Homelessness Advice & Prevention

Important Information

The Homelessness Advice and Prevention Team works to prevent people living in West Lancashire from becoming homeless. The team provides the following services:

  • Free confidential advice to anyone in the West Lancashire area who is homeless or thinks they may soon become homeless
  • Advice to private tenants and landlords on the law around private rented tenancies including dealing with harassment and illegal eviction
  • Help with finding private rented accommodation
  • Sanctuary Scheme for victims of domestic abuse who wish to remain in their home

If you are homeless or think you may become homeless, it is important that you tell us as soon as you can. Please don't wait until you lose the roof over your head before you come to us.

If you are a public body or a third sector organisation who wishes to refer someone who you believe is homeless now or is likely to become homeless within the next 56 days, you can refer them to us under the duty to refer.

The Council aims to prevent homelessness in West Lancashire, helping residents to find and keep their home, to achieve our vision and stop the cycle of homelessness we will strengthen and build on our work with partners, seeking out funding opportunities and develop new and innovative solutions to prevent and relieve homelessness. Our Homelessness & Rough Sleepers Strategy outlines how we will do this over the next 5 years.

Your Housing Options

Not everyone who is homeless or threatened with homelessness will benefit from presenting themselves to the council as homeless. There may be other options that you can consider.

  • Council housing

The council’s allocations policy places people in priority bands according to their particular circumstances. If your home is severely overcrowded or you have multiple housing needs, you may receive higher priority by trying to stay in your home until you are re-housed than if you presented as homeless.  

  • Housing association homes

Some housing associations have homes to rent in West Lancashire. Housing associations offer secure tenancies similar to council tenancies and charge similar rents. If you want to be considered for a housing association tenancy as well as a council tenancy, you must tick the box on our housing application form. You can also contact housing associations direct and join their waiting lists.

You can apply for both council and housing association homes through West Lancs Homefinder (external link).

  • Private rented accommodation

These are privately owned houses that are rented out by their owners directly or through a lettings agency. The tenancy you are given is called an assured shorthold tenancy and usually lasts for 6 to 12 months. The tenancy is not secure so the landlord can decide not to rent the property to you again when your tenancy ends. Rents are usually higher than council or housing association properties and may not be covered by housing benefit or universal credit.

If you need help to pay the rent, it is important that you get advice about how much you are entitled to.  If you are claiming housing benefit, you can get advice from the Council's Housing Benefit Service. If you are claiming universal credit  you can apply for housing payments through your online account.

Most landlords also ask for a deposit and a month's rent in advance. The deposit is usually the same amount as a month's rent. Landlords who take cash deposits must protect them in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (external link). Landlords who do not comply can be taken to court and fined. 

The benefit of renting privately is that you have the flexibility to choose where you live and the properties are usually available to move into straight away. Most private properties are advertised online.

  • Shared ownership

Shared ownership is where you part rent and part buy. The property will be part-owned by a housing association and you will rent their share from them. You will own the other share in the property by getting a mortgage. Most shared ownership properties are advertised through estate agents. For more information on shared ownership and new housing developments in the borough, see the new affordable housing developments page.

Homelessness Advice Pages

We have put together some advice pages covering the most common reasons for homelessness. The pages contain information on how the Council can help you and the details of other organisations that may be able to offer help and support.