The housing department won’t help me

If you are homeless and the council has told you that they 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 they 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 they 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.

If the council have told you that they are not going to help you, or they are going to stop helping you, then get help immediately to check whether you can challenge the council’s decision.

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 help before going to them.

Short-term options

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:

Occupation contracts with community landlords

In most areas, offers of permanent occupation contracts with community landlords 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 (often referred to as ‘housing options’ or housing solutions’).

Whether you will get a community landlord 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 contract with a community landlord.

If you are told you can’t go on the waiting list or are in doubt about your situation, get help. 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. It is usually more expensive than renting from a community landlord but it can be far more expensive in some areas. How much private rented accommodation is available also varies a lot from one area to the next.

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 lettings 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 a lettings agent, they are usually not allowed to charge you letting fees.

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 living in supported housing or living in a housing co-op. Get help 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.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Accommodation options chart

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This page was last updated on: March 19, 2024

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.