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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Housing Services - Homelessness

The Housing Services Team has the responsibility for delivering the Comhairle’s duty to assess homeless or potentially homeless people.  The service ensures that, where appropriate, homeless people are given access to a whole range of support services, including the Comhairle’s Homeless Support Service.

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, the Comhairle can provide you with housing information, advice and assistance as set out by the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, as amended by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, and the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003.

What to do if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness

If you find yourself homeless or threatened with homelessness, you should contact your nearest Comhairle office, either in person or by telephone, and ask for an appointment with the Homeless Services Team. The officer who is assigned to your case will arrange an Interview which you should attend.  They will provide you with Useful Information and advice designed to increase your housing options and arrange Temporary Accommodation where appropriate.

Office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway
Tel (01851) 822821

Council Offices, West Tarbert
Tel (01859) 502367

Council Offices, Balivanich, Benbecula
Tel (01870) 602425

Council Offices, Castlebay
Tel (01871) 810431

For out of hours assistance you can contact the Faire Community Alarm Service on 01851 701702.

If you are a woman fleeing domestic violence, you can also contact Western Isles Women's Aid on 01851 704750 for Advice.

Independent help and advice is available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau and/or Shelter.

What will happen at my interview?

At your interview we will ask you for information relating to your current situation. It would be useful for you to bring any relevant documentation with you to the interview e.g. a notice to quit present accommodation, leases, birth certificates of any children, evidence of pregnancy etc.

We will complete a homelessness application form with you and will provide you with free advice and information, complete a housing application if necessary and discuss your housing options. You will be asked to sign a declaration to say that the information you have provided us with is accurate to the best of your knowledge, and a mandate giving us permission to contact relevant people in order to carry out an investigation on your homelessness application.

If you require temporary accommodation we will arrange this for you. We will also arrange for storage of your possessions if necessary.

We will refer your application to any relevant agency for support or further advice if you want us to do so. We may also refer you to our Homeless Support Officer and will discuss this with you.

Homelessness Service staff are here to help you. It might be difficult for you to discuss the circumstances leading to your homelessness but it is important for you to be honest and not hide any information. It might make all the difference to your chances of being housed. You might find it helpful to bring a friend or support worker with you to the interview.

We will aim to assess your application within 28 days and we will write to you with our decision. You have the Right to Appeal any decision made and any offer of accommodation made to you.

How Will My Homelessness Application be Assessed

Homelessness Legislation is complex, and some general guidance is provided below.

Entitlement to Permanent Accommodation

To be entitled to permanent accommodation you must satisfy four conditions which are defined by law. These conditions are as follows:

1. That you are homeless or threatened with homelessness

You are homeless or threatened with homelessness if:

• you have no accommodation which you are entitled to occupy e.g. you have been living with friends or relatives and they cannot, or are no longer willing to accommodate you
• it would not be reasonable to expect you to continue to occupy your present accommodation due to unfit living conditions
• you have accommodation, to which you cannot secure entry e.g. if you have been illegally evicted by your landlord
• to remain in your present accommodation, or to return to your previous accommodation, could result in violence or the threat of violence from someone with whom you live, or used to live
• your present accommodation is a moveable structure (e.g. caravan, houseboat etc.) and you have no place to station it in order to live in it
• your present accommodation is overcrowded and may endanger your health and/or the health of others living in the same accommodation
• you are likely to be homeless within the next 2 months
 You do not have to be sleeping rough to be homeless.

2. That you have not become homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally

You are intentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness if: you have deliberately done something, or have deliberately failed to do something, that has led to you losing the accommodation that was available to you, e.g., if you willfully fail to pay your rent, you may be considered ‘intentionally homeless’.

If you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, and in priority need, but are found to be intentionally homeless, we have a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period of time to allow you to secure your own accommodation. We also have a duty to provide you with relevant advice and assistance.

3. That you have a local connection

You have a local connection if:

• you normally live, or have lived in the past, in the Western Isles
• you are normally employed in the Western Isles
• you have a family association in the Western Isles
• you have moved to the Western Isles because of special circumstances. If you have no local connection with the Western Isles we can contact another local authority with whom you do have a connection on your behalf.

If you satisfy all of these conditions, the Comhairle will refer your application to the Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) for an offer of appropriate housing. You will be entitled to a maximum of two offers. However, due to the pressure on HHP’s housing stock you may have to spend some time in temporary accommodation. Even if you do not satisfy all of the conditions we will provide you with temporary accommodation, if appropriate, for a reasonable period of time to allow you to secure your own accommodation, and will give you advice and assistance.