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Priority need of people vulnerable for other special reason

This content applies to England

This page looks at the category of vulnerable for some other special reason.


A person may be vulnerable for some other special reason or combination of reasons.[1] Such a person would be in priority need, as would any person who normally lived with her/him, or who might reasonably be expected to live with the vulnerable person.

Special reasons

The Homelessness Code of Guidance stresses that special reasons are not restricted to an applicant's physical or mental characteristics. They could include a combination of factors and circumstances as a result of which, if homeless, the applicant would be significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if they became homeless. For example an applicant with a need for support who has no family or friends on whom s/he can depend.[2]

Authorities should keep an open mind and avoid blanket policies. Where an applicant may be vulnerable, the Code of Guidance says that in-depth assessments of the circumstances should be made. Additionally, it states that ‘housing authorities will need to be aware that an applicant may be considered vulnerable for any other special reason because of a combination of factors which taken alone may not necessarily lead to a decision that they are vulnerable (eg drug and alcohol problems, common mental health problems, a history of sleeping rough, no previous experience of managing a tenancy).’[3]


The Code suggests certain groups who may be vulnerable for some other special reason but stresses that the list is not exhaustive, and proper consideration must be given to every application.

People who may be vulnerable for other special reason include the folowing:

  • young people: although many young people now fall under specific categories of priority need, the Code points out that many other young people could be vulnerable if homeless, particularly those without any support from families, friends or institutions. In addition, young people on the streets without adequate financial resources may be at risk of abuse or exploitation.[4]
  • people fleeing harassment: the Code says that severe harassment may fall short of actual violence or threats of violence, and authorities should consider whether people subjected to psychological or emotional harassment or damage to property are vulnerable as a result.[5]
  • victims of trafficking and modern slavery: housing authorities should be aware that applicants may be victims of trafficking or of modern slavery, and may be vulnerable as a result.[6] The Code states that modern slavery can take many different forms, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, labour exploitation and criminal exploitation.[7] Local authorities, as designated first responder organisations, should refer any individual they suspect to be a victim of modern slavery to the National Referral Mechanism.[8] See Help for ineligible adult migrants for more information.

Any assessment of vulnerability should take account of advice from specialist support agencies.[9]

Where the applicant has a vulnerable household member who is a person from abroad, the vulnerable person may be disregarded in a priority need assessment, or the applicant may be owed a 'restricted' duty. The decision will depend on the immigration status of the applicant and the household member. See Who has a priority need 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] s.189(1)(c) Housing Act 1996.

[2] para 8.38 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[3] para 8.39 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[4] para 8.41 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[5] para 8.42 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[6] para 8.43 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[7] para 25.3 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[8] para 25.7 and 25.8 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[9] para 25.17 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

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