Are you homeless
If you become homeless because you have lost your home or you have been asked to leave accommodation, you should contact us for free advice and assistance as soon as possible.
If you are homeless or are working with a household who may require assistance from the council’s homelessness prevention team, please complete our online referral form.
Please note this is not an application for social housing which should be applied for using our housing register application form.
What happens next?
We may already be working with you which may have meant efforts to prevent your homelessness were unsuccessful.
We will carry out an initial assessment with you to determine, firstly, whether you are eligible under immigration law to receive services and secondly whether you are homeless.
We will assess whether you have a local connection with the council you wish to approach. This is usually met by having lived in the relevant area for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years, although family or employment connections may be relevant. We will make a decision on whether we should apply local connection criteria based on your individual circumstances.
If you don't have a local connection we may refer you to a local authority where you do have a local connection.
If you do have a local connection our assessment will go on further to understand your current housing situation, what support you need to resolve your situation and what reasonable steps both you and the council should carry out to help you secure alternative accommodation.
If we have reason to believe that you are eligible, homeless and have a priority need then we may need to offer you temporary accommodation whilst we carry out further investigations. Before temporary accommodation is offered your homeless situation must be assessed by the Homelessness Prevention and Housing Advice Team.
We will produce a Personalised Housing Plan (commonly known as a PHP) which will confirm how we have understood your situation and the steps we both agree to carry out, plus the dates these steps should be completed by. The plan will remain open and will be updated following any further change in your circumstances and when either of us complete a step or add new steps we agree may help.
This work is known as the 'Duty to Relieve Homelessness'. This duty to assist you will continue up to 56 days, if you have not secured accommodation which has reasonable prospect of lasting 6 months or more.
What happens if I am still homeless?
If you are still homeless at the end of the duty to relieve your homelessness legislation requires us to make a final assessment of your circumstances to assess whether you are:
- still homeless
- still eligible for assistance
- in priority need
- not intentionally homeless
- we may also make final checks on your local connection
These final enquiries will determine what final duty could be owed to you. This could be to provide you only with advice and assistance to help you secure your own accommodation or the council may have a duty to secure suitable accommodation for you.
Homeless and eligible for assistance
We will confirm that you do not have any accommodation anywhere in the world you can access where it is safe and suitable for you to live.
If we agree you are still homeless we will check again that you are still eligible for assistance considering your circumstances against immigration legislation.
If you are homeless and eligible we will assess whether you are in priority need and meet any of the following criteria:
- a pregnant woman
- a household with dependent children
- someone vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or learning disability or physical disability or other special reason
- someone homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster
- aged 16 and 17 years old and not in local authority care
- aged under 21 years old who were in local authority care between the ages of 16 and 18
- aged 21 and over who are vulnerable as a result of leaving local authority care
- vulnerable as a result of leaving the armed forces
- vulnerable as a result of leaving prison
- vulnerable as a result of fleeing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence
If you are in priority need we will consider the reason why you are homeless to assess whether this was through no fault of your own or whether you caused your homelessness, and became what is known as 'intentionally' homeless. This could apply if you were evicted for not paying rent where you had the funds to do so, or where you lost your home due to anti-social behaviour. If we decide you are intentionally homeless we will have limited duties to assist you.
If you are not homeless intentionally we will finally consider if you still have a local connection to the relevant area or another area in the country. This is usually met by having lived in the relevant area for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years, although family or employment connections may be relevant. We will make a decision on whether we should apply local connection criteria based on your individual circumstances.
We will aim to reach a decision on the duty you may be owed within 15 days of the relief duty coming to an end, but complex matters can sometimes prevent a quick decision. The decision could be to provide you with advice and assistance to help you in your efforts to secure accommodation.
Alternatively, we may decide that we owe you a duty to secure you accommodation until such time as we can locate accommodation which allows us to discharge that duty. In this case we will provide you with some form of temporary accommodation following the decision.
Whatever the decision is, we will explain to you fully any duty that you are owed and offer advice and assistance following any decision.
We will notify you of our decision in writing and you will have 21 days in which to request a review if you do not agree with it.
Additional independent advice
Independent housing advice can also be obtained free of charge from Shelter or your local Citizens Advice.
If you are not sure which contact to select please see our map
If you are not sure which area of Dorset you need, you can use our map to find out.