Housing options for EU and EEA nationals

If you come to live in the UK from the EU or EEA, you have many of the same housing options as British citizens but you may not be eligible for council or housing association housing.

If you have nowhere to stay tonight

If you need a place to stay tonight, there are a number of different options for emergency housing for homeless people.

This can include hostels for the homeless and nightshelters. In many areas, there is not enough emergency housing available and it can be difficult to get a place.

Some nightshelters are free, but you usually have to be eligible to claim housing benefit to stay in a hostel.

Get advice if you're homeless. An adviser may be able to help:

  • arrange a place for you (some accommodation providers only house people who are referred to them)
  • check if you are entitled to any help from the council
  • put you in touch with local landlords

Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your local area

Private hostels

If you have just arrived in the UK, staying for a while in private hostel accommodation (sometimes known as backpackers or travellers hostels) may be easier and cheaper 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 can usually also be able to help you with information on working and studying in the UK.

Renting privately

The main advantages of private renting are that it's usually possible to move in quickly and there's often a lot of choice in terms of size and location.

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 but in many areas you can also find places through local papers, shop windows or by word of mouth.

You might not have long-term security in your rented home. There is limited protection from eviction, especially if you share any living space with the landlord.

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

Right to rent immigration checks

If you move into shared and private rented housing on or after 1 February 2016, you should be asked to prove that you have the right to live in the UK and the right to rent.

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. This is because people who live in HMOs are more at risk from things like fire and overcrowding than people living in other types of housing.

Housing benefit

If you need to claim housing benefit to help pay your rent, there are restrictions that apply to the amount of housing benefit single people under the age of 35 can claim.

With a few exceptions, single people under 35 can only claim housing benefit for a room in shared accommodation.

Social housing

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

Not all EU or EEA nationals are eligible to apply for these types of housing. There are restrictions on eligibility for social housing for some European nationals. Contact an adviser if you are not sure whether you qualify.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local housing advice centre

If you are eligible to apply to your local council for social housing, be aware that in many areas there are very long waiting lists. Look at the rules about who gets priority for social housing to see if this may be an option for you.

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 08 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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