Who can apply?
Most people in Northern Ireland can apply for permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive or a housing association. You may not be allowed to apply if you're a foreign national or the Housing Executive decides that you are guilty of unacceptable behaviour.
Even if your application is accepted you may be disqualified because of your behaviour over the last two years (or six years in some circumstances).
Most people who are eligible to apply for permanent accommodation in Northern Ireland must meet the age requirements and have a local connection with Northern Ireland. If the Housing Executive decides you are homeless you may be entitled to more help.
The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.
The rules about foreign nationals are complicated. An adviser can help if you have been told that you can't apply for help.
You must be over 18 before you can apply for permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive. If you are between 16 and 18 you can apply if:
- you are leaving care,
- you have dependent children,
- you are pregnant,
- you are married,
- you need the accommodation to take up training, education or a job offer.
Even if you meet the age requirement you (or a member of you household) must have a substantial local connection. For example:
- you are living in Northern Ireland,
- you have lived in Northern Ireland in the past,
- you have a job in Northern Ireland,
- you are looking for a job in Northern Ireland.
You may be able to show that you have a substantial connection with Northern Ireland for other special reasons. For example, you need to live in Northern Ireland for family support or education.
You are entitled to apply for housing if the Housing Executive decides that you are homeless and as a Full Duty Applicant get accommodation. You do not have to meet the age and local connection requirements if you are a Full Duty Applicant. You will be given Full Duty Applicant status if the Housing Executive decides that you are:
Homeswapper is a website that has details of social homes across the UK which are available for exchange. If your landlord is a member of the scheme it is free for you to advertise your property. The Housing Executive and most local housing associations are members of this service. If you're not sure whether your landlord has subscribed to Homeswapper call your housing officer to check.
People from abroad
If you live in Northern Ireland and have a British or Irish passport you should be allowed to apply for permanent accommodation. If you require permission to enter and leave the UK you will probably not be allowed to apply for permanent accommodation. Non-European Union citizens are usually not allowed to apply for permanent accommodation.
If you are working in the UK and come from a European Union country you should be eligible for assistance under European law.
People seeking asylum
If you arrived after April 2000 you will probably not be eligible for assistance from the Housing Executive. If you are in this situation you should get advice from the Law Centre (NI) or Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic minorities (NICEM) as soon as possible.
People found guilty of unacceptable behaviour
You will not be allowed to apply for permanent accommodation if the Housing Executive decides that you have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour at the time of your application. You can be refused if the unacceptable behaviour was:
- carried out by you,
- carried out by a member of your household,
- carried out by a visitor to your property
Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:
- causing serious nuisance to your neighbours,
- using the property for illegal purposes,
- using the property for immoral purposes,
- allowing the property to deteriorate.
You can only be refused help if the unacceptable behaviour is so serious that the Housing Executive would be able to evict you if you were a tenant.
Get advice from Housing Rights Service if you have been told that you can't apply for permanent accommodation in Northern Ireland.
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