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When do a local authority have to provide emergency accommodation?

Emergency or interim accommodation must be provided to a homeless applicant and their household if the local authority has to have a reason to believe that the applicant may be:

  • homeless,
  • eligible for assistance and;
  • have a priority need.

The accommodation must be provided until such a time a decision is reached as to what duty is owed to that applicant.

If the applicant rejects the offer of emergency accommodation, this duty will end and the authority doesn’t have to offer any further accommodation until a decision is reached on the application.

Please note that most emergency accommodation will be in a Bed and Breakfast or hostel, this is as the accommodation is intended to be provided for a short period of time.

Emergency Accommodation Challenges

Although accommodation must be suitable, there is no right to request a review of the accommodation offered. The only way to challenge the suitability of emergency accommodation is by way of a Judicial Review. The threshold is very high and applications are therefore extremely rare.
Similarly, if the local authority fail to provide emergency accommodation, the only right to challenge is by way of a Judicial Review.

A Judicial Review is a legal remedy available only in the High Court. . It can be used to compel a local authority to make a decision or to exercise discretion where the law has placed the local authority under a duty to do so.
An application for Judicial Review should be started no later than three months after the grounds to make the claim first arose.

Generally, legal aid is available to fund such claims.

If you believe that the council have failed in their duty to provide you with emergency accommodation, or have provided you with unsuitable emergency accommodation, please get in touch with our specialist housing team by filling our contact form or call 0330 822 3451.