All Local Authorities have a legal responsibility to help homeless people and their families, and to ensure their rights are upheld. This duty arises under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002. The law sets out clear guidelines on who is homeless and in priority need.
The Housing Needs Section try to prevent homelessness where possible. If it is not possible to prevent your homelessness, you may wish to apply as homeless by undergoing a Homeless assessment.
The Homeless Assessment consists of investigating the following criteria:-
1. Are you eligible?
During a homeless assessment Housing Needs will consider whether you are eligible for assistance.
You are not eligible if the following apply to your individual circumstances:-
- You are from abroad and subject to immigration control
- You are from abroad and you are not habitually resident in the UK
- You are a British citizen and you have not been habitually resident in the UK for a number of years
There are exceptions to this and they will be discussed with you during your interview.
2. Are you homeless or threatened with homelessness?
Definition of homelessness is "no accommodation in England, Wales and Scotland or elsewhere in the world that they can reasonably occupy together with anyone else who lives with them or is reasonably expected to reside with them."
You are homeless if:-
- You have no accommodation anywhere that you can legally occupy
- It is likely that you will lose your accommodation within 28 days
- You have somewhere to live but are unable to get into the property or it is unreasonable for you to continue to live in your home
3. Are you in priority need?
During a homeless assessment we will consider whether you have a priority need for accommodation. You are considered to have a priority need if the following apply to you or a member of your family:-
- Are pregnant and / or have dependent children living with the household
- Are vulnerable as a result of age, mental illness, handicap or physical disability or other special reason
- Are homeless due to an emergency such as fire or flood
4. Are you intentionally homeless?
During a homeless assessment we will consider whether you are intentionally homeless. Housing Needs will not have a duty to provide permanent housing if you cease to occupy or are forced to leave accommodation as a consequence of a deliberate act or omission by yourself where this accommodation would otherwise have been available for you.
5. Do you have a local connection?
During the homeless assessment we will consider whether you have a local connection to Burnley. You have a local connection if :-
- you have lived in Burnley for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years
- you have close relatives such as mother, father, brother or sister who have lived in Burnley for the past five years
- you have permanent employment in the Burnley area
- you have no local connection anywhere
If you do not have a local connection to the Burnley area you may be referred to an area where you do have a connection, unless you will be at risk of violence in that area.
* As the rules on the homeless assessment can be complicated, this should be regarded as only being general advice and detailed guidance will be given regarding individual applications.
In order for the Housing Needs Officer to reach a decision regarding your homeless application, the Officer will seek 'proof' of your circumstances. This could include proof that you are eligible, i.e. proof of a National Insurance Number, proof of having dependent children, i.e. confirmation that you receive Child Benefit and proof that you may become homeless i.e. confirmation of a valid notice to quit etc.
In order to speed up this process, you may be asked to provide such 'proofs' as you will often have easier access to such information than the Housing Needs Officer. During the homeless assessment you will continue to be offered housing advice and options which help resolve your housing difficulties or help you locate alternative accommodation.
After the assessment
When we have completed the assessment of your case we will write to you to tell you whether or not we accept you as statutorily homeless or not. If not, we will explain why and offer you the right to a review of our decision if you think it is wrong. Even if we do not accept you as statutorily homeless we will continue to offer support to help you with alternative housing options. Detailed below are the decisions that we may reach and what duties the Council must perform as a result:-
Duties to Homeless applicants
If Housing Needs decide you are:-
Ineligible for assistance
Housing Needs have no duty towards you.
Eligible but not Homeless
Housing Needs will provide you with advice and assistance.
Eligible, Homeless but not in Priority Need
Housing Needs will provide advice and assistance to enable you to secure accommodation.
Eligible, Homeless, In Priority Need but Intentionally Homeless
Housing Needs will provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period if needed, and advice and assistance will be given to you to enable you to secure accommodation.
Eligible, Homeless, In Priority Need, Not Intentionally Homeless but no local connection
Housing Needs will refer your application to a local authority where you do have a connection.
Eligible, Homeless, In Priority Need, not Intentionally Homeless and having a Local Connection to Burnley
Housing Needs will make a suitable offer of accommodation to you, however offers are dependent on properties becoming available so there may be some time before an offer is made. As the Council no longer hold housing stock, such offers are likely to be made via a housing association or within the private rented sector.
If you have no accommodation and you appear to be in priority need, Housing Needs has a duty to provide temporary accommodation whilst your claim is being investigated. Temporary accommodation could include bed & breakfast, a hostel placement or if you have suffered domestic abuse, a womens refuge.
Need help with English?
If you need help with English, try to bring a friend, support worker or relative you trust to help you and is able to translate what's being said. But if you need an interpreter we will arrange for one to help with your interview. If your case is urgent we may be able to arrange a telephone interview on the same day.