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Homeless and living with family or friends

Find out what help you can get:

Council help and emergency housing

You could get council homeless help if:

  • you're unsafe or at risk where you live

  • you need to leave where you are in the next 8 weeks.

You can:

  • ask your local council for help

  • look for a place to rent privately and ask the council for deposit help

  • apply to get onto the council housing waiting list

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

Use our letter template to ask for homeless help.

You must meet immigration conditions to get homeless help from the council.

The council should accept that you're homeless if you can only stay with different friends or family for short periods of time.

Find out what to do if you are sofa surfing.

Emergency housing

You can get emergency housing if you're homeless and have a priority need.

For example, if:

  • you are pregnant

  • children live with you

  • you're homeless because of domestic abuse

The council must not demand police reports or proof of violence before they help.

You could also get emergency housing if you're vulnerable. For example, because of a health condition or disability. Find out more about who has a priority need.

Find out what council help you can get if you are 16 or 17.

Help with a personal housing plan

The council must give you a personal housing plan if you are:

  • homeless

  • at risk of homelessness in the next 8 weeks

The plan should be about making sure you have somewhere to live for at least the next 6 months.

The council could:

You get some priority on the waiting list if you're facing homelessness.

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If you're asked to leave or want to leave

The council can check when you need to leave by. They may ask your friends or family to let you stay longer.

This gives the council time to help you find somewhere to live.

You do not need a letter to prove you're going to be homeless.

You count as homeless if you must leave in the next 8 weeks. The council must look into your situation and take steps to help.

If you choose to leave

The council could say that you're intentionally homeless if you leave somewhere they think you can stay.

Intentionally homeless means the council thinks you have done something to make yourself homeless.

You cannot be intentionally homeless if it's not reasonable for you to stay where you are. For example, if you're at risk of domestic abuse.

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When your home is overcrowded

You could count as homeless if it’s not reasonable to stay in your home.

For example, if overcrowding affects your physical or mental health. Ask your doctor to write the health risks in a supporting letter.

Tell the council if you:

  • do not have a room to sleep in

  • share a room with more than 1 other adult

  • have to share with someone of a different sex who is not your partner

Find out how to check if your home is overcrowded.

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If the council says you're not homeless

The council must look into your situation when you ask for help.

You're legally threatened with homelessness if you cannot safely stay with your friends or family for at least the next 8 weeks.

The council should draw up a personal housing plan to stop you becoming homeless.

If the council decide not to help you they must write to you and explain their decision.

Ask for a review if you think they are wrong or that the council should help more.

You could get free legal help.

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Help with a deposit or rent

You could get money help if you need to move on from your friends or family.

You can usually:

You can get a housing element as part of your monthly UC payment when you find somewhere to live and move in.

Check ways to find a landlord who accepts benefits.

Help with rent if you live with family or friends

You can sometimes get help if you pay rent to friends or some relatives.

You must have your own room.

You usually need a lodger's agreement. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) might check with your relative that you pay rent.

You cannot get this help if you pay rent to a very close relative such as your parent, brother or sister.

Find out more about claiming benefits if you rent from family.

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Last updated: 6 July 2023

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