When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Homelessness and housing problems 10 December 2015

This clinic looked at how to prevent homelessness by using Disabled Facilities Grants, how Floating Support services can sustain tenancies, emergency services that can help homeless people and the duties of social services and the Housing Executive towards young people who are homeless.

Disabled facilities grants - adaptations to make your home more suitable

Housing Advice NI: Hi -welcome to our chat on homelessness and housing problems. Please leave your questions here and we'll start answering them at 10.Please remember that this is a public website so any information you share will be available to anyone else visiting this page.

EleanorT: Hi – contacting you on my aunt’s behalf.She’s recently had a stroke and is now using a wheelchair. I’ve told her that she needs to move to a bungalow since she can't get up and down the stairs at home anymore but she says there's no way she'll leave her home. Is there anything she can do about this? Will she need to go into a private care home or could she get into a fold of some sort?

Housing Advice NI: Hi Eleanor -if your aunt's preference is to stay in her home it's worth checking out if this is possible before looking into her rights to housing elsewhere.Does your aunt have an Occupational Therapist?

EleanorT: I think so -she attends various different therapy

Housing Advice NI: Okay,well in that case you should look into the possibility of getting a Disabled Facilities Grant to adapt the property for her needs. She will need to talk to her occupational therapist about this option, but a Disabled Facilities Grant can be used to pay for improvements to make a property more suitable for someone with a disability. You can find out more about these grants on our website or you can contact the Housing Executive grants team by calling 03448 920 900.

Housing Advice NI:There's some info on our website here for people with disabilities | Housing Advice NI

Housing Advice NI: These grants are often used for things like installing wet rooms or adapting a bathroom to make it more suitable for someone with a disability. They can also be used to make the kitchen easier to use if your aunt is now in a wheelchair.

Help for homeless young people

sweetdeemagee: Hi – I’m having problems at home with my mum.We’re not getting on and she’s told me I have to leave. I’m 17 and studying for my A-Levels.Where can I go if my mum kicks me out

Housing Advice NI:;Hi Sweet Dee thanks for joining in

Housing Advice NI: First of all,I’d encourage you to call to speak with one of our housing advisers so we can find out a wee bit more about your situation and talk to you in detail about your options.This is a public forum so you might not want to get into the details of whatever is going on at home -but you can talk about it confidentially with our advisers

Housing Advice NI: I know this is a hard thing to do,but it's probably worth finding someone who can help you talk to your mum or seeing if your mum will agree to go to some sort of mediation service with you.If she really knows and understands how you feel and what triggers these feelings in you, she might try to improve how things are at home.It may be worth talking to Childline or a mediation service (you can get details of these online) to see what kind of help they can give you with this.

sweetdeemagee: Thanks, but I don't think we'll be able to sort it out

Housing Advice NI: Okay, well if a 16 or 17 year old cannot safely live with their parents or where the parents or guardians refuse to let the young person stay at home social services has a responsibility to find that young person accommodation.

Housing Advice NI: Social Services will talk to you so they can understand your reasons for leaving home and will first try to see if there’s anyway that these problems can be dealt with so that you can safely return home.If social services think that it’s not safe or not advisable for you to stay with your mum they will work with the Housing Executive to find you somewhere to stay temporarily and Social Services may have a greater responsibility to help you with housing until you turn 18.

Housing Advice NI: I really think it would be best to discuss this confidentially so we can get more information about the situation at home.Can you either call us on 028 9024 5640 or email me using this form?Floating support services can help people who are struggling to manage in independent housing

Floating support services can help people who are struggling to sustain their tenancies

EmmaT2014Hi -is there any help out there for people who are having problems coping?

Housing Advice NI;Hi Emma -there are lots of different support agencies in Northern Ireland -what do you mean by having problems "coping"?

EmmaT2014: A friend of mine is in a private landlord house.He got that place after a long time being homeless but he's just not doing that well he's got mental health and he's not great at remembering to pay rent and stuff like that.His landlords been okay about it until last week and he's said now that he needs to pay all he owed by february or get out

Housing Advice NI: Okay -;does your friend have a support worker or go to any services that give him help with his problems?

EmmaT2014: I don't know -i know he goes to his doctor a lot

Housing Advice NI: I think your friend might benefit from getting involved with a floating support service.;This means that he'll be assigned a support worker who can help him with things like budgeting,going to appointments and managing his tenancy

Housing Advice NI: There are lots of different organisations that provide this kind of service -but they all have different access and eligibility criteria. If you call us on 028 9024 5640 we can have a chat about your friend's needs and try to pinpoint the right service for him

Housing Advice NI: We can also help to negotiate with your friend's landlord. It sounds like the landlord has been pretty understanding so far so he might be happy to keep your friend on as a tenant as long as the rent account gets cleared up. We can try to work out a repayment plan that your friend can stick to and this might mean his landlord won't do anything to evict him

EmmaT2014: But is the landlord allowed to just kick him out since he hasn't paid the rent

Housing Advice NI: Nope -landlords have to get a court order before they can evict a tenant.They can't just change the locks or force a tenant to leave -;that would be illegal

Housing Advice NI: You can find out more about illegal evictions and the process that landlords should follow to evict a tenant on our website: Illegal eviction | Housing Advice NI

Housing Advice NI: The documents on this page of the Housing Executive's site might be useful too. They contain details of the floating support services in different parts of northern ireland Information for floating support service providers | The Housing Executive

Homelessness information and emergency accommodation

MatthewMurph89: What happens if you've got nowhere to live

Housing Advice NI:Hi Matthew -in Northern Ireland the Housing Executive is responsible for helping people who have nowhere safe to live.However,the laws on housing say that the Housing Executive is only responsible for providing housing to people who meet certain conditions.

Housing Advice NI: The Housing Executive will only have a legal responsibility to provide you with housing if you are homeless through no fault of your own (and this includes if your current home is so unsuitable for your needs and it is unreasonable to expect you to stay there) and if you are eligible for assistance and are in priority need of assistance

MatthewMurph89: What does elegible for assisstance mean.

Housing Advice NI: This is one of the four tests that the Housing Executive (and local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales) use to see whether or not someone is entitled to certain types of social assistance. In NI, only two categories of people will have problems passing this test. This includes certain people from abroad and people who have been involved in certain types of antisocial behaviour. You can read more about the eligibility test and the other 3 tests in this section of our website

Housing Advice NI: The four homelessness 'tests' | Housing Advice NIHousing Advice NI: Do you need advice about something specific Matthew - can I help you with any problems you're having?

MatthewMurph89: No just wondered how it works

Housing Advice NI: Okay -well if you're worried about anyone. Ask them to give us a call on 028 9024 5640Housing Advice NI: There are also some emergency hostels that are open to people who are sleeping rough. There are a couple of nightshelters in Belfast.The Simon Community provides hostels across Northern Ireland and there are a number of other charities, like the Salvation Army and East Belfast Mission,that provide hostel accommodation for homeless people.Housing Advice NI: There is some information about these services on our website: in an emergency | Housing Advice NI