False statements in homeless applications

Criminal offences of making false statements or failing to notify of a material change in circumstances.

This content applies to England

False statements and withholding information

It is a criminal offence for an applicant or anyone else to either knowingly or recklessly make a false statement, or knowingly withhold information which an authority has reasonably required in connection with the exercise of its functions with intent to induce the authority to believe that they are entitled to accommodation or assistance.[1]

Applicant's duty to notify changes of circumstances

An applicant must notify an authority of any material change in circumstances that occurs before they are notified of the authority's decision on their homeless application.

Failure to do so is also a criminal offence unless the applicant can show that they were not given an explanation of their duty in ordinary language, or has some other good reason for not disclosing the change of circumstances.[2]

This offence can be also be committed by persons other than the applicant.

Fines if a person is convicted of an offence

A person can be fined if they are convicted of an offence of making a false statement, withholding information or failing to notify a change of circumstance.

A fine can be up to level 5 on the standard scale.[3]

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references here to this Code.

For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

Last updated: 13 March 2021


  • [1]

    s.214(2) and (3) Housing Act 1996; para 18.10 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [2]

    s.214(2) Housing Act 1996.

  • [3]

    s.214(4) Housing Act 1996.