- Category: Homelessness
- Last Updated: 02 February 2017
Reducing Homelessness is a key priority for the Council. The Housing Options Service aims to provide a free comprehensive Housing Advice Service so should you be homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should approach the Housing Options Team as soon as possible to give them the full details of your situation. They can give you a full range of advice and options in order to assist you.
- Do I meet the definition of homeless?
- Am I eligible for assistance?
- Do I have a priority need?
- What happens if I am not in priority need?
- What is temporary accommodation?
- Am I intentionally homeless?
- Do I have a local connection?
- What happens if I apply as homeless?
- What help is available for young people who are threatened with homelessness?
- What is the council doing to tackle homelessness?
- I have mortgage arrears and am worried that my home will be repossessed – where can I get advice?
- Where can I get housing advice in an emergency out of office hours when the council is closed?
- What is the council doing to help people who sleep rough?
Reducing homelessness is a key priority for the Council. The Housing Options Service aims to provide a free comprehensive housing advice service so should you be homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should approach the Housing Options Team as soon as possible to give them the full details of your situation. They can give you a full range of advice and options in order to assist you. For a detailed advice leaflet, please visit the National Homelessness Advice Service.
In addition to this free and impartial service, there are a number of independent organisations in the District who can also give housing advice; a list of these can be found on our Housing Advice page.
The homelessness law covers more than being out on the streets. You will be considered homeless or under threat of homelessness if:
- You have nowhere to live in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.
- You are afraid to go home because someone living there has been or may be violent to you or your family.
- You have nowhere you can live together with all your family.
- You do not have the owner's permission to stay, e.g. you are a squatter.
- You have been locked out of your home.
- You have somewhere to stay but it is not reasonable for you to do so, e.g. following violence, threats of violence or harassment.
- Your home is a boat, mobile home or caravan and you have nowhere to put it.
- You have been given Notice to Quit by your landlord.
- You have been taken to Court by your mortgage lender for arrears and the Court has said you must leave.
- You have been living with friends and they have asked you to leave.
We will make every effort to prevent homelessness and in these circumstances, there may be times when the Council has a legal obligation to offer interim accommodation, whilst investigating your homelessness further. To be offered interim emergency accommodation, you must be:
- Eligible for assistance
- In priority need
If you have previously applied as homeless, there must also be a material change since your last application.
Once your homelessness has been investigated in full, a legal obligation may exist to find permanent, suitable and affordable housing for some people. We fulfil this obligation by working in partnership with registered social landlords. To be offered accommodation via Ryedale District Council you must be:
- Eligible for assistance
- In priority need
- Not be intentionally homeless
- Have a valid local connection with the District of Ryedale
As we may not have a duty to fully assist all applicants, we will try to work with you before you become homeless in order to enable you to remain where you are , or to find you suitable and affordable alternative accommodation.
In general you are not eligible for assistance if you are a person from abroad and unable to make a claim for housing benefit. However, this is not a definitive statement, and we would advise that you seek advice on this matter from the Council's Housing Options Team.
People are considered to have a priority need if they:
- have dependent children living with them
- are pregnant
- are a person aged between 16-17 (unless a 'relevant child', or a child in need, owed a duty under s.20 of the Children Act 1989)
- are under 21, and in care or fostered between the ages of 16-18
- are 21 or more, and vulnerable as a result of having been looked after or fostered (except for 'relevant students')
- are vulnerable due to old age, mental illness or handicap, or physical disability
- are vulnerable due to having been a member of Her Majesty's regular naval, military or air forces
- are vulnerable due to having been in prison
- are vulnerable as a result of violence from another person, or vulnerable due to another special reason
- are homeless due to flood, fire or other disaster
If a duty exists to offer you interim / temporary accommodation, this may include;
- Bed and Breakfast accommodation
- Other temporary accommodation
- Hostel accommodation
If you are not in Priority Need, the Council has a duty to provide you with advice and assistance to help you to secure your own accommodation. We can work with you to help you, but it may take a while until accommodation can be found. The Council does not have a duty to provide interim / temporary or permanent accommodation for you when you are not in Priority Need, although if such accommodation is available this may be considered.
This means the Council thinks you chose to leave a home which you could have stayed in, or that it was your fault that you lost your home, or you unreasonably failed to take up accommodation which was available to you.
This would apply if:
- You chose to sell your home when there was no risk of losing it.
- You lost your home because of wilful and persistent refusal to pay rent or mortgage payments.
- You have neglected your affairs having disregarded advice from a qualified person.
- You voluntarily gave up adequate accommodation in this country or abroad without first having found secure accommodation to move into, when it would have been reasonable for you to stay there.
- You have been evicted for anti-social behaviour.
- You have voluntarily resigned from a job with tied accommodation where circumstances indicate it would have been reasonable to continue in the employment.
- You entered into an arrangement causing you to leave accommodation which was otherwise available to you.
When a homelessness application is made, the officer dealing with your application will have to check to see if you have deliberately done something or deliberately not done something that resulted in you becoming homeless. If you are considered "intentionally homeless", the Council may only have to provide temporary accommodation for a reasonable period of time, possibly 28 days, while you make your own arrangements to find alternative accommodation.
You would have a local connection with the Ryedale District if you, or a person you would normally live with, has:
- Lived in the District for six out of the last 12 months, or three out of the last five years
- Has close family associations within the District who have lived in the District for al least the last five years
- Have permanent employment within the District
Should you make a homelessness application, you will be interviewed, possibly on more than one occasion, by the officer dealing with your application. All homelessness application are dealt with under the relevant legislation; Housing Act 1996 Part VII (Homelessness), (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002). The interview will be conducted in private and all the information you provide will be treated in confidence. In some cases it may be necessary to contact a third party, such as your doctor, other local authority, the Police or Children's and Young People's Services in order to complete necessary enquiries. You will be asked to give your authorisation for these enquiries to be made. You will also be asked to provide certain relevant documents, such as a tenancy agreement, or proof of your income.
Once your homeless application has been investigated in full, you will receive a written decision on your application. We aim to make a decision and inform you of it within 33 working days of you initially making the homeless application. If you disagree with the decision made, you have the right to request a review. The letter you receive informing you of the decision of your homelessness application will also include information on how to request a review, should you wish to do so.
Working in partnership with Health and Adult Services, Children and Young People's Services and other local housing support and accommodation providers, Ryedale District Council deals with all 16-25 year olds needing housing advice and support through a Hub based at the Council.
The Young People's Housing Solutions @The Hub is in your area to assist with all issues around housing and homelessness.
- Support if you are a young person aged between 16-25 and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
- General housing advice and support around issues like benefits and managing a tenancy.
- Offer you support and help to stay in your own home where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
However, we know staying at home isn't always suitable or possible, so we offer a range of accommodation and support services.
Staff in the hub will
- Talk you through everything and make sure you have a clear understanding of your options so you can make an informed choice.
- Answer any questions you have.
- Take into account your wishes and feelings.
- Provide you with a support worker who will help you through the entire process.
As parents have parental responsibility until their child is 18, they will always be contacted by the Council for clarification of circumstances. If a young person presents as homeless Ryedale District Council will offer to refer people with relationship problems to mediation services, to try to solve their problems even if only in the short term.
Due to the lack of affordable accommodation in the District, many people feel they have no choice but to declare friends/relatives as 'homeless' in the belief it will help them. However there is a severe lack of housing available and attempts to solve housing problems must be sought first.
SASH - Safe and Sound Homes
The Council may refer young single homeless people to an organisation called 'SASH' where a night stop placement will be organised. Transport, meal and a bed for the night are provided by volunteers within their home. All referrals come through the hub at Ryedale District Council.
SASH offers supported lodgings in Ryedale for young people referred to us via the Housing Hub. Young people placed with by SASH live in the home of a carefully recruited host, for up to two years. The host and project workers support young people to develop their independence skills, such as budgeting and basic cooking. The host provides a suitable room of their own, breakfast and an evening meal daily.
The young people are encouraged to continue/ begin an education programme/ job and can be referred for additional specialist support with personal issues they wish to work on. All referrals come through the hub at the Council.
The Ryedale Hub offers support to 16 - 25 year olds to obtain and maintain accommodation in the Ryedale District.
The Hub is a partnership of Ryedale District Council, Ryedale YMCA and Foundation providing a variety of accommodation, including rooms in supported accommodation at Derwent Lodge - staffed 24 hours a day, to independent accommodation across Ryedale.
Independent advice for young people about housing and homelessness is available from Shelter.
The Housing Forum meets quarterly at Ryedale House and issues involving the provision of affordable homes, homelessness and support for vulnerable people are discussed. Meetings are attended by Housing Association staff, Housing Options Staff, Councillors, staff from support agencies in the Ryedale area, Youth workers, mental health professionals and other agencies including community groups who help support people. Agencies share information and good practice and work together to achieve the aims of the Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan. For more information please contact the Housing Options Team on 01653 600666.
The council is required by law to produce a Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan and this is a detailed document that describes the local aims of the Housing Services Department and how they are tackling homelessness in partnership with other agencies in the district, and what measures are in place to prevent homelessness locally. The Homelessness Strategy is produced after consultation with service users, staff and partner agencies. The Action Plan is reviewed annually.
The Housing Team work closely with other statutory and non-statutory agencies in the area including North Yorkshire Police, Mental Health Services, Health Visitors, Foundation, Domestic Abuse Services, Stonham, Ryedale Citizens Advice Bureau, Horton Housing, Housing Associations, etc. Staff from the Housing Team attend many local meetings to share information about local services and work together to prevent homelessness in the area.
Ryedale is a member of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Strategic Housing Partnership. The partnership identifies and responds to key housing issues and has a Joint Strategic Housing Strategy. For further information visit the partnership website.
The Housing Options Team
The Housing Options Team offer housing advice appointments most weekdays and can advise landlords and tenants about their legal rights and responsibilities. They carry out holistic work including a financial assessment and can signpost clients to many other agencies who may be able to help them with specialist needs. Their main aim is to prevent homelessness and they have good links with the housing benefit team, housing associations and private landlords in the Ryedale area. They may be able to negotiate on behalf of a tenant and help them to access benefits or charity payments to prevent their homelessness. The Housing Options Team also deal with Homelessness Applications and source temporary accommodation for eligible homeless people in the Ryedale District.
Homelessness prevention toolkit
The Housing Options Team have access to a number of options they can use to try to prevent homelessness by keeping someone in their current home or helping them to access alternative accommodation. This includes:-
- Bond Guarantee Scheme
- Rent In Advance
- Bond Payment
- Mortgage Repossession Loan Scheme
- Discretionary Housing Payments (accessed through housing benefit team)
The Housing Options Team have specialist officers who work with people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness to source properties in the private sector including lodgings, rooms in shared houses and independent flats and houses.
The Housing Options team make referrals to Stonham Homestay who provide a homelessness prevention service in Ryedale and they can help people to find ways to pay the rent or resolve other issues in order that they can stay in their current home.
If you are at risk of losing your home due to mortgage arrears please contact the Housing Options Team as soon as possible on 01653 60066 and arrange an appointment to see a Housing Options Officer.
Mortgage Lenders are required to follow a specific set of actions (visit Shelter for details of the pre-action protocol) before taking legal action to repossess properties and the team can check whether the lender has met their legal obligations, this may result in you having more time to find an appropriate solution.
The Housing Options Team may refer you to specialist advisors who provide a free service and can contact you directly by telephone to go through your personal circumstances and advise you about your options. The Housing Options Officer can also consider, if you can afford it, whether you may be eligible for a Breathing Space loan to help you to keep your home.
If the Housing Options Team are unable to help you to remain in your home the officer will help you to find alternative accommodation.
If you decide to sell your home rather than having it repossessed, advice is available with regard to an Assisted Voluntary Sale, Assisted Sale or Supported Sale. A brief explanation of this process is available from Stepchange.
Financial assistance is available for some people who are struggling to pay their mortgage through Job Centre Plus or the Pension Service, this is called Support for Mortgage Interest or SMI. More information is available at GOV.UK.
Free debt advice is available for people with mortgage arrears. The housing options team can refer you to a local specialist debt advisor through Ryedale Citizens Advice Bureau or you can obtain free advice from StepChange online or call free on 0800 138 1111 (inc mobiles).
10 Step Guide
We have developed a 10 Step Guide to keeping your home, available to download and print below for future reference
If you are in arrears with your mortgage or rent, and your landlord or lender is considering (or it has begun) action to repossess your home - be guided by the following steps:
1. Communication is vital
Respond to any correspondence you receive from your landlord or mortgage company and talk to them about the situation. They may be prepared to enter into an agreement that could avoid the need for possession proceedings at all. Keep a written record of any correspondence and confirm what you agree in writing.
2. Get advice straight away
Try to get advice about what to do as soon as possible. Speak to the Duty Housing Options Officer at Ryedale House or contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. There are other agencies and help-lines where you can also seek advice—please enquire with the Housing Options team for further information or see our website.
3. Make sure you turn up to Court
We strongly advise you to attend court. Key House will be able to provide FREE legal advice and support you on the day at court. If you do not attend court, the judge will have no alternative but to award possession of your home to your landlord or lender.
4. Get to Court early
Make sure you arrive in good time for your hearing. If your case is called on without you being there, an order will be made in your absence.
5. Try to reach an agreement
Even if proceedings have been issued it is never too late to try and reach an agreement, either before the hearing or even on the day of the hearing.
6. Bring along someone to support you
You can take a family member or friend along for moral support however they may not be able to go into the court room with you.
7. Take all relevant paperwork to court
If there are documents that may be relevant to your case, for example, letters from the Benefits Agency or correspondence about the prospective sale of your property, bring them with you.
8. Tell the judge everything relevant
Once you are in the hearing you should ensure you explain to the judge in clear and concise language everything you think may be relevant to your case. A typical hearing will take about 10 minutes so time is limited to present your case.
9. Don’t assume that the Judge will make a Possession Order
Judges are human and may have more sympathy for your situation than you give them credit for depending on the supporting evidence you provide.
10. Don’t assume that the Judge will be a ‘soft touch’ either!
The Judge can’t help you if there is nothing to work with, and can only make a lawful decision on the information presented to them.
If you live in Ryedale and you become suddenly homeless and need help to find emergency accommodation ring 01653 697737 and the operator will arrange for a duty officer to contact you.
If you or someone you know is sleeping rough you should contact the Housing Options Team on 01653 600666 and make an appointment to see a duty officer. The officer will fully assess the persons needs and situation and give advice about their options and also link them up with other support agencies in the area who may be able to assist and support them.
No Second Night Out
We work in partnership with neighbouring authorities in North Yorkshire to deliver the Single Homeless: No Second Night Out (NSNO) Action Plan.
The No Second Night Out Principles are:-
- New rough sleepers are identified and helped off the streets immediately so they do not fall into a dangerous rough sleeping lifestyle
- Members of the public play an active role in reporting and referring people sleeping rough
- Rough sleepers are helped to access a place of safety where their needs can be quickly assessed and they can receive advice on their options
- They are able to access emergency accommodation and other services, such as healthcare, if needed
- People from other areas should be re-connected back to their local community unless there is a good reason not to do so
- Offer of accommodation
Within 7 days of the assessment taking place, we will try to find suitable accommodation for the rough sleeper, if they are still in need of accommodation and willing to work with our service and support services. The accommodation may be in Ryedale or elsewhere depending on the individuals' needs, local connection, support network and the availability of accommodation. We will make a Single Service Offer in writing and may provide assistance to take up that offer through sub-regional funding.
In Ryedale there are very few people who sleep rough, however we provide advice and assistance for anyone sleeping rough and will support them into settled accommodation. This plan outlines the projects and resources provided to address rough sleeping. Our offer to tackle rough sleeping in the district is shown below:-
1. Identifying rough sleepers
The Housing Options Team works with local agencies to raise awareness of how to get help for someone sleeping rough. The team can be contacted on the main council number during office hours or through our out of hours emergency contact number 01653 697737 or by contacting Streetlink on 0300 500 0914
2. Completing a needs assessment
We will normally offer an interview at the council building in Malton but alternative venues throughout the district can be arranged. We will try to carry out the interview the next working day if at all possible.
3. Provide emergency accommodation
We do not have a direct access hostel in Ryedale but our housing options staff may be able to find suitable emergency accommodation.
4. Provide information, advice and support
We will offer a full assessment, give housing options advice and refer all rough sleepers for housing related support and any other support that may meet their individual needs. We may be able to offer assistance to access private rented accommodation and assistance to apply for social housing.
5. Assistance with reconnection
Where a rough sleeper has no local connection to Ryedale we can support them to reconnect with another district in the United Kingdom or abroad. We follow the guidelines provided by HomelessLink Reconnections Toolkit.
Ryedale District Council is signed up to the York and North Yorkshire No Second Night Out Pledge which is an initiative designed to provide support to rough sleepers to help them off the streets. Funds are available to provide bespoke support and help people who have been sleeping rough to find settled accommodation.
For more information, visit Street Link or telephone 0300 500 0914.
Email Housing Services
Tel: Housing Options on 01653 600666
Ryedale District Council