Homelessness guide


Our legal duties in accordance with the Homelessness Reduction Act

Where we have gathered enough information to prove that you are legally threatened with homelessness in the next 56 days, we will work with you to give advice and support to prevent you from losing your home or to help you find an alternative home.

The Prevention Duty

Once you’ve been assessed you will receive a legal decision notice to explain that you’re now being helped under a Prevention Duty. You will also review a personalised plan to outline what you can do to find a solution. You will also be provided with a further notice when that duty is ended, and you have the right to request a review of any duty decisions made throughout the process.

If we are unable to resolve your housing issue before you become homeless, you will be entitled to the Relief Duty.

The Relief Duty

This duty is for people / households who have already become homeless, or it can come after work to prevent you from becoming homeless was not successful. We will again work with you for a period of 56 days (in addition to the 56 days of the prevention duty) to resolve your housing issue.

If we have a reason to believe you would be within a priority need category you will be provided with an offer of emergency accommodation but we cannot guarantee this offer will always be in Cheshire East or in your current locality but we will of course take your needs into account.

You will receive confirmation letters of the duties owed and a personalised housing plan and will have the right to a review of any decisions made.

If we’re unable to prevent or relieve your homelessness, the Housing Options Team will assess if the main housing duty is owed to you.

Priority need 

You or someone who normally lives with you may be in priority need due to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Being 16 or 17 years old
  • Dependent Children
  • Experience of a disaster, such as flood or fire
  • Disability including mental and/or physical
  • Being a Care Leaver
  • Leaving an institution
  • Fleeing violence or being threatened with violence
  • Other vulnerabilities

It is the duty of the officer to determine that the legal definition of a priority group is met, as outlined in the Housing Act 1996 (as amended). Proof of pregnancy, residency of children, or medical confirmation of a condition may be requested at interview.

The Main Housing Duty

The main housing duty is owed to individuals / households who are assessed to be in priority need and have not made themselves homelessness intentionally as determined by the Housing Act 1996 (Part VII). If you are owed this duty any accommodation provided to you under the Relief duty will continue.

We may not be able to help you through the main housing duty if you have made yourself intentionally homeless.

Intentional homelessness

The Housing Act states that those who have deliberately done or failed to do something that has caused the loss of accommodation may not be owed a homeless housing duty deeming them 'intentionally homeless'.

Examples of intentional homelessness include:

  • selling a home where there was no risk of loss already
  • failure or refusal to make mortgage or rental payments, when it would have been affordable to do so
  • voluntarily leaving accommodation
  • eviction due to violent or threatening behaviour
  • eviction due to anti-social behaviour, nuisance or harassment towards neighbours
  • leaving a job with tied accommodation if it would have been reasonable to continue in the employment.

All officers will investigate the circumstances of each case fully and applicants will be expected to co-operate in these enquiries and to provide any relevant supporting evidence.

Local Connection

A full housing duty will only be offered to:

  • residents of the area of Cheshire East for 6 of the last 12 months
  • residents of the borough for 3 of the last 5 years
  • those with permanent employment in the borough
  • those with close relatives living in the borough (who have been resident for the last 5 years)

Rehousing in Cheshire East without a local connection would only be considered where it might be considered unsafe for someone to reside in an area where they have a connection, or for other exceptional circumstances.

No Local Connection or if you do not want to live in Cheshire East

If you do not meet any of the local connection criteria or wish to move to an area outside the borough of Cheshire East, we can help by referring your application to other areas.

Duty to refer

Certain Public Bodies have a "Duty to Refer," meaning they must take action to prevent and relieve homelessness. This legal duty makes specific agencies proactive in addressing homelessness nationwide.

The organisations listed below are obligated to refer any person or household they think might be homeless or at risk of homelessness to the Housing Options team:

  • Prisons
  • Youth offenders’ institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probations services
  • Jobcentre plus
  • Social services
  • Emergency departments
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals

If you are from one of the above agencies and you know of a person or household who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, contact us via the Housing Assistance Referral Portal or Telephone: 0300 123 5017 (option 2). 

Page last reviewed: 20 May 2024