Housing Options information and advice

Homelessness Reduction Act - Duty to Refer and strengthening partnership working

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 important partners understand their role in identifying people at risk of homelessness at an earlier stage. They can then refer people at risk to the Housing Options Service and help them resolve their homelessness.

The Housing Options Service will work closely with the named public bodies under the Duty to Refer.

The Duty to Refer will commence 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. They must do the same for someone at risk of homelessness. Referrals must be made within 56 days via the ALERT portal. Please be aware that the consent of the individual you are referring must be sought prior to referral.

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

For more information visit the ALERT Duty to Refer portal.

The Housing Options service consists of several teams

  • Private Housing Advice team
  • Options & Preventions Families 
  • Options & Preventions Singles
  • Options & Preventions Young People
  • Housing Management team
  • Income recovery & debit control
  • Accommodation Procurement team
  • Information change management team
  • Lettings.

Private Housing Advice team

The Housing Advice team will see any clients, with or without dependants, who are tenants of private sector or housing association landlords. The issues they deal with include problems with rent arrears, repairs and problems with deposits. They also advise on any disputes with landlords including potential illegal eviction.

The Money Advisers can help to look at the best way to manage debt or direct customers to a partner organisation to assist.


Private Housing Advice team can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: housing.advice@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Housing Advice Information

Options and prevention families

The Housing Options Families team sees clients who have or are expecting children and who are at risk of being made homeless.

Officers interview clients to assess exactly what their housing problems are and what their best options are. Their goal is to prevent homelessness which will involve making checks on the information they have been provided. They will negotiate with the host, carry out visits and discuss other options.

There may be other problems related or unrelated to our customers’ housing problems. We will help them access the advice and assistance they need by directing them to other sources of help.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: homeless@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Options and prevention singles

HOST (Housing Options Support Team) see single people or couples without dependants. They make all possible efforts to prevent homelessness through advice and appropriate assistance including joint working with other stakeholders.

Where it is not possible to prevent someone becoming homeless, the team help with advice. In some situations they assist by finding alternative accommodation. This can be a private sector tenancy or a bed space in a local hostel subject to the criteria being met. The team are the main referral gateway to the borough’s 600+ supported hostel bed spaces.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: host@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Options & Prevention Young People

The HOST Young Persons Social Worker sees all homeless clients aged 16 and 17 years, including those who are pregnant. And they will undertake Children’s Act social work assessments.

They can be contacted on;

 020 7364 5000



The Assessments team is responsible for assessing homelessness applications. This is a statutory function to determine what duties the council owes to homeless applicants. It depends on their circumstances. This includes whether there is a legal obligation to provide accommodation to the applicant and their family. 

They must carry out detailed investigations. These can include, but are not limited to, Experian and Land Registry checks to verify address history. They may obtain medical reports or reports from other professionals such as Social Workers or Probation. If necessary, they will liaise with the UK Border Agency.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: homeless@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Housing Management team

The Housing Management team is responsible for managing temporary accommodation for homeless households. The temporary accommodation is divided into geographical patches each of which is allocated to a Housing Officer (HO). The HOs inspect properties to ensure they are of a satisfactory standard. They manage clients’ rent accounts and take action if there is a breach of tenancy. They will respond to any changes in clients’ circumstances and provide advice to clients on their options for permanent housing.

For customers that need additional support we also have a Tenancy Sustainment team. They provide more intensive help with issues such as benefit claims and sorting out rent arrears. This team can also help you to access other services and so on.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: homeless@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Income Recovery and Debit Control

The Income Recovery and Debit Control team ensures that the correct charges are levied for homeless households in temporary accommodation. They provide a complete debit control function and take legal action to recover former tenant debts.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: homeless@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Accommodation Procurement team

The Accommodation Procurement team ensures sufficient suitable accommodation is found and retained for our homeless and potentially homeless customers. The team aims to meet customers’ housing needs with the objective of preventing homelessness wherever possible.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: accommodation.procurement@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Information & Change Management team

Information & Change Management team provides IT systems support to the housing options service. It leads on systems development and upgrades. The team oversees the production of performance reports, newsletters and customer surveys too. They also provide support as required to operational areas organising team, departmental, partner and/or public events..

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 364 5000
Email: Business.support@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Two teams who are responsible for maintaining the Housing Register in Tower Hamlets

1. Application & Administration Team

This team is responsible for checking eligibility and registering all applications who wish to join the Tower Hamlets Housing Register.

They provide a point of contact for all Lettings enquiries and give advice and assistance to applicants on the register.

2. Assessment and Attainment Team

This team is responsible for processing and maintaining those applications which have been assessed as being in housing need. Each officer manages a caseload from applicants who are of high housing need. This can be due to overcrowding, under-occupation, vulnerability, health, age or other needs. 

They Work closely with OTs and other Health Professionals to ensure the best possible advice to those requiring accessible homes. They carry out assessments, including those for applicants requiring older persons and sheltered accommodation.

They can be contacted on;

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: lettings@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Housing information and advice

Obtaining Housing Help on behalf of your service user

London Borough of Tower Hamlets has a Housing Helpline for professionals working in the Borough.

If you work in the health and social services, there is a dedicated resource to help you access housing information. This includes educational health and social service workers. (It can also be accessed by third sector agencies if your work involves vulnerable, elderly or disabled people.)

This email service will only accept enquiries from work emails of known agencies.

However, the information below may be enough to help you with your work. If not email  the housing support service with your query:  supportingpeople@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Anti-social behaviour

To report anti-social behaviour or a crime that has already happened or to seek crime prevention advice please call the Police non-emergency 101 reporting line.  Calls to 101 from landlines and mobiles cost 15 pence per call, no matter what time of day you call or how long your call lasts.

To discuss any issues about community safety contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team by visiting the Tower Hamlets Met policing page. 

Alternatively you can send your complaint via email to antisocialbehaviour@towerhamlets.gov.uk

You can find further information in our Anti-social behaviour section.

Area housing offices

Area housing offices provide estate based housing management and mediation services. It is important they are made aware of any tenancy changes, including long stays in hospital. Contact your local housing office


The benefits section deals with benefit claims and offers general advice about claiming. This includes clothing grants, free school meals, housing benefits and council tax benefits. The service is provided on an area basis. Find out more information on benefits.

Environmental protection

To contact the following teams call 020 7364 5000

Health and Housing Team

Deal with health and safety in private rented housing, including Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and HMO Licensing.
There is also a pest control team and health and environment team (air pollution issues etc.) and North and South teams (noise and nuisance complaints).

Hate crime reporting

This service allows users to report hate crime in confidence to organisations other than the police.

  • Hate crime 24 hour reporting line: 0800 138 0521


Housing Options Occupational Therapy team (formally known as HILT)

Occupational Therapy assists homeless service users to achieve and maintain an optimum level of independence. The service helps users sustain tenancies in a safe and accessible environment. They aim to prevent the revolving door of homelessness, support disabled and vulnerable homeless applicants, and assist with finding housing.

Occupational therapists carry out housing needs assessment, support needs and Specialist tenancy sustainment officers are also in post.

HILT can be contacted on 020 7364 5000.

Private housing improvement team

The private housing improvement team is able to help elderly, disabled or low-income homeowners apply for grants. These grants are for improving and repairing their home or carrying out adaptations to meet the needs of a disabled person.

For general enquiries call 020 7364 5000

See more information about private housing improvement.


Housing development team (Affordable Housing Team)

The Housing Development Team aims to develop partnership working with Registered Social Landlords, government agencies and private developers.

For other information on affordable housing contact 020 7364 5000

Management of Council owned housing

Since July 2008, all the Council’s housing has been managed by Tower Hamlets Homes, which is an ALMO (arms length management organisation). Please view more  information about Tower Hamlets Homes.

Local Housing Offices

Tower Hamlets Homes’ Local Housing Offices provide estate based housing management and mediation services. It is important that local housing offices are made aware of any tenancy changes, including long stays in hospital.


If a service user falls into rent arrears, it is better for us to be aware of it sooner than later. This helps us to find a way to help them manage their rent account better.

Advice on coping with rent enquiries

Repairs help centre

For all issues relating to council housing repairs, including emergency call-outs, the housing repairs call centre can be contacted on 0800 376 1637.

The Sylheti Help-Line is 0800 376 1638.


How to contact us 

Contact Tower Hamlets’ Supporting People admin officer on:

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Email: supportingpeople@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Tenancy support team

The tenancy support team provides a case-based, optional and flexible support service for council tenants.

For more information please contact your local housing office.

You can find more Housing Options self service advice from Tower Hamlets Homeseekers.