When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

The four homelessness 'tests'

The Housing Executive has a legal responsibility to help homeless people. The amount of help you're entitled to depends on whether you pass 4 homelessness. The tests look at whether you are homeless, why you are homeless, whether you're entitled to help and whether you're in greater need of help than other people.

If the Housing Executive decides you've failed one or more of these tests you have a legal right to ask that this decision be reviewed.  There are strict time limits though, so you need to get advice and act quickly if you're going to challenge the Housing Executive's decision. 

The Housing Executive is responsible for providing accommodation for anyone who is legally homeless. To be legally homeless you have to pass 4 tests. The first of these is homelessness. The other tests are eligibility, priority need and intentionality.

You have to be "eligible" to apply for housing. You may not be able to get help with homelessness if

  • your immigration status means you cannot apply, or
  • you have been involved in certain types of antisocial behaviour. 

The Housing Executive will consider you in priority need if you are particularly vulnerable. If you are homeless, eligible for assistance and the Housing Executive thinks you may be in priority need you can get temporary accommodation while it completes the investigation.

The Housing Executive will only have to help you if you couldn't have avoided becoming homeless. The Intentionality test looks at how you became homeless to see if you deliberately did something or failed to do something and that action caused your homelessness.. The other tests are priority need, homelessness and eligibility.

The Housing Executive takes about 33 days to make a decision on whether or not it is responsible for rehousing you because you are homeless. It will look at your circumstances to see if you pass all 4 tests for homelessness. You need to make sure you give the Housing Executive all the information it needs in order for it to make the right decision.

The Housing Executive doesn’t have to find you housing if you don’t pass all 4 homeless tests. It may be worthwhile having the Housing Executive’s decision reviewed. Otherwise, you’ll have to look at other housing options.