When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Priority need test

Priority need is one of 4 tests you have to pass to be legally homeless. The Housing Executive has to help you with housing if you pass all 4 tests. 

Passing priority need

You will pass the priority need test if

  • you are pregnant
  • you have children in your household
  • you are homeless because of a natural disaster, like a flood
  • you are under 20 and at risk of sexual or financial exploitation
  • you are at risk of violence or are homeless because of violence
  • you are vulnerable because you are old, you have a serious illness or disability or for some other special reason

Children who are included in your household

The Housing Executive considers a young person to be a child if

  • they are under 16, or
  • they are under 18 and still in full-time education or on a government training scheme.

A child or young person will be part of your household if

  • you are their main carer, or
  • you share care of them but their child benefit is paid to you.

Only one person can be a child's main carer. 

Passing the priority need test if you are vulnerable

You will usually need evidence to show that you are vulnerable. This could be

  • details of your diagnoses and medication or treatment
  • a statement from a medical or social care professional that explains your issues.

Keep a copy of any paperwork you give to the Housing Executive. 

The Housing Executive will agree that you pass priority need if the evidence shows that

  • you are vulnerable, and
  • your vulnerability means you would struggle with homelessness more than the average person.

After the priority need test

The priority need test is one of 4 tests for homelessness. If you pass, the Housing Executive will check if you pass the others. 

The Housing Executive will give you 70 points if you pass all 4 tests. You will have a right to temporary housing while you wait for a permanent home. 

The Housing Executive will send you a letter if you fail the test. You can challenge this decision.

Contact our helpline if you fail the priority need test.