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Temporary accommodation types

Temporary accommodation types in London (2002-2023 Q3)

Local authorities, including London boroughs, have legal duties to provide accommodation to people who are homeless. Whilst they are waiting for a permanent solution - such as a home provided by a housing association - local authorities must house them in temporary accommodation. This can be many types of accommodation - such as nightly accommodation, the private rented sector or a bed and breakfast. 

Temporary accommodation over time

Over the last 20 years, the number of households in temporary accommodation has fluctuated over time. After the peak of 63,000 in 2005, the number of households in temporary accommodation drastically decreased up to 2011, when 36,000 households were in temporary accommodation. However, between 2012 and 2020 this number has steadily increased to reach levels close to 2004. In 2020, 60,888 London households were in temporary accommodation. This decreased slightly  in 2022 (the latest year we have full data for), with 56,988 households in temporary accommodation. Unfortunately, looking at data from the first quarter of 2023, the numbers look set to increase again, although we can’t make direct comparisons until we have data for the whole of 2023. 

Types of temporary accommodation

The most prevalent form of temporary accommodation has been in the private rented sector throughout most of the time period until recently (averaging 17,630 in 2022). However, nightly paid accommodation has grown rapidly since 2012 to overtake private rentals (18,488 in 2022).

Placements in a different borough

Temporary accommodation placements in different local authorities than the one households made homeless applications to have increased substantially since 2010, when the lowest number was recorded (5,275 households). In 2022, the number of households placed in temporary accommodation in a different local authority was 22,562 - a fourfold increase in numbers. 


These values represent an average of 4 quarters for each full year (2002-2022), whereas for 2023 the values refer to Q1 only. Direct comparisons between the quarterly and yearly figures should be avoided as there can be seasonal fluctuations in these numbers.

It is difficult to estimate the effect of public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic on temporary accommodation figures. Local authorities received additional funding in order to be able to house people sleeping rough and were given powers to accommodate those who might not normally be entitled to help due to their immigration status. In addition, the eligibility for priority need was expanded during the pandemic to include people with underlying health conditions that made them more vulnerable to adverse effects from a COVID-19 infection.