London has long been a destination for people seeking refuge from their war-torn or unstable home countries. However, the road to safety and stability for asylum seekers in the UK’s capital is far from smooth, as our housing team are seeing first hand. In this blog, we will shed light on the challenges faced by refugees in London when it comes to finding accommodation, and Kineara’s support of a looming crisis in Southwark.

A Growing Crisis

Across the UK since August 2023, the British Red Cross has reported a 140% increase in the number of people with refugee status becoming destitute. London is no exception to this: The asylum-seeking population in London is on the rise, with an estimated 1,200 individuals in Southwark alone expected to be processed and receive refugee status towards the end of 2023. The majority lack priority status for housing, making their path towards finding a safe and stable home all the more challenging.

To make matters worse, once an asylum seeker is granted refugee status, the Home Office serves eviction notices from the temporary accommodations in which they have been residing (hotels and hostels, sometimes even through private landlords).  Many charities are reporting that the notice period of this eviction from TA for refugees has fallen from 28 days to around 7 days as the government attempts to clear the huge backlog of asylum seekers by the end of 2023. This looming threat only adds to the anxiety and uncertainty they face daily, including the prospect of rough sleeping.

Delayed Access to Benefits

Newly processed refugees cannot approach local authorities for support or apply for Universal Credit until they receive their biometric residence permit (BRP) card. Unfortunately, processing delays can result in refugees having a highly unrealistic few days to set up benefits and secure accommodation, adding to the urgency and stress of their situation.

Understanding the Housing Market

Understanding the housing market and its processes is a daunting task for refugees. With little to no prior knowledge of how things work in the UK, they may find themselves vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination, and substandard living conditions.

The Language Barrier

A key obstacle refugees encounter in finding housing is the language barrier. Many do not speak English, making it difficult to navigate the complex world of housing in a foreign country. This linguistic challenge can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings with landlords and authorities, or simply not knowing where to start.

The Financial Strain

For those under 35 and lacking priority status, the financial challenge is monumental. With only approximately £515 available through London Housing Allowance, the dream of finding affordable accommodation becomes increasingly elusive. Rents in London and its outskirts are skyrocketing due to high demand and limited supply, making it nearly impossible for asylum seekers to secure safe and affordable housing.

Moreover, many rental agencies do not prioritise tenants on housing benefits (DSS), narrowing to the already limited housing options.

Lack of Local Authority Support

Asylum seekers often find themselves alone in this battle. Local authorities do not offer support to refugees seeking accommodation in the Private Rented Sector. This lack of assistance further exacerbates the struggles they face when trying to secure a place to live.

Addressing the Issue in Southwark

Kineara has joined a task force established by Southwark Law Centre to address this crisis. Within this group, our intention is to participate in a weekly drop-in surgery organised by the Southwark Refugee Communities Forum. This initiative aims to assist refugees under 25, not categorised as being in priority need, in gaining access to private rented accommodation. We are also planning on holding workshops to help people understand housing processes in the UK and how the rental market works, as well as providing advice around relocation beyond London itself.


The challenges faced by asylum seekers in London when it comes to finding accommodation are complex and multi-faceted. Language barriers, a lack of understanding of the housing market, financial constraints, and a lack of local authority support make their journey towards stable housing an arduous one. With increasing numbers seeking asylum, it is crucial for policymakers, local authorities, and communities to come together to find solutions and offer support to those in need, ensuring that everyone has a chance at a safe and secure place to call home.