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Homelessness


In this section you will find out what to do if you are homeless, help to prevent homelessness, what to do if you are sleeping rough and how to report homelessness.

What to do if you are homeless

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, then our help with homelessness online assessment tool can provide you with guidance about your next steps.

It is important that you seek advice from us as soon as possible, so that we can work with you to prevent you from losing your home.

If you are homeless and have nowhere to stay tonight, you need to contact the council as soon as you can.

An initial enquiry will be taken over the phone and a housing options adviser will contact you within five working days of your initial enquiry to make an appointment.

What to bring with you

Please bring the following documents with you:

  • ID card or passport for every family member
  • eviction letter
  • tenancy agreement
  • letters from a doctor about your health
  • proof of pregnancy
  • proof of income for example bank statements, wage slips or proof of benefits.

Homeless assessment

We will look at why you are homeless or facing homelessness and at your housing and support needs.

We will ask you to tell us about:

  • details of where you have lived before
  • size and location of housing
  • what you can afford
  • any special needs relating to disability or ill health

We might decide that you don’t qualify for an assessment because we think you’re not facing homelessness, or that immigration restrictions mean we can’t help. If this is the case, you will be given a letter to explain the reasons for the decision.

We do not have to offer emergency accommodation to everyone who is homeless, and we will look at the following five conditions to decide whether you qualify for emergency accommodation.

  1. You are legally homeless, for example:
    • you have been evicted from your home
    • you are asked to leave by friends or family
    • you must leave due to violence
    • you can’t stay due to fire or flood
    • you are sleeping on the streets
  2. You meet immigration conditions, you will usually qualify if you are:
    • a British or Irish citizen living in the UK
    • an EU citizen working in the UK
    • an EU citizen with settled status or permanent residence
    • from outside the EU but allowed to claim benefits

    If you’ve recently lived abroad, you may need to show you’re now settled in the UK, even if you’re British.

  3. You are in priority need, if you are:
    • a family with children under 16 years (or under 19 years if still dependent on you)
    • pregnant
    • a care leaver aged 18-20 years
    • homeless due to a fire, flood or other disaster
    • classed as vulnerable (if, for example, you’re disabled or have a serious health condition or you’re at risk of domestic abuse)

    You could be in priority need if you’re aged 16-17 years. In these circumstances, Kent Social Services will have the main duty to accommodate and support you.

    If we think you might meet the first 3 conditions you qualify for emergency accommodation when homeless.

  4. You’re homeless through no fault of your own

    We may have to provide you with emergency accommodation if you are homeless through no fault of your own. If it is your fault that you’re homeless (which is called being ‘intentionally homeless’) this would not necessarily be the case. This would include if you:

    • were evicted for antisocial or criminal behaviour
    • didn’t pay the rent or mortgage when it was affordable
    • left or gave up your home when you could have stayed
  5. You usually need a connection to the area
  6. This is called a ‘local connection’ and includes if you:

  • live (or lived) in the area - for six out of the last 12 months, or three out of the last five years.
  • have family in the area - your close family must have lived in the area for at least five years. Close family is normally limited to parents, children, brothers or sisters
  • work in the area - full or part time work (paid or unpaid) count, but casual work doesn’t
  • were in care in the area (homeless applications made after 3 April 2018 only) - you have a local connection with a council:
    • that owes you leaving care duties
    • where you were in care for two continuous years before your 18th birthday, some of which was before you turned 16 years old

If you don’t have a local connection where you’ve asked for help, we can refer you to a different council where you do.

You qualify for longer term housing if the council decide you meet all five conditions.

If you have been given a notice to leave your accommodation, known as a section 21 notice, please contact us to seek housing advice as soon as possible. We will work with you to ensure your notice is valid, and where possible negotiate with your landlord to prevent you from becoming homeless.

In the meantime, read the following information to understand the process and what you need to do.

Process

Your landlord does not need a reason to end your assured shorthold tenancy (AST) but the section 21 notice must:

  • be on a Form 6A
  • follow certain rules to be valid

How much notice must you be given?

A section 21 notice must give you at least two months notice. If your rent is due quarterly or every six months, you’re entitled to three or six months notice.

What does the notice look like?

The notice must be on a form 6A if your tenancy started or was renewed on or after 1st October 2015. If your tenancy began before this date, some of the rules in this section may not apply.

How to check a section 21 is valid

  1. Check the form and the dates:
    • your landlord can’t give you a valid section 21 notice during the first four months of your original contract
    • the notice must be on a Form 6A if your tenancy started or was renewed on or after 1st October 2015
  2. Find out if your deposit is protected because a section 21 notice is invalid if either:
    • your deposit is not protected in a scheme
    • it was protected more than 30 days after your most recent contract started

    If your landlord breaks these rules, they can only serve a valid section 21 notice if they return your deposit first.

  3. Check your tenancy related documents*

Your section 21 notice may be invalid if you receive these documents after being issued with a notice.

What happens after the notice expires?

Your landlord can apply to a court for a possession order if you stay past the date given on your notice. Your landlord must do this within six months of giving you the section 21 notice. Do contact us to seek housing advice if you haven’t already done so.

What happens if I am taken to court?

After your landlord applies to the court, they will send you papers and a defence form. The papers will inform you which type of possession proceedings your landlord is using.

You should complete and return the defence form to the court if you want to challenge the eviction or ask for more time to stay.

The court can decide to:

  • dismiss the case if the section 21 notice is not valid
  • order you to leave if the notice is valid

If the court orders you to leave, it usually gives you two weeks to leave the property. You will probably also have to pay your landlord’s court costs.

Bailiffs

If you don’t leave by the date set out in the possession order made by the court, your landlord can apply to the court bailiffs to evict you. The bailiffs will hand deliver a court document called a Form N54 which will notify you of the time and date of the eviction.

Helping to prevent homelessness

If you think you may become homeless and are currently living at home with parents or carers, remaining in the family home while you plan a move is usually the best solution, providing it is safe for you to do so.

We will speak to your family and friends to explain that whilst we can provide help to assist you in finding somewhere else to live, it is likely to take quite some time to do so, so the longer you can stay at home, the better.

We will contact landlords on your behalf to discuss tenancy issues, so that we can help you to avoid eviction.

We will discuss with you the reasons why you’re facing homelessness, assess your housing needs, organise a personal housing plan which sets out steps for you and for us to take to:

  • prevent you from becoming homelessness, or
  • try to find you housing if you have already lost your home.

To refer yourself or someone else for housing advice please use our online form You will need an email address, but if you don’t have one, contact us by telephone on 01892 526121.

You can amend your personal housing plan online.

What to do if you are sleeping rough

If you are from our borough and are sleeping rough, or at risk of having to do so, please contact us for advice as soon as possible, on 01892 526121 or via housingadvice@tunbridgewells.gov.uk

We will be able to give you advice on your situation and put together a personal housing plan with actions for you and for us, to help you find somewhere to live.

We may talk to you about a referral to supported housing through Kent Homeless Connect or to one of our rough sleeper initiative supported housing spaces.

We will also discuss renting privately with you. If you are eligible, we may be able to assist you to secure a private rental through our rent deposit scheme.

If you come from another area, you can contact us for advice, although you may wish to contact your local council in the first instance.

Porchlight

Porchlight’s Kent outreach service works directly with people sleeping rough or who are without accommodation. They operate a 24-hour on call service through their outreach team. You can refer yourself or someone you are aware of that is sleeping rough

Website: Porchlight
Helpline: 08000 567 7699

Tunbridge Wells churches street teams

The street teams give out food on the ground floor level of the multi-storey car park at Crescent Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, and their volunteers covering seven nights every week. The majority of the food and beverages provided to each night are supplied as donations.

The Crisis Recovery day centre

This day centre offers support to people with alcohol and drug addictions, people who are homeless and those who are otherwise disadvantaged. The day centre is open on Mondays between 11.30am and 1.30pm. They provide meals, clothes, shower and toilet facilities.

United Emmanuel
Crisis Recovery Day Centre
1 Mount Ephraim
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Kent
TN4 8AE

Telephone: 01892 510520

St Augustine’s church

The church is on Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2LY opposite the entrance to the car park. A bag of food can be provided weekly on Fridays at 3pm.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, Tunbridge Wells Corps, is based on Bayhall Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4UT (near the Royal Oak Pub). On Wednesdays and Thursdays before midday they offer hot meals, clothing and toiletries and they also have a shower that can be used.

Shelter

Shelter is a national charity that campaigns for homeless people’s rights. They have a free phone advice line and can advise people on issues regarding housing.

Website: Shelter
Helpline: 0808 800 4444

Soup bowls

Packed lunches are given out between 12.30 and 12.45pm as follows:

Mondays and Fridays at United Emmanuel Church, Mount Ephraim Rd, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8AE.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at the Church of Christ, Commercial Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2RR

Soup bowls may resume once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The Citizens Advice Bureau

The Citizens Advice Bureau is a national organisation that gives independent advice on a wide range of issues such as welfare benefits and housing. If you disagree with a decision that the council has made regarding your homeless application they may be able to help you to request a review of the decision and give you legal advice. They can also offer advice over the telephone and have advisors at the Tunbridge Wells Gateway.

Website: Citizens Advice
Telephone: 01892 600161

Reporting homelessness

Porchlight's Kent outreach service work directly with people sleeping rough or who are without accommodation.

They operate a 24-hour on call service, and their helpline can be contacted on 0800 567 7699. This call is free from landlines and while calls from mobiles will be charged, Porchlight will call mobile users back.

Alternatively you can report someone who is sleeping on the streets by using Porchlight's online form, please give as much information as possible to help the team make contact with the homeless person.