Temporary accommodation is given to people who don’t have a permanent home. The Housing Executive doesn’t have to arrange temporary accommodation for everyone but it does have to provide certain people with temporary accommodation.
NIHE has a legal responsibility to provide temporary housing to
- any person with Full Duty Applicant status and
- any person who appears to be homeless and in priority need.
However, the Housing Executive is working on an emergency basis during the coronavirus crisis. As a result, they may ask a person who has a legal right to temporary housing to stay at their current address in the short-term. This is to ensure that temporary accommodation is reserved for the most urgent cases and to minimise the spread of the disease by reducing the risk of shared housing spaces like hostels. If you can reasonably stay where you are for a few more weeks you should do this, but if it isn't safe or healthy for you to do so get advice.
The Housing Executive and temporary housing
The Housing Executive has many legal responsibilities. One of these is to provide temporary accommodation to
- people who have passed the 4 homeless tests and are waiting for an offer of permanent housing and
- anyone being assessed under the homelessness laws who is homeless and seems to have priority need
- anyone who is homeless and who has a priority need who is waiting for the Housing Executive to review a negative decision
If you don’t fit into these categories you can ask the Housing Executive for a list of hostels that provide temporary housing. If the Housing Executive is unable to give you temporary accommodation, speak to an adviser at Housing Rights.
Types of temporary housing
The housing that you’re offered should be suitable for your needs. When deciding if something is suitable the Housing Executive should think about
- who is in your household and what special requirements they may have
- how far the accommodation is from your job, schools or other services you need to use
- the condition of the property
Temporary housing could be
- a hostel managed by the Housing Executive or Social Services
- a hostel managed by a charity, like the Simon Community or the Salvation Army
- a flat or house rented by the Housing Executive from a private landlord
There’s a shortage of temporary housing in Northern Ireland so you could be offered a place far away from where you currently live. You could be offered a B&B or a hotel if you need accommodation and the Housing Executive can’t find somewhere suitable to place you. This should only ever be a last resort and for one or two nights at the most.
Advisers at Housing Rights can talk to you about any problems you’re having in temporary accommodation and may be able to help you request a review of an offer if you think the temporary accommodation is unsuitable.
Finding your own temporary accommodation
You don’t have to stay in temporary housing provided by the Housing Executive. You can stay with friends or family. Any benefits you're friends or family get can be reduced if someone else moves into their home.
Some people find their own temporary housing by taking on a privately rented property. Only do this if you get the Housing Executive’s permission. If the Housing Executive agrees to you finding your own temporary housing make sure you sign a short tenancy agreement of 6 months or less. The Housing Executive can decide you’ve moved into this property permanently if you sign a longer agreement. This would mean the Housing Executive doesn’t have to make you any offers and you could lose your housing points.
Paying for temporary housing
You’ll have to pay rent for your temporary accommodation but you can apply for housing benefit to help with this cost. If you're not working and receiving housing benefit this benefit should cover the full cost of your temporary accommodation. If you're working or you're only entitled to have part of your rent paid by housing benefit you'll have to pay some or all of the rent yourself.
Housing benefit won’t cover service charges in hostels so you’ll have to pay these yourself.
Storing your furniture and belongings
If you’re in temporary housing because you passed the 4 homeless tests the Housing Executive may store your furniture and personal belongings. If the Housing Executive refuses to do this, speak to an adviser at Housing Rights.
Problems in temporary housing
Tell the Housing Executive as soon as possible if you’re having problems in your temporary accommodation. An adviser at Housing Rights may also be able to help. Hostels usually have codes of conduct and you will be asked to leave if you break this code. People who live in temporary housing are licensees rather than tenants so you can be evicted very easily.