First contact housing advice & homelessness template letters

26.03.2018

I've uploaded some new letters in the Resources section which you might find useful if you're preparing to implement the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (only nine days to go!)

Illustration of an envelope

They can be used when someone initially approaches the council and asks for help.

Are they free?

Yes.

How do I download them?

You'll need to create an account with your work email (if you haven't already created an account). And you need to work for a local authority or registered provider of social housing to access the letters.

Once your membership and LA/RP status is confirmed (you'll receive a second confirmation email) you can then go to the relevant page in the Resources section and download them.

What letters are available?

This blog post details the first group of letters I've uploaded. They'll be more templates uploaded in the coming days.

The first few letters (listed below) don't specifically relate to homeless applications, but instead to housing advice enquiries.

Housing advice letters

First we have some pretty generic letters to use when someone first approaches and just needs housing advice or requests a housing options interview:

Closing a (non-homeless) advice case

Then we have a few templates when you want to confirm the advice you've given in response to a request that isn't a homeless application, and where you won't be taking any further action in relation to the advice request.

A refusal to accept a repeat homeless application:

We now get to the homelessness letters, the first of which is:

Homelessness inquiries started but no s.189A assessment or s.184 decision yet

Lastly, the following three are for when you have reason to believe the person may be homeless or threatened with homelessness - i.e. you've started making inquiries under section 184 - but you're not yet satisfied the applicant is eligible and is homeless or threatened with homelessness.

In other words, you've taken an application but you're not yet at the stage where you can say "this assessment is an assessment under section 189A".

A common example would be where an applicant's landlord has given them a section 21 notice, the notice expires in the next 56 days, but you don't yet know whether it's valid. In this example, when you send out one of the following letters you'll still be inquiring into all the potential issues that can affect validity.

I'll be uploading some more templates shortly for when you are satisfied that the applicant is eligible for help and is either homeless or threatened with homelessness, i.e. where you've established that an assessment must be made under s.189A.

Format and style of the templates

You'll see that I've attempted to write the letters using plain English and most of them employ a question and answer format (which hopefully makes it easier for customers to navigate the contents).

Am I right in thinking we don't legally have to send these letters?

Yes. Strictly speaking there is no legal duty to notify the above decisions.

However, there are clearly advantages to confirming in writing what advice you've given and whether a homeless application has (or hasn't) been made.

For example, if you're unable to immediately confirm the outcome of a s.189A assessment (e.g. because you're unsure whether a s.21 notice is valid), confirming that a homeless application has been taken helps the applicant understand the basis upon which you're helping them, and what happens next.

And if you've made an adverse decision - e.g. decided there's no reason to believe they might be threatened with homelessness, decided there's no duty to provide temporary accommodation etc - they'll have written confirmation of that fact and know the reasons.

And giving the applicant something in writing confirming your advice and the status of their application has to be a good thing. Right?

Are other HRA letters available?

I'll be uploading more HRA-related letters shortly. I'll update the blog when they're uploaded.

You can get the blog updates straight to your inbox by subscribing at the bottom of the page.

Comments?

I'm always interested if you have any comments or observations about the documents in the Resources section. You can contact me here.

Comments

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