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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Applying for social housing in Northern Ireland

You need to complete a Housing/Transfer Application Form to apply for social housing in Northern Ireland.  This form can be used to apply for both Housing Executive and housing association owned property. If you don't currently live in Northern Ireland you need to complete a different form.

If you are homeless or it’s not reasonable for you to keep living in your current home you should apply to the Housing Executive using the homelessness legislation.   The Housing Executive can only see if you pass these tests if you're physically in Northern Ireland. 

Who can apply?

You need to meet the general rules on eligibility to apply.  You usually need to be over 18 and have a local connection to Northern Ireland.  If you’ve been assessed under the homelessness legislation and have passed all 4 tests, you don’t have to be over 18 or have a local connection.

If you are between 16 and 18 you can apply if:

  • you are leaving care,
  • you have dependent children,
  • you are pregnant,
  • you are married,
  • you need the accommodation to take up training, education or a job offer.

You can show you have a local connection if you

  • live or have previously lived in Northern Ireland,
  • have a job or you are looking for a job in Northern Ireland,
  • are moving to Northern Ireland for family support
  • are moving to Northern Ireland to study.

People from abroad

If you need permission to enter and leave the UK you will not usually be allowed to apply for social housing.  Most European Union citizens are allowed to apply for social housing, but there are restrictions on which EU citizens can get help under the homelessness laws.  Non-EU citizens are not usually allowed to apply for social housing unless the have been granted refugee status.

People who are seeking asylum should get advice on their housing and welfare options from NICEM or can ask an advice agency to contact the Law Centre for them.

Making an application

You need to complete the application form and send it to the Housing Executive or a housing association.  Once you’ve submitted the form a housing officer will usually contact you to discuss your application.  During this conversation you’ll be asked to choose 2 areas in Northern Ireland that you’d like to live in. 

The form asks for details about yourself and the other people who will be part of your household. You can include people who don't live with you at the moment, but who will live with you in your new accommodation.

The second part of the application contains a series of questions and statements. Read these carefully. Answer truthfully, sign and date the form. If you get permanent accommodation based on information which is incorrect, you could lose it.

You won’t be assessed if you do not sign and date your application form. Get advice if you are not prepared to accept the declarations.

You must keep the Housing Executive or housing association informed about any changes in your circumstances. It is best to do this in writing. Keep a copy of the letter.

Send in copies of any evidence that supports the information in your application.  If, for example, you have health problems that make your current home unsuitable you should include a letter from your doctor which explains how you would benefit from living somewhere else.

Keep your own copy of everything that you send in.  You might need this information later if you disagree with any decisions the Housing Executive has made about your case.

After the application

Once you’ve sent in your form, a housing officer will review it and award you points based on your personal, housing and social circumstances.  This points-based system is known as the Common Selection Scheme.

In Northern Ireland, housing is awarded based on need and the more points you have the better your chances of being offered a property.

Some properties, owned by the Housing Executive, are advertised on a property website.  This is part of a pilot scheme and you’ll need to contact the Housing Executive directly if you’re interested in one of these properties.

Getting an offer

Everyone who has applied for housing, including people who have asked for a transfer and people who have been accepted as legally homeless, goes on a waiting list.  When a property becomes available the landlord uses this list to find out who should be offered the property first.