Homelessness advice and support on finding alternative accommodation

If you are homeless tonight

You can go to your local police station or call the police non-emergency number 101.The police will contact the council’s out of hours service for advice and assistance if you have nowhere to go that night.

Find out how to help someone sleeping on the streets.

An emergency service will be available from 9am – 5pm on 27/28/29 December. If you become homeless during that period please call 020 7364 5000.

For organisations

Duty to Refer

The Homelessness Reduction Act provides an opportunity to work more closely with partners in notifying us of people who are at risk of/are homeless.

It is paramount that partners understand their important role in identifying people at risk of being homeless at an earlier stage. People at risk can then be referred to the Housing Options Service sooner to help them resolve their homelessness.

The Duty to Refer commenced in October 2018. The agencies that will have this mandatory duty are:

  • prisons
  • youth offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services, including community rehabilitation companies
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • social service authorities
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care.

The above public bodies must refer details of any person they are aware of who is homeless or at risk of homelessness within 56 days, via the Duty to Refer ALERT portal.

Please be aware that the consent of the individual you are referring must be sought prior to telling us.

If public bodies are unable to access the portal, an email with details of the person/family and circumstances can be emailed to dutytorefer@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

Prevention for at risk individuals

Private housing advice service 

If you are a private tenant, housing association tenant or homeowner and need housing advice, our housing advice service can help you with a range of issues such as:

  • landlord and tenant issues
  • your rights to stay in your home
  • housing debt such as mortgage or rent arrears
  • private renting.

Housing advice service information

Find all Housing Options self service advice here

Homeless prevention: domestic violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need help with accommodation, the homeless service is available to offer advice and assistance. Our service is completely confidential, you will be interviewed in private, we will try to ensure you are seen by an officer of the same gender as yourself and we can provide translation where needed.  We also have a team of officers who specialise in assisting clients fleeing domestic violence.

More information about support and advice available for victims of domestic violence.

Support for homeless individuals

If we cannot prevent you from becoming homeless or are unable to find you a new home, then we may provide you with temporary accommodation if you are in one of the following groups:

  • you have dependent children
  • someone in your household is expecting a child
  • you are a child aged 16 or 17
  • you are under 21 and have been previously ‘looked after’ or fostered between the ages of 16 and 17
  • you are vulnerable due to old age, mental illness, physical disability, institutionalisation, or some other special reason
  • you are homeless due to fire, flood or some other emergency.

Please remember that we are responding to a crisis situation. We therefore have to rely on using bed and breakfast hotels and properties outside of the borough’s boundaries. Typically, these can be of a smaller size than your ideal requirement.

The severe housing shortage usually means spending many years in temporary accommodation while bidding for a permanent home. The wait for a two-bedroom property is around three years and a three-bedroom property means waiting for around five years. See the homeseekers housing demand information web page for more information.

We realise the difficulties this can cause with schooling, employment etc., so making a homeless application should be seen as a last resort.

Remember that homelessness is not a fast track to a council tenancy. Any time previously spent on the waiting list will be ignored and you will be given a new registration date. In addition to this, you will be limited to one offer of permanent accommodation.

Find all Housing Options self service advice here

Homeless options and support team (HOST)

If you do not fall into one of the groups listed above we may still be able to assist you. HOST can provide advice and assistance to single homeless people in Tower Hamlets.

HOST can provide advice on housing options such as:

  • referral and signposting to agencies offering support and assistance
  • assessment of support needs and match to local services
  • access to private rented accommodation
  • referral to local supported housing
  • advice and information about other housing options.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide emergency accommodation on the day for most single people who request assistance.