With Christmas fast approaching many people buy gifts for loved ones to pile high beneath their brightly lit Christmas tree and exchange on a day filled with overindulging in treats, or at least some people do.
A sad fact is a great number of people will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation or worse as one of the many street homeless. According to Shelter 100,000 children will be homeless this Christmas, many spending the festive season in temporary accommodation provided by the Local Authority.
An even greater number of people will be making the hard choice of paying for electricity and gas, or paying their rent over the Christmas period. These people face an uncertain future in the New Year when their landlord may decide too much rent is owed and it is time for new tenants to take their place.
Unfortunately this is all too common a situation, if you find yourself homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, you can go to the Local Authority to present as homeless. The Local Authority has an immediate duty to interview you if there are grounds to believe that you may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 28 days.
The Local Authority should interview you immediately and make investigations into your circumstances before deciding whether they owe you a duty based on the following criteria:
- Whether you are homeless or threatened with homelessness;
- Whether you are eligible;
- Whether you are in priority need;
- Whether you are intentionally homeless.
Following a homelessness interview, the Local Authority has 33 working days to carry out their investigations and make their decision. Whilst they are carrying our their investigations they can provisionally decide that there is a possibility you are homeless, eligible and in priority need. If that is the case you should be offered temporary accommodation while you are waiting for their decision. The Local Authority should provide you with a decision in writing whether this is positive or negative, this decision should also explain your rights to appeal this decision if it is negative.
Should the Local Authority refuse you a homelessness interview or temporary accommodation, you should contact our housing team immediately by completing an online enquiry, calling into one of our offices or calling us on 0175 321 6399 to find out more.
By Laura Waby, graduate paralegal in the dispute resolution team.