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

Pregnant women

This content applies to England

An explanation of priority need because of pregnancy.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance makes clear that priority need arises as soon as the pregnancy is established.[1] Local authorities should be satisfied with a doctor or midwife's letter confirming the pregnancy.

Miscarriage or termination

Once a local authority has made a decision on priority need, that decision cannot be changed as a result of a subsequent miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.

The court has held that the ongoing duty to secure accommodation can only be ended by one of a series of events specified in Housing Act 1996[2] and not by the so-called 'loss of priority need'.[3] However, a miscarriage or termination between the date of application and the date of the decision is relevant to the decision and an applicant must disclose this change of circumstances. The authority should then consider how a miscarriage or termination may affect the applicant in terms of vulnerability.[4]

Persons subject to immigration control

Where the applicant is a person subject to immigration control who is eligible for assistance under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (for example a person granted refugee status or indefinite leave to remain or humanitarian protection),[5] any pregnant household member who is a person from abroad who is ineligible for assistance will be disregarded in determining whether the applicant has priority need.[6]

Persons not subject to immigration control/restricted cases

Prior to 2 March 2009, the above provision applied to all applicants, but was held to be incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[7] The legislation has been amended so that the provision no longer applies to applicants who are not subject to immigration control - that is British citizens, a Commonwealth citizen with a right of abode in the UK, or an EEA (or Swiss) national with a right to reside in the UK.[8]

So, ineligible pregnant household members can now confer priority need on eligible applicants who are not subject to immigration control. However some of these ineligible household members may be 'restricted persons', (see Who has a priority need) and there are specific rules regarding discharge of the homeless duty in these 'restricted cases'. See Ending main housing duty for further information.

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] para 8.5 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[2] s.193(6) Housing Act 1996.

[3] R v Brent LBC ex parte Sadiq (2000) 33 HLR 525, QBD.

[4] para 8.5 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[5] reg 5 Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility)(England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294.

[6] s.185(4) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

[7] R v Westminster CC, ex p Morris; R v Lambeth LBC ex p Badu [2005] EWCA Civ 1184.

[8] s.185(4) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

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