Homeless: get help from the council

Steps in this guide


How to ask the council for help

Coronavirus update

Some council offices are closed but you will still be able to contact the council's homeless team by phone or online.

Every council has an out of hours emergency number for when the office is closed.

Which council?

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

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

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 can't find anywhere else to live.

Find out about other situations where you count as:

You don't need to wait until you have nowhere to stay. The council might be able to prevent you becoming homeless.

What to expect

The council should arrange a homeless assessment where they look at how to help you further. 

If you're already homeless, they'll check if you qualify for emergency housing.

The council don't 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. 

Find out who qualifies for longer term housing

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, take proof of your income such as bank statements, wage slips or proof of benefits.

If the council don't help

The council can only refuse to assess you if they don't think you're homeless, or that immigration restrictions mean they can't 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 can't or won't help

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How the council can help

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Homeless assessments

Last updated - 16 November 2020

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