ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

Centrepoint help give homeless young people like Aidan a future.

ADVICE IF YOU'RE AT RISK OF HOMELESSNESS

If you’re under 25 and worried you’ll be homeless soon, here’s a guide that explains your housing rights and helps you find the support that’s right for you.

Your situation

I think I might be homeless soon

If you think you might be homeless in the next 56 days, your council should treat you as threatened with homelessness.

You can approach them for help before you have to move out.

If you need to make a homeless application, you need speak to your local council’s housing department.

Here’s some advice on the best way to do this >

I can't stay at home anymore

If you feel you can’t stay in your family home anymore, you’re doing the right thing to get advice and check out your housing rights.

Being unhappy at home can be a very difficult situation but it doesn't necessarily mean that the council has to house you. The council will ask why you feel you can’t go home, and may want to speak to your parents or other adults you live with. They may also suggest family mediation to help improve relationships at home.

If you get kicked out then you’re not choosing to become homeless and you're entitled to ask the council for help.

If you’re under 18, it’s a bit different. The law says that you’re still a child even though you may be going through lots of different things and feel grown up.

Read advice if you’re under 18 >

It’s never OK to experience violence, abuse or threats at home. If you’re leaving home to escape this kind of behaviour, you should tell the council. They should never try to call the person abusing you to ask if you can return home.

If you’d like to talk to someone confidentially about something you’re struggling with you can contact The Mix. They will listen to you and search for other services that may be able to help.

I'm at risk of eviction

There are lots of different types of tenancy or rental agreements and many situations that can lead to eviction. To find out about your housing rights as a tenant or to check if an eviction is being done legally, you could call Shelter for free on 0808 800 4444. It’s helpful if you have a copy of your tenancy or agreement in front of you when you call.

You can seek help from your local council and you do not have to wait until you are actually being evicted.

All councils follow the Homeless Code of Guidance which says:

“Housing authorities may become aware of residents who are threatened with becoming homeless but not within 56 days, and possibly not within any specified time period; and are encouraged to offer assistance where possible rather than delay providing support which may be effective in preventing homelessness.”

Here are some of the most common situations that lead to eviction and what you can do about them.

Struggling to pay rent

If you're struggling to pay your rent try to speak to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. It's normal to feel worried about approaching them, but it's important to show you're trying to tackle the issue. Try to come to an agreement on what you can pay and get it in writing.

Rent arrears

If you already have rent arrears and think you might get evicted, you can take action now. Don’t wait until you have a date for the eviction. Go to the housing department at your local council. Under the Homeless Prevention Act, the council have a duty to help prevent your homelessness. Ask them how they can help you keep your home. They may be able to speak with your landlord to smooth things over. If you're already claiming housing benefit, ask them about a discretionary housing payment (DHP) which is a payment that your council can make at their discretion which can help towards housing costs. Keep a record of your DHP application and send a copy to your landlord or letting agent.

If your rent arrears are due to housing benefit delays, you can get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Try to keep a record of all the action you take including the names of people you have spoken to and the dates you contacted them. If you do end up going to court, this will prove that you have done everything in your power to resolve the situation.

Anti-social behaviour

If you’re at risk of eviction because of anti-social behaviour, you could contact your landlord and ask them to set up an acceptable behaviour contract. This means you agree to do certain things that will help to end the anti-social behaviour. It’s important to stick to the terms of this type of agreement as it is a legal document and breaking it could result in eviction.

I'm a care leaver

If you’re a care leaver you may be able to get housing help from social services. Social services used to stop supporting care leavers when they turned 21 if they were not in education. This means that you might have had your case closed because you were not studying or not wanting to return to education.

After a change in the law in April 2018, social services should offer help to all care leavers up to the age of 25 – even if you’re not in education.

It can be complicated to work out exactly what support you should be getting as it depends on what type of care arrangement you lived in, when and for how long.

You can get independent advice on this from an advocacy service. This is an organisation that works to make sure young people get the support they’re entitled to.

You can find your local advocacy service here by searching with your postcode > 

If there is no service nearby, or you are having trouble getting through to them, you can contact Coram Voice for free on 0808 800 5792 or Just For Kids Law on 0203 174 2279.

I'm experiencing violence, abuse or threats

If you’re fleeing violence you have the right to approach any local council. You usually need a local connection with the council to get housing support, but not if your local area is dangerous for you.

How to make a homeless application >

All councils follow the Homeless Code of Guidance which says:

"……it is not reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic violence or other violence against:

  • The applicant
  • A person who normally resides as a member of the applicant’s family or,
  • Any other person who might reasonably be expected to reside with the applicant"

If you are female and the threat of violence is serious and ongoing you may be able to get a place in a refuge. A refuge is a safe temporary place that supports and protects women fleeing violence. The National Domestic Violence Helpline for on freephone 0808 2000 247 can give you a list of refuges around the country which may have spaces.

Men experiencing domestic violence can call Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327. Calls are free.

LGBT+ people experiencing domestic violence can call Galop on 0800 999 5428.

If you’re in immediate danger you should call 999. 

I'm pregnant or have children

You should approach your local council to make a homeless application. Here’s a guide on how to do this > 

If you’re pregnant you’ll need to show proof of the pregnancy from your GP. Being pregnant means you are automatically in priority need for housing, as long as you’re eligible and homeless.

You’re also in priority need if you’re eligible and homeless with children under the age of 16 or under 19 and still in full time education or training.

The council must offer you accommodation, and this will probably be temporary accommodation.

All councils follow the Homeless Code of Guidance which says:

Under the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003, Bed & Breakfast accommodation is not considered suitable for families with children and households that include a pregnant woman, except where there is no other accommodation available, and then only for a maximum of six weeks."

I'm at university

If you’re living in student accommodation and are worried about what you’ll do at the end of term, there are a few things you could do:

  • Ask family or friends if you can stay with them short term.
  • Speak with student services at your uni who can often offer help and support.
  • Tell your student finance provider if you were previously living with your parents but can’t return home. If their financial assessment was based on you being supported by your parents, they may be able to re-assess and increase your grant.
I'm not a UK citizen

Your immigration status will affect what kind of support you can access. This is a complex subject, so if you're unsure about your eligibility you should seek specialist immigration advice. It’s best to do this before you apply for housing at the council or apply for benefits at the job centre.

You can read more about your rights on the Shelter website. You can also call their Helpline for free on 0808 800 4444 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm at weekends).

Read your rights as an EU citizen in the UK >

Read your rights as a refugee or asylum seeker >

The Law Centres Network may also be able to help. All law centres offer legal advice in person and some run a telephone advice line. Look for the closest law centre to you and check if they offer immigration and housing advice.

Other things to consider

What is temporary accommodation

If the council agrees that you are you’re eligible, homeless and in priority need it must offer you accommodation. This is likely to be temporary accommodation.

It’s unlikely you will be able to influence what or where the accommodation is but the council should consider things like your support network and children’s schools. You still have to pay for temporary accommodation but if you are on low income you may be able to claim housing benefit or universal credit.

It’s important to know that if you turn down an offer of temporary accommodation, the council may refuse to offer you anything else. The general advice around temporary accommodation is always to accept it unless you are at risk of harm there and challenge it later. We can’t pretend that challenging the suitability of accommodation is easy but it is usually preferable to being left with nothing.

If you’re already living in temporary accommodation it will usually be because:

  • The council thinks that you may be in priority need but needs more time to assess your situation. You can stay in temporary accommodation while the council completes the assessment. This will usually be for about 30 days. At the end of this time, the council should either accept you as priority need and the temporary accommodation will continue, or tell you you’re not in priority need and ask you to leave.
  • The council has agreed they have a legal duty to accommodate you. It’s called ‘temporary’ accommodation because it won’t be your permanent home but it could still be for many months. At some point, the council should make you an offer of settled (or permanent) accommodation. This could be council or housing association homes or a private rented tenancy.

While you are living in temporary accommodation, there may be conditions which the council expect you to stick to, like staying at the property every night or not having people stay over. If you break these conditions, the council can evict you.

I want to challenge the council's decision

If your council have refused to provide you with accommodation and you believe that decision is wrong, you may be able to challenge their decision. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you have made a full homeless application and have a copy of the council’s decision letter (sometimes called a Section 184 decision letter).
  • You can ask for a review of this decision within 21 days. For advice on this you can call the Civil Legal Advice Line on 0345 345 4 345 or Shelter for free on 0808 800 4444.
  • If, after the first appeal, you still want to challenge the council’s decision you will need a solicitor. Ask at your nearest Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. A solicitor will want to see your decision letter and if they believe you have a case, they may be able to take the council to court to ask for a Judicial Review. If you are on low income this can be done on legal aid.
Where else can I get help?

You may find it helpful to use a day centre. Day centres offer support to people who are homeless or in vulnerable housing. They usually offer hot meals, showers and laundry facilities. They may be able to offer advice. Sometimes they are able to do referrals into hostels or other types of accommodation.

You can find your nearest day centre by searching on Homeless Link >

Can I get into Centrepoint accommodation?

Centrepoint support homeless young people aged 16-25 in London, Manchester, Barnsley, Bradford and Sunderland.

To get a place in a Centrepoint hostel, you need a local connection to an area where we have accommodation and the local council will need to refer you.

Local councils offer different types of accommodation to young people who are homeless. We can’t guarantee you will get referred to Centrepoint.

What does intentionally homeless mean?

The council might say you are intentionally homeless if it believes:

  • You were evicted for antisocial or criminal behaviour
  • You didn't pay the rent or mortgage when it was affordable
  • You left or gave up your home when you could have stayed

If the council decides you’re intentionally homeless but it agrees that you are eligible and in priority need then they must provide temporary accommodation for a reasonable time, usually a few weeks. 

Learn how to make a homeless application >

Centrepoint's homeless support services. Call our Helpline if you are ever in need of support.

Want advice over the phone?

The Centrepoint Helpline  can give you help with housing if you're at risk of becoming homeless or don't feel safe in your home.

Call us free on 0808 800 0661 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

The Centrepoint Helpline team

Talk to us online

Our dedicated Helpline advisors are available to chat online Monday to Friday between 10am-4pm. If webchat is closed, please leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Please note we need your agreement to hold the personal data you provide. We'll hold your data securely for two years and delete it after this time.