This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Available for occupation

This content applies to England

About the conditions that needs to be met for accommodation to be available for an applicant's occupation .

Accommodation not available for occupation

An applicant cannot be found to be intentionally homeless from accommodation that is not available for her/his occupation. Accommodation can only be regarded as available for occupation by the applicant if it is also available to any other people who normally reside with her/him or might reasonably be expected to do so.[1]

Accommodation that is severely overcrowded,[2] or where only part of the household can stay (a split family), is not 'available' and an applicant should not be seen as intentionally homeless for leaving such accommodation.

However, in a case involving separated parents, the Court of Appeal held that the local authority was correct in determining that the father was intentionally homeless where he permitted his three children to move in with him in a single room in a shared house with the inevitable result that notice to quit was served due to overcrowding, where it would have been reasonable for the children to reside with the mother in the matrimonial home provided by the local authority. The single room in the shared house was accommodation available to him, the children were not reasonably expected to live with him, and his own deliberate act of allowing them to come and stay with him lead to the issue of the notice to quit.[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.176 Housing Act 1996; paras 6.5 and 6.6 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[2] In Re Islam (1981) 1 HLR 107, HL; R v Westminster CC ex parte Ali (1983) 11 HLR 83, QBD.

[3] Oxford CC v Bull [2011] EWCA Civ 609.

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