Housing Options

This page provides information about other housing options, if you are unable to fund the purchase of a home or if the home ownership schemes detailed on this website are not suitable for you. This information will guide you to other agencies, which may then be able to assist you.

You can get more information about what kind of housing is available in your area by contacting your Local Authority Area Offices or a local Housing Aid Centre or a Citizens advice bureau. Alternatively, you can visit www.shelter.org.uk

Are you entitled to help from the council?

Your local council’s housing department may have a duty to help you if you have nowhere to stay or are likely to lose your home within 28 days. It must give you advice and assistance to help you find a home. Depending on your circumstances, the council may also have a legal duty to house you.

What if I have come from abroad?

Most people seeking asylum and some other people from abroad cannot get help from the council’s homeless persons unit and cannot claim benefits. This is the case even if you have children. If you are seeking asylum and are homeless, you will probably be placed in temporary housing arranged by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) while the Home Office makes a decision about your asylum claim. This housing could be in any part of the UK. See Shelter’s free guide "Asylum seekers and refugees" for more information.

What if I’m under 18?

Almost all 16 – 17 year olds are automatically in priority need and are entitled to emergency accommodation from the housing department of the council.

Women’s refuges

Women who have to leave home because of violence or threats may find a place at a women’s refuge. These are usually ordinary houses shared by women and children. There are refuges all over the country, so if you don’t feel safe in your own area you can be placed in one that is a distance from your home. The address is kept secret to protect women from violent partners. The refuge staff can help you to claim benefits and find longer-term housing. Ring the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for information.

Finding privately rented accommodation

Personal contacts: Ask friends, family and, if you are working, colleagues.

Local newspapers/magazines: These often have a daily or weekly section on rented accommodation and flat-shares. Copies will be available in libraries.

Shop windows/ notice-boards: Try notice-boards in community centres, libraries or bookshops, as well as newsagents. If possible, check the date the advert was put up, otherwise the place may have already been rented out.

Letting agencies: You can get details of local letting agencies from advice centres and the Yellow Pages. They may also have websites advertising accommodation. Letting agencies may charge you for some services.

If you need support

If you have problems other than your housing situation, you may be able to get help from the council, a housing association, or a voluntary organisation. If you are an older person or are physically or mentally disabled, you can ask the council to carry out an assessment of your needs. The council may decide that you need adaptations to help you stay in your home, or that you need accommodation specifically designed for people with disabilities (wheelchair or mobility housing), or sheltered housing. If you need care and do not have suitable accommodation, the council has to provide it for you. You may be able to get housing from a supportive hostel or a housing association. These often help particular groups, such as ex-offenders, people who have problems with mental health, alcohol or drugs, single parents, people with HIV/AIDS, and lesbians or gay men. Contact your local Housing Aid Centre or council for more information about what’s available in your area.

Help with housing costs

For many people, housing problems begin because of financial difficulties. Whatever your situation, you should get advice immediately if you are having problems paying for your accommodation. It may be possible to sort things out, even if the bailiffs are on the way. You may be able to get financial or legal help, but you need to act quickly.

Housing Benefit

Housing benefit is money that people on benefit or on low incomes can get to help pay their rent.

You can claim Housing Benefit if you are working, claiming Income Support, or you are on income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Depending on your circumstances, your Housing Benefit will not cover all of your rent, and you will have to make up the difference.

Housing Benefit will not cover charges for water rates, heating, or hot water, even if they are included in your rent. In some areas, a system called Local Housing Allowance is used instead of Housing Benefit. In these areas, most private tenants get a set amount, regardless of how much rent they actually pay. If you are affected, contact your local advice centre for information.

Help with mortgage payments

People who claim Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance may be able to get some help to pay the interest on their mortgage payments.

However, for most new claims, you will have to wait a few months before you receive any money. If you buy a home with a mortgage, and immediately beforehand you were in rented accommodation  and getting HB, you are entitled to help with mortgage repayments, but the amount will be no more than the amount of HB you received.

In most cases, you will not be entitled to help with mortgage repayments if you take out a mortgage when you are receiving Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. The rules are complicated, so contact you local advice centre if you are not sure whether you qualify.

If you are currently experiencing problems meeting your mortgage repayments, in the first instance you should contact your mortgage lender. If you have other debt problems as well, you should contact your local debt counselling service or Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you have a Shared Ownership property and are experiencing problems meeting your commitments for paying your rent and/or mortgage, please contact your landlord as soon as possible for assistance.

See also Housing Organisations which may be able to help you.

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