Your rights to help from the council when homeless if you are an EU or EEA national who has worked in the UK but are no longer working.
How the council can help if you are homeless
Many EU and EEA nationals are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless or facing homelessness.
The council will decide if you are eligible for assistance if you apply for help as homeless.
Help from the council could be advice only, emergency accommodation or help with finding longer-term housing.
If the council won't help
You must act quickly to challenge the council's decision if the council tells you in writing that you are not eligible for assistance. You have only 21 days to ask for a review.
Contact Civil Legal Advice to see if you qualify for legal aid.
You'll need a specialist immigration adviser if you are not sure about your immigration status. Find out more from AdviceGuide about help with immigration problems.
Irish nationals have a right to reside in the UK. The council should treat you as eligible for assistance for homelessness help using the same rules that apply to British citizens.
EU or EEA nationals with a permanent right to reside
You are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a permanent right to reside in the UK. The most common way to get a permanent right to reside is after living and working in the UK for five years. There are also other circumstances where you might have this right.
Find out more about homelessness rights when you have a permanent right to reside in the UK.
EU or EEA jobseekers
If you have recently arrived in the UK and are looking for work, you must find and pay for your own housing. You are not entitled to any help from the council with emergency accommodation or longer-term housing.
From 1st April 2014, you are not entitled to claim housing benefit to help pay your rent while you are looking for work. But if you claimed before this date, your entitlement to housing benefit will continue in some circumstances.
You may be able to claim housing benefit once you are in work if you are on a low income.
EU and EEA nationals unable to work temporarily
If you have worker status, you are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless. Most EU and EEA nationals working in the UK have this status.
In some situations, even if you stop working, you keep your worker status and remain eligible for assistance. There are special rules for many Croatian nationals.
If you are a Croatian national
If you are a Croatian national who has worked in the UK for less than 12 months, you normally lose your worker status if you stop working for any reason and won't be eligible for help from the council.
You might remain eligible for assistance if you have a child who is being educated in the UK. Find out more about the rights of EU family members when homeless.
If you become unemployed
This applies to EU and EEA nationals except Croatian nationals.
If you have worked in the UK for more than one year, you will have to attend a Genuine Prospect of Work interview at Jobcentre Plus once you have been signing on for six months. If you can provide evidence of a firm job offer due to start within three months of the interview then your worker status, entitlement to benefits and eligibility for assistance should be extended until the job starts. If you do not have an offer of employment then Jobcentre Plus will probably decide that you no longer have worker status.
If you lose your worker status you might still be eligible for assistance if you:
- have a child in education in the UK
- have lived and worked in the UK for at least 5 years
- are the family member of an EEA national who is working or self-employed
Get advice if the council says you are not eligible for assistance. You may be able to challenge the council's decision.
If you are ill or injured
You are eligible for assistance if you are temporarily unable to work because you are ill or have had an accident.
If you are pregnant or have had a baby
You are eligible for assistance if you are on maternity leave from your normal job.
If you give up your job or have to stop looking for work because you are in the late stages of pregnancy or have recently given birth, you will keep your worker status and be eligible for assistance as long as you find another job within a reasonable time after having your baby.
Get advice if you are in this situation and the council says it can't help you.
Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your local area.
If you are doing work-related training
You may be eligible for assistance if you are doing work-related training. If you gave up your job to do the training, it must be related to your previous work.
Self-employed EU or EEA nationals
You are eligible for homelessness assistance if you are temporarily unable to work because you are ill or have had an accident.
If your income from self-employment goes up and down, you should still be eligible for assistance as long as you continue to carry out tasks related to your business even when your income is low.
Get advice if the council says your income is too low to make you eligible for assistance. You might be able to challenge the decision.
You are not usually eligible for assistance if you stop working on a self-employed basis and register as a jobseeker with Jobcentre Plus.
Unable to work due to long-term sickness or disability
You are eligible for homelessness assistance from the council if you:
- lived in the UK for at least two years before you had to stop work because of a permanent illness or disability
- had to stop working permanently following an accident at work or an occupational disease and you are entitled to disability benefits in the UK as a result
- had worker status previously and have a child in education in the UK
If you are unable to work because of sickness or disability, but these situations do not apply, get advice to see if you can get any other help with your housing situation.
Family members of EU and EEA nationals
You may be eligible for assistance if your current or former partner or family member is an EU or EEA national. This can apply even if you are from a country outside the EU.
If you are the family member of an EU or EEA national with a permanent right to reside you might also have this right and be eligible for assistance when homeless.