If the council refuses to help you when you’re homeless

In some situations, such as being too young or having limited mental capacity, the council may turn down your homeless application. This page tells you what you can do in this situation.

Can the council refuse to accept my application?

The council can't take homeless applications from people:

  • who are under 16, or

  • whose mental capacity is too limited to be able to decide whether to accept an offer of accommodation or not.

Children and people with severe mental disabilities need a parent, guardian or carer to apply on their behalf.

Applications from anyone else should be accepted if they are homeless or likely to become homeless within two months.

The council is refusing to interview me

The council has a legal duty to investigate the situation of any homeless person who asks for help. They must at least interview you and explain why it thinks it doesn't have to help you.

If you're homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months and the council refuses to accept your homeless application, contact us immediately.

What if I'm seeking asylum?

Most asylum seekers are not eligible for homelessness assistance. However, the council should still accept your homeless application and make inquiries into your circumstances.

Follow our guidance on how your immigration status affects your housing options.

I've applied as homeless before

Whether the council has to accept a new application depends on whether there has been a change in your circumstances:

  • no change in your circumstances - if you've already applied as homeless and the council came to a decision on your application, it may not accept another application unless there has been a change in your circumstances. If you want to challenge the council's original decision you can ask for a review.

  • a change in your circumstances - the council should accept a new homeless application and look into your circumstances again. For example, if you have become pregnant or developed health problems, you may now be entitled to a permanent home.

I'm not homeless yet, but will be soon

If you're threatened with homelessness within two months the council must accept a homeless application from you. You're threatened with homelessness if:

  • your landlord has given you a valid notice to quit which runs out within two months

  • your landlord or mortgage lender has obtained a court order to evict you which takes effect within two months

  • you are due to be discharged from a hospital or prison within two months and have nowhere to go

  • you have been asked to leave by friends or family within two months.

My landlord has a court order to evict me

Your council should not make you wait until a court order for eviction expires, and sheriff officers arrive at your door, before considering you to be threatened with homelessness. If your council is telling you that you must wait get in touch with an adviser.

I've been told I can't apply

You should make sure that you get the council to confirm in writing why they are refusing to accept an application from you. Once you have the letter, or if the council refuses to give you a written decision, you can ask the council to look again at their decision to not help you by requesting a review. This gives you the chance to tell the council more information about your circumstances.

The review process can be complicated, so you should speak to an adviser to get help with this.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 9 June 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England