Housing – Priority Need Explained
Housing Act 1996 VII (Section 189) sets out that the following are in Priority Need:
• A pregnant woman or someone with whom she resides or may reasonably be expected to reside.
• A person with whom dependent children reside or may be expected to reside.
• A person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap, or physical disability, or who has some other special reason for being vulnerable or with whom such a person resides or may reasonably be expected to reside;
• A person whose homelessness or threatened homelessness, results from flood, fire, or similar emergency or disaster.
There has been an extension of these categories by the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England) Order (SI 2002) No. 2051). This sets out 6 further categories, which are:
• A person aged 16 or 17 who is not a relevant child or a child in need to whom Local Authority owes a duty under S.20 of the children Act 1989.
• A person under 21 who was (but is no longer) looked after, accommodated, or fostered between the ages of 16 and 18 (except a person who is a ‘relevant student’);
• A person aged 21 or more who is vulnerable as a result of having been looked after, accommodated, or fostered (except a person who is a ‘relevant student’);
• A person who is vulnerable as a result of having been a member of Her Majesty’s regular naval, military, or air forces;
Test of Vulnerability
What has to be demonstrated is that ‘when homeless, the applicant would be less able to fend for himself/herself than an ordinary homeless person so that he would be likely to suffer injury or detriment, in circumstances where a less vulnerable person would be able to cope without harmful effects’.
A person who is vulnerable as a result of:
• Having served a custodial sentence,
• Having been committed for contempt of court of any other kindred offence, or having been remanded in custody;
• A person who is vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out.
Homeless applicants need to be aware that the above does not automatically gives Priority Need. Majority of single homeless applicants who fit into the above will not be accepted to be in Priority Need because they are not considered to be vulnerable when compared to another homeless person. Single Homeless People usually fail the test of vulnerability.