Emergency housing if you're homeless

Your council must help if you’re legally homeless, but how much depends on your eligibility, your level of need and if your homelessness is your fault.

Legally homeless

You may be legally homeless if:

  • you’ve no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world
  • you can’t get into your home, for example your landlord has locked you out
  • it’s not reasonable to stay in your home, for example you’re at risk of violence or abuse
  • you’re forced to live apart from your family or people you normally live with because there’s no suitable accommodation for you
  • you’re living in very poor conditions such as overcrowding

If you’re legally homeless, your council must provide you with help – this could range from giving advice to arranging accommodation for you.

The amount of help they give you will depend on things like:

  • if you became homeless through no fault of your own
  • if you’re eligible for assistance
  • if you’re in priority need

Eligibility for assistance

If you live permanently in the UK, you’ll usually be eligible for assistance. If you’re from abroad, you may not be eligible because of your immigration status.

Shelter’s guide on housing rights helps you work out if you’re eligible for assistance and what you’re entitled to.

Check if you can get legal aid to help with your legal costs. If you’re eligible, you can get advice from Civil Legal Advice, or you can search for a legal aid adviser.

Priority need

You’re in priority need if:

  • you or someone you live with is pregnant
  • ‘dependent children’ live with you (under 16s or under 19s if they’re studying full-time)
  • you’re ‘vulnerable‘, for example as a result of old age or disability
  • you’re homeless after a flood, fire or other disaster

You may be entitled to Housing Benefit to help with your housing costs.