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National Homeless Advice Service

Dealing with intentional homelessness decisions

When a young person makes a homelessness application, the council can decide that they became intentionally homeless if they have deliberately done (or not done) something that caused them to lose their accommodation.



Legal definition of intentional homelessness

Section 191 of the Housing Act 1996 states that ‘a person becomes homeless intentionally if he deliberately does or fails to do anything in consequence of which he ceases to occupy accommodation which is available for his occupation and which it would have been reasonable for him to continue to occupy’. A local authority could, for example, decide that a young person is intentionally homeless where they have been evicted for non-payment of rent that they could have paid.

What should be taken into account when deciding if someone is intentionally homeless?

Several factors have to be taken into account when deciding if a young person is intentionally homeless, including if:

  • they went along with someone else’s acts that led to the loss of housing. For example, if the young person was evicted from a shared house due to another tenant’s anti-social behaviour, the young person may still be found intentionally homeless if they did not try to stop the behaviour.
  • the accommodation that was lost was reasonable for the young person to continue to live in - if it was not reasonable due to disrepair, or abuse or violence, for example - they may not be intentionally homeless
  • the acts that led to homelessness were not deliberate, the young person may not be intentionally homeless. This could be the case, for example, if the young person has mental health difficulties that led to behaviour that led to eviction.

What if the young person has been kicked out by their parents?

Young people are sometimes found to be intentionally homeless when they are evicted by their parents due to their behaviour.

In these situations local authorities should not discriminate against the young person and automatically take the parents’ word for what happened. They should discuss the situation with the young person. It could be that the parents’ rules were unreasonable or that there are other underlying problems that caused the homelessness.

What is the local authority’s duty when a young person is intentionally homeless?

The local authority do not have a duty to provide longer term accommodation to a young person found to be intentionally homeless. However, the authority should:

  • (if the young person has a priority need) provide accommodation for a reasonable period of time to allow the young person to find accommodation for themselves (usually a few weeks, but each case should be considered according to the young person’s particular needs)
  • assess their housing needs
  • give them advice and assistance to help them to find their own accommodation
  • (if they are 16 or 17 years old) refer them to social services, with their consent.

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Advising on intentional homelessness decisions

Young people may require specialist housing advice in the case of intentional homelessness decisions.

Young people may need to be advised about other accommodation options as soon as possible.

Advisers can try to avert an intentional homelessness decision, by writing to the local authority explaining the reasons for the young person becoming homeless. This can be done when making the homeless application is being made, or - if the young person has already made an application - at some point before the decision is made. The local authority should take any information contained in an adviser’s letter into account when making its decision. The standard homelessness application letter can be adapted for this purpose.

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Challenging the decision

If the young person has been found intentionally homeless, advisers can request a review of the decision. This must be done within 21 days of the date on which the young person is notified of the decision.

For further information, see the page Requesting a review of a homelessness decision.

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