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Accommodation for sanctuary seekers is a wide ranging issue and there are varying regional and local factors. 

Asylum seekers can apply for accommodation from the Home Office while they go through the asylum process. This is provided by private contractors (see the section below on ‘Dispersal’). If someone is granted leave to remain, they are given 28 days to leave their asylum accommodation and find private rented accommodation or apply through mainstream housing services (see the section on ‘Help for New Refugees’ under Information for Sanctuary Seekers).

Report submitted by Tees Valley of Sanctuary to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, in response to the call for evidence on asylum housing (March 2018) – this report contains lots of quotes and case studies

Home Affairs Committee report on Asylum Accommodation (Jan 2017)

Government response to the report (Nov 2017) and Refugee Council comment on the government’s response

An article in the Guardian on conditions in asylum accommodation (Oct 2017)

National Audit Office report on the COMPASS contracts (2014)

An article from the Indpendent covering an issue that received some coverage at the beginning of 2016 – a sub-contractor in Middlesbrough used red paint on front doors which made the asylum-seekers living there targets for hate crime – the doors have since been repainted! (Jan 2016)

Asylum seekers can apply for accommodation from the Home Office. Applicants can’t choose where this will be.

Some regions accommodate a lot more asylum seekers than others. You can see data about numbers of asylum seekers housed by local authorities via the Home Office’s quarterly statistics release (look for the list of tables and then volume 4 in the ‘Asylum’ section).

This briefing from the House of Commons follows on from a debate that was held in May 2015 and provides more information about dispersal policy. 

The COMPASS contracts are between the Home Office and private accommodation providers to provide dispersal accommodation. They were awarded in 2012 for 5 years and then extended until Sep 2019.

The contracts are as follows:

  • North East and Yorkshire and Humberside – G4S
  • London and the South of England – Clearsprings
  • Midlands and East of England – G4S
  • North West – Serco
  • Scotland and Northern Ireland – Serco
  • Wales – Clearsprings

The Asylum Seeker Housing (ASH) Project can help asylum seekers in Scotland to report a repair needed or make a complaint.

This document gives an outline of the response times stated in the COMPASS contracts for different types of housing issues (eg. a gas leak is considered an immediate issue which should be responded to within 2 hours of notification)

Information about fire safety from the Fire Service. Your local fire service may be able to conduct a ‘Safe and Well’ check which will look at fire alarms, CO alarms, fire safety, escape routes etc. These visits are free and the fire service can report issues to the landlord and help get them sorted out. More info here

Fire safety leaflets in different languages from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service


You can contact G4S to report a housing issue via their Contact Centre

Email: [email protected] 

Tel: 0800 377 7361 or 01909 533 500

Serco and Clearsprings contact information to be updated