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Temporary accommodation

​We want to provide you with as much information as possible to help you make the right choice about your housing.  It is important to remember that we cannot provide everyone who approaches Westminster City Council with temporary accommodation. The council expects to receive over 2,000 homeless applications this year and if you apply it does not mean that you will be accepted for long-term accommodation. 

If you have been accepted onto the council's housing list as homeless, you will receive a confirmation letter. We will continue to offer you temporary accommodation, which could be inside or outside Westminster.

1. Alternative Housing Options

Below is a list of housing options available for you as alternatives to social housing.

Resettlement Grant Scheme (RGS)

This is a scheme for homeless households living in temporary accommodation wishing to move into the private rented sector.  We provide a one-off cash incentive, payable to the client on securing a private sector property. 

Rent Deposit

This scheme is an alternative housing route rather than moving into temporary accommodation and having to wait a considerable length of time for a permanent social housing.

The benefits of this scheme are:

  • it is a faster route to housing
  • you will have some choice in the home you wish to live in
  • you will receive a cash payment to help you relocate

If you opt for this scheme, we will do all the work for you. This includes finding you a property to rent from a private landlord in an area of your choice. We will also provide you with a payment to help you relocate. 

When we find a property, we ensure that the necessary checks have been made, including:

  • checking the tenancy agreements
  • ensuring that the property meets the council's property management standards
  • checking all safety certificates are in place

If you decide to take a property through this scheme, you will no longer be eligible to bid for council or housing association properties through our choice based lettings scheme.

If you want to find out more information and register for the scheme you can contact the Housing Solutions Service for more information.

Telephone: 020 7641 1000

2. Temporary Accommodation - FAQ's

What type of temporary accommodation will I be offered?

We will provide emergency accommodation, which is likely to be in a hotel, or hostel and longer term temporary accommodation should your application be accepted.

 Why can’t my temporary accommodation be in Westminster?

The council has temporary accommodation in various locations. Although we do have temporary accommodation within Westminster the demand for this is very high and therefore we have to find accommodation in other areas. This means we have to think carefully about how we allocate temporary accommodation. How we allocate accommodation is often based on a number of factors including:

  • the accommodation we have available at the time of making you an offer
  • your needs and the needs of your family compared with the needs of other families who also require accommodation on that day
  • how much rent you can afford to pay

Officers at the Housing Solutions Service take into consideration what you can manage and how far you and your family can reasonably travel. It may be reasonable for you to commute to work, travel to your medical appointments, or take your children to school on the bus or tube. In some cases it might be reasonable to register with schools or medical services that are more local to your temporary accommodation.

Westminster City Council's temporary accommodation placement policy

What happens if I refuse an offer of temporary accommodation?

We will discuss offers of temporary accommodation with you and listen to your concerns. However if we still think the accommodation is suitable for your needs we will expect you to accept the offer. In these circumstances, we will advise you to accept the offer but also advise you of your rights to review the offer.  If you refuse the offer, we may decide to bring our housing duty to you to an end.

How many times will I have to move homes before I am permanently rehoused?

Whilst you are waiting to be rehoused you can expect to remain in your present temporary accommodation. Unless we have agreed to move you or if you have approach us for a move out of temporary accommodation. 

Why is my tenancy agreement important?

When you move into temporary accommodation, you will receive a tenancy agreement.  It is important that you read the information provided to you and if you require help please speak to your landlord.  If you break your tenancy agreement, you will be evicted.  This can happen if:

  • you do not pay your rent
  • you sub-let the property
  • you allowed the condition of the property to deteriorate
  • you have caused a nuisance or annoyance

If this happens, it is unlikely that we will give you another home and you will have to find somewhere to live yourself.  If you become homeless as a result of this and then re-apply for help with housing, it is very likely that you will be classed as intentionally homeless.

What facilities and services can I expect to receive?

If you have been accepted onto the council’s housing list as homeless you will be placed in temporary accommodation while you wait for your new home. This can be emergency accommodation or  self-contained (long term) temporary accommodation also known as ‘stage 2'.

You will have a tenancy agreement and whatever type of tenancy you have, the housing association or letting agent is responsible for the day-to-day management of your property.

Self-contained accommodation - all stage 2 accommodation is self-contained, which means that you will have your own kitchen and bathroom and do not have to share with anyone other than your own family. 

Fully furnished - All flats are fully furnished, but you will have to provide your own bed linen and cooking utensils.

Laundry services and breakfast are not provided.

When will I be eligible to bid for permanent housing?

Once you are accepted for re-housing you will be place on the housing register.  You will be given a bidding reference number and will receive information on the types of properties that you can select.   

How long will I have to wait for a move out of temporary accommodation?

Westminster has a severe shortage of permanent homes, so most households spend a considerable length of time living in temporary accommodation before they are re-housed in the long term.

Current average waiting times for re-housing

Currently there are around 2,600 homeless applicants living in temporary accommodation and half of our temporary accommodation is now outside the borough because we cannot find affordable properties in Westminster.  In some cases homeless applicants have been placed in temporary accommodation outside of Greater London.

We want to make sure that you have all the housing options available to make an informed decision about your next move.  Housing officers may contact you about other housing options, which may include an offer of a private rented sector property, which will be suitable in terms of size and location and affordable for you.

3. Rent - FAQ's

How do I pay my rent?

Once you move into temporary accommodation, you will automatically receive a rent card within 1 week of your placement. 

You can pay using your card at any Post Office (please ring us if required 0207 641 1000 to speak to your rents officer)

There are however a number of other ways that you can pay your rent:

  • By standing order (payable to our sort code 30-00-00 and account number 03395065, or ask us for a form)
  • Online at www.cwh.org.uk (you need your 12 digit rent account number)
  • By the automated telephone service on 020 7823 2601 (you need your 12 digit rent account number)

Remember if you are struggling to pay your rent, and your are worried that you are unable to meet your payments, you must resolve this as soon as possible. 

I have rent arrears

If you are struggling to pay your rent, and are worried that you are unable to meet your payments, you must resolve this as soon as possible. 

If your rent arrears rise above £1000 you will not be offered a social housing tenancy until this has been cleared/reduced. If you need a transfer to a different temporary home, we may not move you until your arrears are paid off. Finally and most importantly, remember you will be evicted if you do nothing about high rent arrears. If this happens it is unlikely that Westminster or any other local authority will offer you another home. 

If you have a problem paying your rent you must make sure you contact our Rents Team immediately at HOSRentsTeam@wcchos.org.uk. The Rents Team are there to help you. They can refer you for debt and benefits advice, and in some cases we can apply for some financial assistance such Discretionary Housing Payments to help you in the short term.  We can also refer you or an adult in your family to our employment support schemes. 

How can I check my rent balance? 

Online at City of Westminster Housing (you need your 12 digit rent account number)

By telephone automated service on 020 7823 2601 (you need your 12 digit rent account number)

Can I still get housing benefit if I am in receipt of Universal Credit?

Yes. If you are living in an area where you need to claim Universal Credit, you should claim the Standard Allowance and if you are a family the Children’s Allowance. When making the Universal Credit claim, make sure you say you are living in temporary accommodation.

In addition to claiming Universal Credit, you will need to claim housing benefit once you have been placed into temporary accommodation. When Universal Credit is assessed you will have to let the Council’s Benefits Service know so they can decide housing benefit.  

Can I get financial help towards the cost of my temporary accommodation?

Apply for housing benefit online. If you require help, you can contact the Council’s Benefits Service on 0800 072 0042.

My housing benefit claim is being assessed, do I still have to pay a contribution?

Yes, you do have to make a contribution. 

Whilst your housing benefit claim is being assessed, you can estimate your contribution online using our benefit calculator.  

How can I provide the requested information to housing benefit?

You can email the requested documents to the Benefits Service at wcc.hobs@secure.capita.co.uk, or by post to Westminster Benefits Service, PO Box 82, Erith DA8 1WJ.

My housing benefit has been awarded but I have rent arrears and I am struggling to pay my contribution   

Contact your rents officer on 020 7641 1000 and we may able to offer you an agreement to pay your arrears in instalments and advise of other help available.    

My housing benefit has been paid but I still cannot manage to cover all my contribution 

  1. Ensure your HB is correct
  2. Apply for a grant at Turn2Us
  3. Contact your rents officer for advise on other help available 

I am affected by the overall benefit cap

You can apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) to receive short-term financial assistance with rent whilst you take actions to become exempt from the overall benefit cap. Apply for DHP online and submit the completed form to the Council by post to Westminster Benefits Service, PO Box 82, Erith DA8 1WJ or email to westminster.benefits@secure.capita.co.uk.

I have other external debts 

Contact your rents officer on 020 7641 1000.  We may be able to refer you to a debt advisor for help.

Why am I unable to bid?

You may be suspended if you have rent arrears on your account. This can be caused if your housing benefit has stopped or if you have failed to pay your weekly contributions. Contact your Rents Officer to discuss ways to address your rent arrears on 0207 641 1000.

Do you evict people for rent arrears?

Unfortunately yes, but only as a last resort and if we see you are not taking action to clear your arrears.  If you are evicted, you will have to find your own accommodation. Contact us early to prevent eviction from happening.

Please ring us on 0207 641 1000 to speak to your rents officer.

Useful telephone numbers

Housing Benefit - 0800 072 0042

Universal Credit Helpline - 0800 328 5644

Housing Solutions Services - 0207 641 1000

4. Support in temporary accommodation

Westminster City Council commissions a range of support services tailored for clients who are living in Westminster’s temporary accommodation.

Housing Solutions Service support workers

The Housing Solutions Service have a dedicated support worker for clients in temporary accommodation. The support worker’s primary role is to help people settle into their new accommodation by assisting to find and access local services, such as hospitals and schools. The support worker can also assist with other issues that may arise while living in temporary accommodation, on a short term basis.

If you would like to find out more about the services in your area, but do not need the help of the Support Worker, you can access information on your local council’s webpage. Find out which local authority your accommodation is in

Floating Support

Westminster’s ‘Floating Support’ service assists people to maintain their tenancies and live independently.  They can help clients with a range of issues, from dealing with debt to managing health concerns, by offering person-centred support and ensuring people are linked in with the appropriate services. The support workers will visit clients in their own home. 

Homeless Employment and Learning Project (HELP)

The HELP team supports clients to access and sustain education, employment or training opportunities and ultimately maximise their income. They can also assist with debt and benefits advice including childcare support. You can find out more here about the tailored support that HELP offer.  

If you think any of these support services would be beneficial for you, you can contact the Housing Solutions Service for more information.

Telephone: 0207641 1000
Email: HOSCustomerServices@wcchos.org.uk

5. Problems with your accommodation

Your housing association or managing agent is responsible for the day-to-day management of your stage 2 accommodation. You should have been given details of who to contact when signing the tenancy agreement

Please contact your housing association or managing agent if you have a problem such as:

  • something in the property needs repairing
  • you have a complaint about noise or other low level nuisance from your neighbour

Sometimes it is not right for the housing association or managing agent to deal with your query. Please contact us:

  • if you feel that the housing association or letting agent has not dealt with your query properly
  • if you wish to complain about a member of the housing association or letting agent's staff

You can contact the Housing Solutions Service for more information on 020 7641 1000.

6. Moving into long-term accommodation

When does my new tenancy begin?

Your new tenancy will normally start the Monday after your sign up. The date of your new tenancy will also be shown in your tenancy agreement.

When do I have to leave my temporary accommodation?

You will have to move out of your temporary accommodation the date your tenancy starts in your new home. If you delay moving out you will be charged rent on 2 homes.

When do I have to return the keys and to whom?

To the provider who manages your temporary accommodation on the date you move out.

If I fail to return the keys what will happen?

Your tenancy will continue to run on your temporary accommodation and you will be liable for the rent.

When do I start paying rent on my new tenancy?

From the date your tenancy begins, you are required to start paying your rent.

What happens if I leave goods behind in my temporary accommodation?

We normally store them for up to 28 days and then will send a letter requesting that you collect your items before disposing of them. If there are legitimate reasons why you are unable to collect your belongings and you have contacted the Housing Solutions Service in advance we will consider giving you more time. 

We do expect all clients to ensure that they take personal responsibility for their belongings and ensure that they are removed from the property as they vacate the property. 

How do I get my belongings from storage?

You need to contact the Housing Solutions Service Call Centre on 0207 641 1000 to arrange for your items to be delivered from storage to you new home. 

7. Get in touch


We conduct regular visits to our temporary accommodation and we would like to speak directly to clients. We want to identify areas that are working well and where we need to improve. We would encourage clients to speak to officers directly to provide feedback about their temporary accommodation.

Contact the Housing Solutions Service

If you want to speak to the Temporary Accommodation Lettings team you can contact the Housing Solutions Service

Telephone: 020 7641 1000

8. Housing team - Training and Events

We have a core training program being delivered to our temporary accommodation providers and these include;

Dementia awareness workshop   

This session was designed to provide a general understanding of the issues associated with dementia and put in place strategies that may be able to support individuals.

Safeguarding workshop

An understanding on safeguarding adults at risk, the legal requirements, and developing good practice



Last updated: 19 September 2019