The duty to refer homeless cases

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

In April 2018 the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force in England.

The legislation states that from October 2018 specified public authorities are required to notify the local authority of service users they consider may be currently homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

Before making a referral a public body must have the consent of the individual to make the referral and consent to share their contact details with that authority. The individual should be asked to identify the housing authority in England they wish to be referred to. 

The duty to refer only applies to public authorities in England and individuals can only be referred to housing authorities in England.

The public services included in the duty to refer are as follows:

  • prisons
  • youth offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Social Service authorities
  • emergency Departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care.

Making a referral

Housing Assistance Referral Portal online form

Referrals can also be made via email to

For further advice contact the Housing Options team using the details below or call the out of hours number on 0870 428 6905.