Homelessness and temporary accommodation

If you think you are going to become homeless or are homeless, you should try to get help from the Council or any other advice agency as soon as possible.

You may be entitled to direct help from the Council, providing you meet all the requirements under the Homelessness Act. Otherwise, you will only be entitled to advice and assistance in finding accommodation. Find more details in our FAQs and homelessness strategy.

See frequently asked questions and case studies about finding a home (PDF 506KB)

Arrange an appointment

To arrange an appointment, contact us either by phone or in person using the details on this page.

Other help, support and advice

If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough or you are sleeping rough yourself, you can tell Street Link about it and they will offer help, support and advice.

See helpful contacts and support agencies (PDF 1mb)

Visit homeless link for help, support and advice.

Visit Shelter for housing advice

Visit Crisis for support

Homelessness prevention

Sometimes there are ways of preventing or delaying becoming homeless, for instance:

  • getting timely advice before the problem gets any worse
  • finding out what your rights are to stay in your home
  • applying for benefits to help you pay your rent or mortgage
  • getting help to improve the conditions in your home
  • contacting your landlord if you are a tenant and there is a problem
  • contacting your mortgage lender if you are a homeowner and there is danger of losing your home
  • finding somewhere else to live

Temporary accommodation

Temporary accommodation may be provided by the Council to people who genuinely have nowhere to live. If you are homeless, or believe you are going to be made homeless, a Council officer will talk to you about your circumstances, advise on the options available and assess if there is a legal duty to provide emergency temporary accommodation. This process includes an investigation into your past addresses and circumstances.

We will provide temporary accommodation where we decide that you are likely to be homeless, eligible for assistance and in priority need. Households may be classed in priority need, where they have dependent children, are pregnant, or are vulnerable due to age or disability. Individuals must not have made themselves intentionally homeless, and they must have a local connection to Hackney.

If it is found that the Council has a legal duty, you will be provided with temporary accommodation. To help ensure that temporary accommodation is safe and secure, there are often limitations on visitors. Residency checks are also in place. People in temporary accommodation are expected to pay the full rent, minus any housing benefit or universal credit. Weekly rent charges in temporary accommodation average £350 per week, including service charges, before benefit is claimed. Please be aware that:

  • temporary accommodation is very basic, often consisting of one bedroom and a bathroom or kitchen that is sometimes shared with other residents
  • it is not permanent and you could be moved around and placed in alternative temporary accommodation at anytime
  • you might be in temporary accommodation for many years

Temporary accommodation is in very short supply. It may be that the only suitable options – eg number of bedrooms, access to a school, a GP, good transport links – are outside Hackney or even London. We can’t say how long you may have to stay in temporary accommodation and it doesn’t mean you will definitely one day get social housing. If you do not pay your rent we can evict you from temporary accommodation.

Our placement procedure covers the placement of households in temporary accommodation and private rented accommodation, both inside and outside Hackney. It outlines which households will be prioritised for accommodation in Hackney or surrounding areas, and the situations where due to an acute shortage of affordable housing within Hackney and close to it, households are more likely to be placed further away

Visitors to temporary accommodation hostels

To help ensure that temporary accommodation is safe and secure, there are often limitations on visitors to our hostel accommodation. Safety and security is of paramount importance to the Council. Many of our residents will have young children; others may have come from estranged relationships and others still are fleeing domestic violence. All are entitled to feel safe and secure within the hostel. Therefore the we have a responsibility to control those who have access to the buildings and be completely satisfied they are there for a legitimate purpose. This means that visitors will usually not be allowed into our hostel, except in special circumstances, with the prior agreement of the hostel manager.

For more information about visitor access to hostels – please read our policy:

Duty to refer

If you’re a public body, you’re now legally required to notify us of any Hackney service users you think might be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless. Public bodies that have a duty to notify us include:

  • prisons (public and private)
  • youth offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • the probation services (community rehabilitation companies and the national probation service)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • care centres, minor injury units, minor injury services and walk in centres
  • hospitals providing inpatient care (or other care for admitted patients)
  • social service authorities
  • the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the regular army and the Royal Air Force (regarding forces personnel)
  • urgent treatment centres

‘Urgent treatment centres’ include services locally designated as urgent treatment centres, and all other providers of community and primary urgent care.

If you’re a public body and need to refer someone at risk of homelessness, you’ll need to register with ALERT – you can then refer your clients by filling in a simple questionnaire. Before you make a referral, you must:

  • have their consent to make a referral
  • confirm that they want to be referred to the Council
  • have their consent to give us their contact details, so we can contact them about the referral

If for any reason you are unable to use ALERT, please call us on 0208 356 2929 or email: dutytorefer@hackney.gov.uk.

If you’re an individual and not a public body, see our information about housing advice and homelessness.

Page updated on: 22 December 2022

Housing Options and Advice


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY

Opening times

  • Monday 9am to 5pm, Tuesday 9am to 5pm, Wednesday 9am to 4pm, Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 5pm