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Criminal offences

This content applies to England

Criminal offences of making false statements or failing to notify of a material change in circumstances.

False statements and withholding information

It is a criminal offence for an applicant or anyone else to:

  • knowingly or recklessly make a false statement, or
  • knowingly withhold information which an authority has reasonably required in connection with the exercise of its functions with intent to induce the authority to believe that s/he is entitled to accommodation or assistance.[1]

Duty to notify change of circumstances

An applicant must notify an authority of any material change in circumstances that occurs before s/he is notified of the authority's decision on her/his homeless application. Failure to do so is also a criminal offence unless the applicant:

  • can show that s/he was not given an explanation of her/his duty in ordinary language, or
  • has some other good reason for not disclosing the change of circumstances.[2]

This offence can be also be committed by persons other than the applicant.


These offences are subject to fines of up to level 5 on the standard scale.[3]

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references on this page are to this Code. For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

[1] s.214(2) and (3) Housing Act 1996; para 18.10 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[2] s.214(2) Housing Act 1996.

[3] s.214(4) Housing Act 1996.

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