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Services in Christchurch

At risk of becoming homeless

Coronavirus (COVID-19): change to service

On advice from the government regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have changed the way we are delivering our services. Housing services can still be accessed, but we will not be providing face to face contact.

See further information about changes to services.

If you are at risk of losing your home please contact us for free advice and assistance as soon as possible.

Acting early gives us more time to help you. The most common reasons we are asked to help are:

  • being asked to leave by friends or parents
  • landlords giving a notice to quit
  • domestic violence and abuse or other harassment
  • relationship breakdown
  • difficulties maintaining rent or mortgage payment

Where possible we aim to make sure you remain in your current home by providing assistance at an early stage to help resolve your situation. Our Housing Advice Services have a duty to prevent homelessness and will seek to understand your current situation and identify what steps we and you can do which could help you stay in your current home.

If you are threatened with homelessness or are working with a household who may require assistance from your local council’s homelessness prevention team, please complete an online referral form.

This will open up an online form for you to record the household’s details. Upon submitting the form the information will be transferred to your chosen council and you or the household you have referred will be contacted within 48 hours.

Please note this is not an application for social housing which should be applied for separately using our housing register application form.

What happens next?

We will carry out an initial assessment with you to determine, firstly, whether you are eligible under immigration law to receive assistance and secondly whether you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

If you meet these criteria our assessment will go on to understand your current housing situation, what support you need to resolve this and what steps both you and the Council should carry out to help you remain in your home or secure alternative accommodation.

You may be asked to bring information relevant to your situation such as:

  • your tenancy agreement
  • notice to quit from your landlord
  • letters threatening repossession from mortgage lenders
  • court orders you may have

You should also bring with you identification for all members of your household, details of any debts and proof of household income, such as wages slips or details of benefits you receive. See further details of what documented evidence we may require.

We will produce a Personalised Housing Plan (commonly known as a PHP) which will confirm how we have understood your situation and the steps we both agree to carry out, plus the dates these steps should be completed by. The plan will remain open and will be updated following any further change in your circumstances and when either of us complete a step or add new steps we agree may help.

This work is known as the 'Duty to Prevent Homelessness'. This duty to assist you will continue until you secure accommodation which has reasonable prospect of lasting 6 months or more, or you become homeless, when a different duty to relieve your homelessness may start.

What we can do to help

  • assist in negotiations with landlords and mortgage lenders even if you have a court order to leave your home
  • offer advice on maximising your income and managing debt which could be affecting your ability to afford your current accommodation, including advice on claiming Housing Benefit
  • help you tackle issues with unfit properties
  • refer you to support services/agencies to help you through difficulties you may be experiencing
  • put you in touch with other agencies that can offer specialist help such as if you are affected by domestic violence or abuse

Where it is not possible to remain in your current home

If it is not possible to remain in your current home we will try and help you secure alternative accommodation before you become homeless.

We can:

  • refer you to a number of external agencies who may be able to offer you additional support
  • help you search the private rented sector for a new home
  • provide access to schemes which provide financial assistance to help secure homes in the private rented sector subject to certain qualifying criteria (These schemes, often called rent and deposit schemes, operate in each council area but may vary and are dependent on funding available and qualifying criteria)
  • help you apply for social housing through the housing register process
  • provide advice on home ownership schemes
  • refer you to supported housing schemes where these are available and if you meet the necessary criteria

What happens if I become homeless?

If attempts to prevent your homelessness have been unsuccessful we may still continue to work with you under a different duty to 'relieve' your homelessness.

Additional advice

Independent housing advice can also be obtained free of charge from Shelter or your local Citizens Advice.

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