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Priority need of people living with a vulnerable person

This content applies to England

Applicants who live with a vulnerable person.

In some situations, a homelessness applicant who lives with a very vulnerable person would be considered as also having a priority need. This could be the case, for example, where the homeless applicant lives with a a vulnerable person in order to care for them.

It should be noted that this is in addition to an applicant who may be in priority need because of a 'household member' who is in one of the specified vulnerability categories. See Who has a priority need for further information.

The House of Lords has held that very vulnerable people, who do not have the capacity to understand and respond to an offer of accommodation and undertake the responsibilities that will be involved, are unable to make a homelessness application in their own right.[1] In situations where a very vulnerable person is being cared for by someone, the carer would be in priority need as someone with whom it was reasonable for the vulnerable person to reside, and would need to be the applicant. The Supreme Court has held that the belief by some housing local authorities that they do not have a duty towards households who are comprised of, or include, non-vulnerable adults in reasonable good physical health is 'plainly wrong'.[2]

Where there is no carer, the very vulnerable person would be protected by other legislation such as the Care Act 2014.[3] See the section Housing for people with care and support needs.

[1] R v Tower Hamlets LBC, ex p Begum (1993) 25 HLR 319, HL.

[2] Hotak v Southwark LBC : Kanu v Southwark LBC : Johnson v Solihull MBC [2015] UKSC 30.

[3] R v Newham LBC, ex p Patrick [2000], QBD; R v Richmond LBC, ex p H [2000], QBD.

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