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Who qualifies for housing

The council does not have to offer housing to everyone who is homeless.

Some people only get help to find somewhere to live. 

But you may have a right to:

  • emergency housing while the council look into your situation

  • longer term housing under the main housing duty

Emergency housing

You qualify if the council think that you might meet the first 3 conditions on this page.

Longer term housing

You usually qualify for longer term housing under the main housing duty if the council accept that you meet all 5 conditions on this page.

The council can only make a decision about the main housing duty after they've looked into your situation and provided help under a personal housing plan.

1. You are legally homeless

You're legally homeless if, for example, you:

  • have been evicted from your home

  • are asked to leave by friends or family

  • must leave due to domestic abuse or violence

  • cannot stay due to fire or flood

  • are sleeping rough or on the streets

  • live somewhere that is not reasonable for you to stay

The council does not have to provide housing if you're only threatened with homelessness.

2. You meet immigration conditions

The council call this being 'eligible for assistance'.

You usually qualify if you have:

  • British or Irish citizenship

  • settled status from the EU settlement scheme 

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

  • refugee status or humanitarian protection

Many people with pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme can also qualify. Check the new rules for EU citizens from 1 July 2021.

You usually need to be habitually resident even if you're British, Irish or have settled status in the UK.

Habitual residence: what is it?

You must be living in the Common Travel Area - the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man - for the foreseeable future.

The council might ask you more about this if you've lived abroad in the last 2 years.

Find out more about the immigration and residence conditions and what to do if the council say you do not qualify.

3. You are in priority need

You or someone in your household must fall into a priority need group.

You will have an automatic priority need if you're in any of the following situations:

  • a family with children under 16 (or under 19 if still dependent on you)

  • pregnant

  • homeless because of domestic abuse

  • a care leaver aged 18-20

  • homeless due to a fire, flood or other disaster

You can also be in priority need if you're classed as 'vulnerable'. For example, because you're disabled or have a serious physical or mental health condition.

When deciding if you're vulnerable, the council should consider anything that makes it hard for you to cope with being homeless and puts you at greater risk of harm.

You could be in priority need if you're aged 16 or 17. In most cases, social services must make sure you have a safe place to live but the housing department should still provide emergency housing if you need it.

If the council think you might meet the first 3 conditions you qualify for emergency housing when homeless

 4. It's not your fault that you're homeless

The council will look at whether you did anything or failed to do something that caused you to become homeless. This is called being 'intentionally homeless'.

There's a risk you could be found to be intentionally homeless if, for example:

  • you were evicted for antisocial or criminal behaviour

  • you did not pay the rent or mortgage when it was affordable

  • you left early or gave up your home when you could have stayed

The council does not have to provide longer term housing if they decide it's your fault that you're homeless.

If the council decide you meet the first 3 conditions but are intentionally homeless they must provide temporary accommodation for a reasonable time - usually a few weeks.

You can ask for a review if the council decide you're intentionally homeless.

5. You usually need a connection to the area

This is called a 'local connection' and includes if you:

  • live or work in the area

  • have close family in the area

  • need specialist healthcare in the area

If you do not have a local connection where you've asked for help, that council can refer you to a different council where you do.

You cannot be referred to a different council area if you'd be at risk of domestic abuse or other violence in that area.

You qualify for longer term housing under the main housing duty if the council that deals with your application decides you meet all 5 conditions.

Last updated: 5 July 2021

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