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There are many ways in which a person or their family can become homeless, or find themselves at risk of losing their home, often through no fault of their own.

In Dudley we try to prevent homelessness whenever possible so we offer advice about housing options to people who are homeless, those who may be at risk of losing their home, have other urgent housing needs, or those who simply want to know more about the options that are available to them.

Worried about losing your home?

If you need to find alternative accommodation the information and links will provide you with some general advice and also includes information that is specific to the Dudley Borough.

Where to get help and advice about housing or homelessness

Whether you own your home, rent it, or even if you are living with family or friends, if you have lost your home, or are worried about losing your home, the Homelessness Prevention and Response Team at Dudley Council can offer assistance to help you to resolve your housing problems.


ALWAYS TRY AND OBTAIN ADVICE AS SOON AS YOU CAN, DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR EXISTING ACCOMMODATION BEFORE SEEKING ADVICE UNLESS IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
Homelessness Advice is changing and on April 3rd 2018 new legislation comes into force which introduces some new measures that will be implemented by local Councils from that date. The new legislation imposes a legal duty upon local Councils to help anyone who is homeless by first working with them to try to prevent their homelessness, but if that is not possible, to work with them to help them to secure alternative accommodation. This new piece of law requires that the Council help those seeking assistance to complete a personal housing plan to help them to identify the housing solution that is right for them in their particular circumstances, and in addition will identify any reasonable steps that the applicant must take either to prevent the loss of their current home or to secure alternative accommodation so that they do not become homeless.


The new legislation also requires the Council to collect more information about you, your household, your personal circumstances and about the reasons why you need assistance. Your data will still be processed in accordance with the law, but please see below for more information about understanding the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act.


For more information about the help that you may be entitled to, or if you need housing advice you can contact us for during normal office hours 9am – 5pm, by calling 0300 555 2345. Your enquiry will be passed to an advisor and you can expect to be contacted within 3 working days. In an emergency your enquiry will be directed to our duty team for same day help.

In an emergency- homeless tonight

Should you find yourself without housing or accommodation outside of office hours, including over weekends or Bank Holidays, you can call our emergency housing team on 0300 555 2345 for advice. They will direct you to the most appropriate help in your particular circumstances.


Alternatively you can call Shelters Helpline on 0808 800 4444, open 365 days a year, 8am -8pm weekdays, and 8am -5pm at weekends, for help and advice.

Other sources of help:

 

Relationship breakdown and Domestic Abuse

Relationship Breakdown

Ending a relationship, or managing a relationship after separation can be difficult, and deciding who keeps the home can be one of the issues that you have to resolve. There are lots of options to consider if your relationship has broken down and you may need some advice to help you to decide on the one that is right in your situation. The options you have will differ depending upon the tenure of your accommodation, the status of your relationship, whether you have children, and your ability to continue to fund any of the accommodation options you might wish to pursue. Therefore it is really important that you get some advice before you make any decisions. Get advice first!

If your relationship has broken down and you are worried about how it will affect where you live please contact the homelessness prevention team and we will be able to advise. You can contact us on 0300 555 2345.

Domestic Abuse
If you are a victim or survivor of domestic abuse then the most important thing is to stay safe!
If you are at risk of violence call 999.
If you are frightened and need to leave your home because of violence or a threat of violence, call 999.

Once you are safe contact the homelessness prevention team on 0300 555 2345. We will be able to give you the help and advice you will need in order to stay safe in the first instance, and then will be able to advise you of your longer term options.
Violence and abuse is not acceptable and you do not have to live in fear.
If you are experiencing violence or abuse please contact us and we will be able to help you to access support and advice.

There are also other organisations that can help you.

New Beginnings is the name for a range of services provided in Dudley for people who are suffering or have suffered as a result of Domestic Abuse. Their services include:-
• 24 hours staffed refuge accommodation for women and children,
• satelite 'safe' houses for female and male victims with families,
• outreach support services at your home or in a safe neutral place,
• specialist support groups to gain awareness of the signs and effects of abuse and help you to make choices and changes for the future.
You can contact CHADD by telephone on 01384 456465, by email, admin@chadd.org.uk or you can visit their website for more information www.chadd.org.uk

Alternatively you can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline, open 24/7 by calling 0800 2000 247. The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever you might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. There are translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing is also available.

Information for Homeowners

As a homeowner you cannot be evicted from your home unless your mortgage lender takes court action and obtains a possession order and a warrant for your eviction; and even then, providing you have not been actually evicted and the locks changed, it may not be too late to get help. If you are evicted from your home it will be too late to get help- so don’t wait and don’t ignore the problem- seek help. If your lender has taken court action against you then it is vital that you get advice quickly. No matter how bad it may seem, if you get help you may be able to stay in your home. It is up to the Court to decide whether you can stay in your home, so even if you have tried but failed to reach an agreement with your lender, or if you have broken arrangements previously agreed, you should still seek independent advice before deciding to give up your home.

The following web pages and sites provide information for homeowners;

Mortgage arrears advice locally

If you are behind with mortgage payments, or if your circumstances have changed and you know that this might mean you will be unable to keep up with payments, don’t wait, get advice.

Free mortgage arrears advice is on offer to homeowners in the Dudley borough who fear they may lose their home or are worried about mounting debts.

The advice, which is available to anyone who lives in the borough, is the result of a service developed by the Dudley Council’s Homelessness Prevention and Response Team and the Dudley District Citizens’ Advice Bureau. It is aimed at anyone who is having difficulty keeping up their monthly mortgage payments. You do not have to already be behind with payments in order to use the service- if you are worried please get in touch.

Anyone who wants to use this free, confidential service can either telephone 01384 816499 or visit their local Citizens’ Advice Bureau or alternatively please contact the Homelessness Prevention and Response Team at Dudley MBC, on 0300 555 2345 All discussions are strictly confidential.

Nationally, there is a free, impartial advice service available to homeowners which can be accessed by calling the National Debt line on 0808 808 4000.

Or see the fact sheet National Homelessness Advice Service

Help at County Court

All County Courts in England operate a Help at Court Scheme. Free advice is available to homeowners and to tenants in difficulty and is provided by either a local solicitor or advice agency. In Dudley, the Help at Court Scheme is operated by Wolverhampton Citizens Advice Bureau. You can contact them on 01902 572222 or alternatively please contact the Homelessness Prevention and Response Team, at Dudley MBC, on 0300 555 2345 if you are worried about losing your home and are facing court action.

Information for Private tenants

The rights of tenants can be complicated and will depend on individual circumstances, but if you are renting your home from a private landlord, and do not share any part of the accommodation with them, and you began renting after 28th February 1997, it is likely that you have an assured shorthold tenancy. This is the most common form of tenancy to have if you rent from a private landlord. Most private landlords will be happy to continue to allow you to rent their property providing you adhere to the tenancy conditions. However, sometimes things don’t work out and the landlord may ask you to leave, but even if you are behind with your rent, your landlord can not evict you from your home unless they have served you with a valid notice stating why they require their property back, have taken court action, obtained a possession order, and the court has issued a warrant of eviction. So if your landlord asks you to leave your home- get advice.

Depending upon the reasons for the landlord’s action you may find that you are able to keep your home or that you don’t have to leave at the date the landlord has specified .This is because in some circumstances we may be able to help you to negotiate with your landlord to agree that you remain in your home, or it may be that in some circumstances the landlord has not complied with rules in regard to the protection of tenancy deposits, has served notice using the wrong forms, or has not completed repairs that he has been ordered to carry out, all which would mean that the notice you have been given may be invalid.

Therefore you should always get advice if you have been asked to leave your home.

If you have paid a deposit,and if it has not been protected in an authorised scheme, then your landlord may not be able to take action against you until your deposit is returned. You can check whether your deposit has been protected by using Shelters deposit checker Shelter- deposit checker

Remember- only the Court’s bailiff’s can evict you, so if your landlord has evicted you from your home without a court order you may have been illegally evicted; please click the following link to contact our private rented sector team. Contact Private Sector Housing or see the fact sheet Illegal eviction

More information about private renting, notices and deposits, can be found by clicking the links below:

Information for Council tenants

If you rent your home from Dudley Council and find that the Council has begun action to take back your home then you should contact your rent arrears officer to discuss any problems you may have immediately. You should also contact the Homelessness Prevention Team for help and advice. Please don’t leave it too late. Dudley Council will work with you to try to keep you in your home wherever possible.

Before the Council can evict you from your home a court order must be obtained and a procedure must be followed, called the Rent arrears protocol By clicking onto this link you can read about the process Dudley Council should follow if taking action against you.

If you are in arrears with your rent then contact the Income team directly on 01384 811689

Young people under 24

If you are aged 18-24 and worried about losing your home or want to know more about your housing options then advice is available at the Project First Step Youth Hub at Dudley Council Plus. The Hub team are all trained staff who will be able to give you advice about housing and homelessness and who can also help with things like benefits and money issues and much more. All services are available on a drop in basis.

Other useful information for young people can be found at:

Project First Step
If you are aged 25 and under and looking for advice, Project First Step is full of information about getting and remaining in your first home.

Contact us

By Telephone- 0300 555 2345.

In person- by visiting Dudley Council Plus, 259 Castle Street, Dudley DY1 1LQ
Opening hours Monday to Friday 8.00am - 5.30pm -Saturday 9.00am – 12.00 noon

In writing- please write to Homelessness Prevention Team, Dudley Council Plus, 259 Castle Street, Dudley, DY1 1LQ

Duty to Refer - If you are an employee of a public authority please see the Duty to Refer information (below). You can email us on dutytorefer@dudley.gov.uk

The duty to refer- s213B

From October 1st 2018 there will be a duty imposed upon all specified Public Authorities to refer people that they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness for assistance to a local authority providing that the person gives their consent to the referral.

Who does this duty apply to?

This duty applies to “Specified Public Authorities” within the The Homelessness (Review Procedure etc.) Regulations 2018 and these are detailed to be as follows:

  • Prisons (public & private)
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (community rehabilitation companies and national probation service)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Hospital A&E Services
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals (when providing in-patient treatment)
  • Social service authorities. 
  • The Secretary of State for Defence (in relation to members of):
    • Royal Navy
    • Royal Marines
    • Army (regular)
    • Royal Air Force

How can a public authority make a referral?

A referral can be made by contacting the homelessness prevention team on 01384 815035 or by completing the form and emailing to dutytorefer@dudley.gov.uk.

Public authorities are not expected to conduct housing needs assessments as part of the section 213B duty to refer and all that is asked is that the referring authority gather as much information as is reasonably practicable.

Please note that a referral made by a public authority to the housing authority under section 213B will not in itself constitute an application for assistance under Part VII Housing Act 1996 (the homelessness legislation).

For further guidance on the Duty to Refer is available.

 

Understanding the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017- Privacy

As a consequence of the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, in April 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wants to learn more about the help provided to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Therefore MHCLG wants to study the information you provide to us about how you have become homeless or threatened with homelessness, about your housing history and the sort of things that you need help and support with to help them to improve services.

MHCLG also wants to look at how you use other public services and at the benefits you receive.

Your personal details, such as your name, will be needed for this, but the researchers will not know whose information they’re looking at.

Any information you provide will not affect the services or benefits that you receive now or in the future, or used to identify fraud.

Your information will be kept safe and confidential, and handled with care and in accordance with the law.

What’s the aim of this study?
By carrying out this research, MHCLG aims to find out whether:

  1. Housing services prevent homelessness
  2. People return for help and/or move regularly
  3. Homelessness programmes, such as Housing First, reduce homelessness
  4. There are other causes of homelessness and outcomes, such as poor health.

To do this, MHCLG wants to link information about you and others in your household together with other information, including your homelessness application and past and future information on your use of services and benefits.

For more detailed information please see the Draft Privacy Notices document

Useful sources of information

Other useful information about housing and homelessness can be found at: