Emergency housing from the council

How long you stay in emergency housing

You can usually stay until the council finish looking into your situation.

This usually takes at least 2 months. It could be longer.

You might have to move during this time. For example, if you start in a B&B in an emergency but then the council finds you a self contained flat. 

Not staying in the accommodation 

The council or accommodation provider might cancel your booking if you do not stay there. You might not get any more help with emergency housing if this happens. 

Tell the council or accommodation provider if you need to be away overnight.

Breaking the rules

You could be asked to leave if you break rules at the accommodation. For example, regarding visitors, smoking or antisocial behaviour. 

The council might not offer you other emergency accommodation. 

What the council does next

The council looks into your situation to see if they must help with longer term housing.

They must also:

If you already have a personal plan, this should be updated now that you're homeless.

If you have not found anywhere suitable to live after 8 weeks, the council:

  • decides if you are owed 'the main housing duty'

  • writes to you with their decision

The main housing duty

This means the council must find you somewhere suitable to live in the longer term.

Find out who can get longer term housing.

How long it can take to get longer term housing

You may have to live in temporary housing while you wait for a final offer.

You often have to wait a long time for a final offer of longer term housing.

Depending where you live, it could be several months or years.

A final offer could be a:

  • council or housing association tenancy

  • fixed term private tenancy of at least a year

If the council will not help

The council's decision letter must tell you why if the council decides not help you with longer term housing.

For example, it might say that you're: 

Ask for a review of the council's decision within 3 weeks if you think it is wrong.

You can often get free legal help with this. 

Tell the council you need to stay in the emergency housing while they do the review. 

Last updated: 13 June 2023

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