How can you avoid homelessness?
There are sometimes ways to avoid becoming homeless, even when the situation appears hopeless. Some of these you may be able to do yourself. For others, you will probably need specialist help.
Whatever your housing situation, it is a good idea to get advice as soon as possible. The earlier you get advice, the less likely you are to become homeless.
Can you stay in your home?
If you are a home owner or a tenant, you probably don’t have to leave your home unless a court has ordered you to. In most cases, there will be a legal process that lenders and landlords must follow before you can be evicted.
If the correct process is not followed, your landlord or lender may be guilty of carrying out an illegal eviction. If you think you have been evicted illegally or your lender/landlord is threatening to evict you without going through the court, get advice quickly.
The legal process varies according to why you are being asked to leave and what type of owner or tenant you are. Finding out about your housing status can be complicated and you may need to get advice about it. Even if your lender or landlord has started to try to evict you, it can take time to get to court. Once in court, you may be able to delay or stop the eviction. In many cases the court will not automatically make you leave your home.
You may feel you have to leave your home because of threats, abuse or intimidation. In some situations, there may be things you can do to solve the problems yourself. It may be possible to stay in your home if you take action against the person responsible. But you should never put yourself in danger. In an emergency, or if you believe that a criminal offence is about to be committed, you should call the police on 999.
Negotiating with your lender or landlord
If you have been asked to leave but you want to stay, try to negotiate with your lender or landlord. If your lender or landlord wants you to leave because you owe money, you could try to negotiate to pay it back.
If your landlord is unhappy with your behaviour, ask for time to put things right. For example, the landlord may say that you have been playing loud music. If it is the first complaint, s/he may be prepared to give you a second chance.
Negotiating with friends or relatives
If you are staying with friends or relatives, ask if you can stay for a bit longer while you try to find somewhere else to live.
If your relationship has broken down you may have rights to your home that you do not know about. See our pages on relationship breakdown for more details.
Getting help with debt problems
If you have got into financial difficulties and are having problems paying your mortgage, rent or other bills, get advice. You may need advice to check that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. An adviser may be able to see if you can cut down on non-essential spending and/or help you to work out a realistic plan to pay off your debts.
Click here to find details of Shelter Cymru’s free, specialist, independent, confidential debt advice service surgeries across Wales.
If the condition of your home is making it difficult to live there, help may be available to make your home more suitable. Both home owners and tenants may be able to apply to the council for grants to improve their homes. For example, a grant could provide adaptations if you are an elderly or disabled person and you want to stay in your home.
If you are a private or housing association tenant, you can ask the council to take action if your landlord won’t carry out repairs. You can also take action yourself through the courts.
If you are a council tenant and your landlord won’t do repairs, you can use the council’s complaints procedure to try and get the repairs carried out, or if the problems are long-standing and severe, court action might be appropriate.
See our page on Living in unsuitable housing for more advice on what you can do.
If you have exhausted all the possible ways to avoid becoming homeless, you will have to find somewhere else to live. How long you have will depend on whether your lender or landlord is taking action to evict you. If you are a tenant and you have decided to move out, you need to check your tenancy to see what you have to do to end your agreement properly.
An adviser can go through all the options available to you in your area. They will take your personal and financial circumstances into account and advise you on the most suitable option.
Getting help from the council
Local councils have specific legal duties towards homeless people If you contact the council and you are homeless or in danger of losing your home in the next 56 days the council might have to help you. What help you are entitled to depends on your circumstances. In most cases the council will have to provide you with advice at an early stage to try and help prevent your homelessness. They may sit down with you and write a Personal Housing Plan, setting out what steps you and the council can take to try and stop you becoming homeless. If this doesn’t work, or you are already homeless, they may have to help you find a home.
See more on what help the council can provide here.
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 0345 075 5005.