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Homeless / Homelessness

Housing Solutions will aim to prevent homelessness by offering advice and assistance to allow you to remain in your home, or they may be able to help you find alternative accommodation by looking at all the available housing options, including securing accommodation in the private sector or helping you with a deposit bond if necessary.

Please view the 'frequently asked questions' below which should help you with your initial enquiry.  Do not wait until you are actually homeless, contact the team as they may be able to prevent you from becoming homeless in the first place.

If Housing Solutions are unable to prevent your homelessness within 56 days, they will conduct enquiries to confirm:

  • you are eligible for our service
  • homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • in a priority need or not
  • whether you have made yourself intentionally homelessness
  • determine if you have a local connection to Flintshire.

If necessary, temporary accommodation may be offered whilst these enquiries are carried out. 

Please remember Housing Solutions are responding to a crisis situation and therefore, may have to rely on temporary accommodation that may not be in an area of your choice, and typically they can be of a size smaller than your ideal requirement.  Remember, homelessness is not a fast-track option to council housing.  You will be banded accordingly and in date order. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I've received notice from my landlord

The type of notice will depend on the type of agreement you have.  If your landlord wants you to leave, they must give you notice in a particular way.  If you are in doubt about your rights, please contact Housing Solutions Team on 01352 703777.

My landlord lives with me and I’ve been told to leave
People who share accommodation with their landlord have different rights to those who rent separate property.  This means you are likely to be an excluded occupier if you are in any of these situations:

  • you share accommodation with your landlord
  • you live in the same building as your landlord and share accommodation with a member of your landlord's family
  • you are living in your accommodation for a holiday
  • you do not pay any rent for your accommodation.

If you are an excluded occupier you will have very few tenancy rights.  It is important to remember how easy it is for your landlord to evict you.  Because of that it might be difficult for you to get repairs done or resist rent increases.

As an excluded occupier your only right is to stay until your landlord asks you to go, or for as long as your written agreement says.  Your landlord can evict you by giving you reasonable notice and doesn't need a court order.  Most authorities would ask your landlord between 14 and 28 days as reasonable notice.  

My landlord/agent has told me via text/verbally that they are going to give me notice
If your landlord / agent has told you in person or via text they are going to issue you with notice this means you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness at present.  Verbal notice or texting by a landlord / agent is not valid notice.

I’ve received a Section 21 Notice Requiring Possession
The majority of private rented tenancies are an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which means you can occupy the property for a minimum of 6 months and you cannot be lawfully evicted without a Court Order.  A court cannot make an order for possession unless you have been issued with a valid Section 21 Notice.  The notice cannot be backdated and must be at least two months.  

Where can I get advice from?
You are strongly advised to contact Housing Solutions on 01352 703777 without delay in order to try and help prevent you from becoming homeless.  In some circumstances, they may be able to get your notice revoked with some negotiation (e.g. if there are arrears, they could arrange to make a payment plan, or arrange for a support worker to assist with any financial problems that has resulted in notice being issued).  Early intervention could also mean that court costs would not be passed on to you from your landlord.  Alternatively, you can contact Shelter Cymru or the Citizens Advice Bureau for independent advice regarding your housing situation.

I'm struggling to pay my rent / mortgage

If you are not able to pay your rent or mortgage, do not bury your head in the sand and ignore it – it won’t make the problem go away.  Talk to your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible.  Whether the problem is due to a change of circumstances, a budgeting problem, redundancy or a cut in your benefits, below are some simple steps you can take to help get yourself back in control and avoid eviction or repossession.

Talk to your Landlord or Mortgage Lender
While it is understandable you might be afraid of telling your landlord or mortgage lender that you are going to be late with the rent or mortgage, it is far better to get the issue out in the open before you actually fail to pay.

When you speak to your landlord:

  • explain why you are going to be late with the rent and ask for some extra time
  • be clear about what you are doing to address the problem to help ensure it will not happen again

When you speak to your mortgage lender, they will be keen to help and will talk through your options.  They must make reasonable attempts to reach an agreement with you, including considering whether to change the way you make payments and when you make them.

If you fall into mortgage arrears, within 15 days your lender must:

  • list all the payments which you have missed
  • tell you the total sum of your arrears
  • tell you the amount of any charges incurred because of missing any payments
  • tell you the exact amount outstanding under your mortgage
  • give you a reasonable time to make good any shortfall in payments
  • tell you the likely charges in future if the arrears are not cleared

Furthermore, your lender must not seek repossession unless all other reasonable attempts to resolve the situation have failed, and they must give you reasonable notice before taking that action.  Offer to pay back what you can afford when you discuss your options with your lender – continuing to pay back some money is better than paying nothing and will help reduce your arrears.

Identify the problem and make a plan
In some cases it will be obvious why you have a problem – perhaps your income or expenses have suddenly changed for the worse, e.g. you have lost your job or your partner has moved out and stopped contributing to the rent or mortgage.  In other cases it may simply be that you are living beyond your means.  Either way, you will need a plan.  Being repeatedly late with your rent or mortgage could lead to eviction and a bad reference from your landlord if you rent, or repossession of your home if you have a mortgage. 

Your two-step plan:

  1. use the Income and Expenditure Form to work out the shortfall between your monthly income and your expenses
  2. once you have done this, look at ways you can cut back or boost your monthly income to close the gap.

Ways you can cut back
Cutting back can be difficult, but it would not be as painful as being evicted from your home – which is why it is vital you act now.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • can you ditch any of your regular monthly expenses or cut back on any luxuries?
  • are you on the cheapest tariff for all your monthly bills?
  • if you have credit card debt, can you switch to a 0% credit card and save yourself some interest payments?
  • are you spending too much on going out or new clothes? It’s far more important to be able to pay the rent or mortgage.

Boosting your Income
If your circumstances have changed and your income has fallen as a result, you may be able to claim benefits to help you pay your rent, such as Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.  If your benefits have been cut as a result of the benefit cap or because you are classed as ‘under-occupying’ your home – you can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments.  Discretionary Housing Payments cannot assist home owners.

Where to get free help and advice
If you want to talk to someone about how to deal with your landlord or after speaking to your mortgage lender, you can call Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau or Flintshire County Council’s Specialist Debt Adviser on 01352 703693. They will also be able to talk to you about what entitlements you may be able to claim to help you meet your rent or mortgage payments if you are on a low income.  Alternatively, you can contact Housing Solutions on 01352 703777 for assistance. 

My relationship has broken down and my partner is aksing me to leave

Can my partner throw me out of our home if we split up?

Usually, this depends on:

  • the legal status of your relationship
  • whether you have occupancy rights

I'm married / I'm in a civil partnership / I'm a tenant / I live with my partner and have occupancy rights granted
If any of these situations applies to you, you have strong rights to stay in the family home and your partner would have to get a court order (e.g. an exclusion order) before they could make you leave your home.  For more information on the rights you have to stay in the home, read the section on occupancy rights.

If your partner tries to force you out, e.g. by making your life so miserable that you have no choice but to go, or changing the locks so you cannot get back into the house, this is illegal eviction.  Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and you can report your partner to the police.  In addition, you may be able to take out an injunction, a non-harassment order or another type of court order against them to prevent them acting in this way.

I live with my partner but don't have occupancy rights granted
In this case your partner will be able to evict you without a court order if they give you reasonable notice (we would ask for between 14 and 28 days).  Once your partner has withdrawn their permission for you to share their home, you will no longer have a right to remain there and there is nothing to stop your partner changing the locks on the property when you are out so you cannot get back in.  

If you refuse to leave, your partner can apply to the court for an order of ejection or can even ask the police for help in getting you out.  However, the police are unlikely to want to get involved if your partner doesn't have a court order.

If you do not want to leave, you will need to apply to the court immediately for occupancy rights to be granted.  This option is open to you whether you are in heterosexual, lesbian or gay relationship with your partner.

You may also be able to apply for occupancy rights after you have left the property.  This will generally only be the case if you were forced out by a violent or abusive partner.

I moved out – does this mean I can move back in again?
I'm married or in a civil partnership:
If you left the family home (e.g. if you went to stay in a refuge or with family or friends), you have the right to move back in again along with any children or grandchildren you look after.  If your partner does not want you to return then you can go to the court for an order to enforce your occupancy rights.  This will allow you to move back in.  However, you do have the right to force your way back in without a court order.  If you need to do this (e.g. if you need to collect furniture or belongings) it is best to ask the police to come with you, to prevent things getting out of hand.

If you moved out on or after the 4 May 2006 then your right to return to and live in the home will only last for two years. However, you will only lose your rights if, during the two-year period, you have not lived with your partner or in the family home.  

You will also lose your right to live in the home if:

  • you give up your rights to live there, or
  • you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership

If you moved out before the 4 May 2006 then you will have the right to move back in until you get a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership or you renounce your rights.

I have occupancy rights
If you have occupancy rights granted by the court, you can return to the family home while those rights last.  Your rights last as long as is specified in the court order (up to six months) or until you are legally evicted from the home.  You can apply to the court to renew your occupancy rights once they have expired.  You must remember to do this though because you will not get any reminders.  If your partner does not want you to return to the family home, you can ask the court for an order to enforce your occupancy rights and allow you to move back in.

I'm a tenant or joint tenant:
In this case, you will retain the right to return to your home until your tenancy officially ends.  Your tenancy may end because:

  • you end the tenancy yourself
  • your lease expires
  • your landlord evicts you 

I want to leave my partner due to domestic abuse

PUT YOUR SAFETY FIRST.  Make sure you have a safety plan in place even if you are not planning to leave straight away.  Try to leave while the perpetrator is not at home so s/he cannot try to stop you.  If possible, arrange a place to stay before you leave and get advice about custody if you have any children.  If you have to leave in an emergency because your partner has assaulted you, call the police.  They may be able to arrest her/him, which will give you some time to leave.

Domestic violence helpline for women
You can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline, which is open 24 hours / seven days a week on 0808 2000 247.  The helpline is run by Women's Aid and Refuge and offers confidential advice, support and information to victims of domestic abuse and can help with referrals to women’s refuges for women fleeing domestic violence.  The helpline can provide access to interpreters in a range of languages.

Domestic violence helpline for men
You can contact the Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.  The helpline (run by the charity Respect) is open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm and offers advice, information and support to male victims of domestic violence as well as to their friends and family.

Help for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people
The Broken Rainbow helpline provides confidential support to all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, their family and friends, and agencies supporting them.  You can contact Broken Rainbow on 0300 999 5428.  The helpline is open Monday 2pm to 8pm, Wednesday 10am to 5pm and Thursday 2pm to 8pm

Staying in your home
If you have suffered domestic abuse or violence, you may want to stay in your home, get the perpetrator out and make your home safer to stay in, especially if you have strong family links or children’s schooling in the area.

Call the police:
In some cases, the best way to get the perpetrator to leave will be to get her/him arrested.  This may only get her/him out of the way for a short time but, if s/he is charged, then s/he may be either held in custody or may be given bail only on condition that s/he does not go near you.  If a criminal offence has been committed, s/he may also be prosecuted and given a custodial sentence.

Change the locks:
You may want to change the locks to stop the perpetrator getting into your home.  However, you need to be aware of two things:

  • simply changing the locks is unlikely to stop a determined attacker, except when combined with other security measures
  • if the perpetrator has rights to occupy the home (if you have a joint tenancy, for example), you could be illegally evicting her/him.

Make your home safer:
There are several measures you can take to make you safer in your home, for example by:

  • fitting more secure locks, door chains, and peepholes for the front doors
  • reinforcing doors and door frames
  • getting window locks, bars, and grills installed
  • installing alarms, CCTV and security lighting
  • improving fire safety measures
  • having a reinforced and lockable safe room in the house, from which the police can be called
  • letting neighbours know that the perpetrator no longer lives with you, and asking them to let you know if they see her/him hanging around
  • changing telephone numbers and screening calls.

These measures can be used along with other legal measures to exclude the perpetrator (e.g. an Occupation Order or Non-molestation Order or an injunction).  They will only protect you while you are inside your home though, so you may want to consider other security measures for while you are out (e.g. personal alarms, a mobile phone, self-defence classes).  They can also be expensive although you might be able to get help paying for them from the council.

The police can give you further advice on security measures.  Make sure your local police station knows that you have been a victim of domestic abuse.  You should also give them a copy of any relevant injunction, especially if it has a power of arrest attached, so they are aware that they will need to respond quickly to any call from you.

Occupation Orders
Occupation Orders are court orders that extend or restrict a person's right to occupy a home.  They can, for example, give you the right to stay in the family home where you didn't previously have that right (for example, where the tenancy is a sole tenancy in the perpetrators name), or exclude the perpetrator from the home.  

An Occupation Order can be applied for separately, or as part of other family law proceedings (divorce or custody proceedings, for example).  The details of the order you can apply for will depend on your relationship to the perpetrator and the type of accommodation you live in.

Occupation Orders can have a power of arrest attached so, for example, if the perpetrator has been excluded from the home, s/he can be arrested if she tries to break in.  The perpetrator can be given a custodial sentence or fined for breaching the order.

You will need to seek the advice of a solicitor to get an Occupation Order.  They cannot guarantee your safety, and will only last for a limited time, so you will need to take further action to settle who stays in the property in the long-term.

Getting an order or injunction
You will need to get advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law.  The solicitor will help you to make an application to the court for an injunction.  Sometimes, injunctions can be sought as a part of family law (divorce or custody) proceedings.  The judge will consider the evidence of the violence against you, and whether:

  • the behaviour you want to stop is unlawful
  • the perpetrator is likely to carry out the actions
  • there is a likelihood of harm to you
  • the behaviour can be clearly explained so the perpetrator will understand what it is they are banned from doing
  • the order or injunction is necessary for your protection.

Unlike in the criminal courts, the violence does not have to be proven 'beyond reasonable doubt'; the judge will just have to be satisfied that it is 'more probable than not' that the violence happened.  The judge will then decide whether to make an order or injunction and, if so, what conditions to attach to it.

Getting help from the Housing Solutions Team
You can contact the team for help who can suggest improving security in your home as an alternative to accessing a place of safety.  It is your choice if you do not wish to remain in the home, especially if you do not feel safe.  

They can offer the following:

  • homelessness advice and assistance
  • accessing emergency accommodation or refuge
  • advice on excluding the perpetrator from your home
  • improvements in the security of your home (e.g. target hardening – alarms, locks, etc)
  • emergency contacts and ongoing support

Please contact the team on 01352 703777

I want to leave home or my family / relatives have asked me to leave

If you think that you need to leave home because of family arguments or disagreements, moving out is not your only option.  It may be better for you to stay at home with your family and to try and sort out your difficulties.  The information below is not age specific and can relate to anyone of any age living at home with family or other relatives.

The reality of leaving home
If you are thinking of leaving home due to stress with your family, it may help to stop and think of the reality of leaving home first. You may think it means:

  • your own flat
  • doing what you want, when you want
  • no rules
  • nobody telling you what to do

The reality is likely to be:

  • may be difficult to find somewhere to live
  • may have to share accommodation
  • there will be house rules
  • you will have lots of new responsibilities, such as paying rent and cooking
  • you will have limited income and may find it hard to afford to do things you enjoy

Staying in the family home
As you grow up, it is natural that you will not always see eye to eye with your parents or guardians.  These disagreements can often stem from a lack of understanding of each others’ lives and behaviour.  It is better if you try and sort things out.  Explain how you feel and listen to what they have to say.

Set some ground rules
Sometimes you may feel that your parents make all of the rules and you have to choose to obey them or break them.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way.  As you grow up, it is important that you and your parents set ground rules together and make decisions that you all find acceptable.

These decisions may be on issues such as:

  • privacy and personal space
  • when and how often you go out
  • how much you help around the house

Try to negotiate rather than argue, and be prepared to compromise. 

Examples could be:

  • you could agree that your parents will not go into your bedroom provided you keep ittidy and put your own dirty laundry in the washing machine
  • you may decide that you won’t go out during the week, but can stay out as lateas you like at the weekend.

If your parents are particularly adamant about certain points, ask them why, rather than arguing about it, and listen to their reasoning.  Chances are, they have your best interests at heart and just want you to be safe and happy.  If they are worried about you, you may be able to set their minds at rest, such as giving them a contact number if you are going to be out overnight or telling them about your work or college commitments, if they think you are overlooking doing your chores.

A bit of advice…
It may sound like a cliché, but if you want to be treated like an adult, it is important to act like one.  Here are some tips for gaining your parents’ respect and trust:

  • do your bit around the house - look after younger brothers and sisters, do thewashing or cook the family a meal
  • if you want your parents to stay out of your bedroom, keep it tidy - don’t give them an excuse to go poking around
  • don’t exclude your parents from your life – try spending some quality time with themevery so often (if they realise you’re not avoiding them, they are more likely to trustyou and give you some space)
  • try to be honest and open – if you lie and get caught out (and chances are you will) it will only make things worse and destroy your parents’ trust in you
  • don’t argue over every little thing you disagree with (that way, when it comes to the big stuff, you’ll have more force)
  • talk it through!
  • if you have a problem with the way your parents are treating you, for example, if they are lecturing you or refusing to compromise on house rules, talk to them about it – they may not even realise they are upsetting you.  

Remember when talking it through:

  • don’t get angry and shout or swear – your parents will just switch off
  • if you are angry, wait until you’ve calmed down, before discussing things
  • try writing your points down if you think you may get emotional
  • pick a good moment, when your parents aren’t busy and can pay attention to what you are saying
  • put forward your side of the story, then ask them to explain theirs
  • listen to what they have to say, and try to acknowledge their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it
  • if you argue, don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong and say you are sorry
  • talk to someone else

If you are having problems communicating with your parents, it may help to talk to someone else.  This could be an elder brother or sister, your grandparents, aunt or uncle, a friend or teacher.  They may be able to act as a go between, to help smooth things over with your parents.

Mediation
If you feel that you need some “hands on” help sorting things out with your family then Housing Solutions can arrange for mediation to take place.  A mediator is a sort of neutral referee who can help you and your parents sort out your problems. They don’t take sides, they don’t decide ‘who is right’ and they don’t tell you what to do.  Instead, they’ll help you work things out for yourselves.  If you are interested in learning more about mediation, contact our team on 01352 703777.

Can my parents/relatives kick me out?
Most family disagreements can be sorted out through communication and, in some cases, mediation.  However, sometimes it is not possible to stay at home as you may not feel safe or your parents may have said that you have to leave.  Housing Solutions will do what they can to try and get you back home, where it is safe to do so, and if necessary provide support to help you and your family.  In some circumstances, they can make a referral to Supported Accommodation projects in Flintshire if you are allowed to return home but only until alternative housing is secured.

If you are aged 16 or 17 years of age
If you have been asked to leave by family and you are aged 16 or 17 years, you can contact Housing Solutions for some help.  New rules came into force to help young people facing homelessness and they would undertake a joint assessment with Children’s Services.  The reason for this is there is usually more going on with your situation than just homelessness, e.g.  school or college, medical reasons, abuse.  The assessment is completed to ensure that all your needs are addressed and you receive the right service for you.  If you wish to speak to a member of Young Persons Integrated Team please contact 01352 703164. 

I'm getting harassment from my neighbour / landlord

The law protects people living in a residential property against harassment and illegal eviction.  It does this in two ways: by making harassment and illegal eviction a criminal offence, and by enabling someone who is harassed or illegally evicted to claim damages through the civil court.
What constitutes harassment?

Harassment can occur in many forms.  It's described as 'causing alarm or distress' and also as 'putting people in fear of violence'.  It can include, but is not limited to, the following types of behaviour: 

  • Threats of violence against you or an actual act of violence committed upon you
  • Abusive and/or insulting behaviour or words
  • Threats of damage to your property and possessions or actual damage to them
  • Any written form of abuse or threat made to you, including letters, graffiti or any other kind of written material such as posters being put up that are derogatory towards you

Basically, harassment can be any type of behaviour or action taken towards you which threatens your own sense of security and peace or which causes you unnecessary inconvenience.

What can you do if you are a victim of harassment?
If you feel that you are being harassed, you should immediately notify the police.  It’s also useful if you have kept a written record of all the occasions when any harassment has took place, including what form of harassment you suffered, the date and time it took place, and a name or description of the perpetrator(s).  Even if you haven’t gathered all of this information or you do not know who might be responsible, just give the police as much information as you can.

The more you can tell them, the quicker and easier it will be to get the harassment to stop and to instigate any legal proceedings that might be necessary.  Once you have been interviewed by the police, they will be on hand to offer you any advice while they conduct their investigations.

What if I live in rented accommodation?
If you live in rented accommodation, you should also inform your Landlord, your Neighbourhood Housing Officer or Housing Association.  They can offer additional support which might include fitting locks, vandal-proof letterboxes, fences and lighting, and installing alarms which might even be linked to your local police station.  If your perpetrator lives in the same building as you, they can also confront them and warn them about possible tenancy agreement breaches, and the possibility of eviction.

Flintshire County Council will do all it can to help you remain in your home and you should not feel under any pressure in having to move.  Nobody should ever feel compelled to be driven out of their home and neighbourhood against their wishes because of a harassment issue.  If, however, you feel that rehousing is your only option, please speak to your Neighbourhood Housing Officer, Housing Association or Landlord/Agent,

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977
If you are a tenant and privately rent your property, the law makes it an offence to:

  • Do acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with him or her; or
  • Persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home.

It is an offence to do any of the things described above intending, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that they would cause the tenant to leave their home, or stop using part of it, or stop doing the things a tenant should normally expect to be able to do.  It is also an offence to take someone’s home away from him or her unlawfully.

The precise offences are set out in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which has been made stronger by the Housing Act 1988.

A person who is convicted by magistrates of an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act may have to pay a maximum fine of £5,000, or be sent to prison for six months, or both.  If the case goes to the Crown Court, the punishment can be prison for up to two years, or a fine, or both.