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Emergency temporary accommodation

Our duty

We have a duty to provide temporary accommodation if:

  • You are eligible
  • You are homeless
  • You (or someone on your application) have a priority need

You will need to complete the housing options enquiry form to let us know of your need for temporary accommodation.

Types of temporary accommodation

Depending on availability, you may be offered accommodation in one of the following:

  • Bed and breakfast (B&B) - this often has shared kitchen and bathroom facilities
  • Hostel
  • Accommodation in the private sector (owned by private landlords, but let to the council on a temporary basis)

If no local accommodation is available, you could be placed in temporary accommodation out of the borough.

It is important that you tell us of any reasons why you cannot live in a particular area or if you have any medical issues affecting the type of accommodation you require. You will need to provide any supporting information regarding your reasons.

You should be aware that many of our temporary accommodations have a “no pets” policy, so you will need to make arrangements for them to be housed elsewhere.

Receiving an offer

Your household circumstances will be considered when we make you an offer of temporary accommodation (pdf, 446 KB). However, due to our limited resources, it is not always possible to meet your preferences.

Length of stay

We may offer you temporary accommodation whilst we conduct enquiries into your homelessness application.

If we accept a full homeless duty to you then you will wait in the accommodation until you are made a settled offer.

If we do not have a full homeless duty to assist you with housing, you will be given notice to vacate your temporary accommodation and will need to make your own housing arrangements.

There are several housing options available which may be suitable for your needs.

Refusing an offer

If you refuse to accept an offer of temporary accommodation whilst we conduct our enquiries, we may decide that no further offers of temporary accommodation will be made until a final decision is made on your homeless application.

If you refuse accommodation at this stage, you will need to make your own housing arrangements whilst we complete our enquiries into your homeless application.

Request a review

Once we have completed our enquiries, if we have accepted a full homeless duty, you are entitled to request a review of the suitability of your temporary accommodation. You will receive a decision letter which will advise you of your right to request a review (this is called a section 184 decision letter). Review requests must be made within 21 days of the date of the decision letter.

You should only request a review if there is a specific reason why you consider the property to be unsuitable.

You should discuss your concerns with the Temporary Accommodation Team before you request a review and provide supporting evidence as to why you feel the accommodation is unsuitable (for example, for medical reasons.)

You can do this either in person by making an appointment, by email or by telephone:

You do not have the right to request a review if we do not accept a full homeless duty to you.

How to pay

You can choose how to pay your rent.  

Whichever option you use, have your rent account reference to hand. This is a 9 or 10-digit reference number beginning with a capital ‘Z‘ or ‘6’. You can find it at the top of any letter or rent statement about your temporary accommodation. Use this number as the payment reference, so we can keep a track of your payments.

Pay online

You can make payments and view your rent statements by registering for Richmond Housing Online.

You can also make a payment directly to the Council.

Standing order

Set up a standing order with your bank using these details:

  • Account number: 63459523
  • Sort code: 60-22-03

You must use your rent account reference number as the payment reference so we can keep a track of your payments.


Call freephone 020 8045 1171

Your rent and charges

Details of all your property charges are listed in your booking letter or agreement.

The amount of rent you pay and when you need to pay it depends on the type and size of the property we provide for you:

  • For accommodation leased from private landlords for your sole use, you are charged weekly from Monday to Sunday, in advance
  • For ‘Nightly Paid Accommodation’ you are charged for every night

Service charges and Council Tax

In most cases you will need to pay service charges and Council Tax on your temporary accommodation. This will be clearly shown in your booking letter or agreement.

Service charges cover the costs of utilities (gas, water, electricity etc). Service charges are not covered by Housing Benefit.

To pay Council Tax, you will need to register for this in the borough where your temporary address is located:

If you are living in self-contained temporary accommodation, you may still have to pay service charges and Council Tax. Please ask your Temporary Accommodation Officer.

Get financial help

If you are on a low income or benefits you may qualify for financial help towards the costs of your temporary accommodation.

Check if you are eligible for a discount or exemption on your Council Tax.

You may also apply for Housing Benefit.

Housing Benefit

Note: whilst you are in temporary accommodation any financial help towards your rent would be covered by Housing Benefit, not Universal Credit.

It is important to apply for Housing Benefit immediately and give us all the information we need to make a full assessment.

You will need to provide:

  • ID for everyone in your household
  • Confirmation of rent and the property address
  • Confirmation of income
  • Bank statements covering the last three months

We will write to you directly if more information is required.

You are responsible for managing your claim to ensure your rent is paid on time and in full.

If you have any problems with your application, complete the assistance request form.

Apply for Housing Benefit

Other information and support

Find out about the Benefit Cap which is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can receive.

These services offer support or advice in managing your finances:

If you do not pay

If you fail to pay your rent or keep up payments, you could lose your accommodation. You may also be considered intentionally homeless and the Council will no longer have a duty to provide you with accommodation.

You should contact your Income Maximisation Officer if you miss a payment or you are having difficulties making payments. Their contact details can be found at the top left-hand side of any letter or statement you have received about your temporary accommodation.

Alternatively you can complete the assistance request form.

Moving costs

We may be able to arrange for the collection, storage and delivery of your furniture, but you will need to pay for the service. Your caseworker can tell you more about the costs.

If you do not have furniture your casework can refer you to Richmond Furniture Scheme. You will be responsible for the costs of furniture.

If you get certain benefits you can apply for a Budgeting Loan which can be used to pay essential things like furniture.

Complaints and repairs

If you have a problem with your temporary accommodation or would like to request a repair, please contact your B&B manager, hostel warden or landlord in the first instance.

If the problem persists, you should contact us for further help by:

Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm, Friday 9am to 5pm.

Other housing options

If you are living in temporary accommodation while you wait for an offer of settled accommodation, there are several housing options which may help you.

Sheltered housing

If you are single or a couple aged 55 or over you may be eligible to be considered for our sheltered housing.

If you would like to explore this option, let your caseworker know as offers via this route may be quicker.

Rent Deposit Scheme

The Rent Deposit Scheme can help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness find a home in the private rented sector.

We may be able to assist you with the cost of a deposit and rent in advance if you:

  • Have a priority need for housing
  • Are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • Have settled immigration status

Following your homelessness application, we will notify you that you would qualify for this scheme. We may be able to assist you with finding private rented accommodation, but we would suggest that you find a property of your own choice. Prior to any payment, we would need to be satisfied that the property is suitable and in good condition.

Depending on your assessed affordability this may not be within the borough. 

Some benefits of the Rent Deposit Scheme include:

  • Securing a two bedroom rather than a 1 bedroom bedroom if you are a Single parent or couple with a child under the age of 3 
  • Having a say in where you live and the type of accommodation you live in (for example, houses or flats with a garden)

New Generation Scheme

If you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, but are able to remain with either your family or friends for at least 12 months after your application has been assessed, you may wish to consider the New Generation Scheme (NGS). Under the NGS you will be made an offer of settled accommodation as soon as possible after the 12 month period, depending on the supply of properties becoming available through housing associations. You will only be made one offer of accommodation.

If you would like to explore this option, contact the housing advice and information team on

Moving and downsizing

There are some schemes which may help you move from one part of the UK to another. You can view further details of these on our moving and downsizing page.

Updated: 18 September 2023

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