Temporary accommodation: advice and support about what you can do

Once you have been placed in temporary accommodation by the Housing Options service, you may have some questions regarding your property, rent and bidding status.

Please remember that being provided with temporary accommodation does not automatically mean you will be accepted for permanent rehousing. Many households that are supplied with temporary help for a time do not go on to gain homeless acceptance and permanent accommodation.

Have you been accepted for rehousing?

You will know if you have been accepted for rehousing, as you would have received a decision letter that explains this to you – this decision is usually made in the first few months of your stay in temporary accommodation.

If you have not been accepted for rehousing, some of the information below will not apply to you – for example, you cannot bid for a permanent home as a homeless applicant until a decision to accept you for rehousing has been made.

Paying your rent 

You will be sent a rent payment card within 14 days of signing your tenancy agreement. If you do not receive a card, or if you lose your card, contact the Housing Options Service or your housing association to receive a new one. You will be sent a new card each time you move to a new property – always use the latest card you have received.

If your property is managed by the Housing Options Service, you can pay your rent at any of the following locations:

  • any Post Office or shop with a Paypoint or Payzone terminal
  • by telephone (with a debit card) – 020 7364 5000
  • by post – send cheques* directly to the Housing Options Service or postal orders to the Payment Point
  • by standing order – regular payments can be taken from your bank account, call us for a form to set up a standing order

* Make cheques payable to 'London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ and write your rent reference number on the back.

Problems paying your rent? 

If you are having problems paying your rent, seek help and advice as early as possible. You should contact your Housing Officer, either at the Housing Options Service or at your housing association (dependent on who your landlord is) to agree a payment plan that will clear any arrears.

Remember, once a repayment plan is agreed you must try to stick to it as arrears can lead to eviction. Assistance can be sought from tenancy sustainment officers at the Housing Options Service, and you can get housing-related debt advice from the money advice officers in the Housing Advice team. 

If you leave temporary accommodation owing rent, and are not making payments to clear the debt, we may take further action to recover your arrears. Action taken will include:

  • referring the arrears to a debt collection agency
  • securing and enforcing a County Court judgment
  • using a bailiff to collect the debt.

Where additional costs are incurred through this action, the cost will be added to the original debt. Find out more information by visiting the Former Arrears.

It is also important to remember that if you are bidding for a permanent property, have arrears of over 10 weeks rent, and are not reducing the debt, you are unlikely to be offered any property you successfully bid for as they always check your rent account before making an offer.

Find all Housing Options self service advice here

Rent deposit scheme

You can look into the possibility of taking up a private tenancy through our rent deposit scheme at any point in your application.  Even if you have been accepted for rehousing, this option is still available to you.

More information on the rent deposit scheme.

Private rented scheme

What is the private rented scheme?

The Tower Hamlets Private Rented Scheme is a non-statutory scheme introduced by the council's Housing Options. The scheme supports applicants that are homeless or threatened with homelessness to secure affordable and suitable accommodation in the private rented sector to address their homeless situation.

One of the main ways the scheme helps is by giving financial assistance to enable people to access the private rented sector. This financial assistance is generally in the form of a non-refundable cash incentive payment either to a landlord/letting agent.

This incentive is in exchange for the landlord/letting agent to waiver the requirement for rent in advance or a rental deposit often sums that homeless people on low incomes are unable to raise. In return, the landlord/agent will issue them with a tenancy (generally an AST).

Since large sums of money are involved, tenancies brokered must stand a good chance of resulting in a lasting, affordable rehousing solution. The scheme to this end will only fund those homeless people who have proven potential to manage the demands of a tenancy and who meet the other criteria of the scheme. Housing Options will only contract with landlords/agents that meet the Council’s physical property and management standards

Applying to be on the scheme

The scheme is open to: 

  • single adults, childless couples, families 
  • who are homeless, threatened with homelessness or living in a hostel
  • and who have a local connection to the borough of Tower Hamlets
  • and qualify for housing benefits
  • and have the ability to manage a tenancy and no recent experience of  intentional tenancy failure.

Who can make a referral to the scheme?

Referrals can be made through a self-referral. Clients can present to the Tower Hamlets Housing Options team and request an assessment for suitability for the scheme.

Keeping in touch

We want to keep in touch with you while you are in temporary accommodation. Find out how we aim to keep in touch.

Further information

The following pages contain information that is relevant to you, whether you are in a council property, a housing association property or a private-sector property.

If you require information that is not contained on our web pages, or in any of our leaflets, your next step is to call the Housing Options service general enquiry line and speak to your housing officer. If you do not know who your housing officer is, call our office and we will put you through to an officer who can answer your enquiry.