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Homeless help from the council after relationship breakdown

You could ask the council for help if you're homeless after a relationship breakdown.

Not everyone gets long term housing. But you should get some help.

This could be emergency or temporary housing at first.

You could also get help with private rented or social housing.

Video: 4 things to know about council help after a break up

Video transcript

If you're facing homelessness after a break up, you can ask your council's homelessness team for help.

Here's 4 things you need to know if you need help with housing from the council when your relationship ends.

1. The first thing the council looks at: if you're legally homeless

The council checks if there's anywhere you have a legal right to live, even if you are not currently living there.

2. They'll ask who is on the tenancy or mortgage

It does not matter who pays the rent or mortgage, the council will probably say you're not homeless if you're a tenant or legal owner.

3. You might have legal rights to live in your home even if you aren't a tenant or owner

If you're still married or civil partners you have something called home rights.

This gives you a legal right to stay in your home, and the council could say you're not homeless because of this.

4. You can be homeless if it's not reasonable or safe for you to live in your home

This could be because:

  • you're at risk of abuse from your ex

  • you cannot afford to stay

  • staying will seriously affect the health or wellbeing of you or your children

Get legal advice as soon as possible if you're in this situation.

You could get help to challenge the council.

Our adviser explains 4 things to know about homeless help from the council after a break up.

Checks to see if you're legally homeless

The council checks if you are legally homeless before they help you.

They look at what rights you have to stay in your home, even after a break up.

They usually check if:

  • you have a right to live somewhere

  • it's safe and reasonable for you to live there

They might say you are not homeless if you:

  • are a joint or sole tenant of your home

  • own your home, jointly or solely

  • have a legal right to live in your home because of home rights

If it's not safe or reasonable for you to stay in your home

The council should check if it's reasonable for you and your ex to continue living together.

It is not reasonable, for example, if:

  • the property is too small

  • you cannot afford to live there

  • you are at risk of domestic abuse in your home

  • staying will have a serious effect on yours or your children's health or wellbeing

You might need to show proof that it's not reasonable for you to stay. For example, details of your income and outgoings or a letter from your doctor or support worker.

Example: Homeless because of domestic abuse

Jay has a joint private tenancy with her ex partner.

She recently ended the relationship after years of emotional abuse from her ex.

She gets help from her GP who refers her to the community mental health team. She stays with her mum while she looks for somewhere else to live.

Jay makes a homeless application to her council. But the housing officer says they cannot help. They say she is not legally homeless because she is named on the tenancy with her ex.

Jay asks her mental health support worker for help to review the council's decision.

Her support worker and her GP write letters to the council. They explain that moving back in with her ex would seriously affect Jay's mental health. They say she is homeless because she's at risk of abuse there.

The council agree that their first decision was wrong. Jay is homeless because of the domestic abuse and the effect on her mental health.

If you've left and moved in with family and friends

Sometimes councils say you are not homeless if you're staying with family or friends.

They might be right if either:

  • you can stay with your family or friends long term

  • you can safely return to the home you shared with your ex

But they should:

  • check if it's reasonable for you to live there

  • give you their decision in writing

Ask the council to review the decision if you think it's wrong.

'Intentionally homeless' decisions from the council

The council might say you are intentionally homeless if you leave a home you have a legal right to live in. They should not say this if you're at risk of domestic abuse in your home.

The council will stop helping if they decide you are intentionally homeless.

Priority need checks

The council checks if you're in priority need for homeless help.

If you're in priority need, you'll usually get emergency housing while the council investigate your situation.

You are always in priority need if you:

Check if you're in priority need for other reasons.

The council should still give you some help to find housing even if you are not in priority need.

What emergency or temporary housing is like

The council must give you emergency housing if they think you might:

  • be homeless

  • be in priority need

  • meet immigration conditions.

Emergency housing can be very basic. It may not be in an area you want. It should be a short term solution.

The council should make a plan with you of what to do to help you find somewhere to live. They should work with you to help you find longer term housing.

The council must find you temporary housing if they decide you:

  • are homeless, in priority need and not intentionally homeless

  • meet the immigration conditions

  • have a local connection to the area

You do not need a local connection if you are homeless because of domestic abuse.

It could be several months or years before you get a final housing offer. Temporary housing should be suitable for you and your family to live in for all this time.

Ask for a review

You can ask for a review if the council say they cannot help. You have 3 weeks from the council's decision to do this.

You can challenge the council's decision if they say you are:

  • not eligible for help because of your immigration status

  • not homeless

  • not in priority need

  • intentionally homeless

You can also ask for a review if the council say they are ending their duty to help you with housing.

Ask them to give you emergency housing while they review the decision.

Last updated: 19 April 2024

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