Avoid becoming homeless

If you are in danger of losing your home, we will work with you and give you advice to prevent this happening.

Care leavers

If you are leaving care and are worried about your housing, social services’ Leaving and Aftercare Team will give you advice and support.

Your Personal Adviser who will help you find suitable accommodation as part of your leaving plan.

You can look at Essex County Council to find out more about the Leaving and Aftercare Team for Harlow.

Social services may have a legal duty to refer you to us if they consider you to be at risk of homelessness.  

Prison leavers

Before you leave prison, your probation officer will give you advice on finding accommodation on your release as part of your resettlement plan.  

Most prisons also have a resettlement service called Through the Gate, who can make referrals to suitable accommodation for you.

The prison or probation service has a legal duty to refer you to us if they consider you to be at risk of homelessness. 

You can look at Shelter for general housing advice for prisoners and ex-offenders.

Hospital leavers

If you're worried about your housing upon discharge, you need to inform the hospital nursing staff.

They will ask the hospital discharge team to give you housing advice.

The hospital's discharge team has a legal duty to refer you to us if they consider you to be at risk of homelessness.

Armed Forces leavers

If you are leaving the armed forces, or you are a former member, worried about your housing, we may be able to help you find accommodation.

You will be able to join the Harlow Housing Needs Register if you are a:

  • current or former members of the Armed Forces
  • bereaved spouse or civil partner of a member of the Armed Forced

You will not need to prove a local connection to Harlow to be able to join the register, but if you can, you will be given higher priority.

You can apply for housing on our Housing Needs Register page.

If you're at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping, we can give you advice on:

You can look at Shelter for information about your options and charities you can contact.

Mental illness

Mind in West Essex can offer counselling and support for people suffering from mental health problems.

They can offer advice on housing and may be able to connect you with other support services that can help you find accommodation.

The national Mind website also provides information about mental health and coping with housing problems

Domestic abuse

If you or someone else is at risk of violence, call the police on 111, however, if you believe you or they are in immediate danger call 999.

For more information on what help is available to you please visit our domestic violence page.  


If you have been asked to leave your current home, your rights will depend on the type of tenancy you have. You can use Shelter’s tool to check your tenancy type.

Most private tenants will have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord has to follow a specific legal process to evict you.

In most cases, this would involve your landlord giving you a Section 21 notice. In certain circumstances, such as if you have rent arrears, your landlord might give you a Section 8 notice.

You do not need to leave as soon as your landlord asks you to.

If you have received one of these notices, you should contact us as soon as possible. We can give you advice on your rights, the legal process and how to resolve your situation.

You can look at Shelter for advice on eviction if you are a:

For more advice on eviction, you can also contact:

Friends or family have asked you to leave

If you are aged 16 or 17 years and being asked to leave the home of family or friends and have nowhere to stay, you can contact Essex County Council Children’s Services or our Housing Options and Advice team and we will work together to help prevent you becoming homeless.

If your friends or family own the property you live in and there is no contract between you and the owner, you will most probably not have any rights to the property.

This means if the owner of the property asks you to leave, you will need to try and resolve the issue, or you will have to find accommodation elsewhere.

You can ask the owner of the property for reasonable notice of 28 days to give you time to look for alternative accommodation.

You could try to resolve the issue by offering to:

  • pay more rent, if you can afford it
  • help with housework

If you need helping finding somewhere else to live, you can read our advice on finding accommodation

Struggling with your rent or mortgage

If you are struggling to pay for your rent, you need to speak to your landlord as soon as possible.

Your landlord may be understanding if you explain your situation, and tell them how you plan to pay the rent you owe.

It’s important to keep paying as much of your rent as you can afford. Paying a portion of your rent is better than paying nothing.

If you continue missing your full rent payments, your landlord will be able to seek possession of the property through the courts. They may also want you to pay the rent you missed, even after you have left the property.

You can use housing benefit to help with your rent.

If you do not already claim housing benefit, you can use our benefits calculator to find out if you can claim and how much you might get. 

You can also look at entitledto to see if you can claim any other benefits.

If you already claim housing benefit, you need to make sure your information is up to date. For example, if your income has gone down you might be able to claim more. You will need to update your housing benefit claim with this change in circumstance

You can also apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you already claim housing benefit. They will access your circumstances and see if you are entitled to any payments.

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, you can get help and advice about how to budget and manage your money. You can: