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Temporary housing when homeless

The council might give you emergency housing when you first ask for homeless help.

If they have to give you longer term help, you might then move to temporary housing.

Temporary housing is somewhere to live while you wait for longer term housing.

Find out who can get longer term housing.

How long you can stay in temporary housing

It can take a long time for councils to make a final offer of housing.

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

You might have to move from one place to another during that time.

Types of temporary housing

Temporary housing could be a:

  • room in a shared house

  • flat or house from a private landlord

  • short term council or housing association tenancy

  • hostel, refuge or other housing with support

If you have children

Families with children should get self-contained accommodation where possible. You do not have to share a kitchen or bathroom with anyone else in this accommodation.

There should be enough space for cots for children under 2 years. The council might have to help you get a cot if you need one, especially if you had to leave in an emergency, for example because of domestic abuse.

Where your temporary housing might be

Tell the council if you need or want to live in a certain area.

The council usually have to try to find housing in their area.

But they could offer you somewhere in another area if there's not enough suitable housing in your area.

Things the council should consider about the location

The council must usually consider things like your:

  • travel time to work

  • children's education

  • caring responsibilities and support networks

  • safety – for example, if you are at risk of violence or domestic abuse

If you arrived in the UK in the last 2 years, the council only has to make sure the location is:

  • safe

  • not too far from any caring responsibilities

Problems with temporary housing

Temporary housing could be unsuitable, for example, if:

  • you cannot afford it

  • you are overcrowded

  • it is in need of repairs or in poor condition

  • it is hard to access because of a health condition or disability

  • it is too far to travel to your workplace or your children's schools

  • you are at risk of things like domestic abuse or racial violence

Get support to talk to the council if you're homeless because of domestic abuse.

The council should not ask you to move somewhere you are not safe.

What to do if temporary housing is not suitable

Accept the offer even if you do not want to live there.

The council can stop helping you if you turn it down.

You have 3 weeks to ask for a review. You could get free legal help.

Tell the council if your temporary accommodation is no longer suitable and explain why.

Your temporary housing must be suitable for as long as you live there.

The council must offer alternative housing if it's no longer reasonable for you to stay there.

For example, if your situation changes and you can no longer afford the rent.

Help to pay the rent

Temporary housing must be affordable.

If you have a low income, you could get help with rent from:

You might not get enough money to cover your rent. This leaves you to pay the rest.

Ask the council for a discretionary housing payment if you cannot pay the rest.

Some service charges in temporary housing are not covered by benefits.

Responsibility for repairs

Your landlord is usually responsible for repairs in 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.

If you're told to leave temporary housing

This could be because the council want to:

  • move you to other temporary housing

  • give you somewhere long term to live

  • end their homeless help

They should write to explain why they are asking you to leave.

Get legal help to see if you can change the council's decision.

Eviction from temporary housing

Your council can take steps to evict you from temporary housing if you:

  • do not stay at the property

  • have rent or service charge arrears

  • refuse a final offer of suitable longer term housing

  • break accommodation rules or the terms of your agreement, for example, if you cause nuisance to neighbours

The council usually have to go to court to evict you.

They do not have to offer longer term housing if they decide it was your fault you were evicted.

Make a new homeless application

You can make a new homeless application if you are evicted from temporary accommodation and you are still homeless. 

The council must look into your situation and may need to provide emergency housing. 

The council might decide you are intentionally homeless.

Last updated: 1 March 2024

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