When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing Executive's responsibilities to homeless people

The Housing Executive has a number of legal responsibilities surrounding homelessness.  These include

  • investigating the circumstances of people who are homeless or likely to become homeless to see if they pass the 4 homelessness tests
  • providing temporary accommodation during this investigation to people who are homeless and who seem to have a priority for housing because they have young children or are vulnerable
  • providing temporary accommodation to people who have passed the 4 tests for homelessness while they wait for an offer of permanent housing
  • providing furniture storage to people who have passed the 4 tests for homelessness if they need this, are in financial hardship and have been refused help from the Discretionary Finance Support Fund
  • making 3 reasonable offers of permanent accommodation to people who have passed the 4 tests for homelessness
  • writing to people who have failed to pass one of the 4 tests for homelessness, explaining why they have failed and explaining that they have a legal right to have this decision reviewed.
  • providing advice and assistance to people who are worried about homelessness.

As well as helping homeless people the Housing Executive acts as a landlord for people who live in Housing Executive properties and manages the Housing Benefit system for people who live in Housing Executive and Housing Association properties and for private tenants.

The Housing Executive also has responsibility for other housing related issues in Northern Ireland.  You can find out more about the Housing Executive’s work by visiting its website

Getting help from the Housing Executive

Go to your local Housing Executive office if you are homeless or are likely to become homeless within 28 days. You will be entitled to a homelessness assessment if the Housing Executive has reason to believe that there is nowhere in Northern Ireland or anywhere else that you can reasonably continue to occupy as your home. If you have any evidence to support your claim to be homeless, such as a notice to quit letter from your landlord or evidence to show your current home isn't suitable, you should bring this with you to the Housing Executive office.

You can be homeless, even though you have somewhere to live, if

  • living in your current home is having a negative effect on your physical or mental health
  • you have separated from a partner and can no longer live in the family home
  • you’ve been given a Notice to Quit by your landlord

You have a legal right to be assessed if it appears to the Housing Executive that you could be homeless or become homeless in the next 28 days.  If someone at the Housing Executive turns you away, contact Housing Rights for advice.

Getting assessed

You can apply for housing online or by requesting a paper application form from NIHE.  The Housing Executive has to interview anyone who can show that they are homeless or likely to become homeless and officers may come out to see what your current accommodation is like. You can ask for your interview to be conducted in private and you should bring any paperwork with you that could help your application.

It’s in your interest to give the Housing Executive any evidence or paperwork that will help prove that you cannot keep living in your current home.  This could be a letter from a doctor which explains how your mental or physical health would suffer if you continued living in this property.

The Housing Executive will try to make a decision within 33 days of receiving your completed application and any paperwork.

What will the Housing Executive do?

The Housing Executive will investigate your circumstances to see if you are

These are the 4 tests for homelessness.  If you pass all of these tests you will be classed as a Full Duty Applicant.  This means that the Housing Executive knows that it is responsible for finding you somewhere to live.

While the investigation is happening you can continue living in your current accommodation if this is possible or you can ask the Housing Executive to provide you with temporary accommodation.   The Housing Executive may have to offer you temporary accommodation if you have young children or you are vulnerable in some way.