Homeless and living with family or friends

If the council says you should stay where you are

Councils usually want you to keep living with friends or family.

This is because there's a shortage of housing.

You're legally homeless if you have nowhere safe or cannot stay with friends or family.

If you have a priority need, the council must give you emergency housing.

If you do not, the council must help you find somewhere but they do not have to give you emergency housing.

If you're asked to leave

Family and friends do not have to give you formal notice if they want you to leave.

The council can check when you need to leave by.

The council 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 that you're going to be homeless.

If you must leave in the next 8 weeks, you are legally threatened with homelessness and the council must look into your situation and take steps to help.

If you choose to leave

The council may say you're intentionally homeless if you leave a home they think you can stay in.

You cannot be intentionally homeless if staying is not reasonable, for example, if there's domestic abuse.

If the council decide you're intentionally homeless it affects the help you get.

Find out how to avoid being found intentionally homeless.

If you're at risk of domestic abuse or violence

You are always legally homeless and in priority need if you're at risk of domestic abuse.

The council must provide emergency housing if you need it.

Domestic abuse can mean emotional as well as physical violence.

It can be carried out by relatives, partners and ex-partners. You do not have to live together.

You can also be homeless when it's not domestic abuse. For example, serious threats of violence from a neighbour.

The council only has to provide emergency housing in these situations if you're in priority need.

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

If you're 16 or 17

A council officer will usually speak to your family members to check if you can stay safely with them.

You should not be pressured to stay or return where:

  • you feel unsafe

  • you're at risk of violence or abuse

  • you've been told you can't stay or must leave

If you can stay at home or with someone else, the council should still give you emergency housing until they're sure you have somewhere safe and settled.

If you're pregnant

If you've been asked to leave because you're pregnant the council will ask when you need to leave.

If you can stay until your baby is born they may decide you're not facing homelessness right now.

You could count as homeless if you can live at home but your family or friends will not let your partner live there.

If you need to leave in the next 8 weeks you are threatened with homelessness. The council should help you find somewhere to live.

If you become homeless the council must provide you with emergency housing.

If where you live is overcrowded

You may be able to get homeless help if your home is overcrowded.

Overcrowding will not always mean the council accepts you are homeless.

You must get some priority on the housing waiting list if your home is overcrowded.

Tell the council if overcrowding is making your mental or physical health worse, or if your family ask you to leave.

The council should help in these situations.

If you're sofa surfing in different places

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

You can be homeless even if you have a roof over your head every night.

The council should help you find somewhere to live in the longer term. They must provide emergency housing if they think you have a priority need.

The council should not say it needs to check with everyone you have stayed with.

If the council say you're not homeless

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

The council can decide you're not threatened with homelessness if they think you can safely stay with friends or family for at least the next 8 weeks.

They also might decide you're not homeless after working on your personal housing plan.

For example, your family may tell the council you can stay until you've found somewhere else.

The council can only stop helping then if you have a reasonable place to stay for at least 6 months.

The council must write to you and explain their decision.

You can ask for a review if you think you cannot stay or that the council should help more.

You may qualify for free legal help.

Last updated: 26 November 2021

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