When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Eligible for assistance test

The Housing Executive is responsible for providing accommodation for anyone who is legally homeless.  To be legally homeless you have to pass 4 tests including the Eligibility test.  The other tests are priority need, homelessness and intentionality.

What does eligibility mean?

Not everyone is legally allowed to apply for social housing or to get help using the laws on homelessness.  The tests checks to see that you are allowed to apply. 2 groups of people aren’t eligible for help.  These are

  • some people from abroad and
  • people who’ve been involved in unacceptable behaviour.

People from abroad

If you live in Northern Ireland and have either a British or Irish passport you should be eligible for help.

Non-European citizens aren’t usually entitled to assistance.  If you’re an asylum seeker you’ll get help through the National Asylum Support Service.   People who are subject to immigration control or who need permission to enter or leave the UK aren’t usually entitled to help.

European nationals

You’ll usually need to be working or to have recently worked in the UK in order to get help.  People from Croatia will usually have to satisfy specific requirements about the type of work they are doing. 

Working out eligibility can be complicated. If you’ve been told you’re not eligible because of your nationality or employment history, speak to Housing Rights.

Restricted person

A restricted person is someone who

  • is not eligible for assistance,
  • is subject to immigration control,
  • has no leave to enter or remain in the UK, or cannot rely on public funds to remain here.

You can be eligible for assistance even if there is a restricted person in your household.  However, if you’ve passed the homelessness or priority need tests solely because of this restricted person the Housing Executive only has to make 1 offer of accommodation, which can be a privately rented property.

Unacceptable behaviour

You will not be eligible for help if the Housing Executive decides you’ve been involved in unacceptable behaviour, usually in the last 2 years.  Unacceptable behaviour is the type of behaviour that would make someone a bad tenant and covers actions carried out by you, by other people in your household and by visitors to your property.

For you to be ineligible, the unacceptable behaviour must be so serious that the Housing Executive would have evicted you for it.  You can be found ineligible whether the incident happened before you applied for housing or after you’ve been put on the waiting list.

The Housing Executive, like other bodies, has to make sure it isn't discriminating against someone who has a disability.  If you've been found ineligible because of unacceptable behaviour and this behaviour is linked to a disability, speak to Housing Rights

Passing the test

If you pass this test the Housing Executive will have to check that you are also homeless, in priority need and that you’re not intentionally homeless. You might be entitled to temporary accommodation while this is happening.

If you pass all 4 homeless tests you’ll be a Full Duty Applicant and the Housing Executive will have to make 3 reasonable offers of housing to you.

Failing the test

If you fail the test the Housing Executive won’t have any responsibility to house you. You will have to move out of your temporary accommodation that the Housing Executive arranged if you fail the test.  You can challenge the Housing Executive’s decision that you didn’t pass.  You may be able to continue living in the temporary accommodation while you are challenging the decision.

If you fail this test but passed priority need the Housing Executive may give you temporary accommodation for a while until you can find somewhere else to live. Your best option may be finding a home that you can rent privately. 

If you’re not eligible for help under the homelessness laws you may not be able to apply for housing using the selection scheme either.  Speak to Housing Rights if you’re not sure about your housing options.