Vulnerability of homeless ex-services personnel

A person has a priority need if they are vulnerable as a result of being in the armed forces. 

This content applies to England

Priority need of vulnerable ex-service personnel

A person is in priority need if they are vulnerable as a result of serving in the regular naval, military or air forces.[1]

This includes someone who had been detained in a military prison or corrective training centre.[2]

Assessing vulnerability of ex-service personnel

The Code of Guidance states that housing authorities may wish to consider the following factors when deciding whether the applicant is vulnerable, although additional factors may be relevant:[3]

  • length of time spent in the armed forces

  • type of service, bearing in mind that active service may make it more difficult to cope with civilian life

  • time spent in a military hospital, which could indicate a serious health problem or post-traumatic stress

  • whether HM Forces medical or welfare advisers have judged that an individual is vulnerable and issued a Medical History Release form giving a summary of the circumstances that caused the vulnerability

  • time that has lapsed since the applicant left the forces and whether the applicant has been able to obtain and maintain accommodation during that period

  • existing support networks, such as family or friends

Advice and information for ex-service personnel

The Homelessness Code of Guidance states that the principal responsibility for providing housing information and advice to service personnel lies with the armed forces up to the point of discharge. The Joint Service Housing Advice Office has responsibility for delivering this. Some people who have served in the forces for a long period or who are medically discharged may be offered resettlement assistance.[4]

In addition, the person may not become homeless immediately upon discharge, but homelessness may arise later. Vulnerability will still have to be considered. The Code refers to former members of the armed forces as 'veterans'.

For general information on housing options for ex-service personnel and their families, see the NHAS guide Housing options in England for ex-Service personnel.

From 1 October 2018, the The Ministry of Defence is subject to the duty to refer in relation to members of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the regular army and the Royal Air Force.

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references here are to this Code. For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

Last updated: 28 April 2021


  • [1]

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

  • [2]

    para 8.32 and 24.9 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [3]

    para 24.10 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [4]

    para 24.5 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.