Priority need if homeless due to violence

A person has a priority need if they are vulnerable as a result of having had to leave their accommodation because of violence, other than domestic violence.

This content applies to England

Priority need due to non-domestic violence

A person has a priority need if they are vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence or threats of violence which are likely to be carried out.[1] They must have actually left the accommodation for this to apply.

The applicant only has a priority need if they themselves fall into this category, rather than another member of the household.

This does not include violence that meets the definition of domestic abuse. A different category of priority need applies to people who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse.

Definition of violence

Violence includes any violence from another person (other than domestic violence) and threats of violence likely to be carried out.

For example:

  • gang violence

  • violence from neighbours

  • violence directed at a person based on race, sexuality, gender, disability or age

Violence includes physical violence, threatening or intimidating behaviour and any other form of abuse which, directly or indirectly, may give rise to the risk of physical or psychological harm.[2]

The word 'likely' means a real or serious possibility. When assessing whether threats of violence are likely to be carried out, authorities must only take into account the probability of violence, and not actions that the applicant could take such as injunctions.[3]

Assessing priority need due to non-domestic violence

The local authority should consider:

  • whether the person ceased to occupy accommodation because of violence of threats of violence likely to be carried out

  • if the person is vulnerable

  • if that vulnerability is a result of having ceased to occupy accommodation due to violence or threats

The Code states that it will usually be apparent from the assessment of the reason for homelessness whether the person had to leave accommodation because of violence or threats of violence.[4]

This will usually be the accommodation that the person has most recently occupied but this is not a specific requirement.

Vulnerability

The person only has a priority need if they are vulnerable. This test does not apply where someone is homeless as a result of domestic abuse.

When assessing vulnerability, the local authority must consider whether, if homeless, the applicant would be significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if they became homeless. This includes where the applicant would suffer or be at risk of suffering harm or detriment which the ordinary person would not, and that the harm or detriment would make a noticeable difference to their ability to deal with the consequences of homelessness.[5] In one County Court case, the judge held held that a person who was subject to threats of violence was less likely to be able to protect themselves from harm when homeless.[6]

When a local authority is making inquiries into cases involving violence, the safety and confidentiality of the applicant must be of paramount concern.[7]

Harassment that falls short of violence

A person also has a priority need for accommodation if they are vulnerable for any ‘other special reason.’[8]

The Code gives fleeing harassment as an example of a special reason that can make someone vulnerable. It states that severe harassment may occur that falls short of actual violence or threats of violence likely to be carried out. Local authorities should consider carefully whether a person who has fled their home because of non-violent forms of harassment is vulnerable as a result. It gives examples of psychological harassment or damage to property. [9]

Last updated: 7 October 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    art. 6 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002 SI 2002/2051.

  • [2]

    Yemshaw v Hounslow LBC [2011] UKSC 3; Hussain v Waltham Forest LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 14.

  • [3]

    Bond v Leicester CC [2001] EWCA Civ 1544.

  • [4]

    para 8.37 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [5]

    para 8.15 Homelessness Code of Guidance , MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [6]

    Logan v havering London Borough Council, [2007] unreported, Romford County Court.

  • [7]

    para 8.37 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [8]

    s.189(1)(c) Housing Act 1996.

  • [9]

    para 8.43 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.