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According to statistics by UK charity Shelter, one in three families are only one month’s pay check away from being made homeless.
However, there are a million reasons why you could be made homeless. Even if it is only for a temporary period, spending can spiral and your finances can be significantly impacted without a plan. So here’s my top ten things you need to do if you’re suddenly threatened with homelessness.
1. Firstly, don’t rush out of the door even if you’ve been asked to. Be as prepared as possible before you step out of your property in case there is no chance of going back. Get as much advice from an independent professional as you can.
Shelter have an online chat facility or a freephone number which could help. If you have time, contact helpline 0808 800 4444.
In the case of an emergency call 0808 1644 660 e.g.
- You have nowhere to sleep, or might be homeless soon
- You have somewhere to sleep, but nowhere to call home
- You are/could be at risk of harm
- You feel very overwhelmed about your housing situation
2. Stop all unnecessary spending. If anything unessential still has the tags on, return it straight away. You’re going to need as much cash as possible. Check your consumer rights here.
3. Talk to friends, family and colleagues. Not only will this provide you with the mental support you’re going to need at this time, but they may be able to offer you a temporary room for a few nights. It’s surprising how many people know someone with an empty house or in need or a lodger.
4. For a quick solution if you need of a room for the night, consider an AirB&B which are often cheaper than a regular B&B.
5. Speak to your local council. They have to help if you’re legally homeless or threatened with homelessness within the next 8 weeks or you’ve received a section 21 notice from your landlord. Check here if you would qualify for emergency housing.
6. If you’re not going to be allowed back into your home, set up postal redirection with immediate effect, although this does tend to take about a week to get in place fully. There is still a risk that some letters will slip through the net so try to remain on good terms with whoever has asked you to leave.
7. Collect together all important documentation such as ID, insurance information, bank cards/cheque books and if it applies, children’s medical records. If you’re splitting from a relationship, this is a time when sentimental items or objects of value are most like to go missing so get them out of the house for safe keeping. Lock them in the boot of your car if that’s an option or leave them with a trusted family member or friend.
8. If you’ve been asked to leave by a partner and have joint bank accounts, cancel any overdraft facility. However, consider the impact of letting your bank know that you’re splitting though as they may opt to freeze your accounts and this could cause some bills to go unpaid. Where possible, remain amicable with your other half to prevent this sort of behaviour. Remember to keep a regular tab on your credit score from now until you are financially unlinked with your ex as their actions can have an impact on your rating if you have shared loans, credit cards or joint accounts. I recommend Noddle for free credit reports for life.
9. Sign out of all your electronics at home and change passwords which may have been shared. If you need to leave in a hurry and unable to take everything with you in one go you need to protect yourself from identity theft.
10. Finally, although this is by far an exhaustive list, try to seek the positives in the situation. Understandably it can be easy to become overwhelmed with panic, sadness or desperation but this is just one chapter in your life. Once you close that door, the feeling of not having anywhere to go back to can be very scary. Try to keep things as normal a possible for yourself by sticking to a routine and keeping in touch with people. Closing yourself off can be tempting but now is the time to build up your village. As the song goes, things can only get better.