What to do if the council refuse homeless help because of your immigration status

The council should not turn you away if they think you may be homeless or could become homeless in the next 8 weeks. They should look into your situation.

The council will ask about your immigration status to check you meet the conditions for help. They sometimes call this being 'eligible for assistance' or 'habitually resident'.

The council should find you somewhere safe to stay while they look into things if they think you might meet the immigration conditions and have children or another priority need.

It can speed things up if you have your documents but the council should not say they need proof of your immigration status before they can do anything.

The council must give you a letter if they decide they cannot help because of your immigration status. You can ask for a review if you think the decision is wrong.

Take the steps on this page if the council do not give you a letter that explains why they will not help.

Step 1: Check your immigration status

You can get homeless help from the council if you have:

There are extra conditions for homeless help if you have EU pre settled status.

Always check the rules yourself. The council sometimes makes mistakes.

Get specialist immigration advice through Citizens Advice if you need immigration help or you think your immigration status is wrong.

Unfortunately, councils only have to help people who can get public funds.

Find out more about housing help if you have 'no recourse to public funds'.

Step 2: Get your evidence together

The council might take your application if you show them proof of your immigration status.

Bring as much evidence as you can. Find all letters and documents from the Home Office. If you had an immigration solicitor, get in touch with them.

You might be able to view and prove your immigration status on GOV.UK

For example, people with EU settled status and pre settled status can get an online 'share code' and give it to the housing officer.

Ask to use the computer at the council office if you do not have internet access.

If the council says you are not 'habitually resident', get evidence that your home is in the UK, for example:

  • payslips

  • bank statements

  • letters from your GP

Step 3: Tell the council they’ve made a mistake

Copy this letter template into an email to the council.

[Use the subject: Eligible for homeless help]

On [date] I asked for help because I am homeless.

You refused to take my homeless application because of my immigration status.

I am eligible because I have [describe your immigration status].

I have can provide proof of my status. Please tell me what you need to see.

Under section 184 of the Housing Act 1996, you should accept a homeless application from me and make enquiries into my situation.

You should also give me emergency housing if you have a reason to believe I could be eligible and in priority need.

You can also download the template to print off and take into the council offices:

Step 4: Get legal help to challenge the council

You need legal advice if the council still refuse to take your homeless application.

The legal challenge is called ‘judicial review’. A solicitor can help with this.

You can get free legal advice if you get benefits or have a low income.

You could also complain to the ombudsman but it can take a long time.


Last updated: 18 September 2023

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