The council don't have to provide longer-term housing if they decide it's your fault you're homeless. Find out if you could be considered intentionally homeless.
How the council must help
You can ask the council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home.
The council must:
arrange emergency housing if you qualify
agree a plan to help you find somewhere to live
The council then go on to decide if you qualify for longer-term housing. You usually qualify if you're in priority need and homeless through no fault of your own.
The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you lose your home because of something that you deliberately do or fail to do.
They look at why you left your most recent home. If you were staying somewhere short-term, they can look back to how you lost your last settled home.
The council don't have to provide longer-term housing if they decide you're in priority need but intentionally homeless. They must provide temporary housing for a reasonable time (usually a few weeks) after making their decision.
Challenge the decision
The council must give you a letter with reasons if they decide you're intentionally homeless. You can ask for a review within 21 days if you think the decision is wrong.
You may qualify for free legal help:
Domestic abuse or other violence
You're not intentionally homeless if you have to leave your home because you're threatened with:
domestic abuse by a partner, former partner or family member
violence in your home from someone unrelated to you
If you lose your home because you've been violent to someone, the council will probably decide that you're intentionally homeless.
Leaving your home before you have to
The council can decide you're intentionally homeless if you leave your home when you could reasonably have stayed.
You have the legal right to stay in your home until the bailiffs come if you're a:
tenant facing eviction
homeowner facing repossession
The council might accept that it's reasonable to leave before an eviction takes place, for example, if your home is unaffordable and arrears are getting worse.
But you should wait for the council to accept that you're legally homeless before you give up your home.
You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if you were genuinely unaware of your right to stay. But the council expects you to get advice on your situation.
Rent or mortgage arrears
The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you lose your home because either:
you didn't pay the rent or mortgage and you could afford to
you knew the payments were unaffordable when you moved in
If your partner was responsible for the payments, the council looks at whether you tried to sort out the arrears or could have influenced your partner's actions.
Debts and financial hardship
You can't usually be found intentionally homeless if paying the rent or mortgage would have left you without money for food or heating.
The council might decide you're intentionally homeless if you prioritise other debts (such as credit cards) over your rent or mortgage.
Benefit problems and delays
You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if your arrears were caused by failures of the benefit system.
You need to show that you claimed promptly, chased up any delays and paid what you could afford until benefit payments started.
Illness and disability
You shouldn't be found intentionally homeless if arrears were caused by:
a change in circumstances outside your control such as sudden illness
mental illness or a disability that meant you were unable to manage your money
Eviction for antisocial behaviour
The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you're evicted for antisocial behaviour.
The council must consider whether the behaviour was deliberate or if it was caused by a disability or mental ill health.
If the behaviour was caused by other household members or visitors to your home, the council must consider what steps you took to try and stop the behaviour.
Leaving a job with accommodation
The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you have nowhere to live after leaving or being sacked from a job that came with accommodation.
This shouldn't apply if you have to leave services accommodation because you've left the armed forces.
If you refuse an offer of housing
The council can usually end their help with housing if you refuse a suitable offer of:
a private tenancy
a council or housing association home from the housing register
If you reapply as homeless the council will probably decide that you're intentionally homeless.
It's almost always better to accept an offer of housing. You can ask for a review if you think it's unsuitable.
Get advice before refusing an offer:
Last updated: 17 May 2020