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Overview of the eligibility rules

This content applies to England

An overview of the eligibility rules for housing assistance for EEA/EU nationals and British citizens. Also, special rules for anyone applying to the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

Determining eligibility for EEA/EU nationals

The rules for determining whether an EEA/EU or British national is eligible for housing as a homeless person or through a housing allocation are set out in the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006.[1]

Housing benefit/universal credit eligibility

Note that eligibility for housing benefit or universal credit is broadly the same as below.

Eligible persons

Under Regulation 6(2), EEA and EU nationals with a right to reside because they are in one of the following categories are eligible for homelessness assistance and exempt from the habitual residence test (note that British nationals are excluded from these categories):

  • a worker, including a person with retained worker status
  • a family member of someone in one of the three categories above.[2] In some cases the family member may retain eligibility even after the worker or self-employed person leaves the UK or dies, for example in cases where there is a child in education, or where a relationship breaks down (see the page Family of workers and self-employed)
  • a person with a right of permanent residence in the UK, if that right arose following retirement, or death of a worker or self-employed person (see the page Retired or incapacitated workers). Note that a person with a permanent right to reside based on five years' residence in the UK is subject to the habitual residence test.

In addition, a person (usually a British or Irish national but occasionally an EEA national) who has been deported to the UK from abroad is eligible without needing to pass the habitual residence test.

Before 31 March 2014

In addition to the above, the following were also eligible for homelessness assistance and exempt from the habitual residence test until 30 March 2014 (people in these categories are generally British citizens or have other rights to enter the UK):[3]

  • a person who left Montserrat after 1 November 1995 because of the effect of the volcanic eruption there
  • during the 'relevant period', a person who left Lebanon because of the armed conflict there
  • during the 'relevant period', certain persons coming to Great Britain from Zimbabwe after accepting resettlement help from the UK government.

Ineligible persons

Regulation 6(1) specifies that the certain people with a right to reside are not eligible for homelessness assistance. This applies to a person: :

  • with a derivative right to reside where that right derives from Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ie a 'Zambrano' right) unless their application for homelessness assistance was made before 8 November 2012[4]
  • whose only right to reside is derived from their status as a jobseeker (ie they have never worked in the UK)[5]
  • whose only right to reside is the initial three months right of residence given to all EEA nationals.[6]

See Persons ineligible for assistance for more information on these categories.

Habitual residence test

Other persons from abroad who are not subject to immigration control, including British citizens, and Irish citizens who are coming to the UK from outside the EEA/EU or the 'Common Travel Area', will be eligible subject to the habitual residence test. The Common Travel Area comprises the UK, Irish Republic, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

For more information, see the page Habitual residence test for more information.

Scilly Isles – special rules

Where a homeless applicant applies to the Council of the Isles of Scilly, s/he is not eligible for assistance unless s/he has been resident in the Scilly Isles for at least two and a half years out the three years immediately before the application.[7] A person who meets this requirement automatically has a local connection with the area.

Wales

The legislative references and the footnotes on this page reflect the law in England. In Wales, very similar rules made under Welsh legislation apply, but the references may be different. Contact Shelter Cymru for more information about the law in Wales.

[1] Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294, as amended.

[2] reg 6(2)(d) Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294 as amended. For the purpose of reg 6(2)(d), the definition of family member excludes extended family members - see reg 2(3) SI 2006/1294.

[3] Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/435.

[4] reg 6(1)(b)(iii) or (iv) Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294 as amended by Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/2588.

[5] reg 6(1)(b)(i) Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294.

[6] reg 6(1)(b)(ii) Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294.

[7] The Homelessness (Isles of Scilly) Order 1997 SI 1997/797.

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