Homeless ex-forces

If you're leaving the armed services, or you are a former member, you may be entitled to extra help if you become homeless.

Homelessness rights for ex-forces

You may qualify for help from a local council if you are a former member of the armed forces and are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The council has to help you with both emergency and longer-term accommodation if you are accepted as homeless and in priority need.

The council must consider if it has to help you using both general rules that apply to everyone and special rules that apply to people who were in the forces.

Find out more about applying as homeless.

General rules for people in priority need

It can be easier to get help if you qualify under the general rules for people in priority need, for example if you have children or are pregnant.

The council should also look at if you are vulnerable in some way. This may involve showing how a disability, mental health problem, addiction or other issue affects your ability to secure housing for yourself compared with other homeless people.

Extra homelessness rules for the armed forces

You should also be treated as being in priority need if you can show that you are a vulnerable former member of the armed forces.

When deciding this, local councils may consider:

  • how long you were in the forces and what role you had
  • if you spent any time in a military hospital
  • if you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form)
  • if you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left
  • how long it has been since you left service

To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the MOD, including a Medical History Release Form (if you were given one). It can be hard to establish that you are vulnerable.

You may need to seek advice and help from a specialist agency or a housing adviser with making your case or if you are refused.

Re-housing in the area of your base

To be accepted as homeless in the local council area where you were based, you must be able to show that you have a local connection.

You may be able to show a local connection with that area if you:

  • currently work in the area
  • have lived in the area for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years
  • live with a partner who currently works in the area

If you have left the forces and are not yet working for another employer in the area, you won't be able to show a local connection through working in the area. However, you may still be able to show that you have a local connection as the time you spent living or working in the area may still count.

You should also consider if you are able to show a local connection with this or another local council area where you have close family connections.

You don't need to have a local connection to apply to go on the council's housing waiting list if you are serving in the armed forces or left in last 5 years.

Applying as homeless before discharge from the forces

Contact your local council if you think you will be homeless after discharge from the services. The council should not wait until you are made homeless before it helps you.

The council should accept these forms as evidence of the date you will become homeless, without the need for a court order.

Use the Gov.uk council finder to find details of your local council.

If you have not managed to find or get help with housing before you are discharged, you may need to stay in your accommodation as long as possible and wait for Defence Estates to evict you.

Defence Estates have to give you a Notice to Vacate before they can take you to court. You can use this as important evidence for your homelessness application, along with any court order.

Ex-forces and single, homeless and on the streets

Many single homeless people don't qualify for help from the council. There is a range of services for people who find themselves homeless and on the streets, for example:

  • day centres are a useful source of practical support – they provide a warm place to stay during the day and food, clothing, laundry facilities and showers
  • contact Veterans Aid for information about support services for veterans
  • the Royal British Legion might be able to help with a rent deposit
  • SSAFA provide housing advice to people currently serving in the forces and ex-services personnel and their families

Homeless after dishonourable discharge

The council may not have a duty to help you if you are homeless after being discharged on disciplinary grounds from the UK armed forces.

Get advice if the council tells you that you made yourself intentionally homeless.

Use Shelter's directory to find local advice services.


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