If you're homeless, or about to be made homeless, find out how to get help from your local council.
Am I homeless?
You should also be considered homeless if:
- You have somewhere to live, but can't stay there because of violence or the threat of violence; abuse or harassment from someone at home OR someone who doesn't live with you, like a neighbour; overcrowding or other bad conditions.
- You have nowhere to live, either in the UK or abroad.
- You live in a boat/mobile home/caravan and you aren't allowed to put it anywhere.
- You have nowhere you can live together with all your family/partner/carer etc.
- You are a squatter.
- You are sleeping on a mate's floor or sofa
- You are staying in temporary accomodation, such as a refuge
- You've been locked out of your home and aren't allowed back.
- If you are likely to become homeless within 28 days. For example: a court has ruled that you must leave rented accommodation, or the people you are currently living with have asked you to move out.
Getting homeless help
The law says that everyone has the right to make a homeless application to the council.
The council must consider your application against five criteria. If you meet the following three, you must be given emergency accomodation.
- Do you fit one of the definitions of homeless given at the start of this article?
- Are you eligible for help? If you're a British citizen living in the UK you should be eligible.
- Are you a priority need? For example, you're under 18, pregnant, or have children.
While you are in emergency accommodation, the council will check the following:
4. Are you intentionally homeless? This means you've made yourself homeless deliberately.
5. Do you have a local connection to the area?
If you 'pass' all five tests temporary accommodation must be found for you. You'll be sent a letter from the council explaining what's been decided.
What if I don't pass the homeless test?
If the council decides you don't pass, it should still provide advice and assistance to help you get somewhere to stay. This could include advice about how to get private accommodation and information about financial help available. Shelter has an online assessment tool to help you work out what help you should get.
But the council's not helping me
If your local council won't help in the way the law says it should, you could get help to challenge this.
A local advice service should be able to help you apply for help from the council and make sure they deal with you fairly. Many services like this are free.
If you're low or no income then you may be able to get free help through legal aid.
I don't qualify for help and have to find my own place
If the council doesn't have a duty to offer you a permanent home, you'll need to find your own accommodation. There are several ways to do this.
You could join the council waiting list (sometimes known as housing register) for housing.
Applying for council housing is not the same as applying to the council as homeless. It does not mean you get somewhere straight away, but you may get an offer of accommodation in the future.
To get onto each waiting list, you need to fill in a form, which is available from the council housing department.
While you are waiting for council housing to become available through the waiting list you could consider private rented accommodation.
Rents can be expensive in some areas. If you are on benefits or a low income, you may be able to claim local housing allowance to help pay your rent.
In addition, you may be able to apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) social fund for a budgeting loan, crisis loan or community care grant to cover rent in advance, but loans are not available for deposits or agency fees. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and how much money the DWP has in its budget, and you will have to pay the loan back.
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