What is priority need?

Who has a priority need?

You always have a priority need if you or someone you live with:

  • is at risk of abuse from a partner, ex or family member

  • is pregnant

  • lives with their dependent children

  • is homeless because of things like fire, flood or other disasters

In other situations, you may have to show that you are vulnerable and have a priority need.

In housing law, 'vulnerable' means you would be at much greater risk of harm than most people if you become homeless. For example, if you are disabled or have a serious illness.

Young people

You always have a priority need if you're a care leaver aged 18 to 20.

You count as a care leaver if you were looked after or housed by social services at any time while you were 16 or 17 even if you do not get social services help now.

You could have a priority need if you're aged 16 or 17. Social services usually look after homeless people under 18.

The council's housing team should give you emergency housing if you need it while they ask social services to speak to you.

People who have to show they are vulnerable

You could count as vulnerable if you or someone you live with:

  • has mental health problems

  • is disabled or has a serious health condition

  • has spent time in care, prison or the armed forces

  • is homeless because of violence from someone who is not a partner or relative

  • is very old and frail

You could also count as having a priority need if there is another special reason.

The council must look at your situation and evidence. If they think you might be homeless and have a priority need, they must give you emergency housing.

They should make sure you have somewhere safe to stay before they look into your situation in more detail.

Last updated: 29 September 2023

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