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Are you homeless?

If you are already homeless or have lost your accommodation we will work with you to understand your situation and assess how best we can help you.

If you are already homeless you should contact the Housing Advice Service of your local authority for free advice and assistance as soon as possible.

In this situation legislation requires us to make enquiries into your circumstances to assess whether you are:

  • homeless
  • eligible for assistance  
  • in priority need
  • not intentionally homeless
  • we may also consider you if you have a local connection

These enquiries will determine what duty could be owed to you. This could be to provide you with advice and assistance to help you secure your own accommodation or the council may have a duty to secure accommodation for you. It may take some time to complete your assessment and this will depend on how long it takes us to verify your circumstances. We will inform you of the documents we require and we will make further enquiries to support what you tell us.

If we have reason to believe that you are eligible, homeless and have a priority need then we may need to offer you temporary accommodation whilst we carry out further investigations.

Homeless and eligible for assistance

We will confirm that you do not have any accommodation anywhere in the world you can access where it is safe and suitable for you to live.

If we agree you are homeless we will check that you are also eligible for assistance considering your circumstances against immigration legislation and/or a habitual residence test.

Priority need

If you are homeless and eligible we will assess whether you are in priority need and meet any of the following criteria:

  • a pregnant woman
  • a household with dependent children
  • someone vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or learning disability or physical disability or other special reason
  • someone homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster
  • aged 16 and 17 years old and not in local authority care
  • aged under 21 years old who were in local authority care between the ages of 16 and 18
  • aged 21 and over who are vulnerable as a result of leaving local authority care
  • vulnerable as a result of leaving the armed forces
  • vulnerable as a result of leaving prison
  • vulnerable as a result of fleeing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence

Intentionally homeless

If you are in priority need we will consider the reason why you are homeless to assess whether this was through no fault of your own or whether you caused it yourself, and became what is known as 'intentionally' homeless. This could apply if you were evicted for not paying rent where you had the funds to do so, or where you lost your home due to anti-social behaviour. If we decide you are intentionally homeless we will have limited duties to you.

Local Connection

If you are not homeless intentionally we will finally consider if you have a local connection to the relevant area or another area in the Country. This is usually met by having lived in the relevant area for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years, although family or employment connections may be relevant. We will make a decision on whether we should apply local connection criteria based on your individual circumstances.


We will aim to reach a decision on the duty you may be owed within 33 working days but complex matters can sometimes prevent a quick decision.  This decision could be to provide you with advice and assistance to help you in your efforts to secure accommodation.

Alternatively, we may decide that we owe you a duty to secure you accommodation until such time as we can locate accommodation which allows us to discharge that duty. In this case we will provide you with some form of temporary accommodation following the decision.

Whatever the decision is, we will explain to you fully any duty that you are owed and offer advice and assistance throughout the process.

We will notify you of our decision in writing and you will have 21 days in which to request a review if you do not agree with it.

Additional independent advice

Independent housing advice can also be obtained free of charge from  Shelter (opens in a new window) or your local Citizens Advice (opens in a new window)

Dorset Homelessness Strategy 

View the Dorset Homelessness Strategy for 2015 to 2019. (pdf, 7Mb) (opens in a new window).

Dorset Homelessness Strategy 2015-2019 Annual Update 2015/2016. (pdf, 7Mb) (opens in a new window).

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