how long can the council keep you in temporary accommodation
UK Property News

How Long Can the Council Keep You in Temporary Accommodation?

When you first need help from your local council, they might offer you emergency housing. If they have a duty to help you, you could then move into temporary accommodation. This can last for months or even years in some places, as councils find it hard to get everyone into permanent homes.

You might have to move around in temporary housing while the council looks for a better place for you. The time you spend in temporary housing can change a lot. This depends on things like the local housing market, your situation, and the council’s rules.

Knowing your rights and what the council must do is key when in temporary housing. This can make sure you get the right place to stay and you’re not left waiting too long for a permanent home.

Understanding Temporary Accommodation

When you’re facing housing issues, you might need temporary accommodation from the local authority. This can be a room in a shared house, a flat, or a short-term tenancy from a private landlord. Sometimes, you might get a hostel or refuge with extra support.

Temporary Accommodation Rights UK

In the UK, if you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, you have certain rights. The council must think about your job, your kids’ school, caring duties, support networks, and safety when offering you a place to stay. Families with kids should ideally get self-contained accommodation.

Types of Temporary Accommodation

There are different types of temporary accommodation available:

  • Shared houses or flats
  • Private rented accommodation
  • Short-term council or housing association tenancies
  • Hostels, refuges, or other supported housing

The council aims to find housing close to where you are. But if there’s not enough space, they might offer a place somewhere else. They must consider your work, your kids’ education, caring duties, support networks, and safety when choosing where to place you.

temporary housing

Eligibility for Temporary Accommodation

If you’ve applied for homeless assistance, the local council might offer you emergency accommodation. This is if you’re legally homeless, eligible for help, and in urgent need. The council must give you accommodation right away. It must also be suitable for you and your family.

Criteria for Emergency and Temporary Housing

To get emergency or temporary housing, you must meet certain criteria:

  • Be legally homeless and have nowhere safe to stay
  • Be in a priority need group, such as having dependent children, being pregnant, or being vulnerable due to old age, disability, or other circumstances
  • Not be deemed to have become homeless intentionally

If the council thinks you need long-term housing, you might get ‘temporary accommodation’. This is until they can find you a permanent home. There’s no limit on how long you can stay in temporary accommodation if you’re homeless unintentionally.

The time you can stay in temporary accommodation varies by local laws. There’s no average or maximum time mentioned. The time limits and how to find a permanent home differ across regions. So, it’s best to contact your local council or housing authority for more details.

Eligibility for Temporary Housing

In the United Kingdom, local authorities must provide suitable accommodation for homeless people and families. However, the length of stay in temporary housing can vary. Things like household size, specific housing needs, and what’s available in the area can affect waiting times for a permanent home. Waiting times may be longer in big cities with high demand or for specialized housing needs.

How Long Can the Council Keep You in Temporary Accommodation in the UK?

When you’re homeless, the council must give you temporary accommodation until they find a permanent home. The time you spend in temporary housing can change a lot. It depends on many things. Knowing what the council must do and what affects the wait is key for those needing emergency shelter. The council can keep you in temporary accommodation for a long time. They assess your eligibility for a permanent home and work to find one for you. The wait depends on your housing needs, the availability of homes, and the demand for social housing.

Factors Affecting the Wait Time

The council looks at many things to decide how long you can stay in temporary housing. They check your housing needs, if there are suitable homes available, and their own resources. This means wait times can be short or long, even up to years, because of the lack of affordable homes.

  • Housing Needs: The council looks at what you need, like being close to work or school, or special medical needs. These things can change how long it takes to find a permanent home.
  • Local Housing Availability: How many affordable homes there are in the area affects the wait. Places with lots of people needing homes and not enough options usually have longer waits.
  • Council Resources and Obligations: The council’s budget, staff, and how many people are asking for help can also change how fast they can find you a home.

The council must give you emergency shelter right away if you’re eligible and really need it. Then, they work hard to find you a permanent home as soon as they can.

The council can’t set a strict time limit for how long you can stay in temporary housing. The wait depends on when a permanent home becomes available, not a set time. The council must offer you a permanent place as soon as they find a suitable one.

Suitability of Temporary Accommodation

Local authorities must ensure temporary accommodation is right for each homeless person and their family. They look at things like the cost of temporary accommodation, safety, and whether it meets medical or accessibility needs.

Councils check if the accommodation fits each person in the household. They aim to find homes close to where the person lives to keep them near friends and important services.

Being able to afford the accommodation is crucial. The council looks at the person’s money situation and any benefits they get. If the rent is too high, they might look for cheaper options.

  • The accommodation must meet specific safety and regulatory requirements, particularly when private rented sector properties are used.
  • Factors such as physical condition, fire safety, and the suitability of the landlord are all assessed to ensure the property provides a safe living environment.
  • Applicants with medical needs or disabilities may require specially adapted accommodation or properties that can be easily modified to meet their requirements.

The council keeps checking if the temporary accommodation is still right for everyone. They look at changes in the person’s life or the property’s state to make sure it’s still good.

If someone thinks the temporary accommodation is not suitable, they can speak up. The local government Ombudsman can look into complaints about unsuitable housing. They work with the council to find a better solution.

Suitability of Temporary Accommodation

Challenging Unsuitable Temporary Housing

If the council offers you unsuitable temporary housing, you can challenge the decision. You can use both informal and formal ways, based on your situation. The process to challenge the housing varies by the type of accommodation offered.

Informal Challenges

Start by talking to the council informally to review the accommodation. Contact your housing officer or the homelessness team. Tell them why the place is not suitable, like health issues or safety concerns. Offer evidence like medical letters or photos to back up your claim.

It’s wise to accept the initial temporary housing offer, even if it’s not perfect. Then, ask the council to review it. This way, you have a place to stay while your review is being considered, avoiding a longer wait for better housing.

Formal Challenges

If an informal challenge doesn’t work, you can make a formal one. This means writing to ask for a review of the council’s housing decision. The steps and timeframes for this are in the council’s allocation scheme.

When making a formal challenge, make sure to provide strong evidence. This could be medical reports, statements from support workers, or photos showing the property’s problems.

The council must ensure the housing they offer meets your needs. By challenging unsuitable offers, you can get better temporary housing while looking for a permanent place.

Moving to Permanent Accommodation

After living in temporary council housing, the next step is finding a permanent home. This process is complex and involves the social housing waitlist and waiting for an offer from the council or housing associations.

Receiving an Offer for Longer-Term Housing

If the council finds you unintentionally homeless, they must offer you a permanent home. There’s no deadline for this offer, as it depends on your housing needs and property availability in your area. You can stay in the council’s temporary housing while waiting.

You can also apply to other local authorities and housing associations for a permanent home, even if you’re in temporary housing. This might help you find a home faster.

Moving from temporary to permanent housing has many factors to consider:

  • The new tenancy starts on a Monday, and you must move in that day.
  • You’re responsible for the rent of the new home from the start, and you must return the temporary accommodation keys by noon on moving day.
  • Any goods left behind in the temporary accommodation will be thrown away, so make sure you take everything with you.
  • You might get help with decorating or furniture costs under certain conditions, depending on your situation.

Moving to permanent accommodation is a big step, but with the right information and support, it can be smooth and positive. Knowing the process and your rights helps you navigate this journey better. This way, you can secure a stable, long-term living situation.


Dealing with temporary accommodation in the UK can be tough for many. Councils can keep you in temporary housing for a long time while they look for a permanent place for you. How long you wait depends on your housing needs, what homes are available, and how many people need social housing.

It’s important to know your rights and what options you have. Work closely with the council and get help from groups like Shelter if you face problems. You might need to ask for better housing, question unsuitable decisions, and get support for your mental health during this time.

The key to solving the issues with temporary accommodation is to invest in more affordable homes. By doing this, councils can reduce the need for temporary housing and offer more stable homes. With the right legal support, services, and housing plans, the UK can make sure everyone has a safe and lasting place to live.


What are the different types of temporary accommodation?

Temporary housing can be a shared house room, a private landlord’s flat or house, a short-term tenancy, or a hostel. Families with kids should get self-contained places when possible.

What are the criteria for being eligible for emergency and temporary housing?

If you’ve applied for homeless help, the council might offer you emergency accommodation if you’re legally homeless and eligible. If you’re in priority need, you might get temporary accommodation until they find you a permanent home.

What are the requirements for the council to provide suitable temporary accommodation?

The council must offer accommodation that suits you and your family. They consider affordability, your medical needs, and safety when choosing a place for you.

How can you move to permanent accommodation from temporary housing?

If the council says you’re unintentionally homeless, they must offer you a permanent home. There’s no set time for this, as it depends on your needs and home availability. You can also apply to other councils and housing associations while in temporary accommodation.


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