Temporary housing when homeless

What is temporary housing?

Your council may place you in temporary housing if it does not have suitable longer term housing available when it accepts responsibility to house you.

Temporary housing includes:

  • a private flat

  • a council or housing association flat

  • housing with support

Where your temporary housing might be

Tell the council if you have reasons for wanting to live in a specific area.

When deciding where to house you, the council must take into account:

  • your travel time to work

  • your children's education

  • your support networks and any caring responsibilities

If you arrived in the UK in the last 2 years and you apply as homeless on or after 1 June 2022, the council will consider whether you have any caring responsibilities in the area but will not consider other factors. They may consider other factors if you were living in the UK before you went abroad.

The council could place you in a different area if there's a shortage of local housing.

How long you can expect to stay

You may have to stay in temporary housing for months or even years in areas of housing shortage.

The council may move you into other temporary accommodation in that time.

Unsuitable temporary housing offers

You can ask the council to review a temporary housing offer if you think the accommodation is unsuitable.

For example, you may think that the property is unsuitable if it is:

  • unaffordable for you

  • overcrowded

  • in need of repairs or in poor condition

  • inaccessible because of a disability or health condition

  • too far from your place of work or your children's schools

Risks of refusing an offer

The council may not make another offer if you refuse an offer of temporary housing.

You can challenge an unsuitable housing offer after you accept it. Housing and legal advisers usually recommend that you accept a housing offer in the first instance.

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person before you refuse a council temporary accommodation offer.

Help with paying the rent 

If you have a low income, you may get help with your rent if you make a claim for:

There may be a shortfall between your rent total and the amount of housing benefit or universal credit you get.

If you cannot afford the full charge, apply to your council for a discretionary housing payment to top up your rent.

Sometimes service charges in temporary accommodation are not covered by housing benefit or universal credit.

Who is responsible for repairs

The council should tell you who is responsible for repairs when you are offered temporary housing.

You are usually responsible for small jobs such as changing light bulbs and fixing plugs. You're also responsible for any damage you cause.

What you can be evicted for

Your council can evict you from temporary accommodation if you:

  • refuse a council offer of suitable longer term housing

  • do not pay your rent

  • abandon the property

  • break the terms of your tenancy (for example if you cause nuisance to neighbours or sublet)

The council will not have to make you a final offer of longer term housing if they decide it was your fault you were evicted from temporary housing.

What to do if you are evicted 

You can make a new homeless application if you are homeless. The council must carry out an assessment and provide emergency housing if you qualify. 

The emergency housing could end after a few weeks if the council decides you are intentionally homeless.

Get advice immediately if you are threatened with eviction.

Last updated: 25 May 2022

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