Homelessness: duty to refer

Public authorities have a duty to refer any person they believe to be homeless, or under threat of being made homeless to a local housing authority. Authorities must get permission from the person they are referring, before a making a referral to a housing authority of the homeless person’s choice.

The duty to refer, which is part of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, came into force on 1 October 2018.

Public authorities with a duty to refer

  • prisons
  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentre’s in England
  • social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

Before making a referral

If you believe, a person is homeless or under threat of being homeless, ask them the following questions.

  1. Do you know if a referral to a local housing authority is in place, to find you housing?
  2. Do you give your consent for me to refer you to a local housing authority for help with your housing situation?
  3. You can choose the local housing authority we contact. Which housing authority do you choose?
  4. Do you have a local connection to that housing authority?
  5. Do you know that if you don't have a local connection to a housing authority your referral may go back to the local housing authority where you have a local connection?

Read the guide to the duty to refer on GOV.UK for guidance if you are in doubt.

Go to local connection on the Shelter website for guidance on whether a person has a local connection.

Refer a person under threat of being homeless or is homeless now

Once you obtain the homeless person's consent to refer them to a local housing authority.

For Eden area

Go to homelessness reduction on Housing Assistance Referral Portal to make a referral for a homeless person in Eden,

or email dutytorefer2@westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk with the person details you are referring.

To another local authority

Go to apply for emergency housing from the council on GOV.UK to find contact details for other local housing authorities.

Homeless referrals in Eden

Eden Housing Association's Housing Options Team handle all homeless referrals in Eden. Once the Housing Options Team receive a referral, they will arrange to see the homeless person. The Housing Options Team will make reasonable enquiries about the homeless person’s eligibility and their housing situation, before the team reach a decision on the duty to provide housing assistance.

Eden Housing Association carry out our homelessness duty under contract.

Last updated: Wednesday, 2 August, 2023.