Avoiding homelessness

If you're facing homelessness, there may be some options that could help you to keep your home and avoid or prevent homelessness.

Get help from the council

The council has legal duty to help certain groups of homeless people.

The council might not help you if it believes that you became homeless intentionally.

Get advice if you are at risk of homelessness

Get legal advice if you are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Contact Civil Legal Advice. You may be able to get free advice from a legal adviser if you qualify for legal aid.

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 telephone advice provided by Civil legal Advice.

Staying in your home

If you are a homeowner or a tenant, you probably don't have to leave your home unless a court has ordered you to. In most cases, there is a legal process that lenders and landlords must follow before you can be evicted.

Your landlord or lender may be guilty of carrying out an illegal eviction if the correct process has not been followed.

Get advice immediately if you think you have been evicted illegally or your lender or landlord is threatening to evict you without going through the court.

The legal process varies according to why you are being asked to leave and what type of owner or tenant you are.

Get advice about your rights to remain in your home. Use Shelter's directory to find face-to face advice near you.

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 does not automatically make you leave your home.

Negotiate with your lender or landlord

Try to negotiate with your lender or landlord if you have been asked to leave but you want to stay.

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, they may be prepared to give you a second chance.

Check that you're claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. Find out more from Gov.uk about claiming benefits.

How to negotiate with mortgage lenders

How to negotiate over rent arrears

Negotiate with friends or relatives

If you are staying with friends or relatives, ask if you can stay for longer while you try to find somewhere else to live.

Relationship breakdown

Mediation or counselling could help if you're separating or divorcing.

Improve conditions in your home

Help may be available to make your home more suitable, if the condition of your home is making it difficult to stay there.

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 rent your home and your landlord won't do repairs, the type of action you can take depends on the type of tenancy you have.

Find out more about responsibility for repairs.

Find somewhere else to live

You may have to find somewhere else to live. How long you have to do this depends 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.

Find out more about ending a fixed-term tenancy and ending a periodic (month to month) tenancy.

An adviser can go through all the options available to you in your area. They take your personal and financial circumstances into account and advise you on the most suitable option.

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

Get help with debt problems

Get advice if you are in financial difficulties and are having problems paying your mortgage, rent or other bills.

An adviser can help 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.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to face advice near you or call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 .

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