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How to avoid becoming homeless

Updated: 18 Jan 2019
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Get advice as soon as you are aware of problems
Get advice before you get into rent arrears
You should get advice and find out what your rights are as soon as you think there is a chance you might become homeless. By being well informed you may be able to stop it from happening.

If you are still in your home

If you are a tenant or a homeowner you won’t usually have to leave your home without a court order. This can be a lengthy process. Going to court can cost a lot of money and you may be liable to pay some of the cost. You should get advice if you are thinking of going to court.
You should speak to your landlord or lender and see if you can negotiate with them to stay in your home. If you owe money you may be able to come to some agreement to pay it back.
If you have been asked to leave your home because of your behaviour you may be able to get your landlord to give you another chance at proving yourself to be well behaved. If you are staying with family or friends you may be able to agree with them that you can stay for a while longer while you look for somewhere else to live.
You should contact your local district office if you are considering mediation help.

If you are leaving care

People leaving care are more likely to become homeless than other young people. Social services must help you, and can make it easier for you to become independent. If you are leaving care you should:
  • be well prepared
  • know what rights you have
  • work out your finances and know how much you can afford
  • make sure you find a place to live before you leave care
The Housing Advice Northern Ireland website has lots of useful information for people leaving care.

If you are suffering domestic abuse

If you're experiencing domestic abuse from someone you live with, or used to live with, you may feel that your only option is to leave your home. Instead of this you may be able to get a court order that stops the violent person from contacting you or staying in your home.
You don't have to own your home to be able to apply for a court order and once a court order is in place the violent person can be arrested by the police if the terms of the court order are broken.
If you already have a court order that the violent person is ignoring you should contact the police.

If you are evicted or asked to leave

If you are a tenant or a homeowner, you only have to leave your home if your landlord or lender follows the correct procedures and applies for a court order.
You should always try to avoid being evicted and, if arrears are the cause of the eviction, you should try to come to an agreement to pay back the arrears. If you are staying with friends or family you probably will have to leave if they ask you to.
Talking through any problems might help and they may allow you to stay on in their home until you find somewhere else to live.
Whatever your situation you should get advice as soon as you are aware of problems. Acting early can help you avoid becoming homeless.