This content applies to England only.
Housing laws vary between England and Scotland. Get advice relating to Scotland
If you're facing homelessness, you may have a number of options that could help you to keep your home and avoid or prevent homelessness.
Remaining in your home
If you are a home owner or a tenant, you probably don't have to leave your home unless a court has ordered you to. In most cases, there will be a legal process that lenders and landlords must follow before you can be evicted.
If the correct process is not followed, your landlord or lender may be guilty of carrying out an illegal eviction. If you think you have been evicted illegally or your lender/landlord is threatening to evict you without going through the court, get advice quickly.
The legal process varies according to why you are being asked to leave and what type of owner or tenant you are. Finding out about your housing status can be complicated and you may need to get advice about it.
Even if your lender or landlord has started to try to evict you, it can take time to get to court. Once in court, you may be able to delay or stop the eviction. In many cases the court will not automatically make you leave your home.
Negotiating with your lender or landlord
If you have been asked to leave but you want to stay, try to negotiate with your lender or landlord.
If your lender or landlord wants you to leave because you owe money, you could try to negotiate to pay it back.
If your landlord is unhappy with your behaviour, ask for time to put things right. For example, the landlord may say that you have been playing loud music. If it is the first complaint, s/he may be prepared to give you a second chance.
Negotiating with friends or relatives
If you are staying with friends or relatives, ask if you can stay for a bit longer while you try to find somewhere else to live. Depending on your circumstances, mediation may help.
Getting help with debt problems
If you have got into financial difficulties and are having problems paying your mortgage, rent or other bills, get advice. You may need advice to check that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. An adviser may be able to see if you can cut down on non-essential spending and/or help you to work out a realistic plan to pay off your debts.
If the condition of your home is not satisfactory, help may be available to make your home more suitable.
Both home owners and tenants may be able to apply to the council for grants to improve their homes. For example, a grant could provide adaptations if you are an elderly or disabled person and you want to stay in your home.
If you are renting your home and your landlord won't do repairs, the type of action you can take will depend on the type of tenancy you have.
Finding somewhere else to live
If you have exhausted all the possible ways to avoid becoming homeless, you will have to find somewhere else to live. How long you have will depend on whether your lender or landlord is taking action to evict you.
If you are a tenant and you have decided to move out, you need to check your tenancy agreement to see what you have to do to end your agreement properly.
An adviser can go through all the options available to you in your area. They will take your personal and financial circumstances into account and advise you on the most suitable option - use our directory to find an adviser in your area.
Getting help from the council
The council has legal duty to help certain groups of homeless people. However, they may not help you if they believe that you became homeless intentionally.
Get advice if you are at risk of homelessness
If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, it's important that you get legal advice for your circumstances. Use our directory to find a housing adviser in your area.
You can also call Civil Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345. You may be able to get help from a legal adviser if you qualify for Legal Help funding. Be prepared to answer questions about your income and savings so the helpline adviser can tell you if you qualify.
Shelter is one of the five providers of Legal Help funded advice provided by this helpline.