Becoming Intentionally Homeless

Homelessness

A person is homeless if he has no available accommodation in the United Kingdom or elsewhere which:

  •  The person is entitled to occupy as a result of an interest or a court order or

  •  The person has a licence to occupy or

  •  The person occupies as a result of a rule of law or statutory provision and

  •  The person is unable to secure entry to the accommodation or

  •   It is unreasonable for the person to occupy the accommodation for example in cases of domestic violence

Who is intentionally homeless?

  • A person is intentionally homeless if he deliberately does something or fails to do anything in consequence of which he no longer occupies an accommodation which is available for his occupation and which would have been reasonable for him to occupy.

  • A person shall be treated as becoming intentionally homeless if he enters into an arrangement under which he is required to cease to occupy an accommodation which would have been reasonable for him to occupy where the purpose of such an arrangement was to obtain assistance under the Housing Act 1996 and there is no other reason why he is homeless.

The Conduct

In determining whether or not a person’s conduct has rendered him homeless, it has to be decided whether or not the consequence of the conduct could reasonably be regarded as being that the person would cease to occupy his accommodation. (Stuart v Lambeth London Borough Council 2002)

The Exception

A person is not deemed to be intentionally homeless if he does the act or omission in good faith and was unaware of any relevant fact.

Acts or omission that are not deliberate

  • An act or omission which led to the loss of accommodation was not that of the applicant (person who applies for accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation from the local housing authority)

  • An applicant’s misunderstanding about a family’s entitlement to re-housing

  • An applicant who has lost his home as a result of rent or mortgage arrears which was as a result of genuine financial difficulties, illness or unemployment

Role of local authority where person is intentionally homeless

If a local housing authority decides that an eligible applicant has become intentionally homeless, its duties are restricted to providing advice and assistance.

Priority Need

If a local housing authority is of the opinion that an applicant is homeless and is eligible for assistance then if the person is seen to be intentionally homeless and has a priority need the local housing authority must do the following:

  • Ensure that accommodation is available for a reasonable period of time so that he can secure accommodation

  • Provide advice and assistance so as to ensure that he is able to find accommodation

A priority need includes the following:

  • A pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or expect to reside

  • A person with whom dependent children lives or expect to live

  • Vulnerable persons as a result of age, mental illness or physical disability

  • A person who is homeless or threatened homelessness as a result of a disaster

No Priority Need

In cases where the applicant does not have a priority need, the local housing authority must merely provide him with or ensure that he is provided with advice or assistance.

In both cases an assessment of the person’s housing need must be carried out.

Challenging a Local Housing Authority’s decision

  • Applicants have a statutory right to appeal against a decision by the local housing authority on a point of law to the County Court.

  • Alternatively applicants can request judicial review of a decision under the Housing Act 1996.