The housing department won’t help me
If you are homeless and the council has told you that it can’t help, there may be other options open to you. This section explains what you may be able to do in this situation.
Can you challenge the council’s decision?
If you asked your council for help because you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and the council has said it cannot help you, or cannot continue to help you, it is important that you understand why they have made that decision.
There are various reasons why the council may say it can’t help you but, at the very least, the council should offer you help at a very early stage so that, where possible, you can avoid becoming homeless.
Help from social services
Certain groups of people may be able to get help from social services. You might be able to get help from social services if you:
- are aged under 18
- have left care or about to leave care
- have a dependent child
- have a physical or mental illness or disability
- are an older person.
The help that social services provide may vary greatly from one council to another. The law does not specify exactly what social services have to do as it depends on individual needs. In practice getting help from social services can be difficult. It is a good idea to get advice before going to them.
If it is possible for you to stay with friends or relatives this is probably the best and safest option. It will give you more time to look for longer term accommodation.
Alternatively, an adviser may be able to help you find short term or emergency accommodation yourself in a hostel or bed and breakfast. You will have to pay rent for staying in a hostel or bed and breakfast. 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 for a budgeting loan from the social fund. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and you will have to pay loans back, usually by paying a fixed amount each week.
Longer term options
There are various longer term housing options. These include:
- permanent council or housing association tenancies
- private rented accommodation
- alternative options (e.g. housing co-ops, supported housing).
Council or housing association tenancies
In most areas, offers of permanent council and housing association tenancies are made through a central waiting list (sometimes known as the housing register). You need to fill in a form to get onto the waiting list, which is available from the council housing department.
Whether you will get a council or housing association property depends on your circumstances and the amount of accommodation that is available. Waiting lists are usually long. In areas with housing shortages you may have little hope of getting a council or housing association tenancy.
If you are told you can’t go on the waiting list or are in doubt about your situation, get advice. An adviser may be able to help you check that your priority on the housing register has been calculated correctly.
Private rented accommodation
Private rented accommodation varies widely. In some areas it is cheap and plentiful but in other areas it can be hard to obtain and expensive.
Rents can be expensive in some areas. If you are on benefits or have a low income you may be able to get housing benefit to help you pay the rent. Landlords often charge more rent than housing benefit will cover, and you will have to make up the difference.
Private rented accommodation is usually advertised in local papers, shop windows or through agencies. It is sometimes possible to find and move into a private rented place quite quickly. However, you often need a deposit and rent in advance. If you find a place through an agency, you may have to pay agency fees as well.
You may be able to apply for a budgeting loan to cover rent in advance. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and you will have to pay the loan back, usually a fixed amount each week.
In some areas there are bond schemes, which help with the deposit.
Other long term options
You may want to consider other accommodation options such as buying accommodation, living in supported housing or living in a housing co-op. Get advice from Shelter Cymru if you are considering any of these options. An adviser can tell you what may be available in your area, how to go about applying for accommodation, and what your legal rights may be.
For help deciding on your options, see our Accommodation Options chart.