If you might become homeless

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came into force on Tuesday 3 April 2018. This is a new law that is changing how we help people who are, or may become, homeless. Our statement below outlines how we intend to help you. 

The new law focuses on preventing people from becoming homelessness, and aims to reduce the need for people to go into emergency or temporary accommodation. It also aims to deliver better outcomes for single homeless people. 

View our new homelessness prevention services

1. What this means for you

If you are homeless or likely to become homeless, the following may apply:

  • you can speak to our Shelter Outreach team who can give advice and assistance
  • you can ask us for help up to 56 days before you think you might become homeless
  • we will support you to prevent your homelessness, or help you find another home
  • if you are facing homelessness, we may work with you to develop a personal housing plan - this plan will set out steps to prevent you losing your home, and/or to help you find another home taking account of your individual circumstances.
  • we will keep your circumstances under review, however if you do not work with us we can decide that we cannot help you further.
  • you will have the right to request a review of how we have tried to help

We must support you to resolve your risk of becoming homeless, but this does not mean we will find you another home.  If we are unable to prevent you becoming homeless or find you another home, generally only those in priority need who have not become homeless intentionally, will receive an offer of private rented accommodation or social housing.

If you think you might become homeless, you must get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity.

2. Get help with homelessness

If you need help or advice about your housing situation or feel you are at risk of losing your home, please register for housing advice below. You will be asked some quick questions and a member of the team will contact you shortly.

Register for housing advice

If you've already registered for an account...

Login - housing advice portal

3. Advice from Shelter

If you have a housing problem and you think you may have to leave your home then we would like to help.  The Shelter Outreach team is located in the community providing specialist advice with a focus on early intervention and homelessness prevention. The Shelter Advisors bring a range of expertise on housing matters as well as welfare and benefits advice. Anyone worried about their current housing situation can attend one of our Shelter outreach surgeries.

Find your nearest Shelter outreach surgery

The following locations are accessible to anyone who wishes to use the outreach service:

Day / time


Mondays 1pm to 4pm

Advice Shop, Beethoven Centre, Third Avenue, London, W10 4JL

Tuesdays 10am to  1.30pm

Church Street Library, 67 Church Street, NW8 8EU

Tuesday 4 Dec, 2pm to 5pm (fortnightly after that)

Victoria Library, 160 Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 9UD

Tuesdays 11 Dec 1pm to 4.30pm (fortnightly after that)

Westminster Reference Library, 4-6 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HF

Wednesdays 10.30am to 12.30pm

Advice Shop, Church Street Library, 67 Church Street, NW8 8EU

Thursdays 1pm to 4.30pm

Bessborough Family Hub, 1 Bessborough Street, Ranelagh Road SW1V 2JD

Thursdays 10am to 12pm

Churchill Gardens Residence Hall, Glasgow Terrace, SW1V 3AL

Friday 14 Dec, 9.30am to 12pm (fortnightly after that)

Pimlico Library, Lupus Street, London, SW1V 3AT

Shelter also holds surgeries at several more locations, listed below. However these locations are only available to residents who have already registered to use that service.

Day / time


Mondays 9am to 1pm

Portman Early Childhood Centre, 4 Lilestone Street, London, NW8 8SU

Mondays 1pm to 4.30pm

Migrant's Resource Centre, Derry House, Penfold Street, London NW8 8HJ

Wednesdays 9.30am to 12.30pm

North Paddington Foodbank, W.E.C.H Community Centre, W9 3RR

 Wednesdays 9.30am to 1pm

City of Westminster College, Maida Vale Campus, 129 Elgin Avenue, W9 2NR

Thursdays 9:30am to 1pm​

Queen’s Park Early Childhood Centre, 88 Bravington Rd, London W9 3AL

4. Single and at risk of homelessness

If you're single, please visit The Passage, St Vincent's Centre, Carlisle Place, London SW1P 1NL. Opening hours are 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with the exception on Thursdays when they open at 1pm. Call them on 0207 592 1850 or email HSSreferral@passage.org.uk.

Both the Shelter Outreach Team and the Passage will work with our Housing Solutions Service to help to secure sustainable housing solutions for anyone facing homelessness.

You will need to provide some of the following;

•    proof of identity
•    full birth certificates or passports for all the people in your household
•    documents concerning the loss of your housing, for example: letters from your landlord or the court informing you that you must leave
•    proof of income, for example: wage slips, benefit books, P45, bank statements and savings books
•    details of where you have lived for the last five years, such as: tenancy agreements, rent books or receipts for rent , postmarked letters, bills, bank statements, medical cards
•    if relevant, documents confirming: you are married or divorced, you have custody of children, you are pregnant

If we are unable to prevent your homelessness, you may need to make a homeless application. If we accept your application, you are likely to be placed in temporary accommodation.

We must still consider certain tests under the 1996 Housing Act (as amended by the 2002 Homelessness Act) to decide whether we have a duty to house you. For those not in priority need, we still offer alternative practical support and additional services for Rough Sleepers.

Find out how to get help if you're a rough sleeper

5. Homeless

By law, you are homeless if you do not have a home here or abroad in which you have a legal right to live. You are also homeless if you have a home but it is not reasonable for you to continue living in it.

6. Eligibility

Being eligible for assistance means you are entitled to help with housing from a local authority, if you need it. Although most UK residents are entitled to such help, some people from abroad are not.

You might not be eligible if any of the following apply:

  • you are a visitor to this country
  • you are a student from another country or a sponsored immigrant
  • you are an illegal immigrant
  • you are seeking asylum
  • you claimed asylum but the Home Office refused to give you asylum
  • you are not habitually resident in the UK or Ireland
  • the Home Secretary has said you no longer have a right to stay in the UK

7. Priority need

If any of the following apply to you or to a member of your household you may have a priority need for housing:

  • you are pregnant
  • you are 16 or 17 years old
  • someone in your household is under 18 years of age (or under 19 if they are in full-time secondary education)
  • you are 18 to 21 years of age and as a child you were placed in social services' care
  • you are homeless because of fire, flood, or a similar disaster
  • you are aged 60 or older
  • you have a mental illness or disability which makes you vulnerable
  • you have a physical disability which makes you vulnerable
  • when you were a child you were placed in the care of a local authority, a health authority, foster parents, a children's home, or a care home and this has made you vulnerable
  • you have been in this country's armed forces and this has made you vulnerable
  • you have been in prison or remanded in custody and this has made you vulnerable
  • you have left your home because of violence or threats of violence and this has made you vulnerable
  • you are vulnerable for another special reason

To be vulnerable means you cannot fend for yourself so that you will suffer injury or harm where a less vulnerable person would not.

Note: the person/s with the priority need must also be eligible for assistance.

8. Intentional homelessness

You may be intentionally homeless if you lost your home as a result of something you have deliberately done, or failed to do. For example, if you are evicted from your home because you did not pay your rent. Or if you give up your home when it is reasonable for you to continue living there.

You will be intentionally homeless if we find that you have colluded with your landlord, parent or friend and fabricated a situation where you have been asked to leave your accommodation, in order to obtain housing via the council.

9. Local connection

If you are unintentionally homeless, eligible for assistance and have a priority need for housing, you are entitled to housing from a local authority. In which case, we must either offer you a home or, if you are not connected to Westminster, refer you to a council you are connected to for it to find you a home. We may offer you a home if any of the following apply:

  • you have a connection with Westminster because you have lived here for at least six out of the last twelve months, or three out of the last five years
  • you have a connection with Westminster because you have a close relative (parent, child, brother or sister) who has lived in Westminster for the past five years
  • you have a permanent job in Westminster
  • you are connected to Westminster for some other special reason
  • you have a local connection with another area, but someone in your application might experience domestic violence if they return there
  • you are not connected to any council in this country - for example, if you have recently come here from abroad

10. If you disagree with our decisions

If we decide we do not have a legal duty to house you and you disagree with our decision, you may ask us to review it. You will have 21 days from the date you get our decision to do so.

If you ask us to review our decision, we will reconsider your case and give you our final decision in writing. We will try to do this within 4 weeks of your request.

If you think our reviewed decision is legally wrong, you can appeal to the County Court. If the court agrees with you, it has the power to change our decision.

Find out more about requesting a review of a case decision.

Complaints and reviews (PDF, 124KB)

Last updated: 4 December 2018
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