Homeless EU and EEA nationals

If you are from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you may be able to claim certain benefits or get help from the council if you become homeless, but your rights will depend on how long you have been here and whether or not you are working.

Newly arrived: restricted rights in the first 3 months

All EU and EEA nationals have an automatic right to reside in the UK for three months after arrival.  Some people stay with friends or family on arrival whilst they get settled and find a place to live.

Unless you are working during the first three months you will not be able to get help with emergency or longer-term housing from the council or claim benefits so it is a good idea to have enough money to see you through this period.

It can be difficult to sort out accommodation before you come, but check rent levels on the internet before you arrive. Remember that most private landlords will want you to pay a deposit and at least one months’ rent in advance.

If you are newly arrived and not in work they may want even more money up front. Letting agents may charge additional fees.

LHA London offers hostel accommodation and self-contained studios which are particularly suited to international students, young working people and visitors to London. You will need some money up front but can pay for the accommodation on a weekly basis.

You will find it very difficult to get into a homeless hostel or night-shelter. This is because you usually need to be able to claim housing benefit to pay for your hostel space and you will not be entitled to housing benefit unless you are working. During the winter months some churches, charities and councils provide free cold weather shelters where you might be able to stay at night.

If you find yourself with nowhere to stay at night you could contact Streetlink. This organisation can link you in to local homeless services to help you further. In London and some other areas of the UK outreach teams will try to find people who are sleeping rough. Outreach teams try to help people off the streets and into accommodation where they can. If there are no options available to you then they may talk to you about reconnection. Reconnection involves helping you to return to your home country.

Working or self-employed

If you are looking for work you should aim to find work which pays at least £153 per week.  If you are earning this amount or more then you will have worker status or self-employed status. This gives you rights to:

If you are earning less than £153 per week you may still have these rights but the council may look into your situation in more detail.

Find out more about your homelessness rights if you are:

Even if you have worker status or self-employed status, the council only has to provide advice if you do not have a priority need for accommodation so you may need to look for your own private rented accommodation or look for homeless hostels in an emergency situation.

Lived in the UK for at least 5 years

If you have lived in the UK for at least 5 years, in some situations you will have a permanent right to reside here. This gives you rights to:

It does not matter whether you are working or how much you earn if you have a permanent right to reside.

Find out more about situations where you will have a permanent right to reside.

Even if you have a permanent right to reside, the council only has to provide advice if you do not have a priority need for accommodation so you may need to look for your own private rented accommodation or look for homeless hostels in an emergency situation.

Family members of EU and EEA nationals

You will have rights to make a homeless application and apply for social housing if you are classed as a family member of an EU or EEA national who:

You may also be able to claim housing benefit in your own right if you are on a low income.

This may apply even if you no longer live with the EU or EEA national you are related to or if you are not an EU national yourself.

Find out more about the homelessness rights of family members.

Even if you have the right to make a homeless application, the council only has to provide advice if you do not have a priority need for accommodation so you may need to look for your own private rented accommodation or look for homeless hostels in an emergency situation.

More help and advice

The rights of EU and EEA nationals are complicated and can be easily misunderstood.

The Housing Rights Information website provides a lot more information.

For housing advice you can call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 or use Shelter's directory to find local advice.

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