Homeless asylum seekers and refugees

If you are an asylum seeker, a refugee or are appealing against an unsuccessful asylum claim, you may be entitled to homelessness support.

For more detailed information, you will need to speak to a specialist adviser. You can find one, and/or an interpreter, by calling Shelter's housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

If someone in your household has a disability or special needs

If your are homeless and you or one of your family has a disability or other circumstances that may affect his or her health or development, you may get extra support from social services – a department of the local council. Social services must always help a child in need.

If you are under 18 and alone in the UK

If you are an unaccompanied minor (ie a child or young person under the age of 18 who is claiming asylum and has no family in the UK) you are legally classed as a child in need and social services must make sure that you are looked after.

For younger children, you would be taken into social services care, but after the age of 16 you may be supported to live independently. Social services must then continue to support you until you are 21 years old.

When you turn 18, social services may continue to support you until you are 21 years old, as you are classed as a care leaver.

Read Shelter's guide Young people and housing rights (40 pages) for more information on help for young people.

Rights after an asylum claim has been decided

If your asylum claim is successful, you will have many of the same rights as British citizens. This includes the right to apply for housing benefit, help if you become homeless and council housing. Your rights will depend on what status you have been given (ie refugee status, indefinite leave to remain, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain).

If your asylum claim is refused, you have very limited options.

Further help and advice for asylum seekers and refugees

Use our directory to find an adviser in your area or call Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444. Our advisers can provide interpreting services if you need them, and/or minicom for deaf callers. We can help you find a solicitor if you need one.

The Housing rights information website provides more information about the rights and options you have if you have recently come to the UK. It also includes information about getting help if you are suffering from domestic abuse or have social care needs.

Last updated: 1 January 2014