefits for being out of work.

making yourself homeless can be a tricky one, the council will either deem you to be intentionally or unintentionally homeless. temporary accommodation can often be of a poor standard. if she doesn't feel that she is able to continue with her present tenancy then she could always begin the process of applying for council housing. she may be seen to be in priority need because of her circumstances and get extra points, moving her up the housing list. however, every local authority is different and waiting lists vary in length. i would again suggest that she gets expert advice on this from her local housing office about what her options are. Shelter also offer advice and are be completely impartial - their number is 0808 800 4444.

 hope this helps, all the best to your friend.

28/10/2008 at 13:05

Many thanks, Lady Sue, Scotty and Victoria, that's helpful advice.

I'll let her know about CAB and Shelter as I think they'll be able to tell her exactly what is likely in her situation. These are all the things you never think of when you're trying to sort problems out over coffee and muffins in Cafe Nero!

Nam
28/10/2008 at 13:13

If the Council deemed that she was intentionally homeless they wouldn't have a statutory duty to house her.  If she was unintentionally homeless, they would.  In the first instance the accommodation offered would be shelter-style hostel accommodation.  If no beds are available, some Councils resort to making temporary use of B&B. 

If she is unemployed and has no savings or other assets she will be elible to sign on and also receive housing benefit.  Some Council assist in gaining access to private rented accommodation with landlords & properties that have been vetted by the Council. Once she is in rented accommodation, she can still put her name on waiting lists for Council properties or various housing associations.

Nam
28/10/2008 at 13:19

Read this...

statutory duty is the same across local authority areas...

http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.cfm?Articleid=7971

28/10/2008 at 13:20
How long does Housing Benefit typically take? I'm not sure her landlady would be keen on it as my friend's rent is basically covering part of her mortgage costs. If there was a long delay in it arriving her landlady might not be able to afford to wait for it. Also the rent is quite steep - £900 per month (this is in London BTW) so I'm not sure HB would go this far?
Nam
28/10/2008 at 13:26

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/councilgovernmentanddemocracy/councils/counciltaxandfinance/counciltaxbenefits/

other London Boroughs have comparable info on their websites regarding making HB claims.

in my experience some will be faster than others.  It can take up to 6 weeks... can be very quick... just depends.

If they feel that the accommodation exceeds what is appropriate for a single person (such as single person in 4-bed mansion) then they are unlikely to pay all of it.

Nam
28/10/2008 at 13:30

http://www.kingston.gov.uk/rents_and_housing_benefit.htm

scroll down to the "elibile rent" bits...  I guess the rates will vary in London. (I'm in Wales)

28/10/2008 at 13:36

Cheers, Nam. That's not as bad as I thought and friends and family may be able to help with any shortfall while the money is coming.

Cheers again, everyone

Nam
28/10/2008 at 13:37

she can work out her Local Housing Allowance here...

https://lha-direct.therentservice.gov.uk/Secure/Default.aspx

 good luck, hope she gets back on her feet... hard times...

29/10/2008 at 08:49

Yes I was going to say, all new claims from April 2008 fall under the Local Housing Allowance. 

This is a flat rate Housing Benefit based on the claimant's need for bedrooms - depends on the individual's age and circumstances and the type of accommmodation (whether self-contained or shared).  The amount of LHA varies from LA to LA and depends on when you make the claim as rates change every month. Best check with the LA in question. 

How the LA assess the HB claim depends on the type of income benefit being claimed from the DWP. HB is means tested.

There is ever increasing pressure on LA's from the DWP to process new claims as quickly as possible, so decisions are very quick these days.


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