The Local Government Ombudsman has warned councils that they face criticism for maladministration if they fail to meet responsibilities to homeless people.
The body, which independently investigates complaints about local authorities in England, has published a report on the serious mistakes some councils make when dealing with people with housing difficulties.
In response, spokesperson for Homeless Link said:
"We welcome this report and its recommendations. The latest figures show that the number of homeless people applying to councils for help has jumped in the last year. The recession is bound to lead to more people not having a home and local authorities in some areas are coping with increased demand. However, we need to ask what happens to homeless people when councils turn them away? When people are in danger of losing their home, they need help not a closed door.
“We need to prevent people from facing the alternative of illegal lets, staying with friends or squats. We are calling for a clearer duty on councils to offer effective advice and information to help people who are homeless but not offered accommodation. Such a step would help to prevent homelessness and makes sense for society."