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Emergency options

This page looks at things you can do immediately if the council's housing department can't help you.

You may be able to challenge the council's decision

The council will send you a decision letter explaining why it has decided not to help you. This could be because:

  • the council doesn't believe you're homeless, or
  • you made yourself homeless intentionally.

However, councils sometimes get it wrong - if you're in this situation, get advice immediately to check whether you can challenge the council's decision

You may be entitled to help from social work

Certain groups of people may be able to get help from the social work department. You might be able to get help if you:

  • are under 18 years old
  • have a dependent child
  • are under the age of 21 and have been in care
  • are elderly
  • have a physical illness, mental health issues or disability.

You may be able to get emergency accommodation

If it's possible for you to stay with friends or relatives, this will give you more time to look for longer term accommodation.

An adviser may be able to help you find short term or emergency accommodation in a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel. 

Sleeping on the streets should only ever be a last resort.

Get help to pay for emergency housing

If you move into emergency accommodation such as a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel, you will have to pay rent. If you are on benefits or a low income, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit to help you pay.

Sometimes you need money up front before you can get accommodation. If you have no money you may be able to apply to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) social fund for a crisis loan. However, whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and how much money the DWP has in its budget. Crisis loans are only available to meet emergency expenses, and you do have to pay the loans back, usually by paying a fixed amount each week.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?

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