Will the Council Rehouse Me if I Get Evicted?

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Will the Council Rehouse Me if I Get Evicted?
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Facing eviction can be an incredibly stressful and uncertain time. 

One critical concern for many individuals and families is whether the local council must rehouse them if they lose their current home. While specific legal duties are placed on councils, the situation is often complex. 

If you want to know your options when you get evicted, read our blog below for all the necessary answers.

What happens when I get evicted?

When you risk facing repossession, you must know your rights/options for the near future. After all, although councils have specific legal duties, rehousing those evicted is a complex process involving assessments and housing stock availability. 

Commons reasons a tenant may be facing eviction:

  • Rent arrears: Failure to pay rent on time or falling behind on payments often leads landlords to begin proceedings. 
  • Breaching tenancy: Breaking terms of the tenancy agreement through nuisance behaviour, property damage or illegal activities. 
  • Expiry of tenancy term: When a fixed-term contract ends, landlords can legally terminate the tenancy without renewing. 
  • Sale of the property: Landlords may evict tenants if they sell the property to provide vacant possession to buyers. 
  • Landlords moving back: In certain conditions, landlords have the right to evict tenants to move back into the property themselves. 
  • Renovations or redevelopment: Landlords may seek vacant possession to conduct major remodelling work or change the property usage. 

Landlords must follow proper procedures when evicting tenants – they cannot simply force them to leave. Tenants also have essential rights during the eviction process. 

Local councils have specific legal obligations to help individuals who become homeless or are at risk of homelessness. The fundamental laws are:

  • Housing Act 1996: Obligates councils to secure accommodation for homeless households with priority needs. 
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017: Requires councils to work to prevent or relieve homelessness for all eligible applicants, regardless of priority status. 

Under these Acts, councils must properly assess all applications for assistance and take reasonable steps to address homelessness. However, whether they provide housing depends on several determining factors. 

Assessing circumstances and housing needs

When applying to the council as homeless after eviction, they will assess:

  • Eligibility for assistance: This depends on immigration status, previous home ownership, and having a local connection. 
  • Priority need status: Priority is given to households with dependent children, applicants vulnerable due to mental/physical health or disability, and those fleeing harm. 
  • Intentional vs. unintentional homelessness examines whether the applicant deliberately did or failed to do something that caused them to lose their housing. 

The council plays a significant role in assessing housing needs. They use information provided on income, housing history, and personal circumstances to determine the level of assistance required by law. 

Potential housing outcomes

Where the council has accepted a whole duty of care, housing outcomes may include:

  • Offer of council housing: Availability of council housing stock and waiting lists influences this. High demand and limited supply restrict options. 
  • Assistance finding affordable private rentals: Councils may help with deposits or guarantees. You must ensure that you budget for ongoing monthly rental payments. 
  • Referral to housing associations: These provide low-cost social housing options and some shared ownership schemes. 

Temporary accommodation, such as hotels or shared housing, may be provided temporarily while permanent options are found. However, direct council housing cannot be guaranteed. 

Can I get any financial support from the Government/council?

Dealing with eviction often creates financial hardship. There are government and council services that may assist:

Housing Benefit

This benefit helps you pay rent if you are on a low income. You can claim housing benefits whether you move into private or social housing. However, it may not cover the total rent, so prepare to contribute yourself. 

Discretionary housing payments

Councils have limited emergency funds to help meet housing costs and prevent homelessness. To be eligible, you must already be receiving Housing Benefits. 

Universal Credit

Universal Credit has replaced other benefits and includes housing and living costs allowances. Requesting an advance when moving can provide initial assistance. 

Grants or no-interest loans

Some lenders and charities offer grants and interest-free or low-interest loans to help cover costs like rental deposits. Councils and advice agencies, such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, can recommend options. 

Budgeting support

Council services, advice agencies, and community groups can provide budgeting guidance, debt help, and assistance with financial applications, which can be invaluable when facing housing costs after eviction. Rules and eligibility vary across these options. 

What charities may be able to help me?

Alongside government services, charities also provide vital help to those experiencing eviction:

  • Shelters: Offer extensive housing advice, including guidance on homelessness applications and eviction processes. It can also help you connect to local services. 
  • Crisis: Provides advice and advocacy for those facing homelessness. The crisis has guidance on emergency housing and tenant rights. 
  • St Mungo’s: Helps people recover from homelessness through housing, employment, and support services, primarily in London and southern England. 
  • Turn2Us: Helps people in financial hardship access benefits, grants, and support. Its website has a comprehensive database of charitable funds. 
  • StepChange: Provides accessible, impartial debt advice and can help you negotiate and agree with creditors, including your landlord, if you are in rent arrears. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to charities for assistance – they can help identify your options, rights and sources of support. 

How can I suspend a warrant of eviction?

Receiving notice of a warrant of eviction authorising your removal from the property can be extremely worrying. Here are some steps that may help:

  • When facing eviction, it’s crucial to act urgently. Enforcement timelines can vary from a few days to several weeks, so seeking advice immediately after receiving the warrant is essential. 
  • Understand your rights: A warrant doesn’t necessarily override all tenant rights. You may still have options to appeal, negotiate, or delay eviction. 
  • Get legal advice: Housing charities like Shelter have solicitors who provide free expert guidance. They can identify any grounds to contest the warrant. 
  • Communicate changed circumstances: If new issues have arisen since the order, like medical problems, communicate these as they may influence enforcement. 
  • Request a stay of execution: You can file an emergency court application to temporarily halt the eviction. Legal representation is advisable. 
  • Discuss with your landlord: Negotiating reasons for eviction and a repayment plan if due to rent arrears could suspend enforcement. 

While the outcome is not guaranteed, remember that taking immediate action and understanding your options can provide the best chance of postponing an imminent eviction under a warrant. Stay hopeful and keep pushing forward. 

Long-term tips for getting back on your feet 

Rebuilding long-term housing security after eviction requires commitment but is possible. Useful strategies include:

  • Review income and expenditure to create a sustainable budget with housing costs as the priority. 
  • Build savings when possible to create a financial buffer for unexpected costs. 
  • Improve credit rating by making loan and bill repayments on time to broaden future rental options. 
  • Explore housing benefits or discretionary payments to assist in covering accommodation costs. 
  • Consider renting outside high-demand city centres where affordable options are more widely available. 
  • Access employment support or education and training to improve income. 
  • Stay engaged with council housing teams regarding applications and assistance available. 

Housing stability can be achieved again with time by tapping into available support services and financial assistance. Focus on setting realistic budgets and financial goals to pave the way for your long-term recovery.

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