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National Homeless Advice Service

Homeless applications to the local authority

This page explains the process of applying as homeless and how advisers can support a young person in making an application.

Local authority legal duties

Local authorities must take a homelessness application when a young person approaches them for housing assistance and they have reason to believe they may be homeless (or threatened with homelessness within 56 days).

If there is reason to believe that the young person is also eligible for assistance and has a priority need, the local authority should provide suitable interim accommodation immediately. See Helping young homeless clients in an emergency

All local authorities should have an emergency service for taking applications and arranging accommodation outside of office hours.

When the local authority is satisfied that a young person is homeless (or threatened with homelessness in 56 days) and eligible for assistance, it must work with the young person to create a personal housing plan (PHP) which will spell out the steps the authority and the young person will take in order to secure accommodation (or to secure that accommodation that is available is not lost).

If the young person’s homelessness is not relieved (or prevented) through the steps taken in their PHP, the authority may have a duty to secure longer term accommodation for them if they are in priority need and not intentionally homeless. This accommodation must be suitable but could be in the private rented sector.

What inquiries will the housing department make?

The housing department should make inquiries to establish if the young person:

  • is actually homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • is eligible for assistance
  • has a priority need
  • is intentionally homeless

The answers to these questions will determine what duty the local authority has towards the young person.

Local connection

The housing department can make inquiries to establish if the young person has a local connection with the area. If the young person has no local connection, the housing department may be able to refer the young person to another local authority where they do have a local connection (but it may not do this if the young person would be at risk of violence). The housing department cannot refuse to provide interim accommodation whilst it makes its inquiries because the young person has no local connection. See Young people and local connection for more information.

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Helping with a homeless application

Advisers can assist their clients in making a homeless application by:

  • ascertaining whether the young person is homeless, eligible, has a priority need, may be intentionally homelessness, and has a local connection
  • gathering evidence to prove or suggest that they are homeless, eligible, and have a priority need, where relevant. Although it is the housing department’s duty to make enquiries to establish this, providing supporting information may speed up the process
  • make and attend appointments with clients
  • write to the housing department with details of the applicant’s situation (see our standard application letter).

See Shelter Legal for details on applying as homeless.

A young person who is not satisfied with the council’s decision (for example, if the council’s decision is that they are intentionally homeless) may be able to challenge it by requesting a review.

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