In response to the outbreak of violence in Israel that commenced 7 October 2023, there has been an important change in law.

This change helps certain groups of people fleeing the violence to receive housing assistance.

The following people are now eligible for homelessness assistance and community landlord housing without having to satisfy the conditions of the ‘habitual residence test’:
People arriving in Wales who are subject to immigration control:

  • who were residing in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or Lebanon immediately before 7 October 2023 and left in connection with the attack on 7 October 2023 or the violence which rapidly escalated in the region following the attack;
  • who have been granted leave in accordance with the immigration rules;
  • whose leave is not subject to a condition requiring them to maintain and accommodate themselves, and any person dependent upon them, without recourse to public funds, and
  • whose leave was not given as a result of an undertaking that a sponsor would be responsible for the person’s maintenance and accommodation.

People not subject to immigration control:

  • who were residing in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or Lebanon immediately before 7 October 2023 and left in connection with the attack on 7 October 2023 or the violence which rapidly escalated in the region following the attack.

If you have arrived from Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or Lebanon elsewhere in the United Kingdom, please check Shelter England, Shelter Scotland, or Housing Advice Northern Ireland for updates.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Eligibility for a community landlord home depends on your nationality, immigration status and if you’ve recently lived abroad.
  • In Wales, it can also depend on your past behaviour.

What does ‘being eligible’ mean?

Being eligible for a housing allocation means that you qualify to apply for social housing from a community landlord. You won’t be allowed onto a list for social housing list with a community landlord if:

  • you are not eligible, or
  • you are treated as not eligible because of serious unacceptable behaviour.

If you live in the UK, are a British citizen and have not recently spent time living in other countries you will almost certainly be  ‘eligible’.

There are two main groups of people who may not be eligible. These are:

  • people who may have rights to live here but have spent time living somewhere else and aren’t considered to be ‘habitually resident’
  • people who are not British citizens and/or don’t have full rights to live here because of their immigration status.

If your husband, wife, civil partner or parent is eligible, you may be eligible yourself (even if your relationship has ended).

Being eligible doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be offered a place. It means that you are entitled to be considered for a home and to go on the waiting list. In many areas, there is very little housing available, so there is often a very long wait, and some people may never get an offer.

People from abroad

Only certain people from abroad are eligible to apply for a community landlord home.

Eligibility depends on whether you are a person ‘subject to immigration control’.

People who are subject to immigration control

If you are subject to immigration control you are not eligible for community landlord housing in Wales, unless:

  • you are a refugee
  • you have exceptional leave to remain in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland, and your leave doesn’t state that you should have ‘no recourse to public funds’
  • you are habitually resident in the UK and your leave was granted without any conditions (this includes EEA nationals granted ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme).
  • you have humanitarian protection
  • you have temporary leave to remain in the UK because you are a victim of human trafficking or slavery.
  • you have come to the UK from Hong Kong and fall within a certain category of people with limited leave (you also need to be habitully resident in the UK).
  • you are an Afghan citizen who falls within a certain category of person granted leave.
  • you left Afghanistan due to the collapse of the Afghan government in August 2021.
  • you were living in Ukraine and left due to the outbreak of violence in February 2022, or were living in the UK at that time and qualified under the ‘Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme’ or ‘Ukraine Family Scheme’.
  • you were living in Sudan and left due to the outbreak of violence in April 2023.
  • you were living in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or Lebanon and left due to the outbreak of violence throughout the region in October 2023. 
  • you have limited leave to remain in the UK on the grounds of ‘respect for family or private life’ under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention and your leave doesn’t state that you should have ‘no recourse to public funds’.

You are not eligible for community landlord housing if your immigration status means you have ‘no recourse to public funds’.

People who are not subject to immigration control

If you are a person from abroad who is not subject to immigration control, you are eligible for community landlord housing in Wales if:

  • you are a classed as a ‘worker’ (or are a member of a worker’s family)
  • you are self employed (or a member of family of someone who is self-employed)
  • you, or a member of your family, have the right to stay here for other reasons

People from the European Economic Area (EEA) whose only right to reside in the UK is as a jobseeker, or who only have an initial right to reside for 3 months, are not eligible to apply for social housing. See our page on EU and EEA nationals for more information.

The council may contact the UK Visa and Immigration Centre if there is any doubt about your status.

UK citizens who have lived abroad

You may not be eligible to apply for community landlord housing immediately if you have been living outside the UK, Eire, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for a lengthy period. This is because community landlords can only provide housing through an allocations scheme for people who are classed as ‘habitually resident’. When they assess your application, the council or other community landlord will decide whether you are habitually resident, and will look at things like:

  • where you live
  • where you work
  • where you have family or friends
  • the reasons why you have come to live in the area
  • where you intend to live in future
  • whether you have been ‘habitually resident’ in the past.

If it is decided that you’re not habitually resident, get help. The decision could affect your entitlement to benefits as well as your rights to housing.

Transfer applicants

If you already have a secure contract or an introductory standard contract with a community landlord, and are applying for a transfer, you are eligible regardless of your immigration status.

More advice

Immigration law is extremely complicated, so get advice before you apply for housing if you are not sure of your status:

Can past behaviour be taken into account?

You may not be eligible to go on the housing register if it is decided that you, or any member of your household, have been guilty of antisocial behaviour in the past. This may be the case if:

  • you have caused nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours, the landlord or contractors
  • you have used a property for illegal purposes (such as drug dealing)
  • you have been guilty of domestic violence.

In some cases, instead of deciding you are not eligible, the council may agree to put you on the housing register, but not give you any priority when deciding who to house.

What can I do if they say I am not eligible?

If you are in one of the situations outlined above, the council or community landlord you have applied to has no obligation to offer you a home.

They should write to you explaining their decision and the reasons for it. They should also explain to you that you have a right to ask for the decision to be reviewed. They should explain it to you in person if they think that you might not be able to understand the decision.

Asking for a review

You can ask for the decision about your application to be looked at again. This is called a ‘review‘. This might be worthwhile if you think your behaviour was not serious enough to mean you’re not eligible, or it happened so long ago that it shouldn’t count.

Applying for a judicial review

If the correct legal procedure hasn’t been followed when the decision about your application was made, or when dealing with your review, then you might be able to challenge this in court by judicial review. For example, if  relevant information has been ignored, such as how long you have been in the UK, or things that shouldn’t have affected the decision, such as non-housing debts, were taken into account.

You will need specialist help from a solicitor if you want to challenge the decision by judicial review.

Take a look at our page on challenging allocation decisions for more advice.

Making a fresh application

You can make a new application for the housing register if your circumstances change. This may be worthwhile if:

  • your immigration status changes after a time in the UK
  • you have paid off past rent arrears, or
  • you have not behaved in an unacceptable way for a long time, or the person guilty of that behaviour is no longer part of your household.

If the council do not let you apply again, then get help.

Did you find this helpful?

Rydym yn ymddiheuro na fedrwn ddarparu’r wybodaeth yma yn Gymraeg, ond os hoffech siarad ag ymgynghorydd yn Gymraeg yna cysylltwch ar 08000 495 495.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

This page was last updated on: March 21, 2024

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.