This section looks at some of the common problems you might experience when applying for Housing Executive or housing association accommodation.
By law, the Housing Executive has a duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.
Will I automatically get a house because I'm homeless?
You are not guaranteed to get housed immediately because you are homeless. If the Housing Executive decides that you are homeless you will have to go on the waiting list for permanent accommodation like every other applicant. However, you will be given 70 points if the Housing Executive decides you are a Full Duty Applicant. This means you are homeless, eligible for assistance, have a priority need and are not intentionally homeless.
You are also entitled to temporary accommodation until the Housing Executive can offer you suitable permanent accommodation.
Will I have to move into a hostel if I tell the Housing Executive I'm homeless?
You don't have to move into a hostel if the Housing Executive decides that you are homeless. The Housing Executive should offer you temporary accommodation (which may be a hostel) but you don't have to accept the offer.
You may be able to stay in your accommodation until the Housing Executive offers you suitable permanent accommodation, or move in with friends or family for a while. If you arrange your own temporary accommodation, make sure you keep the Housing Executive informed. If you move in somewhere without telling the Housing Executive, staff may decide that you've rehoused yourself and are no longer homeless.
What can I do if the Housing Executive won't let me apply for housing?
If the Housing Executive has turned down your application because you are seeking asylum or a person from abroad you should get advice from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities.
If you've been turned away from a Housing Executive office, get advice. The Housing Executive must provide advice and assistance on homelessness to anyone who asks for it.
Get advice if the Housing Executive has told you that it says that your aren't allowed to apply because it believes you are guilty of unacceptable behaviour.
How can I find out what my points are for?
You can find out how many points you have been given in each category. Get in touch with the Housing Executive District Office dealing with your application. Ask the Housing Executive for a breakdown of your points. You can contact the Housing Executive either by telephone or in writing ( see 'Breakdown of Points letter').
What can I do if I think my points total is too low?
You can ask the Housing Executive to carry out a review of your points total if you think your points total is too low. Check our Selection Scheme calculation sheet to see what points are available and which you may be entitled to. If you are still unhappy with the Housing Executive's decision you may be able to complain to the Ombudsman or ask for a judicial review.
How can I find out where I am on the waiting list?
The Housing Executive can't tell you your position on the waiting list. Your position on the waiting list depends on:
- your points total,
- your areas of choice,
- what type of accommodation you need.
Your position on the waiting list changes all the time, depending on who else has been housed or who else has been assessed so there's no point in the Housing Executive giving out this information.
Why haven't I had an offer from a housing association?
There may be no housing associations in your areas of choice. Contact the housing association you want to get accommodation from. The housing association will be able to check that your name is on the waiting list for their accommodation.
I've been offered accommodation outside my areas of choice
You can be offered accommodation outside your areas of choice if:
- the Housing Executive decides that you are homeless (a Full Duty Applicant),
- you have spent more than six months on the waiting list.
You don't have to accept the accommodation if it is outside your areas of choice. You are entitled to three reasonable offers of accommodation. If you feel the offer of accommodation is unreasonable, you may be able to get the Housing Executive to discount it. Get advice if you're considering this.
I don't want to live in my areas of choice anymore
You can change your mind if you no longer want to live in the area you chose when applying. Contact the Housing Executive District Office dealing with your application if you want to change your area of choice.
Get advice if you have already accepted an offer but now want to move from the area. Advice is available from Housing Rights Service.
The Housing Executive says I'm not entitled to any more offers of accommodation
Every applicant is entitled to three reasonable offers of accommodation. Get advice if the Housing Executive has told you that you are not entitled to any more offers of accommodation. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to argue that the offers were unreasonable
You may be able to get the Housing Executive to change the decision by using the complaints procedure.
I accepted the Housing Executive's offer, but someone else was given the house
The Housing Executive can offer accommodation to more than one person on the waiting list for social housing. You might receive a Multiple Offer where a property is offered to a number of people who might like it. You will be given two or three working days to reply to the offer. If more than one person accepts the offer, the Housing Executive will give the property to the person with the highest points score.
If you turn down a multiple offer the Housing Executive won't count it as one of your three reasonable offers.
When can I ask for a transfer from the accommodation?
You will usually have to live in the accommodation for at least two years before you can ask for a transfer.
I had to move and the Housing Executive says I have been removed from the waiting list
If the Housing Executive decides you are homeless (a Full Duty Applicant) you should not be removed from the waiting list if you move. However, if you are not homeless you will lose your points when you move accommodation.
The Housing Executive must assess you in your new home before deciding how many points you should get. The Housing Executive will then place you back on the waiting list with your new points total.
The Housing Executive says I'm no longer on the list
The Housing Executive can remove you from the list if you don't return the renewal letter it sends you every year. You must return the renewal letter within four weeks or you will be removed from the waiting list. Get advice if the Housing Executive has removed you from the waiting list. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get reinstated on the list.