If you are eligible for assistance and homeless or threatened with homelessness, your local council should give you help to secure accommodation or to prevent your homelessness regardless of your personal circumstances.

If you are still homeless, the council will want to look at your case again. At this stage, if you fall into one of the ‘priority need’ categories and the council do not consider you to be intentionally homeless they help to find alternative accomodation under the duty to secure accommodation.

Prevention duty

If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days the Council will have a duty to try and prevent this to try and enable you to stay in you home or to help you find alternative accommodation.

If you are likely to lose your home in the next 56 days you should contact Housing Solutions Service and ask for help.

Examples of help and advice the council can provide:

  • a mediation service between you and any members of your family or neighbours to try and help sort out any difficulties so that you can stay in your home
  • speak with your landlord to try and allow you to stay in your home or agree some more time so that you can find other accommodation
  • helping you to negotiate with your mortgage lender or to apply for help so that you can continue to meet your mortgage payments (for example, through Support for Mortgage Interest payments
  • providing you with a grant or a loan to pay off arrears so that you can stay in your home
  • providing you with, or referring you for, specialist advice about your money and benefits.
  • helping you set a realistic budget so that you can afford to stay in your home or pay for somewhere new
  • providing you with, or referring you for, specialist independent housing advice
  • helping you fill out application forms for housing (for example with a Housing Association or for supported housing)
  • providing you with advice and support about personal safety if you are at risk of abuse, helping you find a safe home or refuge, referring you for legal advice if needed
  • helping you with an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment
  • referring you to an anti-social behaviour prevention service
  • supporting you with applications for Disabled Facilities Grant to help adapt your home
  • help you to develop a Personalized Housing Plan (PHP) or you could create your own Housing Action Plan (HAP) on the Choose N Move website.

This prevention duty will come to an end if you:

  • are able to remain in the accommodation you are in
  • accept alternative accommodation which is suitable and likely to last for at least 6 months
  • reject alternative accommodation which was suitable and was likely to last for at least 6 months
  • refuse to engage with the help which is being offered
  • lose contact with the Council
  • cease to be eligible for assistance
  • become homeless
  • withdraw your application
Relief duty

If homelessness cannot be prevented the Council will have a duty to relieve your homelessness, this duty lasts for 56 days. During this period the Council will help to secure you alternative accommodation. However, only people who the Council have reason to believe have a priority need will be offered temporary accommodation.

We will assist you in:

  • giving you your local housing options
  • giving advice and helping you with your difficulties in finding somewhere else to live
  • assisting you in applying for properties through Choose n Move or with other housing associations
  • providing you with a grant or a loan to pay a tenancy deposit in advance on a new home. See Bond guarantee scheme - tenants
  • referring you for supported housing
  • help you to develop a Personalized Housing Plan (PHP) or you could create your own Housing Action Plan (HAP) on the Choose N Move website.

If you are still homeless after this period the Council will make a decision on what further duties you are owed. The extent of these duties depend on whether you have a priority need or your homelessness was your fault. The Council will have reduced duties to help you if you rejected suitable accommodation or refused to engage with us whilst we had the 56 day duty to relieve your homelessness.

Homeless eligibility criteria

To qualify for long-term housing from your council, all the following 5 conditions must apply to you.

To qualify for emergency housing, the council must think conditions 1 to 3 apply to you.

1. You need to be legally homeless

To qualify for help, you must be classed as 'legally homeless'. This includes if you:

  • have been evicted from your home
  • need to leave due to violence
  • can't stay due to a fire or flood
  • are sleeping on the street
  • will lose your home within 56 days (for example, if you're going to be evicted)
  • have been asked to leave somewhere temporary (such as a friend's house)
2. You need to be a priority for help

To qualify for help, you or someone in your household must be in 'priority need'.

You are likely to be in priority need if you're a ;young person aged 16 or 17 (social services usually have to help you) or a care leaver under 21.

You will be in priority need if you're:

  • a family with children under 16 
  • a family with children under 19 (if they are in full-time education)
  • pregnant
  • homeless due to a disaster such as a fire or flood
  • you are vulnerable as a result of institutionalization - This could include those who have spent time in care, the armed forces or prison.
  • classed as 'vulnerable'

You may be classed as vulnerable if, for example, you are disabled or have a serious health condition, or you are at risk of domestic abuse.

When deciding if you are vulnerable, the council will take into account anything that makes it hard for you to cope with being homeless.

3. You need to be allowed to live in the UK

If you have immigration or residence restrictions, it could mean the council can't help you.

You usually qualify for help if you:

  • are a British or Irish citizen living in the UK
  • are from the EU or EEA and are living and working in the UK
  • have Home Office permission to stay in the UK and are allowed to claim benefits

If you've recently lived abroad

If you've recently lived abroad you may need to pass the 'habitual residence test' to show you're now settled in the UK, even if you are British.

If you have no access to public funds

You don't usually qualify for help if your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’ (for example if you have a student visa).

4. You need to be homeless through no fault of your own

To qualify for longer-term help, you must be homeless through no fault of your own.

The council won't help you if you made yourself homeless. This is called being 'intentionally homeless' and includes if you:

  • were evicted due to antisocial behaviour
  • left housing that you could have stayed in
  • didn't pay rent or mortgage payments you could afford
5. You need to have links to the area

Having links is known as having a 'local connection' and includes if you:

  • have lived or worked in the area
  • have close family who live in the area
  • need specialist health care in the area

If you don't have links to the area where you apply, the council can sometimes refer you to an area where you do have links.

Legal and benefit advice

  • Shelter's Guide on housing rights helps you work out if you're eligible, for assistance and what you can get advice from Civil Legal Advice, or you can search for a legal aid adviser.