Intentionally homeless

Common situations where the council will decide if you are intentionally homeless or homeless through no fault of your own.

Overview

You are intentionally homeless if you lose your home because of something that you deliberately do or fail to do.

To decide if you are intentionally homeless, the council looks into the reason why you left your most recent home. If you've been staying somewhere short-term, the council can also look back to how you lost your last settled home.

You can ask the council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home.  The council must arrange emergency accommodation if you qualify for it.

You may qualify for longer-term housing if the council decides that you're homeless through no fault of your own.

You are not entitled to longer term housing if the council decides you are intentionally homeless.

Domestic abuse or other violence

You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if you leave your home because you're threatened with:

  • domestic abuse by a partner, former partner or family member
  • violence in your home from someone unrelated to you

If you lose your home because you've been violent to someone, the council will probably decide that you're intentionally homeless.

Leaving after your landlord gives you notice

The council could decide that you're intentionally homeless if you leave your home before you have to.

You can help to prevent a decision that you are intentionally homeless by applying to the council as homeless while you remain in the property.

Tenants have the right to stay until evicted by court bailiffs. This means you don't have to leave when your notice to leave expires.

The council could tell you to stay in your home until either:

  • the court makes a possession order
  • bailiffs evict you

In some cases, the council might accept that it's not reasonable for you to stay in your home after your landlord's notice expires.

Lodgers are only entitled to reasonable notice. You'll have to leave when the notice period expires.

If you didn't know your rights

You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if you were unaware of your right to stay. The council usually expects you to find out about your rights. If you leave after the council has advised you to stay, it's likely you'll be found intentionally homeless.

The council could decide you are intentionally homeless if you asked your landlord to give you notice just so you could get homelessness help.

Rent or mortgage arrears

The council can decide you're intentionally homeless if you lose your home because of arrears when your rent or mortgage was:

  • affordable but you didn't pay
  • unaffordable and you knew this when you moved in

If it was your partner's responsibility to pay the rent or mortgage, the council will look at whether you knew about the arrears and tried to sort them out or could have influenced your partner's actions.

Debts and financial hardship

You can't usually be found intentionally homeless if paying the rent or mortgage would have left you without money for food or heating.

The council might decide you're intentionally homeless if you pay non-priority debts such as credit cards before your rent or mortgage.

Benefit problems and delays

You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if your arrears were caused by the benefit system.

You'll need to show that you claimed benefits promptly, chased up any delays and paid what you could afford while waiting for benefit payments to start.

Illness and disability

You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if you lost your home because of arrears caused by:

  • a change in circumstances outside your control such as sudden illness
  • mental illness or a disability that meant you were unable to manage your money

Eviction for antisocial behaviour

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you're evicted for antisocial behaviour.

The council must consider whether the behaviour was deliberate or if it was caused by a disability or mental ill health.

If the behaviour was caused by other household members or visitors to your home, the council must consider anything you did to try and stop the behaviour.

Leaving a job that comes with accommodation

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you have nowhere to live after:

  • being sacked from a job that came with accommodation
  • leaving a job that came with accommodation (this doesn't apply if you had to leave armed forces accommodation)

You refused an offer of housing

The council can stop helping you with housing if you refuse an offer of temporary or longer term housing.

The council will probably decide that you're intentionally homeless if you made a homelessness application and a council made a suitable offer of housing but you turned it down.

The council usually ends its help with housing if you:

  • refuse to move to different emergency or temporary accommodation
  • turn down an offer of longer-term housing from the housing register
  • turn down an offer of a private rented tenancy

Get advice from a housing adviser if you are thinking of refusing a housing offer.

It's almost always better to accept the housing that's offered and then ask for a review if you think it's unsuitable.

If the council says you're intentionally homeless

The council must give you a decision letter including reasons if it decides you're intentionally homeless.

If the council decides you're in priority need but intentionally homeless it:

  • only has to provide temporary accommodation for a few weeks
  • usually refers you to social services for help if you have children
  • should advise you on finding somewhere else to live

You can ask the council to review the decision within 21 days of getting your letter.

A housing adviser could help you with a review.

Get advice from a housing adviser

Contact our expert housing advisers online, by telephone or in person

Check if you qualify for legal aid

You may qualify for free or reduced cost legal help if you're on a low income and have been refused homelessness help.

Check if you qualify for legal aid

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345


Last updated - 31 Aug 2017

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