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Do you have a local connection?

The final test when you make a homeless application is 'local connection'. This is to establish whether you have any links with the area. If the council doesn't think you have a connection, it may refer you to another council, provided you are not at risk of violence in that area.

The council is saying I have no local connection

A council should not just turn you away because they say you do not have a local connection. A council has to look fully into the background of your application and issue you with a decision letter

Why would I be referred to another area?

The council may say that a different council should help you if:

  • it has decided that you are:
    • homeless, and
    • eligible for assistance, and
    • not intentionally homeless
  • but:
    • you don't have a local connection with the council's area, and
    • you have a local connection with another council's area, and
    • you are not at risk of abuse in that area.

If you don't want to be sent to another area, you should ask the council not to do this and explain the reasons why when you make your application.

The council should make inquiries into your situation and decide whether you pass all the other tests before it looks into whether you should be referred to another area. It has a duty to provide temporary accommodation for you while it makes these inquiries.

What is a local connection?

In deciding whether you have a local connection with its area, the council has to look at whether you or anyone in your household:

  • has lived in the area and for how long
  • has family connections in the area
  • works in the area
  • has a connection with the area for another special reason.

These categories are explained in more detail below. You only need to fit into one category in order to have a local connection. The council is not allowed to refer you to another area if you don't have a local connection with any other area, or if you are at risk of violence in the only area you have a connection with.

I live in the area

The council will usually accept that you have a local connection if you or anyone else in your household has lived in the area for a total of six months out of the last 12 months, or three years out of the last five years.

You must have lived in the area by choice in order to have a local connection, this includes periods of temporary residence in the area. You may not have a local connection if you have only lived in an area because you are, in prison, in a hospital or were an asylum seeker. However, if you have just been released from a long stay in a hospital in the area, you may be viewed as having a local connection there.

I have family in the area

Councils will usually accept that you have a local connection with an area if you have family who have lived in the area for at least five years. You do not have to be in contact with the family member for a local connection to exist. Family members include:

  • your husband/wife or civil partner;
  • an opposite-sex or same-sex partner;
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children (including foster children, step children, and other children treated by you as your own)
  • grandchildren
  • nephews and nieces
  • brothers and sisters
  • aunts and uncles
  • any of the above who are related to your spouse or partner.

If you have family in your chosen area, the council can't refer you to another area because you have more family connections there. In addition, the council should not refer you to another area where you have family connections if you don't want to be near your family.

I work in the area

If you work in the area, you should automatically be considered to have a local connection. However, if your employment is only casual, it may not be enough to establish a local connection. Employment doesn't have to be full-time, and self-employed people can have a local connection if they mainly work in the council's area.

If you were stationed in the area when serving with the armed forces then you may have a local connection. 

I have a connection for another reason

You may be able to show you have a local connection for other special reasons. For instance, you may need to live in an area to receive specialist health care, or for religious reasons. If you think this is the case, get advice to see if you could argue that you have a local connection.

I have a local connection - what happens next?

If you have a local connection, the council will inform you in writing that it has the full duty to re-house you and can now offer you a permanent home. If there is a shortage of housing in your area, you may have to wait in temporary accommodation until a suitable home can be found for you. Read the page on permanent accommodation to find out more about this.

What happens if the council says I don't have a local connection?

The decision letter

If the council considers that you do not have a local connection, it has to inform you in writing. The decision letter should explain:

  • that the council has decided that you do not have a local connection
  • why it came to this decision
  • that you have 21 days to ask for a review of this decision.

If the reasons the council gives are wrong or unclear, get advice immediately. It is possible that the council hasn't looked into your situation properly.

If you don't have a local connection, the council has to look into whether you have a connection with another council's area. If it decides that you do, it can only refer you to the council for that area if your household is not at risk of abuse there. The council does not have to refer you to another area if you do not have a local connection. It may be willing to house you anyway.

If the council wants to refer you to another council, it has to inform you in writing. The letter must explain the reasons for the decision. It must also inform you that you have a right to request a review of the decision within 21 days.

In addition, the council you applied to must continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until the new council has accepted your case and has temporary accommodation ready for you.

How will the other council help me?

If you are referred to another council, don't worry - you won't have to start your homeless application all over again. The second council has to accept the first council's decision that you are:

  • homeless, and
  • eligible for assistance, and
  • not intentionally homeless.

When the council you are being referred to finds suitable temporary accommodation for you, you will have to move there until it has found you a permanent home. If you choose not to move, the council may refuse to offer you any further help - get advice if this happens to you.

What if the other council says it doesn't have to help me?

In some circumstances, councils can disagree about whether you should be sent from one area to another. If this happens, the council you applied to has to continue to help you until the disagreement is sorted out. In addition, it must continue to provide you with accommodation until the council you are being referred to finds accommodation for you. It also has to continue to store your personal belongings (if it is already doing so).

What if there's a risk of abuse in the other area?

The council is not allowed to refer you to another area if anyone in your household is at risk from domestic abuse, threats, violence or harassment in that area. If you are in this situation, the council you applied to will have to help you unless you have a local connection with another area where your household is not at risk of abuse.

I don't have a local connection anywhere?

If you don't have a local connection with any area at all, the council you originally applied to must help you.

I have a connection with more than one area?

If you have a local connection with more than one area, the council should ask you where you'd prefer to go and take your preferences into account when deciding which area to refer you to.

I don't want to go to another area?

If you are referred to another area but you don't want to go, you can ask the council to review its decision. Get advice if you want to request a review. An adviser can:

  • check whether the council's decision was legally correct
  • check whether you have a good case for getting the decision changed
  • help with the review process
  • help you to appeal further if your review is unsuccessful
  • explain your alternative housing options.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • You can have a local connection through work or family.
  • Local connection should not be an issue if you are at fleeing violence or abuse.
  • If you have no local connection will be referred to a council where you do.
  • If you disagree with the decision you have 21 days to ask for a review.  

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