This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at

Priority need when homeless due to fire, flood or disaster

This content applies to England

A discussion of priority need and people made homeless by an emergency.

Homeless due to an emergency

A person will be in priority need if the event that caused her/him to be homeless or threatened with homeless was an emergency, such as a flood, fire or other disaster.[1] This means that the event that causes the homelessness and the consequent priority need must be both an emergency and a disaster. For example, an unlawful eviction might be an emergency but it is not a disaster, and thus does not give an applicant priority need status.[2] Similarly, unfitness which gives rise to a demolition order is not deemed to be a disaster.[3]

There is no requirement to satisfy one of the other priority need categories as well; a single person or a childless couple who are not vulnerable would be in priority need if made homeless as a result of an emergency that is a disaster.

[1] s.189(1)(d) Housing Act 1996.

[2] R v Bristol CC ex p Bradic (1995) 27 HLR 584, CA.

[3] Noble v South Herefordshire DC (1985) 17 HLR 80, CA; R v Walsall MBC ex p Price [1996] CLY 3068, QBD.

Back to top