You can apply to any council for help if you are facing homelessness. If you don't have links with the area, you could be referred to a different council for help.
How the council must help
You can ask any council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home.
The council you approach must:
- provide emergency housing if you qualify
- assess your situation and agree a plan with you to help you keep your home or find a new one
The council can look at whether you have a 'local connection' to the area. This means you have links that are usually based on:
- living or working in the area
- close family in the area
- other special reasons
When you can be referred to a different council
If you're already homeless and don't have a local connection, the council you apply to can refer you to a different council where you do have a connection.
The council you approach can make a referral at either of the following stages:
- After they carry out a homeless assessment (only to another English council)
- If they decide you qualify for longer-term housing (to another council in England, Scotland or Wales)
They must continue to provide emergency housing if you qualify for it until the other council accepts the referral.
You can't be referred to an area where you're at risk of domestic abuse or violence.
If the referral is accepted
If you're referred at the first stage (after your homeless assessment), the other council takes responsibility for:
- providing help under your personal housing plan
- deciding if you qualify for emergency or longer-term housing
If you're referred at the second stage (after the council decides you qualify for longer-term housing), the other council must provide you with housing.
You usually have to stay in temporary housing until longer-term housing is available.
Challenge a local connection referral
You can challenge a local connection referral if, for example, you:
- have a connection in the area you applied
- would be at risk of domestic abuse or violence in the area you've been referred to
You can ask for a review within 21 days of getting the council's decision letter. You may qualify for free legal help.
What counts as a local connection
The following situations give you a local connection. If you have more than one local connection, you should approach the council where you'd like to live.
Living in an area
You have a local connection if you've lived in a council area for at least:
- 6 out of the last 12 months
- 3 out of the last 5 years
Staying in emergency housing or a refuge counts.
Time spent in prison or hospital doesn't count.
Working in an area
You have a local connection if you're working or self-employed in a council area.
Close family in the area
You have a local connection if any of the following family members have lived in a council area for at least 5 years:
- adult children
- brothers and sisters
The council might accept a local connection based on other family members. For example, if you were brought up by another relative and remain in close contact.
You have a local connection if you're under 21 and were previously in care in the area for at least 2 years (even if placed there by another council).
You also have a local connection if you're under 25 and you get advice and support from the council's social services department under a 'pathway plan'.
If your pathway plan is provided by a county council, you have a local connection to every local housing department covered by the county council.
Refugee status or humanitarian protection
You have a local connection to the last council area you were housed in by the Home Office under asylum support. It doesn't matter how long you lived there for.
The council could decide you have a local connection for a special reason such as:
- a need to live in the area to receive specialist health care
- very important social connections with the area
Last updated - 03 Apr 2018
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