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10. Housing Options

10. Housing options

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and temporary accommodation

www.stockporthomes.org

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Housing options and temporary accommodation

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Housing options The Housing Options Team has four main tasks: • to provide advice about housing options to Stockport residents; • to try to prevent homelessness;

We give advice on housing options tailored to each individual’s needs.

• to find out why people have become homeless and decide what help Stockport Homes has a duty to provide on the Council’s behalf; and • to provide emergency temporary accommodation for certain categories of people. The team is based at the Housing Information Centre in central Stockport. To minimise waiting times we have an appointment system, but an emergency drop-in service is also available and we can also offer home visits. You can find contact details in the ‘Accessing our services’ section of this handbook on page 10.

Your housing options: We give advice on housing options tailored to each individual’s needs. The following are the main options available. Housing option Applying for Stockport Homes accommodation through Homechoice. Applying to housing associations or other registered social landlords.

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Positives No deposit needed. Affordable rents. Rent includes most repairs. Tenancies go on for as long as you stick to the terms of your agreement.

Negatives Few places are available and lots of people apply. Some people are not eligible. Limited choice of areas.

No deposit needed. Cheaper than Few places available. Some people renting privately (but usually more are not eligible. Limited choice of expensive than Stockport Homes’ rents). areas. Rent includes most repairs. Tenancies usually continue as long as you stick to the terms of your agreement.

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Housing options and temporary accommodation

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Housing option Positives Renting Lots of choice of area and type of privately. property (from single rooms in a shared house to large family houses). Quite easy to find as long as you have enough money. Advertised in the Housing Information Centre, newspapers, shop windows, letting agencies and on the internet. Repairs are usually included in the rent (council tax and some utility bills may also be included – you will need to check with your landlord).

Negatives You nearly always need a deposit (although we may be able to help through Stockport Homes’ Deposit Scheme). Housing Benefit may not cover the full rent (if you are on benefits or low income you should check first to see how much they will pay). Tenancies are for six months or a year, although will usually last much longer. When they end it is quite easy for your landlord to take their property back (but you do have to be given proper notice and the correct legal process must occur). Supported Ideal if your needs are too severe to cope Very limited supply. Costs can be high if you are working. Rents are accommodation. with by living independently (such as health problems, and substance misuse usually higher than with Stockport Homes and housing associations. issues). Only available to those in Applying for a Gives you more opportunities to move. Stockport Homes properties mutual Keep same benefits as before such as (see HomeSwapper information exchange. affordable rents. Can register free of underneath if you are in other social charge. housing). Some households are not eligible. Homeswapper Can register free of charge. Provides a Only available to social housing for social matching service by sending text or email tenants. Internet based only housing tenants. alerts when suitable matches are found. service. Some households are not Operates both locally and nationally. eligible. Applying for Provides more choice and greater Internet based only service. social housing opportunities to move in and around across Greater Greater Manchester. As long as you are Manchester with registered with Homechoice (or any other Pinpoint. local authority housing scheme) you are automatically eligible. New properties available every day. Buying a house. Free choice of property type and areas Costs vary widely but can be high. if you have enough money. Homes However, some shared ownership are advertised in estate agents, on the or affordable homes schemes internet and in newspapers. The property exist where you only pay a part is your own – as long as you pay your of the market price, sometimes mortgage and any service charges. paying rent on the rest. You usually need to have a steady job and a percentage of the money up front.

www.stockporthomes.org

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Housing options and temporary accommodation

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Housing option Positives Buying a house.

Affordable housing.

Lodging with friends or relatives.

Negatives You need to pay for your repairs. You may have to pay ground rent or service charges if your property is leasehold. Limited supply. You usually need Ideal way to get on the property ladder to have a steady job in order to if you cannot afford market prices. Only need to buy or have a mortgage for a secure a mortgage. Costs can be portion of the property (25%, 50%, 75%), high depending on mortgage deal. and rent the remainder from a social landlord. Can buy further shares in the property later. Usually a lot cheaper than living on your Personal relationships can break down – if so, Stockport Homes’ own. Relatives or friends do not usually ask for a deposit. If you have to pay bills, Mediation Scheme can help. Lack they are usually shared. You don’t usually of own space or overcrowding can be an issue. You can be asked to have to worry about repairs. Friends or family can provide support and avoid you leave with little notice. feeling isolated. No waiting lists!

Preventing homelessness You may find yourself in housing difficulties that can result in you becoming homeless. To help prevent this, the Housing Options Team can give you advice and assistance.

Our services include: Mediation If you are lodging with friends or family, our Mediation Officer can help resolve any problems that may lead to you being asked to leave. Communication breakdowns or conflicts in lifestyles can often be sorted out, even if only in the short-term, while you think about other housing options.

Private sector work Private tenancies can break down for various reasons. Our officers can negotiate between landlords and tenants to try and resolve any problems and keep tenancies going.

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Our officers can also make sure that landlords follow the correct procedures when ending a tenancy, and can advise tenants about their rights. The team liaises with the Council’s Housing Standards Team, who can take enforcement action if landlords act illegally.

Home visiting service We offer a home visiting service as this is often the best way to understand our customers’ circumstances and gives us more opportunities to take action to prevent homelessness.

Deposit Scheme If you are facing homelessness but do not have enough money to pay a deposit for a private rented tenancy, then Stockport Homes’ Deposit Scheme may be able to help. Through this scheme, we will provide a guarantee to a landlord instead of a cash deposit in case you fail to pay rent or damage the property. If we have to pay out any money, we will reclaim it from you.

Domestic abuse

You may find yourself in housing difficulties that can result in you becoming homeless. To help prevent this, the Housing Options Team can give you advice and assistance.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, we can put you in touch with support agencies and schemes that will help make your home more secure. Stockport Homes does not believe that anyone should have to live with the fear of domestic abuse and if you are a tenant your area housing office will also be able to help. Section 5.5 of our tenancy agreement states: your friends and relatives and any other person living in or “You, visiting the property (including children) must not inflict domestic violence, threaten violence or use mental, emotional or sexual abuse against your partner, ex partner or another member of your family or household.

Harassment Stockport Homes will not tolerate harassment on their estates and will take action against any resident who commits harassment or allows people who are living with them or visiting them to do so. If you have been a victim of, or witnessed harassment we would encourage you to report it directly to the police on 0161 872 5050. www.stockporthomes.org

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Alternatively, you can report it directly to your area housing office or the Anti-Social Behaviour Team (see the ‘Accessing our services’ section on page 10 for contact details).

Exploring options We are working on other ways of helping customers.

Stockport Homes will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour and will take action against anyone carrying out such behaviour.

Housing is in high demand in Stockport so we can also help if you want to consider living in a nearby Borough or even further afield. We do this by helping you find out what is available and how to apply for it. Although every effort is made to prevent people becoming homeless, occasionally it is unavoidable. In these circumstances local authorities have a legal duty to provide varying degrees of assistance to households, dependant upon their individual circumstances. Stockport Homes is contracted by Stockport Council to assess homeless households in accordance with legislation and ensure that they get the assistance they are entitled to.

Deciding upon your level of help There are five main questions that need to be answered to determine what help a household can expect to receive from Stockport Homes. Question 1) Is the household eligible for assistance? Some households are not eligible for our assistance if they are subject to immigration control or do not live in the UK as their usual home.

2) Is the household legally homeless? Some people may not want to return to accommodation they have available to them, or not be aware they can do so. We therefore have to be satisfied that they have nowhere safe they can return to.

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Yes If yes, then we will look at whether the household is actually homeless.

If yes, then we will look at whether the family is in priority need.

No If the answer is no, then we can only provide advice and refer people to other agencies, such as Social Care or the Asylum Seeker Team who may be able to help. If the applicant is not legally homeless, then we provide advice and assistance to people to help keep their home or find a new one. www.stockporthomes.org


Housing options and temporary accommodation

Question 3) Is the household in priority need? While everyone who is homeless is in housing need, legislation makes a difference between those classed as being priority (because of): dependant children; pregnancy; being 16 or 17 years old; being a care leaver under 21; or homeless in an emergency or being more vulnerable than an ‘average’ homeless person and those who are non-priority as they do not fit into any of these categories.

Yes If yes, then we have a duty to find accommodation for them (and anyone who can be reasonably expected to live with them) while we look at whether they are intentionally homeless.

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No If no, then we have a duty to provide advice and assistance to help people find somewhere to live. While we do not legally have to find somewhere for non-priority homeless households to stay, we will do our best to assist. We will look at all the options available to the household and help them make applications for both temporary and long-term housing. If someone is nonpriority homeless we do not need to look at questions four and five.

4) Is the household intentionally homeless? People who lose their accommodation as a result of something they have deliberately done (or failed to do) can be found to be intentionally homeless, for example due to anti-social behaviour or not paying their rent when they could afford to do so.

www.stockporthomes.org

If yes, then we only have a duty to find them accommodation for a reasonable period of time (often around 28 days). While we will still try and help these households find somewhere to live, for example, a private rented home, we have no ongoing duty to house them. If someone is intentionally homeless we do not need to look at the last question.

If no, then the only thing left to look at is whether they have a local connection to Stockport.

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Question 5) Does the household have a local connection?

Yes If yes (and they are also eligible, unintentionally A local connection is usually defined as someone homeless and in having lived in the Borough of Stockport for priority need), then six out of the last 12 months or three out of we have a duty to the last five years, having close relatives in the accommodate them area or working in the area. If someone has no both temporarily and connection anywhere else where they would be then permanently. safe, then the connection is with Stockport. Even in these circumstances it can take some time for a household to get a new permanent home, particularly if they need a two or three bedroom home.

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No If the answer is no, (and they are eligible, unintentionally homeless, and in priority need) then we will accommodate them temporarily and refer them for permanent rehousing where they do have a connection.

Homelessness legislation can be quite complicated and a more in-depth booklet explaining how it works is available from the Housing Information Centre and on our website.

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What if someone disagrees with the decision the Housing Options Team make? We notify people in writing of any homeless decision we make and their right to ask for a review if they disagree with it. Reviews are heard by a senior officer at Stockport Council who has not been involved in making the original decision. Even if the review upholds the Housing Options Team’s decision, there is then the option of a further appeal to councillors or the courts. People can get independent advice about homelessness from the Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter (please see the ‘Useful contact details’ section at the end of this handbook).

Temporary accommodation There is a Scheme Manager at each temporary accommodation site who oversees the daily running of the schemes and several Project Workers who support residents during their stay. Structured support and promoting independence are the main ideas behind all three schemes.

Housing is in high demand in Stockport so we can help if you want to consider living in a nearby Borough or even further afield.

Staff are available 24 hours a day at each scheme. Other agencies and services including Health, Education, Connexions, Drug and Alcohol Support Services, Resettlement and Social Care who provide advice and support during your stay. Recent changes and future planned investment has greatly improved services and the standard of accommodation. Future plans include extensive renovation to the family scheme and increasing service-user involvement and opportunities.

Multi-agency work and our Homelessness Strategy We work closely with Social Care, Probation, the Health Authority, the Community Drugs Team, the Community Alcohol Team, the Wellspring and others to try to co-ordinate services for people in housing need. ­ e produce a Homelessness Strategy on behalf of Stockport W Council, looking at preventing homelessness, providing a ‘safety net’, and minimising the causes of homelessness. The strategy is available on our website. www.stockporthomes.org

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- Help at the touch of a butt n Telecare and Mobile Warden Response Service

What is

?

• Carecall is a 24 hour

telemonitoring service for older and vulnerable people in the Stockport area. • It can be used for customers who

may have a medical condition such as epilepsy or diabetes or used to support independence, security and peace of mind.

For more information call Carecall on freephone:

• At the touch of a

button emergencies are responded to within minutes by arranging help from a nominated friend, your doctor, emergency services or from fully trained, friendly Carecall mobile wardens.

0500 130 585

Email: carecall@stockporthomes.org Website: www.stockporthomes.org and click on ‘Our services / Carecall’

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www.stockporthomes.org


Housing options and temporary accommodation