I am homeless

Important Information

You don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be homeless. Most people who are legally homeless are not on the streets. The law says that you are homeless if you do not have accommodation in the UK or elsewhere that is available for your occupation and that you have a legal right to occupy.

You can also be homeless if you have accommodation but you can't get access to it, it would not be reasonable for you to live there or your home is a boat or caravan and you do not have anywhere that you can legally place it. 

Who can we help?

We will offer advice free of charge to anyone who asks us for help. To be owed a homeless duty, you must normally live in the UK and not be subject to immigration control

How can you help me?

When you tell us you are homeless, we will make an appointment for you to have an interview with a homelessness advice and prevention officer. You can bring a support worker or friend with you to the interview. 

It will help us assess your needs more quickly if you bring in as much information as possible. Helpful documents include:

  • proof of your identification (passport, photo driving licence, benefit award letters etc)
  • proof of your income
  • details of any medical conditions or medication
  • the name and address of your GP
  • the name and contact details of any support workers, social workers or mental health professionals that support you

If we can help you and you are homeless, we will owe you the homeless relief duty. If you have nowhere to stay and we think you have a priority need, we will offer you temporary accommodation.

You will be given a personalised housing plan that will tell you the steps that you must take to help yourself and the steps that we will take to help you.

If we can't help you, we will tell you why in writing and you will be able to ask for a review of that decision.

Homeless relief duty

If we tell you that you are owed the homeless relief duty, it means that we have to help you find suitable accommodation to bring your homelessness to an end. The duty lasts for 56 days and your personalised housing plan will be reviewed regularly. We will work closely with you throughout the 56 days.

Ending the homeless relief duty

We can bring the homeless relief duty to an end if:

  • accommodation is offered to you that you will be able to live in for at least 6 months
  • we have complied with the relief duty and 56 days have passed
  • you refuse an offer of suitable accommodation that would have been available to you for at least 6 months
  • you become homeless intentionally from accommodation made available to you as a result of the steps taken by us
  • you are no longer eligible for assistance
  • you withdraw your application for assistance
  • you deliberately and unreasonably refuse to co-operate with us

We will write to you and tell you why we are bringing the duty to an end and how to ask for a review of the decision if you are not happy.

Final Decision

If we bring the homeless relief duty to an end and you are still homeless, we must make a final decision on your case. If we think that you have a priority need and have not caused your homelessness, we will have a new duty to find you a suitable home. If we think that you have a priority need but have caused your homelessness because of your actions, we will not have a duty to find you a home but we will, for a reasonable period, help you find suitable accommodation. If you do not have a priority need, we will not have a duty to carry on helping you, even if you are still homeless.

Temporary accommodation

If we find that you are homeless, we may need to provide you with temporary accommodation. Only certain people qualify for temporary accommodation such as people with dependent children, people who are pregnant and people with physical disabilities. Other people may qualify if they are vulnerable as a result of a particular issue.

Will the Council offer me a permanent home?

Unfortunately, we can't help everybody that comes to us for a home. If you lost your home because of anti-social behaviour or because you did not pay your rent or mortgage, we may decide that you have made yourself intentionally homeless. If this is the decision that we make, we will offer you advice about other housing options.

Even if you are not intentionally homeless, we may not be able to offer you a home with the council. There are a lot of people waiting for council accommodation and very few houses becoming available. The council advertises all its available properties through West Lancs Homefinder (external link).

It is important that you know what is available with the council, other social housing providers and the private rented sector. It is also important that you know the amount of rent that you can afford before you become homeless. It may be better to try and resolve your situation and stay in your home while you wait for a suitable and affordable property to become available.