Priority need

Check if you or a member of your household should be classed as in priority need of housing when homeless.

Overview

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 it thinks you might be homeless, have a priority need and meet immigration and residence conditions.

You meet one of the 5 conditions for longer-term housing if the council decides you're in priority need.

The council decides if you are in priority need of housing after making enquiries.

The council doesn't have to offer you housing if it decides you're not in priority need.

Children live with you

You are in priority need if you have dependent children who normally live with you and are either:

  • aged under 16
  • aged under 19 and in full-time education or training

This includes your own children, step-children or other children in your household.

Separated parents

You won't usually be in priority need if your children live with their other parent even if they often stay with you.

Tell the council about any special circumstances which mean you have to share the care of your children, for example if you have a severely disabled child.

Pregnant

You are in priority need if you or a member of your household is pregnant.

Take confirmation from a doctor or midwife if you can.

Aged 16 or 17

Most homeless 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to accommodation and support from social services rather than the housing department of the council.

The housing department might provide you with emergency accommodation while it arranges a social services assessment.

Social services must then provide accommodation while they look into what help and support you need.

Care leaver aged 18 to 20

You are in priority need if you're aged 18, 19 or 20 and spent at least 24 hours in care arranged by social services when you were 16 or 17 years old.

This could have been time in foster care, in a children's home or in any other accommodation arranged by social services.

Classed as 'vulnerable'

The council can decide you are in priority need because you or a member of your household is classed as 'vulnerable'.

You might be vulnerable because of:

  • old age
  • physical or learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • fleeing domestic abuse or violence
  • time spent in care, prison or the armed forces

You're not automatically classed as vulnerable if you fit into one of these groups.

The council decides if you're vulnerable by looking at:

  • how any disability or illness you have affects your daily life
  • how you will cope with being homeless
  • what support you would get from friends, family or other services
  • the risk of harm to you compared to the risk of harm to others who may become homeless

Supporting information from your GP, psychiatrist, social worker or other agencies can help. The letter should set out what harm you will suffer if you become street homeless.

Homeless because of fire or flood

You are in priority need if you're homeless because of an emergency such as fire or flood.

If the council says you're not in priority need

Get help from a housing adviser if the council says you're not in priority need or refuses to help with emergency accommodation.

The council should give you a written decision if it decides you are not in priority need. You can ask the council to review the decision within 21 days of getting the letter.

Get help from a housing adviser

Contact a housing adviser online, by phone or arrange to meet face-to-face.

Check if you can get legal aid

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

Check if you qualify for legal aid

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345


Last updated - 24 Aug 2017

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