Homeless: get help from the council

Steps in this guide

Who qualifies for housing

The council don't have to offer housing to everyone who is homeless. 

They look at the following 5 conditions to decide what you qualify for:

1. You are legally homeless

You're legally homeless if, for example, you:

  • have been evicted from your home
  • are asked to leave by friends or family
  • must leave due to violence
  • can't stay due to fire or flood
  • are sleeping on the streets

The council don't have to provide housing if you're only threatened with homelessness.

2. You meet the immigration conditions

The council call this being 'eligible for assistance'. 

You usually qualify if you're:

  • a British or Irish citizen living in the UK
  • an EU citizen working in the UK 
  • an EU citizen with settled status or permanent residence
  • from outside the EU but allowed to claim benefits

Other people from abroad may qualify so check the immigration and residence rules.

If you've recently lived abroad, you may need to show you're now settled in the UK, even if you're British.

If the council decide you meet the first 2 conditions they might offer housing as part of their help under your personal housing plan.

3. You are in priority need

You or someone in your household must fall into a 'priority need' group.

You will be in priority need if you're:

  • a family with children under 16 (or under 19 if still dependent on you)
  • pregnant
  • a care leaver aged 18-20
  • homeless due to a fire, flood or other disaster
  • classed as 'vulnerable'

You may be classed as vulnerable if, for example, you're disabled or have a serious health condition or you're at risk of domestic abuse.

When deciding if you're vulnerable, the council should consider anything that makes it hard for you to cope with being homeless and puts you at greater risk of harm.

You could be in priority need if you're aged 16 or 17. In most cases, social services must make sure you have a safe place to live but the housing department should still provide emergency housing if you need it.

If the council think you might meet the first 3 conditions you qualify for emergency housing when homeless

4. You're homeless through no fault of your own

The council don't have to provide longer term housing if they decide it's your fault that you're homeless.

This is called being 'intentionally homeless' and includes if you:

  • were evicted for antisocial or criminal behaviour
  • didn't pay the rent or mortgage when it was affordable
  • left or gave up your home when you could have stayed

If the council decide you meet the first 3 conditions but are intentionally homeless they must provide temporary accommodation for a reasonable time - usually a few weeks.

5. You usually need a connection to the area

This is called a 'local connection' and includes if you:

  • live or work in the area
  • have close family in the area
  • need specialist healthcare in the area

If you don't have a local connection where you've asked for help, that council can refer you to a different council where you do.

They can't do this if you'd be at risk of domestic abuse or other violence in that area.

You qualify for longer term housing if the council decide you meet all 5 conditions.


Personal housing plans


Challenge a council decision

Last updated - 28 January 2020

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