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Homeless or at risk

Homelessness is something that can happen to anyone, from all walks of life. Local authorities have a legal duty to help homeless people:

  • Firstly by interviewing you and assessing your housing situation and providing you with housing advice and assistance.
  • Secondly, by offering you temporary or permanent accommodation - provided your circumstances meet the criteria set out in Part II of the Housing Scotland Act 1987 as amended by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001.

Homeless assessment

In South Ayrshire, people presenting themselves as homeless are interviewed by skilled and experienced staff at the Housing Options Service. You can drop in during working hours or make an appointment to speak to someone if you are homeless at a local housing office.

Detailed information on the assessment process can be found in the Scottish Government's Code of Guidance on Homelessness June 2009. The code provides guidance on how local authorities interpret each of these criteria.

When assessing your application the Housing Options Officer needs to consider:

  • If you are homeless
  • If you are unintentionally homeless
  • If you have a local connection

You may be homeless if you have nowhere you can stay, if you have accommodation that you cannot live in or you are going to become homeless within 2 months.

Am I intentionally homeless?

You may be intentionally homeless if you have done something or failed to do something which has resulted in you losing your home. For example: failing to pay your rent or mortgage or breaking your tenancy agreement.

Do I have a local connection?

You have a local connection if you have a family connection with South Ayrshire or have lived in South Ayrshire for 6 months out of the last 12 months or 3 years out of the last 5 years.

Once you have been interviewed the Housing Options Officer will assess your application and you will be issued with a decision. We aim to issue the decision within 28 days of your initial interview.

Assessment of Homeless Persons

When a person is assessed as being homeless, temporary accommodation will be provided whilst the application is being assessed. During the decision making process Housing Options Officers keep applicants informed of the progress being made with their application. Applicants who are unhappy with the final decision that is made on their application have a statutory right to request a review of the decision.
Applicants are also advised that they have a right to seek independent legal advice.
Appeals against any homeless decision should be submitted in writing within 21 days of the decision to:

Homeless Casework Co-ordinator
Housing Options Service
80–88 Kyle Street,
Ayr, KA7 1RZ
The letter of appeal should outline as much detail as possible why the applicant believes the decision is wrong.

Attending a homeless interview

Attending a homeless interview is very important. It will give you useful information and advice and should result in you knowing quickly whether you may be entitled to temporary accommodation. You have the right to be accompanied at the interview by a friend, relative or support worker.

In addition to assessing your application, your Housing Options Officer is also responsible for providing you with advice and assistance on any issues relevant to your homelessness. Discussions are private and confidential. It is very important that you provide the Officer with full details of your circumstances. At the interview you may be asked to provide information to confirm your circumstances. It is important that you provide this information as quickly as possible to ensure your decision is made within the required timescales.

Contacts

Legal Advice

Ayr Housing Advice Centre
1st Floor,
7 York Street, Ayr
KA8 8AN
Tel: 01292 288111
Email: ayr_hac@hotmail.com

They can provide legal advice on all housing matters. They also provide an outreach service in Ayr North, Girvan and Maybole.

Local Solicitors

A list of local solicitors can be found in the Yellow Pages. Local solicitors with knowledge of housing law can be found by contacting:

The Law Society of Scotland.
26 Drumseugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7IR, Tel: 0131 226 7411

Shelterline. Tel: 0808 800 444
Can give advice and information on all housing issues.

Temporary Accommodation

If you are homeless you will be offered temporary accommodation while investigations are made into your application.

If following our investigations you are found to be homeless but not in priority need. In terms of homelessness legislation, you will be offered temporary accommodation and advice and assistance, for a reasonable period, to enable you to secure alternative accommodation.

You will also be offered Tenancy Support who will assist you in finding alternative accommodation.

If you are in priority need, unintentionally homeless and have a local connection you will be offered permanent housing. You will be given temporary accommodation until suitable permanent housing is found.

You will be offered the most suitable temporary accommodation which is available to staff on the day of allocation.

You may find that you stay in different types of accommodation before a decision is made on your application or before you get your own permanent Council tenancy. However, your application will be dealt with as quickly as possible and you will be moved through the system as smoothly as possible.

During your interview your Housing Options Officer will ask about any support needs you may have. When you are offered temporary accommodation you will be allocated a support worker. Your support worker will provide practical help and support while in temporary accommodation and settled into permanent accommodation.

Accommodation Charges

The charge for temporary accommodation varies depending on the type of accommodation provided. If you are on low pay, receive income support or any other state benefits you may qualify for housing benefit towards the costs.

In Bed & Breakfast and Hostel type accommodation there is a charge for using services i.e. heating, lighting and hot water, currently this is £12.90 per week. In addition there is a breakfast charge of £2.80 per person per week where applicable.

Housing Benefit

You will be given a housing benefit application form to complete when you are offered temporary accommodation. You can also get advice on your claim from Unified Benefits Services who are based in each area office.

When making a claim you will be asked to supply the following information:

  • Proof of your identity
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Verification of your income and financial resources and that of everyone else over 16 in your household (e.g. original payslips, DSS Benefit books, bank statements etc).

It is important that you make your claim for housing benefit as soon as possible – no later than 3 days from the date of moving into accommodation, and respond to any requests for further information as failure to do so could result in your benefit claim being made ineligible. This would result in you being liable for the full rental charge of the temporary accommodation.

Permanent Offers of Housing

If you are accepted by the council under the Homeless Act, you will receive one reasonable offer of permanent accommodation. If you refuse this offer you will have to vacate your temporary accommodation and find your own accommodation. South Ayrshire Council will discharge the duty owed to you under the 1987 Act and you will be given a date to vacate your temporary accommodation.

You are entitled to appeal if you feel that it is not a reasonable offer. Your appeal must be made in writing within 21 days of an offer to:

The Homeless Casework Co-ordinator
Housing Options Service
80–88 Kyle Street,
Ayr, KA7 1RZ

If your appeal is unsuccessful you may (need to check about RSL’s) still have the opportunity to accept the offer if you chose to do so or you must move out of their temporary accommodation and find your own accommodation.

If an appeal against an offer is successful, the offer will be withdrawn and the applicant will remain in temporary accommodation until another offer is made.

In making an appeal against an offer of permanent accommodation you have the right to seek independent legal advice.

Where can I be housed?

Homeless applicants will automatically be held for all the neighbourhoods in Ayr town and must then choose a minimum of 2 other letting districts from Kyle, Prestwick, Troon, Maybole, Girvan, North Carrick or South Carrick. You must tell us if there are specific reasons why you cannot be housed in these areas.

We would encourage you to choose as many letting districts as possible to maximize your chances of rehousing within a reasonable period of time. Applicants will be held for all neighbourhoods within these letting districts.

What is a reasonable offer of housing?

To ensure that offers are fair and reasonable where possible:

  • We will take circumstances into account to ensure location is reasonable
  • We won’t house an applicant in an area where they are fleeing violence or harassment
  • We would take into account any medical needs
  • No anti social behaviour
  • Near to amenities and schools if children in the household
  • Near as possible to social support networks and workplace

We would deem it reasonable for applicant to claim they could not live in the area if they could provide:

  • Proof of police involvement
  • Evidence of previous harassment/violence
  • Anti Social Behaviour Orders
  • External agency involvement
  • Place of previous residence that person fleeing from

We will take into account any medical needs of the household.

The Council will endeavour to offer homeless people a genuine choice of accommodation, taking into account all factors and availability of housing stock.

As part of the South Ayrshire Council allocations selection process reasonable preference will be given to applicants assessed as having the greatest level of housing need. Offers of housing will be made on the basis of date of application.

What is determined as ‘reasonable preference’ is a matter of judgement and will be determined by the Divisional Housing Manager, in terms of legislation and good practice guidance.

One offer of permanent housing will be made to unintentionally homeless applicants.
You will be offered permanent accommodation:

  • Which meets our normal letting standards
  • Which is of a size suitable for your household
  • Which takes into account as far as is practically possible any specific needs you or your family may have e.g. medical
  • Which is consistent with the best interests of any children in your household
  • This is free from any threat of violence.

What happens if I refuse an offer?

Before you turn down an offer of permanent accommodation you should discuss it with your housing options officer and/or seek independent housing advice.

By making you a reasonable offer of accommodation the Council will have fulfilled its legal obligation to you. If you refuse the offer made you will have to leave temporary accommodation and find your own accommodation

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