If you are homeless or facing homelessness, you should contact the Housing Options team for advice and assistance.
All local authorities must provide or secure the provision of a service to provide, information and advice to help prevent homelessness; secure accommodation when homeless or likely to become homeless and help households gain access to other services which they may need.
In Spelthorne, the Council provides this service that not only means explaining your rights under the law on homelessness, it also includes advice on your housing options, such as how to join the housing register, and how other organisations can help you with needs that may affect your housing. Other agencies that you may be referred to are Citizens Advice, floating support providers, Adult or Children's Social Care and mental health services amongst others.
If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, Spelthorne Borough Council (SBC) will provide a service tailored to your needs, which will be assessed at a Housing Options Assessment. Following the assessment you will be given a Personal Housing Plan with steps that both yourself, the Council and other identified agencies are going to follow to enable you to either keep your current housing or access alternative accommodation.
If your household fits into one of the following categories it may be that there are other specific actions that the Council can take to help with this;
These actions may involve us visiting you in prison or hospital to assess your needs before you leave. It may also involve accessing specific help with other professional agencies that you are dealing with such as welfare officers within the armed forces, or care co-coordinators within mental health services. Whatever your situation, please contact us so that we can discuss your housing situation and individual needs and how best to proceed.
Please contact the Housing Options team.
The Housing Options Officer will provide basic advice over the telephone, and advise you if you need to come and see us. If this is the case, we can make an appointment for you. Appointments are available across the week. Whilst there may be a short wait for an appointment, we will always seek to prioritise your case depending on the urgency of your situation.
If you have nowhere to stay and the offices are closed, please call our emergency out of hours on 01784 451499.
If you have any of these documents, you must bring them with you so that we can accurately assess your situation:
The Council will consider the information you have provided to establish your situation. The first step will be a Housing Options Assessment so that we can understand your situation and any areas of support that you may require. A 56 day Prevention Duty may be triggered, which will mean that the Council will try for 56 days to prevent you from becoming homeless. Prevention could be attempted through negotiation with your landlord or mortgage company; supporting you to resolve any financial problems that you may be facing; or helping you find alternative accommodation. You will be given a Personal Housing Plan which identifies actions for both you, the Council and other agencies to take to attempt to prevent your homelessness. You will be able to access your Personal Housing Plan online and keep in touch with your case worker electronically.
If you come to us already homeless, or if your homelessness has not been prevented by the end of the Prevention Duty, then the Council may be under a 56 day Relief Duty to you. This means that the Council will try for 56 days to relieve your homelessness. This will normally be done by supporting you to find alternative accommodation in the private sector, which has a reasonable prospect of lasting at least six months.
If you refuse any accommodation which is found for you, we may have no further duty to help you.
Where you do not have a local connection with Spelthorne, then we will be referring you to a local authority where you do hold a local connection, for them to fulfil the Relief Duty and we will ultimately close your case.
A local connection with a particular area means that you:
Living in armed forces accommodation or staying in a hospital or any place that is not your home, but that you only occupy in order to receive some kind or care or support, does not count as a local connection.
If at the end of the Relief Duty you have still not secured accommodation, then the Council will consider whether any longer term duty to accommodate you under the law on homelessness is owed to you and your family. This is known as the Main Duty. At this stage the Council will make further inquiries so as to decide whether you:
Depending on the outcome of the inquiries, the Council may have a duty to provide you with settled accommodation under the Main Duty.
If at the Relief Stage you are eligible for assistance, the Council will then decide whether it believes that you are in a priority need group. If you are in a priority need group then the Council will be under a duty to provide you with emergency accommodation throughout the Relief Duty. If the Council does not believe that you are in a priority need group, you will not be provided with emergency accommodation, and you will need to make your own arrangements.
Like most other councils, we source emergency accommodation as and when it is required, and it cannot be 'pre-booked'. Emergency accommodation is very expensive, and there is significant local demand for this type of accommodation locally because of our proximity to outer London. This means that whilst we will always aim to keep you in Spelthorne, you could be offered emergency in surrounding boroughs like Slough and Hounslow. Emergency accommodation is not free, and you will be required to pay towards the cost of it through a weekly charge. We may require you to move to alternative accommodation for a variety of reasons - for example, you may have initially been provided with accommodation which is adapted for a disabled applicant which wasn't required at the time, but is now required for that use.
If we accept that we owe you a Prevention, Relief, or Main Duty, we will work with you to help you to find settled accommodation. This will usually be accommodation in the private sector. You will be required under your Personal Housing Plan to continuously look for accommodation for your household.
When accommodation in the private sector has been identified, we will assess the accommodation for either of our two private rent schemes:
The Prevention and Relief duties can be discharged into any suitable accommodation which has a reasonable prospect of lasting at least six months. This can include staying with family and friends, a room in a shared house, or supported accommodation.
The Council has no housing stock. All affordable housing is owned by housing associations. Please see our Affordable Housing Options page for further information. Given the shortage of accommodation and the extreme demand for the few vacancies which arise each year, it is not likely that you will be offered social housing. The Council's first priority will be to help you to find accommodation in the private sector.
With all types of accommodation offered to prevent or relieve your homelessness, the Council will do its best to meet reasonable preferences about the location of the accommodation, however affordable housing is scarce and opportunities do not necessarily arise in the right place at the right time. Spelthorne is a small borough, with good transport links throughout. We therefore consider it reasonable for homeless households to consider all areas of the Borough to live, even where this may involve commuting to/from places of employment, education, training, or family. If the Council accepts a duty to help you to secure accommodation, you may be directly nominated to a property in discharge of that duty.
Priority need groups are typically:
You may also be considered to be in priority need if the Council considers you to be vulnerable as a result of:
Priority need is a complex area of housing law, and so you are not automatically priority need if you fall into one of these categories.
Your case officer will be able to answer any questions which you have, and explain to you the decision they make on whether or not they have reason to believe that you are in a priority need group.
If you are still homeless at the end of the Relief Duty and the Council has found that you are in priority need then it will consider whether you are intentionally homeless. This is when it is believed that you are homeless because of something that you have deliberately done, or failed to do, for example knowingly not paid your rent to your landlord, or failing to act on our advice which would have prevented you from becoming homeless.
Being intentionally homeless does not necessarily mean that you wanted to be homeless.
If the Council assesses that you are intentionally homeless, even if you are in a priority group, you will only be offered emergency accommodation for long enough to give you time to find something else.
Intentional homelessness is a complex area of housing law, and the outcome is heavily influenced on your individual circumstances. Your case officer will be able to answer any questions which you have, and explain to you the decision they make on whether or not they have reason to believe that you are homeless intentionally.
For more information on the duties of local authorities, please see the information pages on the Shelter website. Shelter are an independent charity who support people experiencing problems with their accommodation, including homelessness.
You may also wish to contact the local Citizens Advice Runnymede and Spelthorne.
Surrey County Council Family Support Service offers support to young people and their families, and can help young people if they:
If you are a young person, aged 16 or 17, in need of help with housing, you should the Youth Homelessness Prevention Service:
We welcome any information that helps us to help those who need it. If you see a person you believe may be sleeping rough you can tell us by using Streetlink, an independent organisation which manages referrals of rough sleepers to organisations who can help. If the person needs urgent medical attention, or you believe they are under 18 years of age please call 999, rather than referring to Streetlink.
We will not be able to provide you with any detailed feedback on your referral, however we do review all referrals and do check locations where rough sleepers have been seen, so that we can offer support.
If you are having problems paying your mortgage, you must act quickly to avoid falling into debt.
The Citizens Advice debt and money page have a wide range of independent information to support you, including information on what your mortgage provider must do before it can request a possession hearing at court, as well as information on what financial support is available to you if you have a mortgage and you are in receipt of benefits. You may wish to seek specialist independent advice from Citizens Advice.