Thursday, February 10, 2011

Threatened With Homelessness?

THREATENED WITH EVICTION??

If you are threatened with or made homeless, call into the Housing and Money Advice Centre as soon as possible. You will be given advice on what your rights are and where to find help. You have a right to apply to the Council's Homelessness team based at the Guildhall. Ask at the reception to speak to the person who deals with homelessness.

If you are 16 or 17 years old and have been in social services care in the past the Leaving Care Team of Social Services will probably still have a responsibility to provide accommodation. If you are 16 or 17 years old and have never been in Social Services care, or you are 18, 19 or 20 and were in Social Services care before becoming 18 you will have a priority need for emergency Council housing. Speak to staff at the Housing & Money Advice Centre or apply to the Homeless Team at the Guildhall

THE HOUSING & MONEY ADVICE CENTRE

The Housing & Money Advice Centre provides a free and confidential service to the residents of Northampton on housing and debt issues.

Types of help available at the Centre for those who are homeless or those threatened with homelessness are : -

· Accommodation lists giving details of privately rented accommodation in and around the Northampton area.
· Use of a telephone to contact landlords for accommodation.
· Information and leaflets on most benefits.

Staff are available to discuss your situation and offer advice on a range of issues such as:
· Finding and keeping accommodation.
· Renting in the private sector
· Benefits and budgeting advice.

Assistance is given with completing housing benefit and housing application forms.

HOUSING ADVICE SERVICE

Looking at your housing options and advising the best move in the short, medium and long term.
Helping prevent homelessness by advising and supporting you, including attending Court and talking with other agencies.



TENANCY RELATIONS SERVICE

Provides advice and assistance to tenants in the private sector who are experiencing difficulties and aims to prevent illegal evictions and harassment by landlords.

REMEMBER: IF THE LANDLORD ASKS YOU TO LEAVE OR GIVES A NOTICE OR LETTER SAYING YOU MUST LEAVE, GET ADVICE STRAIGHT AWAY.

DEBT COUNSELLING SERVICE

Offers advice and assistance on money and debt issues relevant to you and your home. These include:

Rent – mortgage – council tax – hire purchase – electricity – gas – water – banks – catalogues – credit cards – finance – loans – bailiffs – court fines – county court judgements – repossessions.

HOUSING OPTIONS

Once you have found temporary accommodation, you will need to consider your future housing option. You may consider

LODGINGS

This is where you live in someone's house and pay them an inclusive amount for accommodation and some meals or where you live in a hotel or guest house. Remember housing benefit does not cover meals or other services

SHARED HOUSE / FLAT

This type of accommodation is available to let from private landlords. You could get together with one or more friends and rent a house together sharing the living room kitchen and bathroom. It can be difficult sharing with people you do not know, so make sure you feel comfortable with the other occupants before you agree to share. The rents can be high as landlords can ask a 'market rent' and lettings are often on short term. Never sign an agreement without seeking advice first.

If you are going to claim housing benefit remember it may be restricted if you are paying above the market rent.

Staff at Housing and Money Advice Centres can help you decide whether you can afford this type of accommodation and whether or not a particular bed-sit offers you value for money.

LIVE IN ACCOMMODATION

Some types of employment offer accommodation, such as hotel work, if you are a student, the college may have accommodation

COUNCIL HOUSING

Anyone over 16 can apply to be housed by the council.
Application forms are available from all Borough Council housing offices. Completed forms can be returned to any office

Once you have made an application don't forget to notify the Council of any changes in your circumstances, especially if you change address.

Contact Northampton Borough Council on 01604 837890 or the Housing and Money Advice Centre for information and advice on the housing register.

HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS (REGISTERED SOCIAL LANDLORDS)

These are organisations which own and rent flats, houses and bungalows. Some specialise in housing for youngsingle people. A list of local Housing Associations is available from the Housing and Money Advice Centre. Most vacancies with Housing Associations are given to people on the Council's waiting list.

WHERE TO LOOK AND WHAT TO CHECK OUT

· Talk to friends
· Look in the local papers and shop windows for property to rent ads.
· Northampton Borough Council has a waiting list, try to register on this. The accommodation may be cheaper than private rented but you will probably have to wait some time for council accommodation. This also applies to Housing Associations.
· If you are a student, contact your Welfare or Accommodation Officer or approach your student union representative
· The Housing & Money Advice Centre has accommodation lists. Landlords advertise there because it costs them nothing and landlords love free property advertising

If you are offered somewhere to live, don't be afraid to ask the landlord a lot of questions, especially before signing an agreement – try and have a really good look at the place.

REMEMBER - private landlords nearly always require rent in advance and a damage deposit

Questions you should ask the landlord

· You should ask for a written contract and seek advice before you sign it
· Who pays the electric and water rates?
· Does the landlord live on the premises? This will affect your rights
· Who is your landlord and whereas does he/she live? Landlords are required to by law to provide you with this information
· Is there an inventory? If not make your own and give a copy to the landlord. List everything in the rooms and what condition it is in. The inventory should be signed by you and the landlord.
· Find out exactly what the rent is, what you have to pay and what it is for.
· Ask for a rent book and receipts for any money you pay to the landlord or agent. If your rent is due weekly, the landlord should by law provide you with a rent book.
· Ask to see the Gas Safety certificates for any gas appliances i.e. gas fire, heating



Contact the Housing and Money Advice Centre if you have a problem with this

NEVER SIGN A TENANCY AGREEMENT UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING. IF IN DOUBT GET PROPER ADVICE

PROVISIONS FOR THE UNDER 18'S

COMMUNITY SUPPORT TEAM

The Community Support Team is part of the Resources Team. They offer a service to young people between the ages of 16 and 17
They are based at 196 Kettering Road. They assist in finding accommodation and give advice on many aspects of young peoples lives i.e. health, education, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships, self – care skills or are able to signpost to other agencies

For an appointment contact 01604 620343 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4.30 pm

MONEY MATTERS

If you unemployed, are sick or on a low income you may be entitled to claim benefits. These could include Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit etc

If money is tight you may benefit from budgeting advice from a debt counsellor at the Housing & Money Advice Centre.

Most benefits are paid weekly or fortnightly in arrears and in some circumstances a Crisis Loan can be considered if you have no means to support yourself until your first benefit payment is due. This is discretionary interest free payment that will have to be repaid via deductions from your benefit

A Budgeting Loan can be considered when Income Support and Income Based Jobseekers Allowance have been in payment for 26 weeks. Budgeting Loans can be allowed for household items and rent in advance. Like a Crisis Loan, a Budgeting Loan is a discretionary interest free payment that will have to be repaid via deductions from your benefit

To enquire about benefits and for advice on how to make a claim contact the Job Centre at the following address:

Jobcentre plus
Frances House
21 Lower Mounts
Northampton NN1 3LY

Telephone 01604 446100

Benefit Enquiry Line 0845 6004258
Social Fund Line 01900 221379

EMPLOYMENT

It is difficult to find work if your are homeless. Casual work may be easier to find but look for permanent rather than temporary work

Most employers expect new employees to work at least a week before paying any wages and you might not always find work that will pay enough to cover the rent. You may still be entitled to other benefits – Housing & Money Advice staff can advise you of this.

Jobcentres also provide information, advice and various leaflets which you may find helpful in your search for employment

HOUSING BENEFIT

Many people not working or on a low income can claim help with their rent and should apply to:

Northampton Borough Council
Benefit Services
The Guildhall
Northampton NN1 1DE

Telephone 01604 837700

Application forms are available from the address above. If you claim Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance you should complete the enclosed housing benefit (NHB1) and council tax benefit forms and hand them to the DWP. However, you will still need to complete the Council's Housing Benefit Form.

PLEASE NOTE

You should complete a Pre – Tenancy Determination before you sign a tenancy agreement with a private landlord.

This will tell you if Housing Benefit will cover all the rent the landlord is charging before you commit yourself and move in. Forms are available from Benefit Services and the Housing & Money Advice Centre.

Housing Benefit does not cover any charges included in the rent for food, heating, hot water, lighting or cooking. You must pay these from your other income / benefit.

When you move into your new accommodation complete a housing benefit form immediately and return it to the Housing Benefit Section. Do not worry if you cannot supply all the proof and information required on the format once – you can send it in later if you delay returning the form you may lose benefit, and get into rent arrears.

SINGLE CLAIMANTS UNDER 25

Most single people under 25 who live on their own in self contained privately rented accommodation will not be able to get the full amount of rent paid by Housing Benefit

The Benefit will be based on the lower end of a single room rate assessed by the Rent Officer Service. This is a market based valuation for a single room with shared toilet and kitchen facilities and this will be the maximum amount of rent that can be used in calculating new claims

PAYMENT OF HOUSING BENEFIT IN ARREARS

All new claims and changes of address claims for privately rented and Housing Association properties now have their Housing Benefit paid in arrears

PRIVATE RENTING

Landlords who let any sort of property usually take a DEPOSIT from the tenants. This is kept to cover any costs the landlords may have if the tenant has caused any damage to the to the furniture or fittings. There are no benefits available to help you pay a landlord any deposit money, try to negotiate. Sometimes it is worth, if possible, paying the deposit in instalments.

Even if a landlord does not expect a deposit the chances are he / she will want RENT IN ADVANCE. The amount can vary, and again do not be afraid to negotiate .

If you are in need of rent in advance because you have nowhere to live you can apply to the DWP for a loan. The Housing & Money Advice Centre may also be able to assist.

ADVICE & HELP

It is important to remember you are never alone. There are many sorts of advice available in Northampton. The Library or phone book are good places to find out what is available locally. The following are just a few places where you can get help and advice.

SHELTERLINE

8.00 am – 12 midnight telephone 0808 800 444

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU
72A St Giles Street Northampton tel 0870 120 2433

SAMARITANS
2 St. Michaels Avenue Northampton tel 01604 637637 ( Available 24 hours )

THE LOWDOWN ( Advice & Counselling 16 – 25 year olds )
3 Kingswell Street Northampton tel 01604 622223

NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH COUNCIL
The Guildhall
St Giles Square
Northampton tel 01604 837837

RELATE
Hazelwood Road Northampton tel 01604634400

WELFARE RIGHTS ADVICE SERVICE
3 / 7 Hazelwood Road Northampton tel 01604636112

THE JESUS CENTRE 2 Lower Mounts Northampton tel 0871 8712121

NORTHAMPTON GAY & LESBIAN ADVICE CENTRE tel 01604 528986

LONE PARENT HELPLINE tel 0800 018 5026

SUNFLOWER CENTRE tel 01604 233684

NATION DEBTLINE tel 0808 8084000

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL TEL 01604236236