Our homelessness duties

The level of assistance we can provide is determined by law under the Housing Act 1996 and, from April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

Prevention duty

We have a duty to anyone who is threatened with homelessness and eligible for assistance (by way of immigration status). Under this prevention duty, we will have 56 days to work with you, following a homelessness application, to help prevent homelessness. Where possible, we will help you to remain in your current home.

Relief duty

If it has not been possible to prevent homelessness, we will have a further 56 days to help you relieve your homelessness. This duty is owed to anyone who is homeless and eligible for assistance (by way of immigration status). We will assist you with advice and, in some circumstances, work with you to secure alternative accommodation in the private sector.

During the prevention and relief stages, we will provide you with a personalised housing plan which sets out the actions that you will take to prevent or relieve your homelessness as well as the actions that we will take to assist you.

Full duty

If we are unable to help prevent your homelessness or secure accommodation, we will then assess your application to establish whether we have a full duty to house you. We will only consider this at the end of our prevention and/or relief duties.

You should expect to answer questions about your situation and provide evidence if asked. 

When we have a full duty

We will only have a full duty to you if all the following five criteria apply to your circumstances:

1. You are eligible for assistance

Being eligible for assistance means you are entitled to help with housing under immigration regulations. This will depend on your immigration status in the UK.

2. You are homeless

You are homeless or at risk of homelessness within the next 56 days. This means that you do not have a legal right to live anywhere (in the UK or anywhere in the world) or you have a home but it is not reasonable for you to continue living in it.

3. You are in priority need

You are normally in priority need if you or one of the people included in your homelessness application falls into one of the following categories:

  • Has dependent children (under 18s) who live with you
  • Is pregnant
  • Is a care leaver aged 18 to 21 years old
  • Has been made homeless by fire, flood or other disaster
  • Has been assessed as vulnerable by us

4. You did not become homeless intentionally

We will check that you haven't made yourself homeless. For example, we will check that you weren't evicted because you didn't pay your rent or because of anti-social behaviour. We will also check that you did not give up your home when it was reasonable for you to continue living there.

5. You have a local connection to Richmond

We will check that you have a local connection to the borough. To have a local connection, you must have lived in the borough for at least 6 months within the last year, or you have lived here for a minimum of 3 years within the last 5 years. You may also have a connection if you work in the borough or have close family in the area (parents/siblings/non-dependent children.)

If you have no local connection with Richmond, we may refer you to the borough that you are connected with so that they may accommodate you. We will not refer you to a borough you are not safe in because of violence or harassment.

When we do not have a full duty

If you do not meet the criteria, we will not be able to offer you somewhere to live or give you financial assistance for a tenancy with a private landlord.

This is why it is important that you work with us before this to try and prevent or relieve homelessness.

Find out what other housing options may be available to you.

Updated: 7 December 2018