We understand that becoming homeless can be a worrying experience and will do all we can to provide good quality temporary accommodation.
We have recently seen a big increase in the length of time homeless families are waiting in temporary accommodation. To combat this, some properties have been earmarked for homeless families. More information about property allocations can be found here.
Temporary accommodation is allocated to households who have made a homeless application and to whom we believe we have a duty to house under the Housing Act 1996, amended by the Homelessness Act 2002.
Most households entering temporary accommodation will not know whether the council has a duty to house them in more settled accommodation, which this will be determined during their stay in temporary accommodation. If we have a duty to house you, you will move from temporary accommodation to settled accommodation. However, if we do not have a duty to you then you will be required to leave temporary accommodation and we will advise you on how to find alternative accommodation yourself.
Our temporary accommodation facilities
We have two main hostels:
Howlands House, Welwyn Garden City
These are shared-facilities with individual bedrooms, a shared kitchen and a shared bathroom.
Hazel Grove House in Hatfield
These are self-contained units but can only be used for smaller households.
We also have supported accommodation and some other dispersed units. In some instances it is necessary to use a bed and breakfast which may be out of the area. Bed and breakfast accommodation is only used when it is not appropriate for the applicant to stay in our temporary accommodation units or when the demand for temporary accommodation exceeds the number of council owned units available.
We will try to match what is available to the requirements of each household in need and take a range of factors in to consideration when deciding which temporary accommodation facility a household will accommodate such size, type and location. We cannot promise to provide temporary accommodation in a particular area as we have to look at the spaces we have and the needs of all our customers.
Our accommodation has basic furniture which comprises of a bed, sink in the bedroom, fridge, freezer (Howlands House only), and a cooker. Washing machines are provided in some units and there is a laundry facility either on-site or nearby. In cases of hardship we can provide some second-hand bed-linen, towels, saucepans and crockery.
We require residents to sign an inventory when they move in and they may be charged for anything damaged beyond reasonable wear and tear. If residents have their own furniture, they will need to make arrangements to store these items. We may be able to offer you a council garage for this purpose, subject to availability.
Rights & Responsibilities
Your Licence / Non-Secure Tenancy Agreement outlines your responsibilities to us and ours to you. You must ensure that your account is kept up to date by paying the amount that you are responsible for and ensuring the Housing Benefit team have all the information they need from you.
You must also ensure that you abide by the terms of your Licence or Tenancy Agreement. If breaches are made, such as anti-social behaviour, then you could lose your temporary accommodation. Residents staying in temporary accommodation will need to be aware that your lifestyle may be very different to that of your neighbours, shift working and sleeping patterns are two examples of how you and your neighbour's lifestyle can differ. It is essential that residents are tolerant and respectful of their neighbours.
Temporary accommodation costs
All new residents moving into our temporary accommodation will be issued with a payment card in order to pay their charges.
There are three elements to the charges:
Rent / licence charges
Anyone moving into temporary accommodation can apply for Housing Benefit and their claim will be assessed. Residents are responsible for claiming Housing Benefit and providing all the necessary documentation although help will be offered with this
Charges include; Council Tax (at Howlands House only), facilities including cleaning of external communal areas, staff on site at Howlands House and twice-weekly visits to Hazel Grove House; maintenance of site including grass cutting and window cleaning
Charges are made for gas, electricity and water, these are not covered by Housing Benefit and you will need to pay for this weekly in advance. Council Tax is included in the charges for Howlands House but not for Hazel Grove House or Northfield.
We have an office in Howlands House that is open on a Friday between 9am and 4.30pm. Our staff are there to give information, book appointments and to provide general assistance.
Temporary accommodation staff make regular visits to Hazel Grove House at least twice a week. We also have a team who can assist with a variety of issues including helping you to maintain your Licence / Tenancy Agreement and to apply for benefits.
If you have a query about your homeless application, please contact us to speak with your Housing Options Officer.
It is common for households to require storage for their belongings, however there is very little storage space in our temporary accommodation. We can help with providing storage with a local storage company, but we do recover the cost of this from customers. The cost of the storage will depend on the amount of belongings that are stored. It may be cheaper for customers to source their own storage options as many providers offer introductory offers or discounts.
If you need advice about where to store your belongings when you become homeless, you should provide your Housing Options Officer with the details as early as possible.