What to do if you are homeless

Speaker iconQuestion icon

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

If you are homeless or think you might be at risk of becoming homeless, please contact our Homelessness Team.

You can contact the Homelessness Team by:

  • Phoning 0845 0548600 during the office hours of 8.45am to 5.15pm, on Monday to Friday
  • Phoning 0845 0531 327 out of office hours, if you are calling before 8.45am or after 5.15pm, or at the weekend
  • Emailing us at:
  • Calling into one of the Council offices:
    - Whitehaven: The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven CA28 7SJ
    The Whitehaven office is open from 8.45am to 5.15pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
    10am to 5.15 pm Wednesday
    8.45am to 4.30pm on Friday
  • Millom: St George‚Äôs Road, Millom, LA18 4DD
    The Millom office is open from 9am to 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 9am to 12noon on Wednesday.

There are many different reasons why someone may be homeless. Each case needs to be investigated fully. As a general guide you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, if:

  • you do not have accommodation, which you have a legal right to occupy, for example, if you have received a court order requiring you to leave or
  • have been living with family who have asked you to leave or
  • you have a home but are at risk of violence by living there or
  • you have a home but it is unreasonable for you to occupy it for some reason.

Being threatened with homelessness generally means that you are likely to become homeless within 28 days. Once we have assessed your situation and established that you are homeless, we will need to consider whether you are:

  • eligible
  • in priority need for housing
  • intentionally homeless
  • have a local connection

Having completed our enquiries, if we are satisfied that you are homeless, have a priority need, are unintentionally homeless and have a local connection thenwe have a duty to secure temporary accommodation for you.

This accommodation will be available until you receive a permanent offer of accommodation from a Housing Association or other accommodation in the private sector.

How do I know if I will be in priority need?

We will consider you as being in priority need if:

  • you have dependent children living with you
  • you or someone you live with is pregnant
  • you have a serious medical condition, either physical or mental, which makes you vulnerable
  • you are homeless as a result of flood, fire or some other disaster
  • you are vulnerable for some other reason
  • you are 16 or 17 years old or a care leaver aged 18,19 or 20
  • you are vulnerable as a result of fleeing violence (or threats of violence)
  • you are vulnerable as a result of spending time in the armed forces or having been remanded in custody.

If you are not in priority need, we still have a duty to give you advice and assistance in finding somewhere to live or helping you to keep your home. You will be given advice on how to register on the waiting list of the Housing Associations.

Am I intentionally homeless?

You are classed as being intentionally homelss if  we think you chose to leave accommodation that you could have stayed in, it was your fault you lost your home, or you unreasonably failed to take up accommodation when it was offered to you.

This would apply if:

  • you chose to sell your home when there was no risk of losing it
  • you lose your home because of wilful and persistent refusal to pay your rent or mortgage
  • you have been evicted for anti-social behaviour.

What is a local connection?

We will accept you as having a local connection, if:

  • you live, or have lived in the area for some time
  • you have a permanent job in the area
  • you have a close relative that has lived in the area for some time.

Note - Time spent in armed forces accommodation, college, prison, hospital or temporary accommodation does not count as residence in the area. If you do not have a local connection with Copeland, we will refer you to another council where you do have a connection.

All our officers who deal with homelessness are aware that this is a very stressful time for you.
We must make enquiries into your application and therefore you please be aware that we may ask you some questions that you may find intrusive. Your application will however, be assessed as sympathetically and as sensitively as possible.


Published: 31 May 2012 - 12:54pm