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Homeless advice

What to do if you think you will be homeless

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Please see our Coronavirus page for more information on how the Coronavirus is impacting Housing services for council tenants, including those looking for housing options.

View our contact list for key support services available to Harrow residents should you need to contact us.

Under the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 every local authority is required to advise all people threatened with homelessness within 56 days, whether you are single or a family. It is important to contact us as soon as possible if you think you are going to be homeless. There is a Duty to Refer within this Act.

This will help us to prevent you from becoming homeless and enable you to take up any housing options that may be offered. See the 'Losing your home' leaflet.

If you have rent or mortgage arrears, issues around repairs or any other housing problem, we will try to help you. This leaflet has more advice.

Homeless assessment

If we are unable to prevent you from becoming homeless or you do not take up one of our housing options, we will assess your situation under homelessness law.

If the council has to place you in emergency accommodation when you become homeless, this could be in bed & breakfast or hostel accommodation and will probably be outside of Harrow or even London.

If you have children or are pregnant and you are placed in bed and breakfast, we aim to keep your stay there to a minimum.

It is unlikely that we will offer accommodation to single adults or adult couples without dependent children.  If this describes your situation you may have to find a room to rent in a shared house.

Due to the shortage of housing in London, if you are placed in emergency accommodation, and then temporary accommodation, it will probably be outside London.

Appointments will be made with your allocated housing advisor between 9am - 4pm. If you think you need one please get in touch.

When are you homeless?

Homelessness means not having a home. This isn’t just if you have nowhere to stay and are living on the streets, but you can be homeless even if you have a roof over your head if your only home is:

  • living with friends or family and they need you to leave
  • living in very short term accommodation such as a hostel, night shelter or B&B
  • when there is a risk of violence in your home
  • squatting (because you have no legal right to stay)
  • living in very poor conditions that affects your health, and that can’t be rectified
  • living apart from your family because you are all not allowed to live together in either of your  homes

Housing options for homeless people

The earlier you can let us know about your housing problem, the more we can do. We cannot offer council accommodation to most of the people applying to us each year, so you may have to consider one of the following housing options:

  • Private rented accommodation: the Housing Advice Team can provide a comprehensive advice service to assist in seeking and securing private rented accommodation.
  • Low cost home ownership: a part buy/part rent scheme which enables people to get onto the housing ladder through buying a share in a home. For more information see the shared ownership page.

You can also see information on finding a home on the Locata website.

We offer the following services:

  • Mediation: an external mediation service designed to try to prevent homelessness wherever appropriate.  
  • Homelessness advice: a practical service for people who are at risk of losing their home across all tenures, private renters, owner occupiers. If you think you may need this service please telephone the Housing Advice Team.
  • A scheme for victims of domestic or other violence who need additional security measures to be installed into their properties called Sanctuary

Firm Foundation charity

The Firm Foundation charity normally runs a single homeless drop-in service where they provide advice on accommodation and support. However, due to Covid-19, this service has been suspended until further notice.

Find out more about the Firm Foundation service.

Homeless advice leaflets

The leaflets below provide guidance for people in a variety of situations: