Longer term housing when homeless

What to expect if you qualify for longer-term housing after making a homeless application.

When the council must offer longer-term housing

The council must offer you longer-term housing if you make a homelessness application and it decides you meet the 5 conditions for help when homeless.

An offer of longer-term housing could be a council or housing association home or a private rented tenancy.

If you accept an offer of a private rented tenancy and become homeless again within 2 years, the council must make you a further offer of longer-term housing providing you are:

  • homeless through no fault of your own
  • not affected by immigration or residence restrictions.

You don't have to show you are in priority need of housing.

Types of longer-term housing offer

The council might:

  • make you a direct offer of a council or housing association home if you are on the council's housing register
  • ask you to bid for council or housing association home through a 'choice-based lettings scheme'
  • offer you a tenancy with a private landlord

Find out how councils allocate housing.

Council and housing association homes

A council home could be a lifelong secure tenancy, a fixed-term tenancy for at least 2 years or an introductory tenancy for the first 12 months before you are accepted for a longer tenancy.

A housing association home could be a lifelong assured tenancy or fixed-term tenancy for at least 2 years. You may be offered a starter tenancy for the first 12 months before you are accepted for a longer tenancy.

Private rented tenancies

The council can offer you an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord. It must have a fixed-term of at least 12 months.

The accommodation must be in reasonable physical condition. It must have:

  • a current gas safety record
  • carbon monoxide and fire safety precautions
  • safe electrics and electrical equipment
  • a valid energy performance certificate

Some types of shared housing must also comply with house in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing laws.

The council should not offer you a tenancy with a landlord who has been convicted of certain types of offences.

Temporary housing while you wait

The council must provide suitable temporary housing while you wait for your offer. You could be in temporary accommodation for months or even years.

Temporary accommodation could be in a council or housing association home, a private rented home, or a hostel place if you are single.

Families should not have to stay in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer than 6 weeks after making a homelessness application.

How a housing offer is made

The council's offer of temporary or longer-term housing must be made in writing.

The letter must tell you:

  • that you can request a review if you think the accommodation offered isn't suitable
  • what happens if you refuse or accept the offer
  • for longer-term tenancies, what type of housing offer is being made

How the council decides if an offer is suitable

Longer-term or temporary housing must be suitable for you and your household.

The council must take into account if the accommodation is:

  • affordable for you
  • in good enough condition
  • available in a suitable location
  • the right size for you and your family
  • suitable if you have health issues or a disability

The council must consider your personal circumstances including travel time to work, disruption to children's education, caring responsibilities and support networks in the area.

Bed and breakfast accommodation is unsuitable for families if you have to stay there longer than 6 weeks.

How to challenge unsuitable accommodation

You can ask the council to review its decision if you think an offer of temporary or longer-term housing is unsuitable.

You must ask for a review within 21 days of getting your offer letter.

Accept the housing offer and ask for a review

If you accept the offer and then ask for a review, you will have somewhere to stay:

  • while the council carries out the review
  • if the review is unsuccessful

The council must make another offer if it agrees that the accommodation is unsuitable.

A housing adviser may be able to help you with a review.

Consider the risks of refusing an offer

Housing and legal advisers usually advise that it is not a good idea to turn down an offer of housing.

The council can end your temporary accommodation if you refuse a suitable:

  • offer of a tenancy with a private landlord
  • final offer of a council or housing association home
  • offer of alternative temporary accommodation

The council does not have to provide you with any further accommodation if your review request is unsuccessful.

You can make a new homeless application but the council will probably decide that you're intentionally homeless.

Get legal advice if you are thinking of turning down an offer of temporary or longer-term housing.

If your review is unsuccessful

You might be able to appeal to the county court if the council decides the accommodation offered was suitable.

You will need legal help to do this.

Get advice from a housing adviser

A housing adviser can look at your situation in more detail and advise on your options and what legal help you'll need.

Get advice from a housing adviser

Check if you qualify for legal aid

Check if you qualify for legal aid if you're on a low income,

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345

Last updated - 01 Sep 2017

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