Homeless help from the council: private tenants facing eviction

When the council must provide emergency housing

You only qualify for emergency housing if you become homeless and the council think you may have a priority need.

People with a priority need include:

  • families with children

  • pregnant people

  • domestic abuse survivors

  • care leavers under the age of 21

  • people who are vulnerable because of age, disability, physical or mental health

If the council think you might be homeless and have a priority need they must offer emergency housing while they decide if you qualify.

Find out how to show you have a priority need.

When you should get emergency housing

The council will not provide emergency housing before you become homeless.

You're unlikely to be offered emergency housing before the end of a notice if you're only threatened with homelessness.

The council must offer emergency housing before your notice ends if you qualify, and are homeless for another reason such as domestic abuse or a risk of violence in your home.

When your notice ends

The council might provide emergency housing when a section 21 notice ends.

In practice, many councils do expect you to stay after the notice ends while they help you find somewhere else to live.

Government guidance says it's unlikely to be reasonable to stay after the date in a section 21 notice unless the council is trying to persuade the landlord to let you stay.

When court action starts

You can ask the council to provide emergency housing if your landlord starts court action.

Tenants often have to repay the landlord for some of the costs of eviction. You could ask for emergency housing because it's unreasonable for you to have to pay these costs.

The council might still offer to help you with these costs instead of providing emergency housing at this stage.

The council should not expect you to wait for the bailiffs

Although you have a legal right to stay until an eviction takes place, the council should not expect you to wait this long.

Government guidance says the council should make sure that families and vulnerable people are not evicted by bailiffs because of a failure by the council to provide emergency housing.

It's highly unlikely to be reasonable to stay after the date in an eviction order from the court.

With a section 8 eviction you may be expected to stay if there's a chance the eviction could be stopped or delayed by the court. For example, if you can pay off arrears in instalments.

Do not give up your tenancy if you have nowhere to go

If the council say you must wait for eviction by bailiffs, you can ask the council to:

  • explain the situation to your landlord

  • help with court costs or a rent shortfall

  • provide help under your personal housing plan

If you qualify for emergency housing, you can remind your housing officer of the homelessness code of guidance. Tell them to read paragraphs 6.29-6.38.

If you do not qualify for emergency housing you should stay in your home and continue looking for somewhere to live. The eviction process can take several months.

What to expect in emergency housing

The standard and quality of emergency housing varies and can be quite basic.

You may have to accept lower standards while you wait for an offer of longer term housing.

Depending on your situation it could be:

  • self contained accommodation

  • a hotel, B&B, hostel or refuge with some shared areas

Emergency housing is usually furnished. The council must arrange storage for your personal belongings if you cannot do this yourself. They usually charge for this.

Find out more about what to expect in emergency housing.

You may not have to move into emergency housing at all. The council may be able to offer you a more suitable home before you get evicted. Ask your housing officer what is likely to happen in your case.

Last updated: 22 November 2021

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