At risk of losing your accommodation

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) came into effect in April 2018 to amend the Housing Act 1996 Part VII, creating duties to prevent and relieve homelessness.

Prevention Duty

The Prevention Duty applies when we are satisfied that you are threatened with homelessness and eligible for assistance. We will aim to keep you in your home to prevent you from becoming homeless. We will use the options available to us, including mediation, offering financial support, assisting you to defend against court proceedings and exploring alternative accommodation.

If you are owed a Prevention Duty, we will take reasonable steps to help you remain in your home or help you secure alternative accommodation. We will draft a personal housing plan with you explaining the steps that you will take with the Council’s assistance. Helping to secure does not mean we have a duty to source and provide accommodation for you directly. Instead, the Council will empower you to make an informed choice regarding your own housing options as detailed in your personal housing plan.

If we cannot prevent your homelessness and you become homeless, you may be owed a relief duty as set out below.

Relief Duty

The Relief Duty applies when the Council are satisfied that you are eligible for assistance and that you are homeless.

If you apply to Bexley but do not meet the local connection criteria with us, where the conditions for a local connection referral are met, we will refer you to a local authority that you do have a connection to at the Relief Duty stage. You can also apply directly to the authority you have a local connection to.

If you are owed a Relief Duty, we will continue with the reasonable steps set out in your Personal Housing Plan to relieve your homelessness. You will have 56 days to work with the Council to secure accommodation before we conclude your case.

If you become homeless and are eligible subject to an assessment of your personal circumstances, the Council may provide emergency accommodation while helping you to find long-term housing. This is called emergency accommodation (EA) because it is a temporary solution and is likely to be in a hostel with shared facilities.

Personal Housing Plan

If you are owed the Prevention or Relief Duty with Bexley, you will be issued a Personalised Housing Plan (PHP). Your PHP will include reasonable steps that you will take to prevent/resolve your homelessness. If we find that you have deliberately and unreasonably refused to take a step in your PHP, we will consider serving you with notice to end our housing duty to you, meaning Bexley will not give you any housing assistance because your case will be closed.

As part of your PHP, you will be required to search for privately rented accommodation. You can approach your local Credit Union to help raise the funds towards a deposit to help you secure a home in the privately rented sector if you meet certain criteria, subject to checks. The Council can make you an offer of private rented accommodation instead of social housing to fulfil our duties to house you. We place emphasis on you finding and securing your own accommodation so that you can choose the type of property you get and its location, as opposed to us making this decision for you.

You will need to search for a property that falls within the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) unless you are working and can demonstrate that you can afford to pay any shortfall in rent that Universal Credit or Housing Benefit will not pay. You can use Local Housing Allowance rates to determine how much Universal Credit or Housing Benefits will pay towards your housing costs. The LHA rate varies depending on postcode - there are two different LHA rates in London (an inner London and an outer London rate). Please ensure you are checking the postcode on this website when looking. You can use the following websites to begin your search for privately rented properties:

Please note that there was recently a court ruling preventing Landlords and Estate Agents from discriminating against potential candidates simply because they may be in receipt of benefits.

It is a good idea to present yourself in person to estate agents to sell yourself as a good tenant. Private rented accommodation will give you the freedom to choose the property you are moving into, the condition you receive it in, the size and number of bedrooms and most importantly, the location of the property.

Priority need

As part of your application, the Council will assess if you meet a priority need criteria as set out within Part VII of the Housing Act 1996. You can find out more information on these criteria at priority need for accommodation.

Intentionally homeless

As part of your application, the Council will assess if you deliberately acted in a way which led to you losing your home, for example, not paying your rent or causing antisocial behaviour.

You can find out more information on this at becoming homeless intentionally.

Local connection

To meet the local connection for a homeless application to this authority, you must fall into one of the below criteria:

  • 6 out of the last 12 months residency
  • 3 out of the last 5 years residency
  • employment within the area
  • close family who have lived within the local authority area for the last 5 years

Following completion of inquiries into your application, the Council may decide to refer you to the area where you have a local connection under S198 Housing Act 1996 (as amended) Part VII, if we are satisfied that:

  1. You are eligible for assistance.
  2. You are homeless.
  3. You do not have a local connection with Bexley.
  4. You do have a local connection with another local authority.

Main Duty

Following completion of inquiries into your application, the Council may decide that you are owed a Main Duty (full housing duty) if:

  1. You are eligible for assistance.
  2. You are homeless.
  3. You have a priority need as defined by Housing Act 1996 Part VII.
  4. You did not become homeless intentionally.

The full housing duty will continue until one of the following actions or events brings this duty to an end:

  • you accept an offer of:
    • a 12-month fixed term assured shorthold tenancy from a private landlord that we have approved
    • social housing from the housing register (waiting list)
    • an assured (non-shorthold) tenancy
  • you refuse an offer of:
    • emergency accommodation
    • a 12-month fixed term assured shorthold tenancy from a private landlord that we have approved
    • social housing from the housing register (waiting list)
  • you become homeless intentionally from your emergency accommodation, e.g. non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour
  • you stop using the emergency accommodation as your only or main home
  • you invite others into the emergency accommodation that the Council has not agreed
  • you no longer qualify for help because your immigration and nationality status changes
  • you withdraw your homeless application
  • the main housing duty was accepted by mistake

Duty to Refer

Under section 213B of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2018, specified public authorities are required to notify a housing authority of service users they consider may be homeless or threatened with homelessness (i.e., it is likely they will become homeless within 56 days).

Before making a referral, a public authority must:

  1. have consent to the referral from the individual
  2. allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to and
  3. have consent from the individual that their contact details can be supplied so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral

The public authorities which are subject to the duty to refer are specified in The Homelessness (Review Procedure etc.) Regulations 2018.

The public services included in the duty are as follows:

  1. prisons
  2. youth offender institutions
  3. secure training centres
  4. secure colleges
  5. youth offending teams
  6. probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  7. Jobcentre Plus
  8. social service authorities
  9. emergency departments
  10. urgent treatment centres; and
  11. hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care

If you are a public authority that wishes to make a referral, you can complete the referral form via ALERT, or alternatively, send an email complete with all details to

Please note a referral does not replace or automatically trigger a homelessness application. If the person wishes to approach us directly to make a homelessness application they can do so using the link below.

If you think you may be at risk of losing your accommodation, answer a few short questions to get advice about your housing situation.

Get housing advice