Housing options for EU and EEA nationals

Find out about short-term and longer-term housing options if you're an EU citizen living in the UK.

If you have nowhere to stay tonight

In many areas there's a shortage of emergency and longer-term housing and it can be difficult to find a place to stay.

Contact our free emergency helpline if you're homeless

Our expert advisers will:

  • check if you qualify for emergency housing from the council
  • look at other emergency options for you
  • tell you about local services that may help further 

Paying for emergency housing

You usually need money up front to pay for emergency 'bed and breakfasts' (B&Bs) unless you're placed there by the council.

Some nightshelters and winter shelters are free.

You usually have to claim housing benefit to stay in a homeless hostel. Not all EU nationals qualify for benefits.

Ask the council for help

You can ask the council for help if you're homeless or threatened with homelessness in the next 8 weeks.

If you meet immigration and residence conditions, the council must:

  • carry out an assessment of your housing situation that looks what support you might need to find or keep somewhere to live
  • draw up a personal housing plan that outlines the steps you and the council must take to secure accommodation
  • provide emergency accommodation if you're pregnant, have children or are 'vulnerable'. 

You may be classed as vulnerable if, for example, you're disabled or have a serious health condition.

Private hostels

If you have just arrived in the UK, it may be easier and more affordable to stay for a time in private hostel accommodation (sometimes known as backpackers or travellers hostels) rather than renting a flat.

You may be asked for a credit card or payment in advance if you are staying for more than a couple of nights.

Long-term hostels usually have:

  • a shared room
  • bills included in the cost of your stay
  • a fully equipped self-catering kitchen
  • shared use of all toilet and shower facilities
  • a lounge with a TV

For an extra charge, some hostels will also provide:

  • private rooms (some may have their own bathroom)
  • internet access
  • laundry facilities
  • lockers to store valuables

Private hostels may help you with information on working and studying in the UK.

LHA London have a number of hostels for young people working or studying in London.

Renting privately

The main advantages of private renting are that you can usually move in quickly and you have a choice in terms of size, location and cost.

You usually need a tenancy deposit and rent in advance.

Find out about tenancy deposit protection scheme rules.

Many private tenancies are arranged through letting agencies. In many areas you can also find places through local papers, shop windows, by word of mouth or online.

Find out more about ways to find a private rented home.

Right to rent immigration checks

Private landlords have to carry out 'right to rent' immigration checks. All EU nationals have a right to rent privately in the UK. You'll be asked to provide a passport or ID card. 

Find out more about right to rent immigration checks.

Shared housing

Sharing a flat or house can reduce your housing costs but it is important to choose who you live with carefully.

You also need to decide whose name the tenancy agreement will be in. This has a big impact on your rights, so it's very important to understand the arrangements.

You have different rights if you are a lodger living with a landlord or a subtenant renting from a tenant.

Some houses or flats that are occupied by more than one household are classed as houses in multiple occupation (or HMOs). Landlords of this type of property have extra legal responsibilities. 

Claiming benefits to help pay rent

You can usually claim universal credit if you're an EU national on a low income and you: 

  • are working or self-employed
  • are looking for work after your job has ended
  • have permanent residence rights in the UK, for example, because you've lived and worked here for at least 5 years  

You can't usually claim benefits in the UK if you've never worked here.

Find out more from the Housing Rights Information website about when EU nationals can qualify for benefits.

Council housing and housing association homes

Council housing and housing association homes are cheaper than renting privately.

Not all EU nationals qualify for this type of housing but you should qualify if you're classed as a worker in the UK or have permanent residence.

In some areas you won't qualify for a council or housing association home until you've lived in the area for several years.

If you're allowed onto the housing register you may have a long wait for an offer of a home. Check who gets priority for this type of housing.

Buying a home

Buying a home is more affordable in some areas than others.

You probably need a mortgage and to budget for all the other expenses involved in buying a house or flat.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about the costs of buying a home.

Last updated 03 Apr 2018 | © Shelter

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