Emergency housing from the council

Types of emergency housing

The standard and quality of emergency housing can be basic.

You could be offered a:

  • self contained flat

  • hotel or B&B

  • hostel or refuge with some shared areas

A room in someone's house is not classed as B&B accommodation even if you're sharing facilities.

Families with children are more likely to be offered self contained housing, but sometimes hotels or B&Bs are used in an emergency.

Tell the council if sharing facilities puts anyone in your household at risk of infection or illness.

B&Bs and hotels should only be used if there is nothing else

If you have children or you're pregnant, you should not usually have to stay in a:

  • privately owned B&B where you share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen with other people

  • hotel or other accommodation without any cooking facilities

If you do have to stay there, the council must move you somewhere more suitable within 6 weeks.

The council can make you stay in a B&B or a hotel longer than 6 weeks if you arrived in the UK in the last two years.

The 6 weeks' time limit may still apply to you if you had somewhere to live in the UK before you went abroad.

The council should not use B&Bs or hotels to house care leavers under the age of 25 unless there are no other options.

If you're 16 or 17, you should not be housed in a B&B or a hotel at all.

Do not refuse emergency housing if you have nowhere else

The council might not offer anything else at this stage. You may have to accept lower standards than in longer term housing.

Raise any concerns about the safety, quality or location of accommodation. The council should address safety risks and may offer something else.

Emergency housing has to be very unsuitable to be challenged in court. 

If you have pets

Pets are not usually allowed in emergency housing, especially a B&B or hostel.

The council may have some emergency housing suitable for pet owners so ask about this. Tell them how important it is for you to keep your pet.

Some charities run pet fostering schemes for people who have to move into emergency housing or refuges because of domestic abuse:

LetswithPets has advice on finding a pet friendly private tenancy.

Paying for emergency housing

Emergency housing must be affordable. You will not have to pay for it up front.

You may have to claim universal credit or housing benefit to help with rent.

Ask which benefit to claim and if there are other charges, such as for meals.

Storage of your furniture

Emergency housing is usually furnished.

The council must arrange storage for your belongings if you cannot do this yourself. They usually charge. 

Staying with family or friends 

The council may ask if you can stay with family or friends as a temporary option.

This is sometimes called being homeless at home.

The council must still:

  • look into your situation

  • help under your personal housing plan

  • decide if they must help with longer term housing

The council might decide you're not homeless if it’s reasonable for you to stay with family or friends in the longer term.

Last updated: 31 May 2023

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