Homelessness: Advice and support
About the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came in to force on 3rd April 2018 and places a legal duty on Tower Hamlets to offer more support to a wider range of people who are homeless or at the risk of losing their home. This means that we are required to intervene from an early stage of your housing issue with the aim of preventing you from losing your current home, or to take steps to help you to secure accommodation.
The Act has changed the way that we tackle homelessness at Tower Hamlets through the introduction of two new duties in addition to the main housing duty.
Duty to prevent homelessness
Tower Hamlets has a duty to help you if you are ‘eligible’, and at the risk of losing your home within the next 56 days. We may also have a duty to help you if your landlord has issued you with a Section 21 notice will expire within the next 56 days. We advise you to make contact with us as soon as you are aware that you may be at risk of losing your home. The earlier we are aware of your situation, the more chances we have of identifying ways of keeping you in your current accommodation and preventing you from losing your home if possible. If despite our assistance, you still become homeless, do not worry. We have a duty to take steps to help relieve your homelessness.
Duty to take steps to relieve homelessness
Tower Hamlets will owe you this duty if you are already homeless when you approach us for assistance. We will provide you with advice and assistance to help you find suitable accommodation for you and your family. The council will only provide you with emergency accommodation under this duty if you are considered to be in ‘priority need’ for example, you have children under the age of 18 that you are responsible for. We advise you to contact us immediately when you become homeless so that we can act quickly and help you.
The Main Housing Duty
Once the relief duty comes to an end, if you have not been able to secure accommodation, we will assess whether you are owed the main housing duty. You are owed the main housing duty if you remain homeless after the relief duty comes to an end, are in priority need, and have not made yourself intentionally homeless. If you are owed the main housing duty, we will have a duty to source suitable alternative accommodation for you.
Please remember that we are responding to a crisis situation. This usually means that you may be spending many years in temporary accommodation while bidding for a permanent home. Any offer made under the main housing duty is likely to be in the private rented sector, outside of Tower Hamlets, and possibly be outside of London. The wait for a two-bedroom property is around three years and a three-bedroom property means waiting for around five years. See the homeseekers housing demand information web page for more information.
Remember that homelessness is not a fast track to a council tenancy. Any time previously spent on the waiting list will be ignored and you will be given a new registration date. In addition to this, you will be limited to one offer of permanent accommodation.
Find all Housing Options self service advice here
If you are homeless tonight
Find out how to help someone sleeping on the streets.
To find out how to contact us or to make an application please visit the 'Get in touch' page.
The Homelessness Reduction Act provides an opportunity to work more closely with partners in notifying us of people who are at homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Duty to refer came in to force on 1st October 2018. The agencies that have this statutory duty are:
- youth offender institutions
- secure training centres
- secure colleges
- youth offending teams
- probation services, including community rehabilitation companies
- Jobcentre Plus
- social service authorities
- emergency departments
- urgent treatment centres
- hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care.
The Housing Options Service will work closely with the named public bodies under the Duty to Refer. It is paramount that partners notify us of people experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their home from an earlier stage. The Housing Options Service will work with the service users being referred to resolve their housing matter.
The above public bodies can refer details of any person they are aware of who is homeless or at risk of homelessness within 56 days, via the Duty to Refer ALERT portal.
If public bodies are unable to access the portal, they can complete and send the Duty to Refer form to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware that the consent of the individual you are referring must be sought prior to making a referral.