Priority need

The council must provide housing for some priority groups. Find out if you have a priority need for housing.

Help from the council

You can ask for council help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home.

The council must provide emergency housing if they think you might be homeless, have a priority need and meet immigration and residence conditions.

You qualify for longer-term housing if the council decide you're in priority need and homeless through no fault of your own.

The council don't have to provide longer-term housing if they decide you're not in priority need. But they should still try and help you find somewhere to live.

If the council say you're not in priority need

The council must give you a letter with reasons if they decide you're not in priority need.

You can ask for a review within 21 days if you think the decision is wrong.

You can sometimes challenge a refusal to provide emergency housing in court. A solicitor can tell you if you have a case.

You may qualify for free legal help if you're on a low income:

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345

Children live with you

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

  • under 16
  • under 19 and unable to support themselves, for example, because they're still in full-time education

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.


You're in priority need if you or someone in 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 should provide you with emergency accommodation if you need it while you wait for social services to assess what help and support you need.

Care leavers aged 18 to 20

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

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

Classed as 'vulnerable'

The council may decide you're in priority need because you or a member of your household are 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:

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

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 are on the streets.

Homeless because of fire or flood

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

Last updated - 03 Apr 2018

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