What to do if the council's homeless team will not help
Your council should not just say they cannot help.
When you first speak to them, they should:
look at your situation
see if you need translation or other support
give you some advice on your options
tell you how and when they can help you
make sure you understand their advice and any support they give
For example, you could ask for an interpreter or to get information in a language or format you can understand.
You could also ask to speak in person if you have a disability that makes it hard to use the internet or talk by phone.
Tell the council they must look at your situation
You can explain:
they should take your homeless application
that you can give them documents but you need time to do this
they should check if you could be homeless or about to lose your home
The council might tell you that you:
can stay where you are
have the wrong immigration status
are not in priority need
need to wait for your landlord to evict you
must show ID or other important documents
are not from the area or do not have a local connection
But none of these are reasons for the council to do nothing.
They should look into your situation if you're homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Council help after a relationship breakdown
Check your rights if you:
Let the council know if you need urgent help
Some councils will book an appointment to talk to you on another day.
But they should help straight away if you're at risk.
For example, if you're:
going through domestic abuse
street homeless with children
at risk because of serious repair problems
Explain why you cannot wait for bailiffs
Councils often say they can only help with housing after bailiffs evict you.
They should help much sooner if waiting would make things much worse.
This might be the case if:
the cost of eviction through the court would cause you very serious money problems
you or your household have disabilities or care needs that mean it will take time to get ready for a new property
Get help to deal with the council
You might need someone to help explain why you need help soon.
You could ask for help from a:
Use our letter template if you're turned away
Copy it into an email to the council:
[Use the subject: Council refusal to take homeless application]
To the homeless team
My name is [your name].
I live with [list the names and ages of anyone who normally lives with you].
I am homeless already or will become homeless on [date].
I asked you for help on [date]. I spoke to [name of council worker if you have it].
I was told you could not help because [what happened or what the council told you].
Section 184, Housing Act 1996 says if you have reason to believe I may be homeless or threatened with homelessness you must make inquiries into my situation.
[Include this if you have children or another priority need] Section 188 of the Housing Act 1996 says if you have reason to believe I may be homeless, eligible for assistance and have a priority need you must make emergency housing available to me.
Section 189A of the Housing Act 1996 says that anyone eligible for assistance and homeless or threatened with homelessness is entitled to a homeless assessment and personal housing plan.
I need an appointment for you to take my homelessness application.
Please contact me as soon as possible on [phone number or email].
You can print off the template to take in person or send as a letter:
Challenge a council decision
The council must give you a letter if they decide not to help with longer term housing.
The letter must say why they will not help and you can ask for a review.
Get free legal help with a review or if the council do not give you a decision letter.
Make a formal complaint
You can complain to the council about their process.
For example, if you've been turned away without any help or faced long delays.
This could help improve council services for yourself and others in the long term.
But it's unlikely to help you right away, because the process can take some time.
You can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) if you're not happy with the council's final response.
Last updated: 29 November 2023