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1. Introduction

In some circumstances, tenants may be eligible to be re-housed by their Local Authority.  

There are strict rules about this and to be eligible you need to satisfy the requirements.

Also, properties to rehouse people are in short supply so Local Authorities are generally reluctant to rehouse people unless they have to.  So you may have to take action to enforce your rights if they refuse to help you if you are eligible.  See more on this below.

Lets now look at the criteria you need to satisfy to be eligble for re-housing.

2. Are you homeless?

It will be fundamental to your application that you are either homeless now or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

If you actually have somewhere to live right now, without the fear of being made homeless within the next 56 days, your application will almost certainly be rejected – unless you are able to show that it is unsuitable for some reason i.e. you are fleeing domestic abuse, or violence of any sort, or your home is in such a state of disrepair – the roof has caved in – that it is no longer safe for you to stay.

Being served with a notice by your landlord will frequently not be enough to trigger the right to be rehoused as landlords often serve notices and then take no further action on them.  Also – it takes a long time for an eviction claim to go through the Courts and you are only at actual physical risk of eviction when a possession order has been made and your landlord has applied to the Court for a bailiffs appointment.

Many Council’s still advise tenants to remain living in their property – even if they cannot afford the rent – and wait for their landlords to evict them. 

This has been heavily criticised as it results in tenants running up large rent arrears, bills, landlords being seriously out of pocket (they still have to pay their expenses when the tenants fail to pay rent) and congestion in the Courts.  

Whilst you may still have a roof over your head, failing to pay your rent could lead to a Money Judgement being made against you which will affect your credit rating. Further, rent arrears can lead to you losing your deposit, losing your relationship with your Guarantor, and losing the opportunity to request a reference from your landlord.

However many Councils have such a shortage of properties available for rehousing applicants that they consider they have no choice to refuse to take action until you are in crisis.

In view of this, if you are hoping to be rehoused by the Council you should NOT move out of your accommodation unless you are forced to or unless there is an urgent reason why – as otherwise the Council will in most cases then reject your application for rehousing saying that you are ‘intentionally homeless’.  

You should not normally be classed as intentionally homeless if:

  • You have been evicted illegally by your landlord
  • You are at real risk of domestic violence, or
  • Your property is in such poor repair that it is threatening the health of you or a member of your household (although in this case you should take legal advice first).

3. Are you in Priority Need?

This is one of the criteria used by the Council to determine whether they are obligated to rehouse you.

If you qualify, your local Council must

  • Give you emergency accommodation if you are or are about to made be homeless; and
  • You should qualify for longer term housing if
    • You are eligible for assistance based on your immigration status;
    • You have a local connection to that particular Council; 
    • You are made homeless through no fault of your own;
    • You are in ‘priority need.

You will be in priority need if any of the following apply:

  • you have children living with you
  • are pregnant
  • are aged 16 or 17
  • are a care leaver age 18 to 20
  • are homeless because of fire or flood, or
  • are assessed by the council as vulnerable

Let’s take a look at some of these.

4. Having children or being pregnant

This is one of the top reasons why tenants claim and are successful in being rehoused.  You will be in priority need if you have dependent children who usually live with you.

So this means children who are under 18 and who live with you, and this will include:

  • your own children,
  • stepchildren,
  • foster children, or
  • other children in your household,

as long as you’re responsible for them.

If you are separated and your children normally live with the other parent, you won’t normally be in priority need – although tell the Council if there are any special circumstances, for example, if any of your children are severely disabled.

If you are pregnant, have confirmation of this to show the Council when making your application.  

5. If you are agent 16 or 17

You should normally go to Social Services if you are homeless as it is their responsibility to house and support you if you are under 18.

However, if you need emergency housing you can also approach your Council Housing Department, and request them to house you while you wait for social services to deal with your case.

6. If you are a care leaver agent 18 to 20

You will be deemed to be in priority need if you are aged 18 to 20 and if you spent at least 24 hours in care arranged for by Social Services up to the age of 17 years.

This will include any time in foster care, a children’s home or any other housing arranged by Social Services.

7. If you are classed as vulnerable

Either you or a member of your household could be classed as vulnerable if one or more of the following apply:

  • old age or ill health
  • physical or learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • fleeing domestic abuse or violence
  • time spent in care, prison or the armed forces, or
  • any other special reason

However, you will not automatically be classed as vulnerable just because you come within one of these groups.

So how does the Council decide if you are vulnerable or not?  Here is a list of the sort of things they will look at:

  • if you can cope with being homeless
  • how any disability or illness you have affects your daily life
  • what support you get from friends, family or other services
  • the risk of harm to you compared to the risk of harm to other homeless people

You will probably need the support of someone like your GP, psychiatrist, and/or social worker.  Ideally, speak to them before making your application and get advice on how to provide as much evidence of your vulnerability as possible.  See more on this below.

8. Making your application

You need to be careful when making your application that you provide as much evidence of your status as possible. In theory, it is for the Council to do the investigative work into your application. However, the more that you can bolster your application, the better is will be for you.

Ideally, you should seek help from someone who is familiar with this work.

You can find sources of help in our article here.

9. If the council refuse your application

The Council can take up to 56 days to decide on your initial application. In the past, this has taken much longer. This is not so bad when you have been placed in Temporary Accommodation as at least you have a roof over your head. It can be harder when you have not been found initially to be in priority need, and you are awaiting their overall decision, whilst remaining homeless.

If your initial application is refused the Council must write to you and explain the reasons for their decision.  If you think their decision is wrong,  you can ask for a review within 21 days of the date of the original decision.

If in the meantime you need emergency housing whilst the Council are reviewing their original decision, you should seek legal advice as sometimes the Council’s decision not to provide you with accommodation whilst reviewing their decision can be challenged in Court.  

Make sure this is someone who understands this area of law, ideally a solicitor.  

Note that you may be eligible for Legal Aid.  You can check this online here.

This is the end of this article.

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