Terrence Higgins Trust uses cookies to improve your experience of our websites. For more information or to change the use of cookies, please click here.

Accept and Close



If you’re already homeless and sleeping rough, or in danger of doing so, here’s some immediate help.

If you need shelter:

If you’re sleeping rough in England, Streetlink can help to get you off the streets and into local services: 0300 500 0914.

If you're sleeping rough in Scotland you should call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

In Wales you should call Shelter’s housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005.

Contacting your local authority

If you’re homeless, or think you might soon become homeless then you can contact your local authority who should assess you to determine if they might have a duty to re-house you under homelessness regulations.

Local authorities use a number of criteria to determine whether or not they have a duty to re-house you, including your connection to the area, whether or not you are deemed to be intentionally homeless and whether you are in priority need.

Having a manageable chronic illness such as HIV may not be deemed a priority need on health grounds by many local authorities.

If you satisfy all the requirements, the local authority will have a duty to house you. If you don't, it will only have a duty to advise you.

What if I don’t get housing?

Local authority housing advice can:

  • assist you with a rent deposit scheme or bond,
  • inform you about your entitlement to housing benefit to assist with rent payments,
  • introduce you to potential private landlords, etc.

Even if you’re not eligible for Social Housing it’s well worth speaking with the local authority housing advice team or homeless prevention unit, to maximise your options.

If you need to talk these things through, get in contact with THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.

Do I have the right to housing?

Remember: if you're applying to the local authority for rehousing based on homelessness, they have the following duties:

  • to investigate
  • to provide housing while they investigate if they have reason to believe you’re homeless and in priority need
  • to protect property in certain circumstances.

Your local authority also has a duty to give you a decision in writing. For the decision to be valid it needs to:

  1. set out your right to ask for a review, and
  2. state the reason for the refusal.

Challenging the decision

In the event that you’re not happy with the decision you should ask for a review within 21 days of the date of the decision.

It’s important you act as quickly as possible and so at this point we suggest that you call THT Direct who will try to signpost you to a housing specialist in your area.

What if I'm not entitled to housing?

If you’re not entitled to be re-housed under the homelessness regulations you should ask the local authority for further advice and look for private rented accommodation.

If you don’t have enough money for your deposit you should find out whether your local authority has a guaranteed deposit scheme which may help you with this.

You might also be eligible to claim Housing Benefit to help you with your rent.

You can also talk to one of our Online Advisors.

Get further information and advice:



Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star (No votes cast) Please log in or register to vote. What's this?


Please log in or register to add this article to My favourites. What's this? Adding an article to My favourites will allow you to easily come back to it later or print it.

Your comments

You will need to be logged in before you can leave a comment.

Please log in using the form on the top right of the page or register.

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 8/11/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 8/11/2019

Content Author: Gillian Arrindell

Current Owner: Gillian Arrindell

More information:

Astin, Diane. Housing Law: an advisor's handbook 2008 Ch 13, 476-477

Adviceguide - Finding a place to live - 2013