Homeless: get help from the council

Steps in this guide


Personal housing plans

The council gives you a personal housing plan after your assessment.

The aim of the plan is to try and make sure you have somewhere suitable to live for at least the next 6 months.

It sets out the steps that you and the council must take to:

  • stop you becoming homeless
  • find housing if you've already lost your home

The council asks you to agree to any steps included in the plan. If you don't agree, the council decides what steps you must take and records the reasons you disagree on the plan.

Not everyone gets a personal housing plan. The council only has to give general advice and information if you don't meet immigration and residence conditions.

What goes into the plan

The focus is usually on helping you to stay in your home if it's safe and affordable. Where that's not possible, the council must try to help you find another suitable home.

The council must reassess your situation if it changes and update the plan.

Council help to keep your home

Help could include:

  • support to claim benefits
  • advice on tenancy rights or debt
  • negotiation with your landlord or family
  • grants or loans to pay off rent or mortgage arrears

Council help to find a home

Help could include:

  • help to find a private tenancy
  • payment towards a deposit or rent in advance
  • an offer of a council or housing association home
  • referral to a supported housing project

Steps you should take to keep or find a home

You could be asked to:

How long the plan lasts

If your landlord has given you a section 21 notice, the council must usually help for as long as you're facing homelessness.

In other cases, help under a personal housing plan is usually limited to:

  • 8 weeks while threatened with homelessness
  • a further 8 weeks when homeless

If you remain homeless after 8 weeks of help, the council decides if you qualify for longer-term housing. This is sometimes called the 'main housing duty'.

When the council can stop helping

If you have or refuse suitable housing

The council can stop helping if your housing situation is resolved, for example:

  • you find somewhere else to live
  • your landlord or parents agree that you can stay

There must be a reasonable chance that suitable housing will be available for at least 6 months when the council end their help.

In many cases, the council can also stop helping if you refuse a suitable housing offer.

If you don't keep to the plan

The council can stop helping if they think you have deliberately and unreasonably refused to take a required step in your plan. They must give you a written warning and reasonable time to do what is asked of you before they end their help.

If you're already homeless, any ongoing help from the council depends on whether you qualify for longer-term housing.

If you're not yet homeless, you can still ask for help if you become homeless later. The council must carry out another assessment and draw up a new plan.

Challenge the decision

The council must write to you and explain why they no longer have to help.

You can ask for a review if you think the decision is wrong.

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Homeless assessments

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Who qualifies for housing

Last updated - 03 Apr 2018

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