If you apply to us for housing assistance because you are homeless, we may not necessarily be legally obliged to provide you with any accommodation. However, you may qualify for assistance if you are a former member of the Armed Forces, are homeless or threatened with homelessness and meet certain criteria.
We have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify your housing and support needs, work with you to try to prevent your homelessness; or support you find somewhere to live.
We will provide you with a Personal Housing Plan which will explain where we can assist and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending appointments with Job Centre Plus or engaging with organisations that can assist ex-Armed Forces personnel.
We must consider whether to provide you with emergency housing using both general rules that apply to all applicants and special rules that apply to people who were in the Armed Forces.
General rules for people in priority need
It can be easier to get help if you qualify under the general rules for people in priority need, for example if you are pregnant or have dependent children. We will also explore if you are vulnerable in any way. This may involve showing how a disability, mental health problem, addiction or other issue affects your ability to secure housing compared with other people who are homeless.
Additional homelessness rules for the Armed Forces
You should be treated as being vulnerable and in priority need for accommodation if you can show that your vulnerability is as a result of being a former member of the Armed Forces. When deciding this we may consider:
- how long you were in the Forces and your role
- whether you spent any time in a military hospital
- whether you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form)
- whether you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left
- how long it has been since you left service.
To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the Ministry of Defence, including a Medical History Release Form (if you were given one). You may need to seek independent legal advice or help from a specialist agency to make representations on your behalf if we decide that you do not meet the criteria and we do not owe a duty to provide you with accommodation.
Housing in the area of your base
To be accepted as homeless in the local council area where you were based, you must be able to show that you have a local connection with the local council where your base was situated. You may be able to show a local connection with that area if you:
- currently work in the area
- have lived in the area for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years
- Live with a partner who currently works in the area.
If you have left the Forces and are not yet working for another employer in the area, you will not be able to show a local connection through work. However, you may still be able to show that you have a local connection as the time you spent living or working in the area may still count.
Please note that you do not need to have a local connection to apply to go on the Housing Register if you are (whether or not currently living in the borough):
- a serving member of the regular Armed Forces or have been within the five years preceding your application to be placed on the register
- the spouse or civil partner of a deceased member of the regular Armed Forces (whose death is attributable wholly or partly to that service) and have recently ceased or will cease to be entitled to reside in Ministry of Defence accommodation
- serving or have served in the Reserve Forces and are suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability which is attributable (either wholly or partly) to that service.
The demand for social housing in the borough is high. Even if you qualify for social housing the wait can be several years.
Applying as homeless before discharge from the Armed Forces
Please contact us if you think you will be homeless after discharge from the services. Showing us your letter of discharge or some other evidence that confirms the date of your discharge, we should accept that from that date you will become homeless.
In the event that you have not sought any housing assistance prior to your discharge, you may need to stay in your accommodation as long as possible and wait for Defence Estates to evict you.
Defence Estates have to give you a Notice to Vacate before they can take you to Court to obtain a Possession Order. You can use a Notice to Vacate or Possession Order against you as evidence in support of your homelessness application.
Ex-Forces and single, homeless and on the streets
We would encourage you to come to see us even if we cannot provide accommodation. We can give you advice on:
- day centres which are a useful source of practical support – they provide a warm place to stay during the day (providing you engage with the support), food, clothing, showers and laundry facilities
- how to contact the Royal British Legion who might be able to assist with a rent deposit
- how to contact SSAFA which provides housing advice to people currently serving in the Forces and ex-service personnel and their families
- how to use the Homeless England Directory to find details of other day centres and hostels in London and across the UK
- financial assistance through the Homelessness Prevention Fund or Discretionary Housing Payments.
Homelessness following Dishonourable Discharge
We may not have a duty to offer you accommodation if you are homeless after being discharged on disciplinary grounds. However, we will still be able to provide you with support to help you find accommodation.