Who has a local connection
You can ask any council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home.
The council usually looks at whether you have a local connection to the area.
You can apply to any council for help if you're homeless. If you do not have a local connection to the area, you could be referred to a different council for help.
But the council cannot refer you to an area where you would be at risk of domestic abuse or violence.
What counts as a local connection
The following situations give you a local connection. If you have more than one local connection, you should approach the council where you'd like to live.
Living in an area
You have a local connection if you've lived in a council area for at least:
6 out of the last 12 months
3 out of the last 5 years
Staying in emergency housing or a refuge counts.
Time spent in prison or hospital does not count.
Working in an area
You have a local connection if you're working in a council area.
This could include being:
in part time or unpaid work
Close family in the area
You have a local connection if any of these family members have lived in a council area for at least 5 years:
brothers and sisters
The council might accept a local connection based on other family members. For example, if you were brought up by another relative and are in close contact.
You have a local connection if you're under 21 and were previously in care in the area for at least 2 years even if you were placed there by another council.
You also have a local connection if you're under 25 and you get advice and support from the council's social services team under a pathway plan.
If your pathway plan is provided by a county council, you have a local connection to every local housing department in the county council area.
Refugee status or humanitarian protection
You have a local connection to the last council area you were housed in by the Home Office under asylum support. It does not matter how long you lived there for.
You could also have a local connection to an area if you:
have close family members living there
have lived there for 6 out of the last 12 months or 3 out of the last 5 years
The council could decide you have a local connection for a special reason such as:
a need to live in the area to receive specialist health care
very important social connections with the area
When you can be referred to a different council
The council can only refer you to a different area if you:
are already homeless
do not have a local connection in the area where you apply
have a local connection to the council area you are being referred to
The council cannot refer you to a different council if you are at risk of domestic abuse or violence there.
The council you approach can make a referral at an early or later stage.
They must give you a letter explaining that a referral has been made. The other council then decides whether to accept the referral.
Referral at the early stage
If the referral is accepted, the other council must:
decide if you qualify for emergency or longer term housing
If the referral is refused by the other council, the first council must carry out a homeless assessment and decide if you qualify for emergency or longer term housing.
Referral at the later stage
If the council decides they must find long term housing for you, they can refer you to another council in England, Scotland or Wales.
You must get suitable housing from:
the other council if they accept the referral
the council that referred you if the referral is refused
You usually have to stay in temporary housing until long term housing is available.
If you disagree with a local connection referral
You can challenge a referral if, for example, you:
have a local connection in the area you applied
would be at risk of domestic abuse or violence in the area you've been referred to
Last updated: 20 July 2022