Temporary housing when homeless

If the council accepts a duty to house you when you are homeless, you may be asked to accept temporary housing while you wait for longer term accommodation.

What is temporary housing?

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

Temporary housing can include:

  • 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

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.

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

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

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 is sometimes a shortfall between your rent total and the amount of housing benefit or universal credit you get.

If you can't 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

  • don't pay your rent

  • abandon the property

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

The council won’t 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: 20 December 2018

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