Homelessness: Do you have a local connection?

If you apply or homelessness help from a local council, it checks that you have a local connection to its area. It should do this only after looking at other important questions.

About this question 

The local council you first approach for help when homeless must look into your homelessness application and decide if it has to provide you with emergency accommodation.

Following enquiries, it decides if it has to provide you with longer-term accommodation or if responsibility for this lies with another council. To do this, the council looks into whether you have a local connection with its area.

Before the council looks at whether you have a local connection with its area, it must first consider if you:

Before it looks at these questions, the council may suggest you apply to a different council, if you have been living in a different area or have family living elsewhere. This is unlawful. If you do go to another council, that council could send you back again.

If the council decides you have a local connection with its area it must continue to provide you with somewhere to live. In time, it must make you an offer of longer-term accommodation.

What does it mean to have a local connection?

Local connection is about your links with an area. You have a local connection with a local council's area if you fall into one of the following categories.

You live in the area

If you have lived in the area for six months out of the past 12, or three years out of the past five, you have a local connection.

To have a local connection, you must have lived in the area by choice. It is unlikely that you qualify if you have only lived in an area because you have been in a prison or a hospital there. But you do have a local connection if you were posted there by the armed forces.

You have close family in the area

You have a local connection if you have close family who have lived in the area for at least five years. Close family is usually limited to your mother, father, siblings or grown up children. You won't have a local connection with an area any dependent children live in, if this is different to where you live.

You may have a local connection if you were brought up in the area by a different family member such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.

You work in the area

You have a local connection if you work in the area. Your employment doesn't have to be full-time. Part-time work counts. Self-employed people can have a local connection if they mainly work in the council's area.

Other reasons

There are other special reasons that the council considers as a local connection. For example, you may need to live in an area to receive specialist health care or because in the past you lived in the area for a long time.

If you have reasons for wanting to apply to a particular council, get advice to see if you could argue that you have a local connection to that area.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice services in your local area.

If you don't have a local connection

If the council decides that you don't have a local connection with its area, it considers if you have a local connection with another council's area. If you do, it can refer you to that council for help, but only if your household is not at risk of violence there.

The council should not refer you to another area if you only have a local connection with the other area due to family connections and you don't want to be near your family.

Most councils will refer you to another area if they can, but they can decide not to.

If you don't have a local connection anywhere, the council you apply to must help you.

Which council should you apply to?

You can apply to any council for help as homeless. You could have a local connection with more than one area, so it's important to choose carefully which council you apply to.

Your strongest ties could be in areas where you've already lived, somewhere you have family or somewhere that's close to where you work or once worked.

Applying to more than one council

If there is a risk of violence in another area

The council is not allowed to refer you to another council's area if you or anyone in your household would be at risk of violence there. This includes threats of violence that are likely to be carried out.

You can be referred to another area where your household is not at risk of violence, providing you have a local connection there.

If there is no other area that you can be referred to, the council you applied to must help you.

What happens if you are sent to another council for help?

If the council you applied to decides you don't have a local connection with its area, but you do with another area, it must send you a letter telling you:

  • it has decided to refer you to another council
  • its reasons
  • that you have a right to request a review of the decision within 21 days

When the council you are being referred to finds suitable temporary accommodation for you, you have to move there. Until that happens, the council you applied to has to make sure you have somewhere to stay or provide you with emergency accommodation.

It also has to continue to protect your personal belongings (if it is already doing so).

The other council will, in time, provide you with longer-term housing.

If the other council says it doesn't have to help

In some circumstances, councils may disagree about whether you should be sent from one area to another.

If this happens, the council you applied to must continue to make sure you have somewhere to live until the disagreement is sorted out.

If you don't want to go to another area

If you are referred to another area but you don't want to go, get advice immediately. An adviser can:

  • check whether the council's decision was legally correct 
  • check whether you have a good case for getting the decision changed
  • help you to challenge the decision
  • explain your alternative housing options

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice services in your local area.

Fill out my online form.

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