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Homelessness FAQs

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) became law on the 3 April 2018. It changes how Tower Hamlets  help people who are – or may become – homeless within the next 56 days. We will work with you where possible to prevent you from becoming homeless, and to reduce the need for temporary or emergency housing. 

The type and level of help depends upon your personal situation, but we’ll always provide you with advice and assistance wherever possible. 

Use the Housing Options Finder tool if you are at risk of losing your home and want to find out what help there is available from the Council. It will give you information about the options available to help yourself and you will be able to self-book an appointment at a date and time to suit your needs. 

Am I eligible for help? 

The Council have a legal responsibility to provide advice and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness.  

You don't have to be on the streets to be considered homeless. Here are some examples of the situations we help to resolve: 

•You are at risk of violence 

•You have been locked out or illegally evicted 

•You are at risk of eviction or repossession 

•Your accommodation is in poor condition 

•You can't afford to stay where you are 

•You can't live together as a family 

•Your accommodation is very temporary 

•You have nowhere for your caravan 

•You are "sofa surfing" 

•You are leaving the Armed Forces 

•Your parents have asked you to leave 

•Your relationship has broken down 

We understand how challenging and stressful it can be when you are worried about your housing situation. Your options may be limited but we are here to guide you to a positive outcome. If you are concerned about your housing we have lots of resources to find the housing options relevant to you. 

Use our Housing Options Finder tool to see the options available to you - the sooner you know about your options, the sooner you can take the right action for you.  

We will accept a homeless application up to 56 days before you are likely to lose your home.  

We will assess your needs and work with you to create a Personal Housing Plan with actions for us, you and/or others who we think can help.  

If we cannot prevent you losing your home we will consider whether we can provide temporary accommodation. We have a duty to offer this to specified groups of more vulnerable people but can also offer accommodation to rough sleepers at times of severe weather. Whether we can provide temporary accommodation or not, we will review your needs and continue to work with you on an action plan for up to 56 days. If your local connection is elsewhere you may be referred out of the area.  

If we cannot relieve your homelessness we will need to decide if we have a duty to accommodate you. We will consider whether you are did something or failed to do something resulting in the loss of your home and whether you are particularly vulnerable.  

We will end our duty to help you because you are not entitled to further assistance and we have done all we can to help or by making a final offer of accommodation.I am homeless or worried about becoming homeless 

You can find more details on who is eligible from the housing charity, Shelter. For additional information and advice – go to: 

Will the Council find me somewhere to live? 

We will carry out an assessment to see whether you and your household: 

  • are eligible for help 

  • are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days

  • are homeless or threatened with homelessness through no fault of your own 

  • have a priority need 

  • have a local connection 

If you are eligible, we will assess your current situation, housing needs, requirements and your household’s support needs.  
Using this information we will, with your involvement, develop and agree a personalised housing plan which will help you explore your choices in a clear and realistic way. It will state what actions you should do and what actions we will do to resolve your current housing situation. This may include talking to your landlord, mortgage lender or family to negotiate a positive outcome to resolve your current threat of homelessness. It may also include referring you to other helpful organisations to enable you to sustain your current housing or find alternative accommodation. 

We will work with you for: 

  • up to 8 weeks if you’re threatened with homelessness 

  • a further 8 weeks if you become homeless 

If you are subject to immigration control you will be asked to provide further information. 

What happens if you cannot prevent me from becoming homeless? 

If we are unable to prevent you becoming homeless or find you another home, our next duty is to relieve your homelessness by assisting you in securing alternative accommodation. 

If you have no connection to Tower Hamlets,  the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 (S198(1A) states that under the relief duty, we can refer you to the local authority where you have a connection. If you are homeless and we have a ‘reason to believe’ you are in Priority Need, we may have a duty to provide you with interim (short term) accommodation also known as S.188 accommodation. If you have a local connection to Tower Hamlets and we are unable to prevent your homelessness, we have a duty to complete another assessment and Personalised Housing Plan. 

This housing plan will identify how and what actions we will take to assist you to relieve your homelessness and what actions you are required to do. If we have reason to believe that you have a priority need we will have a duty to provide you with interim accommodation for a further 56 days. 

What happens if you cannot relieve my homelessness? 

If after the 56 days we have not been able to relieve your homelessness, enquiries will be made to determine if a full housing duty is owed. At this point we will be required to determine if you have a Priority Need and if you have taken an action which has caused you to lose your home, which was reasonable for you to continue to occupy. 

Each case is assessed individually by an allocated case officer who will work with you throughout the above process. You can use the above guides to give you an idea of whether you fall into these categories and whether you can expect help from us under the Full Duty. 

If we do have a duty to find you housing, this could be in the private sector, supported housing, council or housing association accommodation. 

What kind of accommodation will I get if I am owed a Full Duty? 

If we are unable to prevent and/or relieve your homelessness once the 56 days of relief duty have finished and we have accepted a full homeless duty to you, we will make accommodation available to you. This accommodation will be called Temporary Accommodation. Where possible, we will take your circumstances into account when offering Temporary Accommodation. However, we can use accommodation in the private sector to end our Full Duty which would not require your consent. 

The Council’s duty to accommodate you will continue until one of the following circumstances occurs: 

  • You refuse suitable temporary accommodation (S193(5)) 

  • You stop being eligible for assistance (S195(6a)); 

  • You become homeless intentionally from the accommodation made available to you (S193(6b)); 

  • You accept an offer of accommodation through the Council’s Housing Register (S193(6c)); 

  • You accept an offer of an Assured Tenancy from a private landlord (S193(6cc)); 

  • You voluntarily vacate the accommodation made available to you (S193(6d)); 

  • You refuse or accept an offer of accommodation through the Council’s Housing Register, having been informed of the consequences (S193(7a)) 

  • You refuse or accept an offer of a suitable Assured Shorthold tenancy from a private landlord (S193(7aa)).