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Special-needs housing

This content applies to England

This page looks at special-needs housing, specific types of tenancy or licence, and the different possession grounds that apply.

PRPSHs 'special-needs' housing

In addition to the provision of 'general-needs' accommodation, many private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs), formerly known as registered social landlords (RSLs), provide 'special-needs' housing. This heading covers a wide range of accommodation for an equally wide range of people; however, a common feature of such schemes is more intensive management of the accommodation and specialist support for the residents. The support staff are often employed by a separate voluntary organisation, working in close partnership with the PRPSH, which is itself responsible for the development and maintenance of the properties. In other schemes, the PRPSH fulfils both roles.

Schemes and funding

Special-needs schemes include accommodation for people recovering from a mental illness, ex-offenders, people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities, young homeless people, and refugees. Many PRPSHs also manage sheltered housing for elderly people. The accommodation provided ranges from hostels with shared rooms and single rooms in shared flats and houses, to self-contained flats visited frequently by support staff. Some projects are intended to provide supported accommodation only for a certain period in a tenant's life; once the tenant attains independence, s/he is often able to move on to another form of accommodation. Other projects are intended to provide permanent housing.

Special-needs housing is necessarily expensive. To account for this, increased allowances for PRPSHs are available from the Homes and Community Agency and the National Assembly for Wales - information on grants and funding. In addition, special funding may be provided by other agencies, eg the Home Office, district health authority, National Lottery or charitable funds.

Tenancies and licences

Tenants with special needs may have secure, assured, or assured shorthold tenancies (see the section on Different types of tenancy for more information). Other tenants with special needs are subject to different agreements, which are outlined in the sections below.


If residents are sharing, or if special caring facilities are required, the resident may have a licence. In some cases the licensees will have the basic protection of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Please see the section on Basic protection/excluded occupiers for more information.

Excluded licenses

If the relevant accommodation is a hostel[1] (ie if the accommodation is not separate or self-contained, and board or cooking facilities are provided), and that accommodation is owned by a landlord of a specified type (see the page on Who is an excluded occupier? for a list of public bodies who can grant excluded licences), the resident is an excluded licensee. In this situation, the resident is entitled only to contractual notice. The period of notice is either whatever period has been expressly agreed either in writing or orally or, if there is no agreement, reasonable notice. If a licence fee is paid, then the reasonable notice may be equal to the payment period. It may arguably be longer depending on the facts of the case. The notice can be verbal or written and there is no requirement for a possession order.

For a further explanation of excluded tenancies and licences, please see the section on Basic protection/excluded occupiers.

Possession and special-needs housing

Possession rules are the same as for general-needs housing, but there are certain cases that have particular relevance to special-needs housing.

Secure tenancies

A secure tenancy may be terminated and possession obtained in certain cases, the following of which have particular relevance to special-needs housing:

  • the property has features that are designed for use by a person with a physical disability and there is no longer a person needing those features living in the property[2]
  • the landlord is a PRPSH that lets properties to tenants who have particular housing needs and there is no longer a person with such needs living in the property[3]
  • the property is used for persons with special needs and is situated near to services or facilities used by those persons, and there is no longer a person with such needs living in the property.[4]

In all cases, reliance on the ground is only possible where suitable alternative accommodation is available and the court considers it reasonable to order possession.

There are no equivalent grounds for assured tenancies, but the court may order possession where suitable alternative accommodation is available and the court considers it reasonable to order possession.[5]

[1] as defined in s.622 Housing Act 1985.

[2] Sch.2, ground 13 Housing Act 1985.

[3] Sch.2, ground 14 Housing Act 1985.

[4] Sch.2, ground 15 Housing Act 1985.

[5] Sch.2, ground 9 Housing Act 1988.

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