My landlord has started court proceedings to evict me

My landlord has started court proceedings to evict me

What will happen next?

Is your landlord using the accelerated possession procedure?

If court proceedings have started you will have received papers from your local County Court.

Look at the papers to find out if your landlord is using the accelerated possession procedure. It will tell you on the claim form (if it is an accelerated claim you will have received an N5B Wales form).

When did your landlord start the case?

You can find the date that your landlord started the case by checking the papers you have received from the court and looking for the ‘Issue Date’ at the bottom of the N5 Claim Form.

The case was started before 3 August 2020

Your landlord needs to complete and serve a Reactivation Notice before the case can re-start

Your landlord must file and serve a Reactivation Notice setting out what they know about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you and your family.

They must also provide further information if they believe the court should prioritise your case for a review. For example, because of very high rent arrears or significant antisocial behaviour.

If the claim has been brought because of rent arrears your landlord should also give the court an updated rent account for the last 2 years.

The case was started on or after 3 August 2020

Receive court documents

You will get several letters and forms from the court

The paperwork will tell you:

  • the time and date of the possession hearing
  • where it will take place
  • how to contact the court duty scheme

You will also receive a defence form.

In some cases the court may also schedule a Review Date.

Return defence form

Try and do this within 2 weeks. Get advice if you need help.

The documents from the court will include a N11R defence form which you should complete and return to court within 2 weeks.

The defence form lets you tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted. Explain your situation as fully as you can and provide evidence if possible.

Get advice quickly if you want help filling in the defence form.

Review date

Court duty adviser available

Until 1 November 2021 the court had to arrange a Review Date 4 weeks before a possession hearing under coronavirus rules.

This is no longer required but some courts might continue to set a Review Date to allow the judge to review the case and for both parties to try and come to an agreement.

You don’t need to go to court on the Review Date.

You can contact a court duty adviser by phone on the Review Date to get free legal help. The court should send you contact details with the notice.

Did your case resolve on the review date?

Yes

No

Receive notice of a Possession Hearing.

If the case wasn’t resolved on the Review Date, the court will set a date for a Possession Hearing.

This will usually be 4 weeks after the Review Date.

You will have to go to court for the Possession Hearing unless everyone has agreed that it will be dealt with by phone or video.

If you have received notice of a Possession Hearing get advice as soon as you can.

Possession hearing

Court duty adviser available

Both you and your landlord and any representative must go to the Possession Hearing unless everyone has agreed that it will be dealt with by phone or video.

The court hearing will only last about 15 minutes. Your landlord’s representative will speak first. Then you or your adviser can respond.

If you haven’t already got legal advice you can get free legal help from a court duty adviser on the day. Details of how to do this will be in the notice you received from the court.

The court will make a decision

Claim is dismissed

Possession order made

Claim is adjourned

If the judge thinks more information is needed or wants you or your landlord to take some further action, your case will be adjourned. This means that it will be postponed to another date in the future.

The court will write to you with the new date.

Outright posession order

The order will contain a date for possession. This is not the same as an eviction date. But it is the date the court orders you to leave by.

It will usually be 2 or 4 weeks after the order is made. In some cases you can ask the court to delay the date for possession for up to 6 weeks if it would cause you hardship to leave sooner.

Get urgent advice if a possession order is made against you.

Suspended possession order

This means that a possession order has been made against you but you can stay in your home provided you keep to certain conditions.

The judge will tell you what the conditions are. Make sure you ask if you do not understand what you are being expected to do.

Notice of eviction

Receive an eviction date from the court

If:

  • you do not leave your home on the date given in an outright possession order, or
  • you break the conditions of a suspended possession order

your landlord can ask the court to fix a date for a court bailiff to evict you.

If this happens you will receive a Notice of Eviction from the court.

You might be able to stop or postpone the eviction but you will need to make an urgent application to the court. An adviser can help you do this. Get advice straight away.

Eviction

Court bailiffs carry out the eviction

The Notice of Eviction will tell you the date the court bailiffs will come to your home to evict you.

The ban on court bailiffs in Wales carrying out evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic has now ended. If you receive a Notice of Eviction, get advice  urgently. It might not be too late to stop or delay the eviction.

When did your landlord start the case?

You can find out the date that your landlord started the case by checking the court papers and finding the ‘Issue Date’ at the bottom of the N5B Wales claim form.

The case was started before 3 August 2020

If your landlord started the case before 3 August 2020 then they must give you a Reactivation Notice before the case can re-start.

Your landlord must file and serve a Reactivation Notice setting out what they know about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you and your family.

They must also provide further information if they believe the court should prioritise your case for a review. For example, because of very high rent arrears or significant antisocial behaviour.

The case was started on or after 3 August 2020

If your landlord started the case on or after 3 August 2020 then they must give information to the court when they start the case about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you and your family.

Complete defence form

Try and do this within 2 weeks. Get advice if you need help.

The documents from the court will include a N11B Wales defence form which you should complete and return to court within 2 weeks.

The defence form lets you tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted. Explain your situation as fully as you can and provide evidence if possible.

It’s very important to return your defence form with the accelerated procedure so the judge can decide if a hearing is needed.

Get advice quickly if you want help filling in the defence form.

Court looks at the papers

A judge will look at the papers and decide what to do next.

The accelerated possession procedure allows the judge to make a decision without there being a court hearing.

Make a decision on the claim

If the judge is satisfied your landlord has done everything correctly, a decision might be made without any court hearing.

Under the accelerated procedure the judge can decide to make an outright possession order requiring you to leave the property in 14 days.

Set a Review Date

Court duty adviser available by telephone

Until 1 November 2021 the court had to arrange a Review Date 4 weeks before a possession hearing under coronavirus rules.

This is no longer required but some courts might continue to set a Review Date to allow the judge to review the case and for both parties to try and come to an agreement.

You don’t need to go to court on the Review Date.

You can contact a court duty adviser by phone on the Review Date to get free legal help. The court should send you contact details with the notice.

List for a Possession Hearing

Court duty adviser available

The Judge might decide that there needs to be a possession hearing before a decision on your case can be made.

If this happens you will receive a notice from the court.

You should go to any possession hearing. There will be a court duty adviser at court to give you free legal advice and speak to the judge for you. The notice of possession hearing will tell you how to contact them.

If both parties agree, the hearing can take place by telephone or video. Make sure you contact the court if you would prefer this to happen.

At the court hearing the judge may dismiss the case or make a possession order.  Because the case is an accelerated possession claim the judge is unlikely to make any other order.

Make a decision on the claim

Set a Review Date

Court duty adviser available

List for a Possession Hearing

  Court duty adviser available

If the judge is satisfied your landlord has done everything correctly, a decision might be made without any court hearing.

This is most likely to happen where coronavirus has not had any affect on you or your family.

Under the accelerated procedure the judge can decide to make an outright possession order requiring you to leave the property in 14 days.

The judge might decide to set a Review Date. This is a new stage in the eviction process.

You will get a ‘notice of review’. You don’t need to go to court on the Review Date.

You can contact a court duty adviser by phone on the Review Date to get free legal help. The court should send you contact details with the notice.

If there is no agreement reached on the Review Date the judge might decide to list the case for a Possession Hearing, or if satisfied that your landlord has done everything correctly, make an outright possession order.

The Judge might decide that there needs to be a Possession Hearing before a decision on your case can be made.

If this happens you will receive a notice from the court.

You should always go to any court hearing.

There will be a court duty adviser at court to give you free legal advice and speak to the judge for you. The notice of possession hearing will tell you how to contact them.

At the court hearing the judge may dismiss the case or make a possession order.  Because the case is an accelerated possession claim the judge is unlikely to make any other order.

Outright possession order

The order will contain a date for possession. This is not the same as an eviction date. But it is the date the court orders you to leave by.

In accelerated possession claims it will usually be 2 weeks after the order is made. In some cases you can ask the court to delay the date for possession for up to 6 weeks if it would cause you hardship to leave sooner.

Get urgent advice if a possession order is made against you.

Notice of eviction

Receive an eviction date from the court

If you do not leave your home on the date given in the possession order your landlord can ask the court to fix a date for a court bailiff to evict you.

If this happens you will receive a Notice of Eviction from the court.

Get advice immediately.

Eviction

Court bailiffs carry out the eviction

Court bailiffs will come to your home to evict you on the date that is in the Notice of Eviction.

Bailiffs in Wales were banned from carrying out evictions during the pandemic. This ban ends on the 30 June 2021. From that date bailiffs will be able to evict you from your home regardless of the reason for eviction.

If bailiffs do carry out evictions they must follow Welsh Government coronavirus safety guidance.

For more advice about court eviction, click here.

Get advice from Shelter Cymru if court proceedings have started.

An adviser can help speak to your landlord, deal with court papers and speak at any court hearing.

Read our advice pages, ring our helpline or use our webchat.

Homeless Link
Comic Relief

Homelessness Application Guide

Step-by-step guide

To making a homelessness application

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Application

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness in 56 days, you should make an application to your local council. The council should give you free information and advice and if you are eligible for further help, they will do an assessment.

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Assessment

The council will want to work out what you can do together to solve your housing problem. They will ask you lots of questions and should ask you about any housing or support needs you have. They might prepare a personal housing plan for you, which will set out the steps that you must both take while you are working together.

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Prevention

If you are at risk of becoming homeless in the next 56 days, the council should do what they can to prevent you from becoming homeless. They should consider any course of action that might help you – this may include trying to help you keep your current home.

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Emergency Accommodation

If you are already homeless and the council think you may be in priority need, the council have a duty to provide you with emergency accommodation while they decide what other help to give you. This is sometimes a hostel, a refuge, or a B&B.

Priority Need

You will be in priority need if you or one of the people included in your application falls into a certain category. Find out more!

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Help to secure

If the council can’t stop you from becoming homeless, or you are already homeless, they must help you to find a suitable home. This help can only last for 56 days. If the council hasn’t been able to help you find a home during this time, they might not have to help you any further, unless you are in priority need and not intentionally homeless.

Intentionally homeless

The council might decide you are intentionally homeless if it finds that becoming homeless was your own fault. Find out more!

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Final duty to secure

If the council have been unable to help you to find a home in 56 days and you are in priority need and you are not intentionally homeless they must find and offer you a suitable home.

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Right to a Review

If you do not agree with the decisions made by the council at any stage of the process you can ask for a review. You can request a review by phone, in person or in writing but it must be done within 21 days of you receiving their decision. You also have the right to ask for a review hearing where you can explain in person why you think the council’s decision is wrong.

Want to Chat?

Call our expert housing helpline on
08000 495 495 9.30am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.

This service is in great demand so please be patient and if you are unable to get through the first time please try again.

The housing department won’t help me

The housing department won’t help me


If you are homeless and the council has told you that it can’t help, there may be other options open to you. This section explains what you may be able to do in this situation.



Can you challenge the council’s decision?


If you asked your council for help because you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and the council has said it cannot help you, or cannot continue to help you, it is important that you understand why they have made that decision.

There are various reasons why the council may say it can’t help you but, at the very least, the council should offer you help at a very early stage so that, where possible, you can avoid becoming homeless.

If the council have told you that they are not going to help you, or they are going to stop helping you, then get advice immediately to check whether you can challenge the council’s decision.


Help from social services


Certain groups of people may be able to get help from social services. You might be able to get help from social services if you:

  • are aged under 18
  • have left care or about to leave care
  • have a dependent child
  • have a physical or mental illness or disability
  • are an older person.

The help that social services provide may vary greatly from one council to another. The law does not specify exactly what social services have to do as it depends on individual needs. In practice getting help from social services can be difficult. It is a good idea to get advice before going to them.


Short-term options


If it is possible for you to stay with friends or relatives this is probably the best and safest option. It will give you more time to look for longer term accommodation.

Alternatively, an adviser may be able to help you find short term or emergency accommodation yourself in a hostel or bed and breakfast. You will have to pay rent for staying in a hostel or bed and breakfast. If you are on benefits or a low income you may be able to claim housing benefit to help you pay.

Sometimes you need money up front before you can get accommodation. If you have no money you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan from the social fund. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and you will have to pay loans back, usually by paying a fixed amount each week.


Longer term options


There are various longer term housing options. These include:

  • permanent council or housing association tenancies
  • private rented accommodation
  • alternative options (e.g. housing co-ops, supported housing).

Council or housing association tenancies


In most areas, offers of permanent council and housing association tenancies are made through a central waiting list (sometimes known as the housing register). You need to fill in a form to get onto the waiting list, which is available from the council housing department.

Whether you will get a council or housing association property depends on your circumstances and the amount of accommodation that is available. Waiting lists are usually long. In areas with housing shortages you may have little hope of getting a council or housing association tenancy.

If you are told you can’t go on the waiting list or are in doubt about your situation, get advice. An adviser may be able to help you check that your priority on the housing register has been calculated correctly.


Private rented accommodation


Private rented accommodation varies widely. In some areas it is cheap and plentiful but in other areas it can be hard to obtain and expensive.

Rents can be expensive in some areas. If you are on benefits or have a low income you may be able to get housing benefit to help you pay the rent. Landlords often charge more rent than housing benefit will cover, and you will have to make up the difference.

Private rented accommodation is usually advertised in local papers, shop windows or through agencies. It is sometimes possible to find and move into a private rented place quite quickly. However, you often need a deposit and rent in advance. If you find a place through an agency, you may have to pay agency fees as well.

You may be able to apply for a budgeting loan to cover rent in advance. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and you will have to pay the loan back, usually a fixed amount each week.

In some areas there are bond schemes, which help with the deposit.


Other long term options


You may want to consider other accommodation options such as buying accommodation, living in supported housing or living in a housing co-op. Get advice from Shelter Cymru if you are considering any of these options. An adviser can tell you what may be available in your area, how to go about applying for accommodation, and what your legal rights may be.

For help deciding on your options, see our Accommodation Options chart.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Referral to social services

What if I am being referred to social services?


If you are homeless and you apply to the council housing department for help, it may refer you to your local social services department.



When should the council get social services involved?


The council housing department might send you to social services because it has decided it cannot help you, or because it thinks social services can provide more appropriate help (for example, if you have difficulty living independently).

Social services are under a duty to promote the well-being of people who need care and support. This could include people who:

  • are under 18
  • have left care (or are about to do so)
  • are responsible for dependent children
  • are disabled, ill or elderly
  • care for people who are disabled, ill or elderly.

Every council should have set procedures for referring people between housing and social services. This should avoid people being passed between housing and social services without either department taking responsibility. However, it does sometimes happen that people are passed between departments. If this happens to you, get advice.

For more information on the type of help social services can give, click here.


What if social services won’t help either?


If the council has passed you on to social services, but social services cannot help you in the way that you need, get advice. You may be able to challenge social services by making a complaint, or, in extreme cases, taking legal action. The law about the help that social services has to provide can be very complicated, so getting advice is essential if you are in this situation.


Where can I get help?


If you have applied to the council housing department for help and it has told you that it can’t help but social services might help, get advice immediately. An adviser can inform you of your rights to help from social services and what sort of help they might offer. An adviser should also be able to look into the reasons why the council has come to that decision, and may be able to put arguments to the council on your behalf.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Storage for personal belongings

Where can I store my personal belongings?


This section explains the duties that the council has to protect your personal belongings and furniture if you apply to it for help because you are homeless.



Why can’t I take my things with me?


You may not be able to keep your furniture and belongings with you at the accommodation the council provides once you leave your former home. This is because the accommodation might already be furnished or too small to store everything. The council therefore has duties to protect the personal property of homeless applicants in certain circumstances.

If you have any problems in getting the council to protect your property, get advice.


What counts as property?


Property includes personal belongings and furniture. It does not include equipment used for business purposes.


When does property have to be protected?


The council has a duty to protect your property when it is at risk of damage or loss and you are not able to protect or deal with it yourself, for example because you are ill or can’t afford to arrange removals or storage.

This duty applies from the point you make an application as homeless and the council believes you may be eligible for help. It applies to your property and the property of anyone else included in your application.


What does the duty involve?


The council has to do what is reasonable to prevent loss or damage to your property. The council can arrange removals, arrange storage and gain entry to a property to recover your belongings

The council can make charges for the protection of your property, and most councils do this. Charges may be waived by some councils for people on low incomes or benefit. It is likely to be cheaper and more practical for you to arrange removals and storage yourself if you are able to.

If the council loses touch with you, or the duty to protect your property ends, the council may be able to dispose of your property. It has to follow specific procedures in order to do this. If it does not do so you may be able to take court action to get compensation.


When does the duty end?


The council no longer has a responsibility to protect your property when:

  • it considers there is no longer a danger of damage or loss to your property
  • it finds you don’t meet the criteria for help with accommodation
  • it has fulfilled all its responsibilities towards you.

Even if the council has no further obligation to provide accommodation for you, it can choose to continue to protect your property. The council has to inform you in writing if it decides it has no further duty to protect your property.


What about my pets?


If you are homeless and have a pet, the council should consider arranging accommodation for you with your pet, especially if you rely on your pet for companionship.  If this is not possible the council should consider helping you to arrange alternative care for your pets – this could be with friends or family or you could contact an animal charity.

Veterinary charity PDSA has a free national helpline that you can call to find out whether you are eligible for their free services – call 0800 731 2502, or use their website to check your eligibility.

The Dogs Trust Hope Project can provide free vet treatment to dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis. Their website also has a search tool to find hostels that accepts dogs. Many hostels don’t accept pets so it is always best to check before you go there.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Local connection

Local connection


If you apply to a council for help because you are homeless, it may check if you have a local connection to the area.

If you do not have a local connection with the area it can decide to send you to another council where you do have a connection, provided you can reasonably be expected to return to that area.

The council do not always have to consider local connection and they may decide to ignore it in some cases.



Do I have a local connection?


In deciding whether you have a local connection with its area the council will look at whether you (or anyone in your household):

Live in the area
The council will usually consider that you have a local connection if you have lived in the area for a total of 6 months out of the last 12 months, or 3 years out of the last 5 years. There is however no set period and even if you have not lived in the area for those periods, the council may still consider you to have a local connection if you are clearly settled in the area.

You must have lived in the area by choice in order to have a local connection:

  • You may not have a local connection if you have only lived in an area because you have been in prison or detained in a mental health hospital
  • You may have a local connection if:
    • you were posted in armed forces accommodation in the area
    • you are a care leaver and were placed in accommodation in the area. You should also have a local connection with the area that you originally lived in should you want to return there, regardless of how long you have been away
    • You are a former asylum seeker and were placed in accommodation in the area under asylum support provided by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), (not accommodation centres).

Have family connections in the area
Councils will usually consider you to have a local connection with an area if you have close family who have lived in the area for at least five years. Close family includes parents, children, brothers or sisters. It may also include other family members if you have a very close relationship (for example if you were brought up by an aunt, uncle or grandparent).

Work in the area
If you work in the area you should be considered to have a local connection with that area. However, if your employment is of a casual nature, it may not be enough to establish a local connection. Employment doesn’t have to be full time and self-employed people can have a local connection if they mainly work in the council’s area.

Have a connection with the area because of special circumstances
You may be able to show you have a local connection because you have special circumstances. For instance, you may need to live in an area to receive specialist health care, or for religious reasons, or perhaps there are strong reasons why you need to return to an area where you were brought up. If you think this is the case, get advice to see whether you could argue that you have a local connection.

You only need to fit into one category in order to have a local connection.


Can I be sent to another area?


The council may decide to send you to another area if:

  • neither you or a member of your household has a local connection with the council’s area,
  • at least one member of your household has a local connection with another council’s area, and
  • neither you or a member of your household would be at risk of abuse in that area.

The council may only refer you to another council if it is satisfied that you are:

  • homeless
  • eligible
  • in priority need, and
  • not intentionally homeless.

It can only decide to send you to another council whilst it is considering whether it owes you a ‘help to secure’ duty. This means that a council cannot refuse to take an application from you just because it thinks you have a local connection elsewhere. It must take an application from you and carry out an assessment.

It also cannot make a referral to avoid the ‘help to prevent’ or emergency / interim accommodation duties. If these duties apply then the council can’t avoid them by sending you elsewhere.

If the council decides to send you to another area then it must use a formal referral process.


What happens if I don’t have a local connection?


If you don’t have a local connection, the council has to look into whether you have a local connection with another council’s area. If it decides that you do, it can only refer you to the council for that area if your household is not at risk of abuse there.

If the council wants to refer you to another council, it has to inform you in writing. The letter must explain the reasons for the decision. It must also inform you that you have a right to request a review of the decision within 21 days.


How will the other council help me?


The second council will review your case and decide whether it can accept the referral from the first council. If it accepts your case, it must help you in the same way as if you had made your application there.

Whilst the second council is reviewing your case, the first council must continue to provide you with emergency housing.

If the second council accepts the referral it will then be under a duty to help you to secure accommodation and must then find you other suitable emergency accommodation.


What if the other council says it doesn’t have to help me?


In some circumstances, councils may disagree about whether you should be sent from one area to another. If this happens, the council you applied to has to continue to help you until the disagreement is sorted out.


What if there’s a risk of abuse in the other area?


The council is not allowed to refer you to another area if anyone in your household is at risk of abuse in that area. This includes domestic and non-domestic abuse. The term ‘abuse’ can include violence, threatening or intimidating behaviour. If you are in this situation, the council you applied to will have to help you unless you have a local connection with another area where your household is not at risk of abuse.

The council should also not refer you to another area if you only have a local connection with the other area due to family connections and you don’t want to be near your family.


What if I don’t have a local connection anywhere?


If you don’t have a local connection with any area at all, the council you originally applied to must help you.


What if I have a connection with more than one area?


If you have a local connection with more than one area the council should ask you where you’d prefer to go and take your preferences into account when deciding which area to refer you to.


What if I don’t want to go to another area?


If you are referred to another area but you don’t want to go, get advice immediately. Ring our helpline – an adviser can:

  • check whether the council’s decision was legally correct,
  • check whether you have a good case for getting the decision changed,
  • help with the review process,
  • help you to appeal further if your review is unsuccessful,
  • explain your alternative housing options.

.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Intentional homelessness

Intentional homelessness


In some circumstances, when deciding whether it must find you a place to live, the council can consider if you are intentionally homeless.

Some councils may not consider whether you are intentionally homeless if you fall into a particular category and some families and young people can still qualify for help even if they are found intentionally homeless.



What does being ‘intentionally homeless’ mean?


Being ‘intentionally homeless’ means that your homelessness, or threatened homelessness, was caused by something that you deliberately did or failed to do.

When deciding if you are intentionally homeless, the council must consider the reasons you became homeless. It’s up to the council to prove that:

  • you did, or failed to do, something that caused you to lose your home
  • the act, or failure to act, was deliberate or you were aware of what was going on
  • the home was available and reasonable for you to continue live in.

You have the right to explain your actions to the council in relation to your housing situation.


When can the council decide that I am ‘intentionally homeless’?


The council can only consider if you are intentionally homeless when deciding if:

Before making a decision that you are intentionally homeless, the council must, in eligible cases, be satisfied that it has taken all reasonable steps to either help prevent your homelessness or help you to find a home (under ‘the duty to help to prevent homelessness’ and ‘the duty to help to secure’). The council cannot refuse to take these reasonable steps to help you just because they think you may be intentionally homeless.

If the council suspect you may be intentionally homeless before they have taken all reasonable steps to help you, then it should write to you to warn you that this is what they are thinking. If you get a letter telling you that a decision of intentionality is likely then get advice immediately. An adviser can help you reply to the council and also look at your options if you are later found intentionally homeless.


Families and young people


From 2 December 2019, if after giving you help and advice, the council decides that you are priority need but intentionally homeless, and you, or someone living with you (or reasonably expected to live with you):-

  • have a dependent child
  • are pregnant
  • were under 21 when you made your homelessness application, or
  • were over 21 and under 25 when you made your homeless application and had been in care when you were under 18 (being in care includes if you were looked after, accommodated or in foster care),

then the council will still be under a final duty to secure accommodation for you. It does not matter if they have decided that you were intentionally homeless.

You will not be owed a final duty if, since the 2nd December 2019, you have been found intentionally homeless and offered accommodation by the council more than once in the last 5 years, as the result of a previous homeless application.


Does every council have to consider whether I am ‘intentionally homeless’?


No. Each council is allowed to decide which category of person they will apply the test of intentionally homeless to. They may decide not to apply the test to anyone, or they may decide that they will apply it to one category of person (for example, people with children) but not to another category (for example, care leavers).

The council must say on their website whether they will apply the test of intentionally homeless and for which category of person. Look on GOV.UK to search for the website of your local council.


Reasons you could be found to be intentionally homeless:


You didn’t pay the rent or mortgage when you could have
Losing your home is likely to be considered a deliberate act if you:

  • knowingly and continually failed to pay your rent or mortgage, even though you could afford to, or,
  • knew you couldn’t afford the rent or mortgage payments when you moved into your home.

However, losing your home because of mortgage or rent arrears may not be considered intentional if:

  • you got into arrears because of significant financial difficulties that were out of your control, for example illness, redundancy or a reduction to your benefits. This is especially true if you can show you did everything possible to try to save your home.
  • you got into rent arrears because of delays in your housing benefit or universal credit payments
  • you couldn’t manage your money because of a physical or mental illness or disability
  • you thought your partner was paying the rent but they weren’t.

If your partner did something that caused you to be evicted, they may be intentionally homeless. You could be found to be intentionally homeless too if you knew what your partner was doing or joined in or if you failed to take action that could easily have solved the problem.

You can make a homelessness application in your name even if the council decides your partner is intentionally homeless. Your partner can be included in the application.

You neglected your personal finances or ignored professional advice
You could be considered to be intentionally homeless if you were given advice, for example by a housing options officer, and you ignored this advice.

You or your family were evicted for antisocial behaviour
You may be found to be intentionally homeless if you’ve been evicted because you or your child were involved in antisocial behaviour. Parents are usually held responsible for their children’s actions, especially young children.

What you did to try to stop the antisocial behaviour could affect the council’s decision.

You left accommodation which was available and reasonable for you to live in
You are likely to be intentionally homeless if the accommodation you left was available and reasonable for you to live in. This applies to accommodation in the UK and abroad. The accommodation you left must have been available for you as well as:

  • anyone who normally lives with you as a member of your family and
  • any other person who would normally live with you as a member of your family but can’t at present because of your housing situation

However, you may not be considered to be intentionally homeless if the accommodation was not reasonable for you to stay in because:

  • you or someone you live with was experiencing abuse or threats of abuse
    the accommodation was in a very poor condition compared with other local housing
  • you couldn’t afford the rent or mortgage payments unless you went without essentials such as food and heating
    the accommodation was causing damage to your health.

You might think it’s unreasonable for you to stay in your accommodation for other reasons, such as overcrowding. Get advice if you think you have strong, valid reasons for leaving but the council doesn’t agree.

You left a job that provided you with accommodation
Housing that comes with a job is known as tied accommodation. This type of accommodation is particularly common in farming. If you leave a job that came with housing and, as a result, end up with nowhere to live, you may be considered to be intentionally homeless.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

What is the legal definition of homelessness?

What is the legal definition of homelessness?


You can ask the council for help if you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

You don’t always have to be sleeping on the streets or not have a roof over your head to be considered legally homeless.


Overview


In deciding whether you are legally homeless, the council has to look at any accommodation you have access to. You should be considered homeless if;

  • you have no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world
  • you have no home available where you can live together with your immediate family, or with any person who might reasonably be expected to live with you (for example, a full time carer)
  • you can only stay where you are on a very temporary basis
  • you don’t have permission to live where you are
  • you have been locked out of home and you aren’t allowed back
  • you can’t live at home because of violence or abuse or threats of violence or abuse which are likely to be carried out against you or someone else in your household
  • it isn’t reasonable for you to stay in your home for any reason (for example, if your home is in very poor condition)
  • you can’t afford to stay where you are, or
  • you live in a mobile home, caravan or houseboat and you have nowhere to put it.

So, even if you have somewhere to stay the council may still consider you to be homeless. Examples of situations where the council should consider you to be homeless are given below, but there may be other reasons.


I have no home where my immediate family can live together


The council should consider you to be homeless if you can’t live in your accommodation with everyone who normally lives with you. The council should also consider you to be homeless if there is someone who could be expected to live with you but who is not able to at present. This might be because, for example, the accommodation is too small or because your landlord doesn’t allow children.


I am sofa surfing or my accommodation is very temporary


The council should accept you’re legally homeless if you are sofa surfing or staying somewhere very temporary such as a:


I haven’t got a legal right to live in my accommodation


If you don’t have permission to live in the accommodation you are living in (for example because you are squatting or have been asked to leave hospital) the council should consider you to be homeless.


I can’t get into my accommodation


The council should consider you to be homeless if you have been illegally evicted and you are unable to get into your accommodation. For example, your landlord or someone you live with has changed the locks.


There is a risk of abuse in my home


It is not reasonable to be expected to stay somewhere if it is likely that you or someone else in your household is at risk of abuse. This includes:

  • physical violence
  • emotional or financial abuse
  • racial abuse
  • intimidating behaviour
  • abuse from outside the home.

If you are in this situation, the council should consider you to be homeless. You should not be forced to provide evidence of any previous incident(s) although you should give as much information as possible about your situation so the council can carry out a full assessment. If the council tell you that you must get an injunction against the abuser or press charges before they will help, then get advice.

For more information on applying to the council as homeless when you are at risk of abuse, click here.


My accommodation is overcrowded or in very poor condition


The council might accept you’re legally homeless if it is legally overcrowded or there’s a significant risk to the health of you or your family because the accommodation is in such a bad condition.

Useful evidence could include:

  • an environmental health report following a health and safety assessment of your home
  • a letter from your GP or other health professional confirming how conditions in your home affect your health.

When looking at the condition of your accommodation, the council should take into account your needs, for example if you have children or if you or a member of your family is disabled.

The council is less likely to decide you’re legally homeless if your area has a lot of housing in poor conditions. The council compares your housing conditions to general housing conditions in the area.


I can’t afford to stay where I am


The council should consider you to be homeless if you can’t afford to pay all of your housing costs without depriving yourself of basic essentials such as food, clothing or heating.

This also applies if you haven’t got enough money to be able to return to accommodation that is still available for you. However, in this situation the council may offer to pay for you to return rather than provide you with accommodation itself.


There’s nowhere to put my houseboat or caravan


The council should consider you to be homeless if you live in a movable structure such as a houseboat or caravan, and there is no place where you are allowed to keep it or live in it.


Am I threatened with homelessness?


The council should consider you to be legally threatened with homelessness if you are likely to become homeless within 56 days. This may apply if:

  • you are a tenant and you have received a valid notice of eviction from your landlord
  • you are a homeowner and your lender has written to tell you that they are taking court action to repossess your home.

In situations like this, the council should carry out an assessment of your housing needs straight away and, if you meet certain criteria, offer you some help to try and stop you from becoming homeless (under the ‘prevention duty‘). This may include offering to speak with your landlord or lender to see if you can stay in your home or, perhaps, trying to agree some more time with your landlord or lender so that the council can help you find other accommodation.


What if the council says I am not legally homeless?


If the council decides that you’re not homeless or threatened with homelessness, it has to tell you in writing. The letter must explain the reasons why the council has come to that decision. It must also inform you that you have a right to request a review of the decision within 21 days.

If you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness and you are already in emergency accommodation provided by the council, you will probably be asked to leave. The council should inform you in writing that you have to leave.


Can I get the council to change its decision?


If you think the council’s decision is wrong, get urgent advice. If you want the council to review its decision, you have to ask it to do so within 21 days of receiving the decision letter. An adviser may be able to:

  • look into the reasons for the decision and help you work out whether you have a good chance of getting the council to change its decision
  • help you put together the information you will need to provide for the review
  • convince the council to provide accommodation until the review is completed
  • help you to appeal further if the council still refuses to help you
  • help you find somewhere else to live if the council will not accept that you are homeless.


Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

What will the council check?

What will the council check?


When you make a homelessness application, the council will want to check certain information so that they can make decisions about what help to give you.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

If you are sleeping rough, or at risk of finding yourself on the street during the pandemic, the council should give you emergency accommodation. This is because coronavirus can spread very easily and if you are sleeping on the streets it is very difficult for you to keep to the government health advice for hygiene, self-isolation and social distancing.

If you are in this situation and the council says it cannot help you, get advice from Shelter Cymru straight away.

For more information about what the council can do to help you during the pandemic, click here.

BREXIT UPDATE

From 1 January 2021 important new rules affect European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens applying for homelessness help from the council.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen living in the UK on 31st December 2020 you must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to continue to be entitled to apply to the council for social housing and homelessness help. The deadline to apply is the 30th June 2021.

For more details about these new rules and how to apply to the EUSS, click here.


What information will the council check?


The council will want to know:

  • the circumstances that have caused you to become homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • your housing needs, and those of any person living with you
  • whether you, or any person living with you, needs support
  • what you want to achieve from making the application.

The officer should allow you to explain your situation and allow you to feel able to discuss all of your options and concerns.

The council will look at the information you provide and any documents you take with you. Have a look at our Items to support a homeless application checklist which sets out the type of information that you should take with you.

The council may also contact people and organisations that know about your housing situation to find out more about your circumstances. This might include your previous landlord or mortgage lender and/or any agencies that have provided support for you in the past.

If there are people you do not want the council to contact because, for example, you have been experiencing violence or threats, you should say so.


What decisions will the council make?


At different stages in your application, the council might need to decide:

  • whether you are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • whether you are eligible for assistance
  • whether you are in priority need
  • whether you have a local connection with the area.

The council may also decide to check whether you are intentionally homeless, although not all councils will do this.

Each of these criteria have special legal meanings. For more information on each criteria and when they are considered click on the links below:

Legal definition of homelessness

The council will have to decide if you meet the legal definition of being homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Eligibility for assistance

The council will want to decide if you are legally eligible to receive homelessness assistance.

Priority need

When deciding whether you are entitled to emergency housing or a duty to secure final accommodation, the council will want to consider whether you are in ‘priority need’.

Intentional homelessness

In some circumstances, when deciding whether it must find you a place to live, the council can decide to look at the law to see if you are intentionally homeless.

Local connection

The council may check if you have a local connection to the area. If you do not have a local connection it can decide to send you to another area, provided you have a connection with that other area and you are not at risk of abuse there.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Who can apply as homeless?

Applying to the council as homeless


If you over 16 and are homeless or threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days, then you are entitled to apply to the council for help in finding or keeping your accommodation. This is called making an homelessness application.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Many local councils in Wales are working to provide accommodation and support during the coronavirus pandemic to people who are sleeping rough.

If you do not have any where to live you should contact your local council or your support worker as soon as you can. Find contact details for your local council here.

The council should help you make a homelessness application and, if you are sleeping rough, or at risk of finding yourself on the street, the council should give you emergency accommodation. This is because coronavirus can spread very easily and if you are sleeping on the streets it is very difficult for you to keep to the government health advice for hygiene, self-isolation and social distancing.

If you are in this situation and the council decides it cannot help you, get advice from Shelter Cymru straight away.


Who can apply?


Anyone who is homeless or threatened with homelessness in the next 56 days can apply.

You only need to make one homelessness application for the whole of your household. This includes anyone who currently lives with you and anyone who could be expected to live with you if you had accommodation where you could all live together. The council should look at the circumstances of everyone in your household when it makes its decision.

The council cannot accept homelessness applications from people whose mental capacity is too limited to be able to decide whether to accept an offer of accommodation or not.

If the council won’t let you make an application you should ask for written reasons why and get advice.


Do I have to apply in person?


Councils have to accept homelessness applications in any form. This means that you should be able to apply:

  • in person,
  • by telephone,
  • in writing (you can download and adapt our sample letter).

Ideally you should make the application yourself but, where this is not possible (for example, you are ill, in hospital or in prison) then the council should accept an application made by someone on your behalf, such as a social worker or a relative.

You should be able to apply to any department of the council but, to save delay, it would be best to try and make your application directly to the homelessness department. The main council switchboard will be able to give details of who best to contact or you could search online.


What if I become homeless outside office hours?


If you are homeless outside office hours, the council should operate an out of hours service that you can contact. You can get details of these services in your area from Shelter’s free national helpline 0808 800 4444, (open from 8am-8pm Mon-Fri; 8am-5pm Sat-Sun), online, or from your local phone directory. The type of emergency service provided varies between different councils.


Am I applying to the right council?


If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you can apply to any council for assistance. However, you should bear in mind that if you do not have a local connection with the council area where you make your application, it may be possible for the council to send you to a different council area later on. The council must however accept an application and carry out an assessment before deciding to refer you somewhere else. The council can’t send you back to an area where you (or a member of your household) have experienced abuse and is at risk of further abuse.

If the council is refusing to accept your application because it says that you should apply to a different council, get advice.


When should I apply?


Councils only have to accept applications from people who are actually homeless, or who are threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

The council should accept you as under the threat of homelessness if it is likely that you could lose your home within the next 56 days. This may, for example, apply if:

  • You are a tenant being evicted from rented accommodation and you have received a valid notice to leave;
  • You are a homeowner threatened with repossession by your mortgage lender;
  • Your landlord has not paid the mortgage on the property you live in and you are now being evicted;
  • You are being discharged from hospital or another institution;
  • You live with a resident landlord and you have been asked to leave within the next 56 days;
  • A family member has told you to leave within 56 days.

Most tenants are entitled to wait until their landlord obtains a court order against them before they have to leave. However, councils should not insist that tenants always wait until a court order expires before considering them to be threatened with homelessness.


What will the council want to know when I make a homelessness application?


Once the council accepts your application, it must carry out a full assessment of your case so that it can decide what help to give you. During the assessment a council officer will wish to interview you. You may be offered an interview straight away or the council may make an appointment for you to come back. If you are homeless immediately, the council should deal with you on the same day. Interviews are usually at the council offices. If you are not yet actually homeless, the council may visit you at home if you have mobility problems or practical difficulties in getting to the council offices.

During the interview the council will want to know :

  • The circumstances that have caused you to become homeless or threatened with homelessness;
  • Your housing needs, and those of any person living with you;
  • Whether you, or any person living with you, needs support;
  • What you want to achieve from making the application.

The officer should allow you to explain your situation and allow you to feel able to discuss all of your options and concerns.


What should I take to the interview?


The council will need to check out the details of how you have become homeless and your personal circumstances. It helps if you take all relevant documents with you to the interview. This might include:

  • Identification such as birth certificate(s) or passport(s) for everyone in your household
  • Proof of income (e.g. letter from the Department for Work & Pensions or wage slips)
  • Proof of pregnancy
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Eviction notice served by landlord
  • Court possession papers
  • A letter from the person who has asked you to leave
  • Any medical information

Download our checklist of items to support your homelessness application.


What if I’ve applied before?


If you have already applied as homeless and the council has reached a decision on your application, the council may not accept another application.

However, if there has been any change to your situation since the original decision, or, if your application is now based on new facts, the council should accept a new homelessness application and start its assessment again.

If the council refuses to carry out a further assessment then seek advice. You might be able to ask for a review of that refusal, or, if it was less than 21 days ago, a review of the original decision.


How long before I know what help the council will give me?


There is no time limit for how long it may take the council to carry out the assessment. However, except for very complicated cases, the assessment should not take longer than 10 working days.

If you meet certain criteria, the council may have to provide somewhere for you to stay from the date you make your application until it has finished checking out your situation.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.