Emergency housing from the council

Where emergency housing can be

The council must try to find you emergency housing in the council area.

If this is not possible, they should try to find emergency housing as close as possible to where you were living.

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

Ask for help before you become homeless if you can.

This gives the council more time to find emergency housing in the area if you need it.

Emergency housing in a different area

Before the council offers you emergency housing in another area, they must look at:

  • your travel time to work

  • if moving to the new area will disrupt your children's education

  • if you have local 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 moved to UK in the last 2 years the council only looks at your caring responsibilities.

Ask the council for help with travel costs if you cannot afford travel to the new area.

The council should have a policy that says what happens if they cannot offer emergency housing locally. This is sometimes called an out of area policy. Ask for a copy.

Children in school

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

Ask the council for help with travel costs if your emergency housing is in another area.

The council should try not to disrupt your children's education, especially at important times like studying for GCSEs.

Domestic abuse

The council can offer you emergency housing in a different council area if this is safer for you.

But they should not force you to live outside your council area if you need to be near your support networks.

Local connection

A local connection means links to a council area.

The council can ask another council to help if you:

  • do not have a local connection where you apply

  • have a local connection to another area

  • are not at risk of domestic abuse in the other area

If children live with you or you have another priority need, the first council must give you emergency housing while they wait for the other council to agree to help you.

You can ask for a review of a council decision about local connection.

Do not refuse emergency housing if you have nowhere else to go

The council might not give you anything else at this stage.

You can raise concerns about the safety, quality or location of the housing. The council should look at safety risks and might find you something else.

You may have to accept lower standards than in longer term housing.

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

Last updated: 12 January 2024

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