Cornwall Homeless Prevention Scheme
Through the use of its prevention services Cornwall Housing is committed to help all people to avoid becoming homeless. To meet these aims Cornwall Housing may offer financial incentive schemes via its Homeless Prevention Fund (HPF). In some circumstances we can assist households not normally considered to be in priority need.
What is the Homeless Prevention Scheme?
It’s a scheme to help anyone who is homeless or threatened with homelessness. It’s aimed at people who want to rent a home in the private sector but need financial assistance to cover the rent in advance and the damage deposit normally asked for by private landlords. Rent in advance is available as a loan and is interest free and is paid back by affordable monthly repayments which we agree with each individual. The scheme can also be used to prevent homelessness, for example if you are in rent or mortgage arrears. Loans are available and each case is assessed individually as to what level of loan can be allowed.
Can I apply?
You can apply if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and can show that you would not be able to secure a rented home without financial help. Levels of financial assistance depend upon individual circumstances, and your housing options officer will be able to tell you if you are eligible for the scheme. The loans relate to Assured Shorthold Tenancies for six months or longer. The property does not have to be in the county of Cornwall. If you already have a home, but are at risk of losing it, you may also be eligible for the scheme.
Financial assistance will be considered for people who meet the following criteria:
- Homeless or likely to become homeless
- Likely to be classified as eligible for assistance
- Likely to be in priority need
- Have a local connection with Cornwall
Financial assistance will not normally be paid to a household that does not meet the above criteria. However, consideration is given to all households where there are exceptional circumstances.
How do I apply?
You should contact us to see if you are eligible for financial assistance before you find a property. Please note that it may be too late when you have already found a property because the assessment takes a little time to make. One of our Options Officers will meet with you so we can check issues such as:
- whether you have savings which you could use to make the payments yourself if you could get an overdraft to cover the rent and deposit payments
- whether you have a connection with the Cornwall area because you live or have lived here, work here or have close family here
- whether you can afford to rent privately
- whether private rented accommodation is appropriate and sustainable for you given your other circumstances
Please note that we will not proceed with any assessment of your suitability without full documentary evidence from you of your income and savings and those of your partner. You will have to complete an income and expenditure form based upon your current circumstances and you must be realistic about your spending. Please note that a homelessness prevention payment will not be made if you move into the property before:
- receiving written notification that you are eligible for the scheme, and
- having been notified in writing by Cornwall Housing of the exact financial assistance you are entitled to
What happens next?
Once our advisor has confirmed you are eligible for financial assistance, you need to find somewhere to live. If we are aware of any properties available to rent through this scheme, we may refer you directly to a landlord or agent to go and view a property. However, we will also expect you to try and find your own accommodation. We can tell you of agents who may have properties to let through the scheme. Alternatively, you can look in the local papers, contact letting agents, or even look at adverts in newsagents’ windows. Once you have found somewhere to live, you must tell us straight away, and we will contact your landlord to confirm the details of the loan/grant. We will then agree with you the monthly loan repayment (for rent in advance only) based on your household income. We may arrange a meeting with you and the landlord so that our staff can check the property is suitable. We will then pay the advance and the deposit directly to the landlord via a bank credit which happens within a few working days. You should not move into the new property until we have paid the landlord / agent. If you are claiming Housing Benefit (HB), we can also help you fill in the HB forms, and verify the documents required to process the claim. You will need to bring these documents with you - if you don’t, this could delay the processing of your claim.
Please note - the Housing Benefit section does not pay rent - it pays benefit to help meet a claimant’s housing costs.
What does the loan cover?
- Up to one month’s rent in advance or £750, whichever is the lesser amount.
- A damage deposit bond (equivalent to no more than 6 week’s rent .
- One off payment for rent or mortgage arrears
- Housing Benefit short-fall
- Payment of legal/Court fees
- Any other solution to a tenancy breakdown
Paying back the loan
We will make an arrangement with you to pay back the loan in affordable monthly instalments. These payments will be made by standing order or direct debit from your bank account unless you have exceptional circumstances which mean you cannot do this, in which case you will be given an alternative way to pay. If you do not pay back the loan you are preventing other people from benefiting from this scheme, and we can
seek a Court order to make you pay. If you have genuine difficulty paying the agreed amount we can renegotiate as long as you let us know.
What happens when I leave the property
If you have repaid the loan and the landlord says there is no damage, your rent in advance will be returned to you in full. If you have not finished repaying the loan, we will calculate what you owe taking into account payments made and any damage claims from the landlord. You will be liable for any damage claims and these will also be taken into account in our final calculation.
How does it work for landlords?
If you are considering letting your property to a tenant who needs help through this scheme, we’ll send you a copy of the agreement you would need to sign. The agreement is straightforward but we will ask you to:
- provide Cornwall Housing with a copy of any notices served on the tenant
- let us know if the tenant serves notice to quit or vacates the property
- notify Cornwall Housing if rent becomes in arrears
If you’re happy with the agreement you should then return it to us (you don’t need to sign it at this stage) along with a copy of the proposed tenancy agreement.
What happens next?
Once our advisor has confirmed the tenant is eligible for the scheme, we will contact you to confirm the details of the financial or other assistance we are able to give. We may then arrange a meeting with you and the tenant so that our staff can check the property is suitable. You will be asked to provide:
- proof of identity and address, e.g. a driving licence
- a copy of the gas safety certificate for the property
- energy performance certificate
- up to date electricity safety certificate
- the signed agreement with Cornwall Housing
- a signed inventory for the property
- for a loan - your bank details so we can pay you.
Loan - you will be given a letter guaranteeing payment from Cornwall Housing. You will receive payment from Cornwall Housing before the tenancy agreement is signed as long as we have all the information listed above. We do ask that you enter into a tenancy agreement with the prospective tenant within three working days of signing
the contract and that you ensure we have a copy of that contract within three working days of the tenancy agreement signing.
Rent Deposit Bond - A bond agreement will be sent for your signature and a copy supplied for your records. The Bond runs for an initial 12 month period. You will be
given full details on how to make a claim in the event that you should need to.