Duty to Refer

As part of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 certain named public authorities in England now have a duty to refer people they think are or may become homeless within 56 days to local housing Authorities.

Who are the named public authorities?

  • Prisons
  • Youth Offender Institutions/Youth Offending teams
  • Secure Training Centres
  • Probation Services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Job Centre Plus
  • Children’s Services (County Council or Unitary Authorities)
  • Adult Social Care Services (County Council or Unitary Authorities)
  • Hospital Emergency Departments (A&E)
  • Hospital 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

When making an application to a local housing authority, the above public authorities must by law:

  • Have the individual’s permission to make the referral to a local housing authority.
  • Allow the individual to identify the local housing authority in England they would like the referral sent to.
  • Have the individual’s consent for their contact details to be supplied to the local housing authority so that they can contact them about their referral.

Who is considered homeless or threatened with homelessness?

  • An individual who does not have any accommodation which is available for them which they have a legal right to occupy, or
  • It is not reasonable for the individual to occupy their current accommodation e.g. if they would be at risk of domestic abuse
  • Someone is defined as being threatened with homelessness where they are likely to become homeless with 56 days or have been served with a valid notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 by their landlord, which expires within 56 days.

What we will do when we receive a referral from a public authority?

Upon receipt of a referral the Housing Options team will aim to contact the customer within 48 hours. They will discuss the individual’s circumstances and arrange to interview the individual as soon as practicable. This will enable us to ascertain what duty if any is owed to the individual.

Please note there is no guarantee that temporary accommodation will be offered as this will be dependent on whether the individual has a priority need. For information on priority need please click here.

How to make a referral under the Duty to Refer?

Public Authorities can download a duty to refer form by clicking here. Once complete please send it to We do accept referrals from partners not on the list above. 

If you have any further questions please contact the Housing Options Team on 01923776611.