Staying with friends when homeless

If you are homeless and need a place to stay immediately, staying with friends can seem a good solution for a short time. If you end up 'sofa surfing' and have nowhere else to go, you may be entitled to help from the council.

Help if you are homeless and staying with friends

Staying with a friend might be a good short-term solution if you have to leave home and you have nowhere else to go.

But staying with friends doesn't mean you have found a home. You could still be classed as homeless and you may be entitled to help from the council which could include housing.

Even if you are not accepted as homeless by the council, it may be able to help you find affordable accommodation. Homeless people have the right to ask for housing advice from their local council's housing options and housing or homelessness departments.

A local housing adviser can give you any advice on housing and check why the council won't accept your homeless application.

Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area.

Your rights if a friend asks you to leave

If your friend asks you to leave, there is probably not much you can do.

Most people who are staying with friends are classed as excluded occupiers. This means that you can be asked to leave and evicted at very short notice.

Your friend's benefits can be affected by your stay

Your friend's benefits might also be affected if you are:

  • living with them as a partner
  • paying them for a room
  • sleeping on their sofa or in a spare room

If you stay for more than a few nights, the council's housing benefit office could decide your friend's house is your main home and that you are a non-dependant.

Even if you aren't paying your friend any money towards the costs of accommodation, the council can decide that you are and can deduct an amount from your friend's housing benefit.

Your friend may need to tell the council you are just sleeping on the sofa for a few nights until you find a place of your own.

If your friend is claiming a single person's discount for their council tax, having you to stay for a while could affect this.

Find out more from Gov uk about council tax.

Contact a benefits adviser for further benefits advice and information. Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area.

Find out more about benefits from or Turn2Us.

Your friend's tenancy could be affected by your stay

Your friend's tenancy agreement may restrict the number of overnight visitors they are allowed to have.

Your friend should check their tenancy agreement and check with an adviser if they aren't sure.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

Young people and homelessness

If you are aged 16 or 17 and you become homeless, you are usually entitled to accommodation and assistance from your council's social services department. This is because you are still classed as child.

Social services can also provide financial assistance, help with training and education, and support for personal issues.

Use the council finder to find contact details for your local council.

Most young care leavers under the age of 21 are also entitled to help if they become homeless. This help can continue until you are 24 if you are still in education or training. The social services department of your local council can give you further information.

Get advice if the council says it can't help you.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

Several charities offer help to young people at risk of homelessness, including Barnardos, Centrepoint, Depaul UK and St Basils.


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