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Housing Options Service

COVID-19 - Homeless self-assessment and advice 

In response to the on-going situation with Coronavirus and in line with Government guidance, we are changing our homelessness processes until further notice. 

We ask that you follow Government guidance on social distancing and do not attend the Rochford Council offices at South Street and Rayleigh, in person.

There will be no Housing Option officers at our offices, so we will be conducting all interviews over the telephone.

To get in touch complete an online homeless assessment form 

If you need to contact us by telephone, please ring the Council’s Customer Services team on 01702 318191 and ask to speak to the housing options duty officer. 

Our Housing Options Service offers support and assistance if you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, within the next 56 days.

How much help we can give depends on your circumstances. This can include housing advice to help with finding, or keeping your home.

You can take a look at the advice on this page first, but if you have any more questions or need help you can fill in the Housing Option Assessment form.

The housing charity, Shelter also has more information.

The Council’s Duty 

From 3 April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force. The act puts a legal duty on councils, to offer more support to a wider range of people, who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The new legal duties mean the council must:  

  • Provide advice, and carry out prevention work. So that where possible, people can be supported to remain in their current home.
  • Offer everyone who is homeless, or at risk of homelessness, access to help. As long as they are eligible for assistance.
  • Carry out prevention, and relief work for anyone threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

Fact sheets produced by the Government provide some helpful background to the Act, and the duties that Councils need to follow. These can be found in the Related Content section. We will carry out an assessment to see whether you and your household:

  • Are eligible for assistance.
  • Are homeless, or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

If you are eligible, homeless, or threatened with homelessness we have a duty to work with you. We will work with you to draw up a Personal Housing Plan (PHP), which will list the steps that the Council, and you, need to take to solve your housing need. While your plan remains open, you will need to make sure to say in contact with your housing options officer, to let them know what you have done on your Personal Housing Plan. We will work with you:

  • If you're threatened with homelessness.
  • If you become homeless.

Should we be unable to prevent you becoming homeless, or find you another home, and you have a priority need for accommodation, and a local connection to the Rochford District we will have a further duty to you. You should contact us if you're either homeless, or likely to become homeless. For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form. Once the completed form has been received, you will be contacted within 5 working days. 

Duty on Public Bodies to Refer

duty to refer

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, public authorities have a statutory duty to refer a client they believe to be homeless, or threatened with homelessness within 56 days. The following public bodies have a duty to refer

  • Prisons.
  • Youth offender institutions.
  • Secure training centres.
  • Secure colleges.
  • Youth offending teams.
  • Probation services (including community rehabilitation companies).
  • Jobcentre plus.
  • Social services authorities.
  • Emergency departments.
  • Urgent treatment centres.
  • Hospitals in their function of providing impatient care.
  • Members of the regular armed forces .

If your client is homeless, or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, you need to make a referral to the local housing authority so they can be supported:

  • You must have the clients consent to make the referral.
  • You can refer your client to any housing authority in England, where your client would like to be referred, and can also be referred to multiple authorities at the same time.
  • You must have consent that your client’s details can be given to the housing authority, so they can contact them regarding the referral.

You can complete the Duty to Refer and will be contacted within 5 working days of the completed form being received. 

Domestic Abuse

south essex domestic abuse

The South Essex Domestic Abuse Hub, is a place where you can come for help, advice and assistance. The hub includes a range of support services that you can access. The South Essex Domestic Abuse Hub, has drop-in centres in Rochford, Basildon and Thurrock. An officer can offer support by giving:

  • Help and advice to find safe accommodation.
  • Help to remain safe in your home.
  • Help to access legal advice and assistance.
  • Money and welfare advice.
  • Help to access therapeutic and outreach support services.

How to get in touch

To get help from the South Essex Domestic Abuse Hub, please contact them on 01268 206798. Lines are open Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm.

You can also contact COMPASS on 0330 333 7 444. Lines are open Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm and from 8am to 1pm on weekends.

Always call the police on 999 if:

  • Your personal safety is threatened.
  • You are at risk of assault or injury.
  • It's an emergency.

South Essex Domestic Abuse Hub Partners:

  • Rochford District Council
  • Basildon Borough Council
  • Brentwood Borough Council
  • Castle Point Borough Council
  • Thurrock Council
  • Changing Pathways
  • South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre

Links can be found in the Related Content section

Other help lines:

  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline can be contacted using 0808 2000 247, if you're a woman experiencing domestic abuse. You can talk confidentially to someone about your situation, and to find out what your options are. 
  • The Freedom Programme: A 12 week rolling programme, for women who wish to learn about the reality of domestic violence, and abuse. Help women to gain self esteem and confidence, to improve the quality of their lives. Programmes are fun, and can be found at different locations throughout the country. You can find a link to more information in Related Content. 
  • Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327
  • Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 if you feel in despair, want someone to listen to you, and provide emotional support. 
  • NSPCC Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000.
    For anyone concerned about a child at risk of abuse. 
  • Childline: 0800 1111
    Free, national helpline, for Children and Young People in danger, or distress. 
  • Action on Elder Abuse: 0808 808 8141

Help and advice from the Council

You can apply to our housing options service as a homeless person, if you can't stay in your home. The council can give you advice about finding somewhere to live.

If the council has a duty to find you somewhere to live, you will be asked to provide details of your situation. You may be asked for supporting evidence, which could include details and dates of incidents. 


Whatever you discuss with the Housing Options service, will always remain completely confidential. 

If you need more help or need to arrange an appointment with a Housing Options Officer, please complete the assessment form which is in the Related Content section. 

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service complete the assessment form. Once the completed form is received, a Housing Options officer will contact you within 5 working days. 

Leaving the home of family and friends

leaving family and friends

If you have been asked to leave by family or friends, this can be a very distressing time for everyone involved. This is one of the biggest causes of homelessness in Rochford, so it is vital that we explore all your options first. Where applicable, we will always try and negotiate with the family or friends, for you to remain within the home, if it is safe to do. We will work with you to assess, and plan your future accommodation needs.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form.

Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Leaving the home as a young person - 16 and 17 year olds

There is always help and support available. But always remember if you choose to leave home without preparation, you may find yourself in a worse situation. 

If you are under 18, the council has a legal duty to support you. This will be through Essex County Council's children’s social services. If you have been asked to leave by family or friends and you have nowhere else to go, you should contact Social Care as soon as possible.

A joint assessment will be carried out by a social worker, and a Housing Options Officer. They will discuss with you, your housing options and any support needs.

If a young person approaches the council direct as homeless, it's procedure for a housing options officer to make a call to social services.

If, you feel unsafe at home, and feel you have no choice but to leave home immediately (eg: fear of violence). You must seek help right away.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form.

Once the completed form has been received, you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Homeless on Prison release

You can apply to the council for help if you're homeless now, or due to leave prison in the next 56 days. Housing Options officers will carry out an assessment of your housing needs. Then link with any agencies supporting you, to draft a personal housing plan. This will set out the steps you and the council must take to find suitable accommodation. You should work with the probation service, community rehabilitation company, or youth offending team, to decide what support you might need, to find and keep somewhere to live.  You can apply to any council for help but it’s usually best to apply to an area where you have a local connection. Being in a prison in that area doesn't count as a local connection. If you apply to an area where you don't have a connection, you may be referred to an area where you do. You can't be referred to another area if:

  • An injunction means you can't go there.
  • You're at risk of violence there.
  • You may not qualify for any housing or support from the council, if you don't meet immigration or residence conditions.

Emergency housing  

This is only available if the council has reason to believe you are homeless, and in priority need. You have an automatic priority need for housing if you:

  • Have dependent children who live with you, or would reasonably be expected to live with you.
  • Are pregnant, or a partner you live with is pregnant.
  • Are 16 or 17 years of age.
  • Are 18-20 years of age, and spent time in care.
  • Are vulnerable due to old age, mental illness or a physical disability. This means it's harder for you to cope with being homeless, than other people in the same situation.

You may be classed as vulnerable due to your time spent in prison. The council must consider:

  • Any support you get from friends or family.
  • Your physical and mental health and how it affects you.
  • How long you spent in prison and when you were released.
  • If you've been able to find, or keep accommodation since release.
  • The council will speak to agencies involved in your support and supervision. For example, probation, youth offending team or drug and alcohol services.

The council doesn't have to help if you are found to be intentionally homeless. This means you lost your home because of something you deliberately did, or you failed to do which resulted in you being homeless.

  • You could be intentionally homeless, if you lost your home because of the offence.
  • You didn’t pay rent when you were in prison.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form. If you are a support worker making an enquiry on your clients behalf, please see our Duty on Public Bodies to refer.

They can complete the Duty to Refer form.

Once the completed form has been received they will be contacted within 5 working days.

Care Leavers 

If you are a care leaver with a local connection to Essex, there are a range of services available to help you. This can include help to get accommodation and support, but the help you get mainly depends on your age.

For more information about what assistance is available to you, and details of who to contact, please continue reading. 

Personal adviser

Before you leave care, you're given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently.

You're given a personal adviser, whose job it is to make sure that you claim everything you are entitled to. They can help you with application forms for housing, benefits, and education. They should also help you with learning life skills and how to budget.

Your personal adviser should stay in contact with you, and provide ongoing support and help until you turn 21, or until your 25th birthday if you are still studying full time.

If your personal advisor is satisfied that you already have the skills to manage your home, then you may be assisted by the Council to move into your own independent accommodation.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form. Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Homeless on leaving hospital 


If you have been assessed as being unable to return home because of your disability or ill health, the hospital occupational therapist/discharge team will, where applicable, provide you with equipment to keep you safe at home and/or refer you to the local housing occupational therapist for more permanent housing adaptations. 

For more information see our local disabled facilities grant service.

If you have no place to return to when you are discharged from hospital, you should tell the hospital nursing staff as soon as possible, so that they know that you will be homeless when you are discharged. They will ask the hospital discharge team to help if they can.

The discharge team may refer you to the council, and the housing options service will assess your situation to secure accommodation where possible, that meets your medical need. Emergency temporary accommodation may be offered, while your application is assessed.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form.

Armed Forces

veterans gateway logo

Veterans can access services through the Veterans Gateway, which is an online service and telephone resource commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, and delivered by a consortium including the The Royal British Legion.

Within the Gateway, a housing specialist service is in touch with veteran housing providers. They have up-to-date information on any vacancies within the 4,000 plus housing units in the country, specifically ringfenced for veterans. 

If you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, you can apply for the Housing Register to access social housing with in the Rochford District. Members of the armed and reserve forces would have a priority for an allocation of housing.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form. Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Single Homeless Scheme

being single

If you are single and homeless the Council may be able to help you find suitable accommodation.


  • Single aged over 18 years.
  • Homeless.
  • Rough sleeping.
  • You have a local connection to Rochford District Council.
  • Not in priority need.
  • Claiming benefits universal credit or working.

To find out more or to apply for this, you must submit a request for housing assistance and a housing options officer will contact you. They will ask you a series of questions about your circumstances, and will access whether you would be helped under this scheme.

For further resources for single homeless, please see the website links for Streetlink, Crisis, and Shelter.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form.

Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Rough sleepers


Report rough sleepers 

If you've seen someone sleeping rough, we can help. We work with the homelessness charity Streetlink to meet with rough-sleepers, carry out assessments, and provide support.

If you spot a rough-sleeper in your local area or have concerns about people sleeping rough or using the streets, contact Streetlink via their website or telephone on 0300 500 0914.

When a report is made, the local Streetlink Officer will be notified and investigate. Working closely with the councils Housing Options team, as well as a wide array of volunteers. 

Local Housing Options officers will arrange to visit the location of the rough sleeper to see how they can help. Food parcels and vouchers are often used by officers to meet any immediate need.

Alternatively you can contact the council by completing the enquiry form.  

If you do make a report, please make note of as many details as you can, such as their location, buildings nearby, clothes they are wearing etc. This makes easier for an officer to identify the rough sleeper.

Note: Some people who appear to be sleeping rough may be engaged in street activities, such as drinking or begging, but in fact have somewhere to stay.

They may need a different type of response from local services. Housing option officers often work alongside community safety, and the local community policing team, to manage these cases.

Further resources for rough sleeping like Crisis and Shelter are available.

What is being done locally?

brunch club

A Brunch Club is held at Hawkwell Baptist Church every Saturday 10am-12pm. Vulnerable individuals, and families who may have health and well being concerns that don't feel listened to are encouraged to attend. Peer support and signposting is available through volunteers. Food/fare share is also available.

If you have any queries about this service, please contact Hawkwell Baptist Church on 01702 542000 or email

Hawkwell Baptist Church,
Rectory Road,
SS4 1UG.

Severe weather provision for rough sleepers

Anyone sleeping rough is offered overnight accommodation during severe weather. Severe weather is any conditions that increase the risk of harm to people sleeping rough. This is usually when the temperature is forecast to fall to zero degrees or below.

When this type of weather occurs, and it is accepted that the rough sleeper has nowhere to go, then emergency accommodation will be offered alongside advice for a limited period only.

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service complete the assessment form.

Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Financial Support for Tenants

financial support

We can provide advice to tenants who live in private sector housing, or social housing and assist with:

  • Applications for Discretionary Housing payment (DHP).
  • Rent arrears.
  • Applying for assistance under the local Homeless Prevention Fund policy.
  • Downsizing through the Council’s housing register.

You can apply for DHP if you need further help with your housing costs. If you already receive housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, please see our Financial Help and Money Advice page. 

Officers also work alongside a local community engagement officer who works closely with the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP). Helping tenants find employment, training, and ensuring they are receiving the correct benefits. 

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service complete the assessment form. 

Once the completed form has been received, you will be contacted within 5 working days. 

Local advice services

Citizens Advice Bureau

The local Citizens Advice service located at Rochford and Rayleigh, can help with information and advice. Some of the areas covered include benefits, family, legal, debt and consumer advice.

National advice services 

The Money Charity, is an independent website that was set up to help people manage their money well. Their website gives you tips to build up your skills, knowledge and attitude towards spending and saving - to enable you to make the most of your money throughout your life.

The Money Advice Service is free, and offers impartial money advice. It has been set up by the government to help people make the most of their money. They can give you unbiased advice, either online, over the phone or face-to-face. Their website has a useful calculator for you to plan your budget, work out mortgage and other borrowings, as well as lots of information about Universal Credit and other benefits.

National Debt Line is a website where you can access free and unbiased advice to help you solve your debt problems. Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days. 

Key Facts – a little more about the legislation

What do I do if I am going to be made homeless?

  • If you think you may become homeless, or you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, contact the Housing Options Service as soon as possible.  
  • For more advice and support from the Housing Options service complete the assessment form.

Would I be considered as being homeless?

  • If you are likely to become homeless within 56 days.
  • You have no home in the UK or elsewhere that you do not have a legal right to occupy.
  • You have a moveable structure such as a boat or caravan, and there is no where it can be placed lawfully.
  • You are at risk from harm if you stay in your current home.

Will the Council find me a home?

  • If the Council has reason to believe that you are homeless and in priority need, you will be offered emergency accommodation whilst your homelessness application is being investigated.

Am I eligible for assistance?

  • Whether or not you are eligible for assistance will depend on your immigration status.
  • If you are eligible for assistance, we will help find you a home. If you are not eligible you will only be entitled to advice and assistance on homelessness, and the prevention of homelessness. 
  • If you are eligible but not homeless or threatened with homelessness in the next 56 days, then the Council has a duty to offer advice and assistance.
  • If you are eligible and threatened with homelessness within 56 days then the Council will create a Personal Housing Plan (PHP) to prevent your homelessness.
  • If you are eligible and have become homeless but have no local connection, the Council will refer you to another local authority where you have a connection.
  • If you are eligible, have become homeless, and are in priority need, but have no local connection, the Council will provide temporary accommodation until the referral is accepted by the local authority where you have a local connection.

I have a priority need for Housing?

You are in priority need if you satisfy one of the following:

  • Pregnant, or a member of your household (who is eligible for assistance) is pregnant.
  • 16 – 17 years of age.
  • You have dependent children.
  • You are homeless because of fire, flood or similar disaster.
  • You or a member of the household (eligible for assistance) is vulnerable due to:
    • Old age.
    • 18-21 years of age and previously been in Social Services Care.
    • Previous member of the Armed Forces.
    • Left your home due to domestic violence (or threats of domestic violence).
    • Mental Illness / Physical disability.
    • Special reason that puts you in risk of harm (greater than most people).

I am eligible and have become homeless and in priority need and have a local connection? 

The Council will provide temporary accommodation and the PHP will be updated to relieve your homelessness 

Do I have a connection to the Rochford District? 

The Council will assess you as having a connection to the District providing you can provide evidence of at least one of the following: 

  • You have lived in Rochford District for at least six months during the last 12 months.
  • You have lived in Rochford for at least three years, during the last five years.
  • You have a close relative who lives in the District, and has done so for at least the last five years (relative must be either Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, or adult child).
  • You have a permanent job in the District.
  • You have a local connection to the area for another special reason.

Am I intentionally homeless? 

You are intentionally homeless if you lost your settled home because of your actions or because you failed to do something. You can also be found intentionally homeless if you do not take up alternative accommodation, that is available for your use, or that the Council finds for you. Examples include:

  • You have been evicted from your home (or your property was repossessed), because you failed to pay your rent/mortgage even though you were able to.
  • You decided to leave your current home without sufficient reason, and the current accommodation can only be considered temporary.
  • You were evicted from your home because of nuisance, anti-social behaviour or Domestic Violence (from you to another family member).

If you are intentionally homeless, then even if you have a priority need, the Council will only offer you temporary accommodation for a reasonable period. This will allow you time to find alternative accommodation. You will also be given advice and assistance. 

If you are eligible and have been homeless after 56 days of relief duty: are in priority need: have a local connection and are not homeless intentionally. 

The Council will secure that accommodation is available for your occupation in the private rented sector, or social housing from the housing register. 

What will happen in my homeless interview? 

A Housing Options Officer will interview you to decide if you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness. 

The Housing Options Officer will set out a Personal Housing Plan (PHP). This is a document which sets out the steps that are going to be taken, to help prevent you becoming homeless, or help to secure you accommodation. 

To help us identify your need, we will need to ask you a series of questions to help us determine your current situation and what can be done to help. Typical questions can include; where you lived previously, details of medical conditions and your family make up. 

As part of the application process you will need to provide written documentation to demonstrate your homeless position and level of need. In order to speed up your application process, it is important to bring all requested documents to the interview. 

Contact details and opening times

For more advice and support from the Housing Options service, complete the assessment form. Once the completed form has been received you will be contacted within 5 working days.

Duty Officer is available:

Monday - Thursday: 9.00am – 12.00 midday & 2.00pm – 4.30pm.
Friday: 9.00am – 12.00 midday & 2.00pm – 4.00pm. 

Appointments by arrangement: 9.00am – 4.30pm. 

Private Tenant Information

Basic Private Tenant Awareness Video - are you ‘ready to rent’?

The South Essex Private Housing Group have worked together to produce this basic private tenant awareness video, which has information and advice about renting in the private sector for anyone beginning, changing, or already renting privately.

  • Do you want to show potential or existing landlords and agents, that you will be a good tenant? Then why not watch our basic tenant awareness video.
  • This video has information and advice about renting in the private sector and helps reinforce tenant and landlord responsibilities.
  • Another good source of information, if you are already renting or are thinking about renting privately, is our private tenant information pack. In this pack, there is useful content about how to rent, tenant rights and responsibilities and what to do if you experience any problems.
  • Remember: If you feel you are at risk of being homeless please contact the Council’s Housing Options service for housing advice and support using the online enquiry form.
  • If you are already being supported by the Housing Options service, to find more settled accommodation, you may be required to watch this basic tenant awareness video and asked to confirm you have understood it. This would-be part of your agreed Personalised Housing Plan responsibilities.
  • If you are required to watch this video by your Housing Options Officer, you will be given your own link to the video.  This will be linked through to an online test which will need to be completed. By completing the test, you are confirming that you have watched and understood the content of the video. At the end of the test, you will know if you have failed or passed and the results will be copied to your Housing Options Officer. If you pass, a certificate will be sent to you.
  • Remember: The basic tenant awareness video is available for anyone to watch, but if you are already being supported by the Housing Options service, they will  give you your own link, so you can watch this video and take a test. Your Housing Options officer will be able to advise you further.