Get help from the council

How to ask the council for help

Which council?

Most people ask their local council for help but you can approach any council.

You do not need a local connection to ask for homelessness help. But sometimes you can be referred to a different council if you do not have any links in the area you apply.

How to contact your council's homeless team

What is your location?

When to contact the council

Contact the council as soon as you know you're likely to be homeless within 8 weeks.

If you've had a section 21 notice, you can contact the council 8 weeks before the notice period ends if you cannot find anywhere else to live.

If you're at risk of domestic abuse or violence in your home, you can contact the council at any time. You count as legally homeless in this situation.

Find out about other situations where you count as:

The council may be able to help prevent you becoming homeless if you contact them at an early stage. You do not need to wait until you have nowhere to stay.

What to apply for

Tell the council specifically that you want to make a homeless application.

What to expect

The council should check if you qualify for emergency housing

If friends or family ask you to leave, the council will usually check if you can stay there in the short term unless this would put you at risk.

After the council accept that you're legally homeless or threatened with homelessness, they should arrange a homeless assessment where they look at what help you need.

The council will draw up a personal housing plan to try and make sure you have somewhere suitable to live for at least the next 6 months.

If you're still homeless after 8 weeks of help under a personal housing plan, the council will decide if you qualify for longer term housing under the main housing duty.

The council do not have to provide emergency or longer term housing for everyone who is homeless. In some cases you may just get help to find somewhere to live.

Information you may need to provide

It helps if you have proof of your situation, such as:

  • why you have to leave your home - eviction notice

  • identity and immigration status - passport or ID card

  • medical conditions - a letter from your doctor or hospital

  • children or pregnancy - birth certificates or a letter from your midwife

If you can, provide proof of your income such as bank statements, wage slips or proof of benefits.

If the council do not help

The council can refuse an assessment if they think you're not homeless, or that immigration restrictions mean they cannot help.

They must give you a letter which explains the reasons for their decision.

You can ask for a review of the decision if you think it's wrong.

Sometimes the council refuse to help if they've previously decided that you're not in priority need or intentionally homeless.

If there's been a change in your situation they should allow you to make a new homeless application.

Contact a Shelter adviser if the council say they cannot or will not help

Last updated: 24 February 2022

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