What is the law regarding a council's responsibility to provide housing?


Generally speaking your Local Authority is compelled by law to offer emergency accommodation to anyone that is defined as a priority. You will become a priority case if you are pregnant, have dependent children, if you are made homeless by fire or flood, are aged 16 or 17, if you are defined as vulnerable, or are care leavers.
If you are unsure if you fit into this definition, you can seek legal advice from a family solicitor. It is possible to obtain legal advice from a family solicitor on a pro-bono or free basis.
Things can become a little more complex if only some people in your family are defined as a priority case. In these circumstances your Local Authority may consider just the application of the priority person and not the rest of their family.  
If you are refused priority housing, you must be informed of this in writing. You then have 21 days within which to make an appeal if you want to do so. A family solicitor can assist you with your appeal.
If you are not in a priority need category, your Local Authority is not compelled by law to house you. They do, however, have a legal responsibility to help you as much as they can to find the accommodation you need. The availability of housing will often have an impact on your Local Authority’s ability to offer you housing. 
Any homes that your Local Authority does have available after priority cases are housed can be offered to anyone that does need accommodation.
You can be offered accommodation only if you are actually homeless or are what is called ‘eligible for assistance’, which means if you have spent time living abroad, you won’t normally be offered accommodation because of your immigration status.
If you require legal advice on immigration law and you immigration status, you can contact an immigration solicitor for help.
The rules regarding homelessness are part of the Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002. The new Act also ensures that Local Authorities consider the applications of travellers for housing in their boroughs.
If you would like to obtain legal advice on council housing, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.
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