Where can I store my personal belongings?
This section explains the duties that the council has to protect your personal belongings and furniture if you apply to it for help because you are homeless.
Why can’t I take my things with me?
You may not be able to keep your furniture and belongings with you at the accommodation the council provides once you leave your former home. This is because the accommodation might already be furnished or too small to store everything. The council therefore has duties to protect the personal property of homeless applicants in certain circumstances.
If you have any problems in getting the council to protect your property, get advice.
What counts as property?
Property includes personal belongings and furniture. It does not include equipment used for business purposes.
When does property have to be protected?
The council has a duty to protect your property when it is at risk of damage or loss and you are not able to protect or deal with it yourself, for example because you are ill or can’t afford to arrange removals or storage.
This duty applies from the point you make an application as homeless and the council believes you may be eligible for help. It applies to your property and the property of anyone else included in your application.
What does the duty involve?
The council has to do what is reasonable to prevent loss or damage to your property. The council can arrange removals, arrange storage and gain entry to a property to recover your belongings
The council can make charges for the protection of your property, and most councils do this. Charges may be waived by some councils for people on low incomes or benefit. It is likely to be cheaper and more practical for you to arrange removals and storage yourself if you are able to.
If the council loses touch with you, or the duty to protect your property ends, the council may be able to dispose of your property. It has to follow specific procedures in order to do this. If it does not do so you may be able to take court action to get compensation.
When does the duty end?
The council no longer has a responsibility to protect your property when:
- it considers there is no longer a danger of damage or loss to your property
- it finds you don’t meet the criteria for help with accommodation
- it has fulfilled all its responsibilities towards you.
Even if the council has no further obligation to provide accommodation for you, it can choose to continue to protect your property. The council has to inform you in writing if it decides it has no further duty to protect your property.
What about my pets?
If you are homeless and have a pet, the council should consider arranging accommodation for you with your pet, especially if you rely on your pet for companionship. If this is not possible the council should consider helping you to arrange alternative care for your pets – this could be with friends or family or you could contact an animal charity.
Veterinary charity PDSA has a free national helpline that you can call to find out whether you are eligible for their free services – call 0800 731 2502, or use their website to check your eligibility.
The Dogs Trust Hope Project can provide free vet treatment to dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis. Their website also has a search tool to find hostels that accepts dogs. Many hostels don’t accept pets so it is always best to check before you go there.