Emergency housing from the council

Where emergency housing can be

The council must try to find emergency housing within the area.

You might be offered something in a different council area if there are no emergency options locally when you apply.

If you ask for help before you become homeless, the council has more time to find emergency or longer term housing if you need it.

Ask where emergency housing is likely to be so you know what to expect.

If emergency housing is in a different area

Emergency housing should still be as close as possible to your council's area.

Before you're offered emergency housing in another area the council must consider:

  • travel time to work

  • disruption to children's education

  • caring responsibilities and local support networks

  • how easily you can get to important appointments, for example, with a hospital or community mental health team

If you're offered emergency housing in a different area but cannot afford to get there, ask the council for help with travel costs.

The council should have a policy, sometimes called an 'out of area' policy that says what happens if the council cannot offer emergency housing locally. Ask for a copy of this.

If you have children in school

Many parents try to keep their children at the same schools if they have to move into emergency housing.

Ask if the council can help with the extra travel costs if you're housed in another area.

The council should try to minimise disruption to education, especially at important times such as leading up to GCSEs.

If you're experiencing domestic abuse

The council can offer you emergency housing in a different council area if this will help.

But you should not be forced to live outside your council area if you need or prefer to be near support networks.

If you do not have a local connection

You cannot be housed in or referred back to an area where you're at risk of domestic abuse.

You might be referred to a different council if you do not have a local connection in the area that you make your homeless application, and there's no risk of violence in the other area.

If you qualify for emergency housing, the first council you approach must still provide it while they wait for the other council to agree to help you. 

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. 

Last updated: 23 November 2021

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