Information for refugees – housing

General information on types of housing, paying your rent and access to services

aerial view of houses in Scunthorpe

This information will help you will learn about:

If you have been in government asylum accommodation while you have been waiting for your asylum decision this support will come to an end. You will need to find somewhere else to live. This could be private rented accommodation, a live-in job, hostel, flat, or houseshare.

Whichever option you choose, finding a new home once you leave your asylum accommodation is likely to take time. We strongly advise you to think about this as soon as possible. North Lincolnshire Council’s Housing Advice Team can offer advice and help. Reach them at housingadvice@northlincs.gov.uk or call 01724 297000.

Types of housing: Social housing

Social housing is provided by local councils and housing associations. In North Lincolnshire, you need to get in touch with HomeChoiceLincs in order to apply for social housing. North Lincolnshire has a scheme for allocating social housing, you can view it on the Homechoicelincs/Prioritising applications page.  This explains who qualifies to go onto the waiting list and how applicants are prioritised.

Your length of time on the waiting list will depend on the area you wish to live in, the type and size of house you require, as well as any priority you may have. In many areas there is not enough social housing to meet demand.

The North Lincolnshire Housing Advice Team will be able to give you advice on the possible waiting time, as well as answer any other questions you may have around housing. You can email the Housing Advice Team on housingadvice@northlincs.gov.uk or call 01724 297000. There is also now a Self-Help option. This tool will ask you a series of questions and then guide you through the different options you can explore to improve your housing situation. You can also contact housing charity Shelter’s free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

Types of housing: Private housing

Privately rented housing is an alternative to social housing. You can find it through local lettings agents and on property listings websites.
When you find a house or flat you will probably need to pay a deposit. You will then need to sign a ‘tenancy agreement’. This is a legal contract between you and the landlord.

Your tenancy agreement will state;

  • The date you can move in
  • How long the contract is for
  • How much the rent is
  • When you must pay the rent.

Your tenancy agreement

For private accommodation, there will be a landlord who owns the property – this may be a private individual, the local authority or a housing association. You will need to sign a written agreement in the form of a document known as a tenancy agreement.

The tenancy agreement is a legally binding document which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. It is important to read any tenancy agreement carefully – use an interpreter if you have any doubts.

You should check:

  • The amount you must pay in your deposit and rent, and when this must be paid
  • What date your tenancy will run from and to
  • Whether you can cancel your tenancy agreement early or change the terms
  • A list of repairs and maintenance that are your responsibility, and which are the landlord’s responsibility
  • Any other rules or restrictions, e.g. having pets or smoking restrictions

In general, a landlord and tenant have the following responsibilities:

Landlord and Tenant responsibilities
Landlord Tenant
Collecting rent Paying your rent in full and on time
Keeping your building safe and in good condition Keeping the house clean and not misusing it or any furniture included
Providing everything set out in your tenancy agreement (including furniture if agreed) Contacting the landlord if there are any repairs needed or any issues with the house
Handling or paying for repairs to the house and appliances covered by the tenancy agreement Allowing the landlord to enter to repair your home or to do an inspection at a time and frequency agreed in the tenancy agreement.

Find out more about your responsibilities and rights as a tenant on the Gov.uk website.

Paying your rent

Your tenancy agreement will set out how much rent needs to be paid and how often – this will usually be monthly. When you are first recognised as a refugee, it is likely you will have no income, so you will be entitled to claim benefits to help pay all or part of your rent and to cover expenses such as food and bills.

The amount of benefits you will receive is dependent on your personal circumstances. You should go to your local Jobcentre to claim benefits. Welfare benefits will usually be paid directly to you and you are responsible for paying your housing and living costs with the money you receive.

Homelessness/crisis support

If you are concerned that you may become homeless the following services can advise you on what to do:

Gas, electricity, water and other services

When you move in, your water and electricity should already be working. There won’t necessarily be gas in all properties, but where there are gas appliances, landlords are required to provide you with a gas safety certificate. If you have a problem you should contact the supplier stated in your tenancy agreement who will make necessary arrangements to set up how you will pay for your energy and water.

Gas and electricity can be expensive, so doing things like turning the heating off when you leave the house or keeping windows closed when you have the heating on can save you money. Make sure that you turn off lights and do not leave electrical appliances on. This also helps to protect the environment, as it creates less waste and pollution.

If you smell gas, this could be a sign of a dangerous gas leak. You should call 0800 111 999 immediately if you suspect there is a gas leak in your building.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

All properties must have working smoke alarms (on every floor used as living accommodation) and a carbon monoxide alarm (in rooms using solid fuels – such as a coal fire or wood burning stove).

Getting a telephone and the internet

You can arrange to have a land line (fixed phone) installed at your home and pay a monthly fee to use it, known as line rental. A land line may be needed to receive internet access. Depending on the deal you choose, the provider will either send you the equipment to set up yourself or somebody will visit to help you install it. There are a wide range of deals, so you should check with a number of providers before buying.

Most people will also have their own personal mobile phone. Mobile phones will vary in cost, but basic mobile phones are available for as little as £10. Smartphones, which can access the internet, are more expensive.

You can get a contract where you pay monthly to use a mobile, or a pay as you go deal where you pay for what you use.

Pay monthly contracts are where you can make calls on your phone for a fixed number of minutes, send a number of texts and use a certain amount of internet data. You will pay a fixed amount each month unless you exceed the number of minutes, texts or data set out in your contract, in which case you must pay for what you use. These can be very expensive, so it is important to be careful and check that you have not exceeded your allowance. It is necessary to have a bank account and provide proof of address (for example a copy of your tenancy agreement) to take out a contract. Contracts can vary greatly in cost, from as little as £5 per month for a SIM card only to £60+ for contracts with the latest and most expensive phones included.

You can also buy a pay as you go SIM card which means you pay for the minutes, texts or data you use. This means you can control how much you spend more easily. In some cases, a phone company will offer a deal where if you top-up, or add a minimum amount of money each month, they will give you a certain amount of minutes, texts and data to use. You can top-up whatever amount you want but to get a good deal from a phone company you usually need to top up around £10 each month.

Council Tax

You are liable for paying Council Tax for your property. This is a set amount for the financial year which runs from April to March, and you can pay this monthly. Council Tax is a tax which goes to your local authority for local services such as care, social services, police and local facilities.

To see what your Council Tax is spent on in North Lincolnshire, visit ‘how-council-tax-and-business-rates-are-spent

If you are on a low income or out of work, you may be eligible for financial help towards your Council Tax bill – this is called Council Tax Reduction.
You can contact the North Lincolnshire Council Tax team on 0300 303 0164.

TV Licence

If you watch or record live TV programmes, watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service, or download and watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, you are required by law to purchase a TV licence. You can buy or renew a TV licence online or by calling 0330 790 6165.

It is illegal not to own a TV licence if you are watching TV in any of these ways. If you do not have a TV licence you can be prosecuted and fined up to £1000.


  • You are eligible to receive benefits which can pay for your rent and other essential living costs.
  • If you are renting a house or flat, you will have a tenancy agreement with your landlord that sets out the rights and responsibilities for both landlord and you, the tenant.
  • You must manage your money with care and ensure you pay for all bills and living expenses – you should open a bank account.