Priority need when homeless due to fire, flood or disaster

Priority need of people made homeless by a flood, fire or other disaster.

This content applies to England

Homeless due to an emergency

A person is in priority need if the event that caused them to be homeless or threatened with homeless was an emergency, such as a flood, fire or other disaster.[1]

There is no requirement that the applicant be in any other category of priority need. A person who would not fall into another automatic category of priority need and who is not vulnerable would have a priority need if homeless as the result of an emergency. For example, a single person who was not vulnerable made homeless by to a flood. 

Definition of an emergency

The event that causes the homelessness and the consequent priority need must be both an emergency and a disaster. 

Some events might be an emergency, but the courts have held that they are not a disaster. 

For example, an unlawful eviction might be an emergency but it is not a disaster, and thus does not give an applicant priority need status.[2]

The courts have held that the making of a demolition order as a result of unfitness is not a disaster.[3]

Last updated: 17 March 2021


  • [1]

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

  • [2]

    R v Bristol CC ex p Bradic (1995) 27 HLR 584, CA.

  • [3]

    Noble v South Herefordshire DC (1985) 17 HLR 80, CA; R v Walsall MBC ex p Price [1996] CLY 3068, QBD.