Do I really have to move home?
I made a homeless application to my local council and they said that I have been accepted but have offered me temporary accommodation in a completely different city, as they have nothing available. I’m really worried about moving away from my friends, family and drug treatment services. It would also mean my daughter having to move schools, disrupting her education when she is in the last year of her GCSEs. Is there anything I can do to stay in my home town?
You are able to refuse an offer of a property on the basis that it isn’t suitable, but many councils will have a policy not to make a further offer if the first is refused.
You can ask the council to review the suitability of the accommodation offered, but you would have to accept the offer and then go through the review process. You would need to live in the property during this time. It is sometimes possible to get legal aid for a housing solicitor to take on these cases.
The suitability of a property can be reviewed on various grounds including the impact that moving to a new area would have on your health, your daughter’s schooling, and any other aspects of your life (including if another individual would be negatively affected, for instance if you act as a carer for a family member). It is advisable to provide the council with as much supporting evidence as you can for the arguments you make. This will include letters and reports from your GP, drugs worker, daughter’s school and any other relevant people or organisations about how relocation is likely to affect your family.
However, it may be that while the council agree that you need accommodation within the local area, that they simply do not have any available. This is unfortunately becoming more common as demand for housing is high and availability of affordable properties low. The council must also consider the cost of accommodation when making an offer of housing, so they could not place you in a home where you could not afford to pay the rent (whether this is directly or through housing benefit). If there is no affordable housing locally they will use this to justify out-of-area placements. It may be possible to challenge the council’s failure to have sufficient housing stock via a judicial review. Again, a solicitor may be able to undertake this for you for free.
It is possible to get housed locally, as councils have a list of people placed outside of the local area, but who are considered in need of local accommodation. People are given a priority status (based on individual circumstances) for transfer as properties become available.
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For more information on this issue call the Release helpline on 0845 4500 215.