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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Working out your points

When you apply for housing your housing officer will award you points based on your personal, housing and social circumstances.  The more points you have, the better your chance of getting an offer. 

People can be unclear about when points are awarded.  Points can only be given to you if you can show that you meet a specific standard set out in the Selection Scheme.   Ask the Housing Executive for a breakdown of your points if you’re not sure which ones you’ve been given.  Compare this with our list of all the points that are available.

Intimidation points

Intimidation points are only given to people if they are at risk of dying or their home is genuinely at risk of being destroyed in

  • a terrorist attack
  • a racist or sectarian attack
  • an attack motivated by the person’s sexuality or disability
  • an attack by someone who falls within the scope of the Housing Executive’s statutory powers to address neighbourhood nuisance or other similar forms of anti-social behaviour

The threat has to be confirmed by the Police Service of NI or Base 2, an organisation that can confirm threats from paramilitary organisations.  The Housing Executive's guidance also states that other organisations can be contacted to confirm that you could be killed or your home destroyed, but normally the Housing Executive will want to see evidence from the PSNI or Base 2. 

If the threat is confirmed you will be awarded 200 points.  You will also be considered to have automatically passed the 4 tests for homelessness and will be given a further 70 points and Full Duty Applicant status.  You may be entitled to an intimidation grant.  The Housing Executive may agree to purchase your home if you have been intimidated from a home you own. 

Points for being homeless

The Housing Executive should check if you pass the 4 tests for homelessness if you are homeless or are likely to become homeless.  If you pass these 4 tests you’ll be given 70 points.

If you don’t pass the tests you can get other points for being homeless.  You can get 50 other homeless points.  To get these you’ll usually need to show that

  • there is no suitable alternative accommodation for you and
  • you can’t reasonably be expected to find alternative accommodation

You may get other homeless points if you are homeless because

  • a relationship of more than 1 year’s duration has failed and you’ve left your former home
  • you were evicted from a privately rented property that you’d been living in for longer than 2 years
  • your home was too expensive because your housing costs (rent, rates, insurance and maintenance) for your current or former home were more than 30% of your gross income
  • you’re leaving the armed forces or you’ve had to leave army accommodation because your serving partner has died
  • you’re leaving prison
  • you’re leaving hospital and your current accommodation is not suitable for you to return to
  • you’re leaving care and have no permanent home to go to
  • a court has given a closing or demolition order against your house or the government is redeveloping your area and has ordered that you leave
  • you’re constantly having to move to find somewhere to sleep.

The Housing Executive may also agree to award these points if you are homeless for another reason and would suffer extreme hardship if you didn’t get the points.

Points for being in temporary housing

If you’ve passed the 4 homeless tests and you’ve been living in temporary accommodation, provided by the Housing Executive, for more than 6 months, you’ll get a further 20 points.

Housing conditions

You’ll get points if your current housing situation is bad.  You’re given points for sharing, for not having enough bedrooms, for your home being in a bad state or repair and for the amount of time you’ve been on the waiting list.

Sharing

You are given points if you are sharing facilities like a bathroom or a kitchen with someone who isn’t part of your household.  You’ll get more points for this if you’re over 18 or if you have dependent children.   Have a look at the selection scheme calculation list to work out how many sharing points you should have. You won't get these points if you've invited someone to live with you. 

Overcrowding

There is a set formula that the Housing Executive uses to work out if you the property you're living in has enough bedrooms for all the people living there.  You’ll get 10 points for each bedroom you’re short.  Our selection scheme calculation list explains this formula in more detail. The list explains the measurements the Housing Executive uses to decide if a room is a boxroom, single room or a double room.  The Housing Executive's own guidance says that a bedroom should contain enough space for a bed and a wardrobe and chest of drawers.  

Too many bedrooms

People who have applied for a transfer and who have more bedrooms than their household needs will get extra points.  You’ll get 10 points for each extra bedroom you have.  You’ll get a maximum of 30 points.

Points for poor housing

If your home is in a bad state of repair you may be able to get extra points.  Usually, this disrepair will have to be confirmed by the local council.  If it’s having an impact on your health or safety you could get extra points if your home

  • is in serious disrepair
  • suffers from damp (not condensation) which is damaging someone in the household’s health
  • doesn’t have adequate systems for lighting, heating or ventilation
  • doesn’t have a supply of wholesome water
  • doesn’t have the proper facilities for preparing or cooking food
  • doesn’t have a suitable toilet for your exclusive use
  • doesn’t have a suitable shower or bath for your exclusive use
  • doesn’t have electricity.

You’ll get 10 points for each of these categories as long as the Housing Executive agrees that the property is in serious disrepair.  If you think you should get these points, contact your local council to ask for a fitness inspection.

Points for time on the waiting list

You don't really build up points for being on the list for a long time.  There are some people who have been on the list for many years but have 0 points. You will only get points for your time on the list if you've already got points for other reasons.  

If you have points for other reasons, the Housing Executive will award you 2 more points once you've been on the list for 2 years.  You’ll get another 2 points for every year you’ve been on the list.  The maximum number of points you can get in this category is 10.   

Health & Social well being points

This part of the selection scheme looks at how you are able to manage in your current accommodation.  It’s broken down into 4 areas; your ability to function in the home, support and care needs you have, your social needs and whether you have more complex needs.

Functioning in your home

If you or someone else in your household has a mobility problem which causes difficulties moving around in your home you may be entitled to points. 

The Housing Officer will look at how much help you need to move around your home.  There are 3 levels of help:

  • independent means you might use some sort of aid to help but you don’t rely on a person to help you
  • needs help means you need supervision or you need someone to help you move around
  • dependent means you need someone to help you move around.

You can get up to 32 points for mobility problems.  Our Selection Scheme calculation list explains how many points you can get. 

You can get an extra 10 points if another person in the household scores a further 6 points or if your property is above ground floor, there is no lift and you have difficulty getting into your home.  The Housing Executive will only count the 2 highest ranking scores from your household, even if more than 2 people score points in this section. 

The Housing Executive should base your functionality points on how you manage on an average day.  They won’t base their assessment on how you manage when your problems are at their best or worst.

Points if you need support or care to do basic tasks

You can get points if you want to live in supported or sheltered housing and you need assistance with basic tasks, like cooking and cleaning or washing and dressing yourself.  Have a look at our Selection Scheme calculation sheet to work out how many points you may be entitled to, but remember you'll only get these points if you plan on living in sheltered or supported housing.

When checking if you’re entitled to these points the Housing Executive will want you to give details about your care.  They will want to know

  • who provides your care
  • what type of support or care they provide
  • whether you need the same type of support all the time or your needs change
  • how regularly your needs change.

The Housing Executive should also check to see if you pass the 4 homeless tests if you need a lot of support in your home.

Points for social problems

You can get points if you’re experiencing social problems in your current home.  This could be because you’ve been attacked or harassed by a neighbour or because you live too far away from your friends or family and feel socially isolated.

Points for social issues are broken into Primary Social Needs and Other Social Needs.  You can be given points for a maximum of 2 Primary Social Need categories and you’ll get 20 points for each of these.  You can get points for up to 4 Other Social Need categories but you only get 10 points for each of these.

There’s a set list of the points available for social problems.  If your situation doesn’t exactly match these but is roughly similar you could ask for analogous points.  Read the full list on our Selection Scheme calculation sheet.  Contact us at Housing Rights if you’ve got any questions about these points.

Points if you have complex needs

If someone in your home has a disability or has particularly complicated support and care needs you may be entitled to 20 Complex Needs points. 

The Housing Executive might do a complex needs assessment if you seem to have a lot of difficulties coping in your current home.  Social Services can also make a referral to the Housing Executive asking them to carry out a complex needs assessment.

People who have been given complex needs points may be offered housing in supported accommodation.  If you don’t want to live in supported housing you will go on the waiting list for general housing but you will need social services to set up a care package to help you manage in your new home. If you’re offered a home but social services can’t provide the right support to allow you to manage in that home the offer will be withdrawn.  Speak to Housing Rights if this happens to see if there is anything that we can do to help.  

Don’t have enough points for an offer?

It’s worth contacting an organisation like Housing Rights to see if you’ve been given the right points.

Before you get in touch, ask the Housing Executive for a breakdown of your points so you know

  • how many points you have
  • which points on the selection scheme you’ve been given

Have a look at our Selection Scheme calculation list and mark off the points you’ve already got and read over the other categories to see if there are any you think you should have been given.  Give us a call if you think the Housing Executive should have given you more points than you have.

If you've got all the points you're entitled to and these are still too low for an offer you should look at the properties available under the Housing Executive's Choice Based Lettings pilot or consider renting privately.