Housing allocation - general information
The Housing Selection Scheme applies to accommodation owned by social housing landlords taking part in the scheme. The scheme doesn't include temporary accommodation let by social housing landlords.
New rules for European Economic Area (EEA) citizens accessing social housing and homelessness assistance are in place.
The Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of EEA citizens and their family members, so they can continue living, working (including frontier working), studying and accessing benefits and services as they did before exit day. This includes access to social housing and homelessness assistance.
The Government has legislated to protect the rights of EEA citizens and their family members who are residing in the UK, or working but not residing in the UK (known as frontier workers). They will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline of 30 June 2021 to secure these rights.
How the Housing Selection Scheme works
If you apply for housing through the scheme, you will get:
- a telephone interview or visit to assess your housing need
- registered on a common waiting list
- allocated property according to the scheme's rules
People eligible for social housing
You should be 18 years old or over on the date you apply. You may still be able to apply, in certain circumstances, if you are 16 years
Contact the Housing Executive to ask about eligibility for the scheme. They will assess eligibility for all applicants. There are different rules for those from other countries.
The Housing Executive will consider if:
- you are a person from abroad who isn't entitled to housing help
- you or a member of your household has been guilty of unacceptable behaviour
In May 2019 the UK and Irish Governments signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on the Common Travel Area (CTA) which guarantees there will be no changes to the rights of British citizens in Ireland/Irish citizens in the UK as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.
If you are a British or Irish citizen residing in the other state you have the right to access social housing and homelessness assistance on the same basis as citizens of that state. Both governments have committed to taking steps to ensure that this will continue.
How homes are allocated
Usually, each property is offered to the relevant applicant with the highest points. Where points are equal, the date on which the application is received will decide the order in which applicants are offered accommodation.
In some areas there are flats where the scheme doesn't allocate housing to tenants under 35 years old. This decision is made under the Housing Selection Scheme's rules.
You can get more information from the Housing Executive or housing associations.
Offers of accommodation
You are entitled to three reasonable offers of housing. If you refuse three reasonable offers, you might not receive any further offers for one year.
In some circumstances, your points might be reduced.
Landlords may disqualify certain applicants from being housed. This can happen if the applicant has:
- past rent arrears
- has been involved in serious anti-social behaviour
- has caused substantial damage to property
- abandoned a previous tenancy
- illegally occupied a property or assisted in the illegal occupation of a property
- been guilty of violent behaviour
- made false statements or withheld information in order to obtain a social housing property
You are responsible for giving accurate information on your application form and during your assessment visit. When there is a change in your circumstances, you must tell the landlord dealing with your application. If you are allocated a home based on false or incorrect information, your tenancy may be terminated.
You will be asked in writing each year whether you still need accommodation. If you don’t reply, you may be removed from the waiting list.
If you deliberately worsen your circumstances to gain a higher ranking on the waiting list, the scheme can withhold the additional points you gained for two years.
Housing information in other languages
To get advice about the housing rights of foreign nationals in Northern Ireland, go to:
You can learn more about renting privately, homelessness, sharing a home, paying for your accommodation and other issues that affect migrant workers:
- Housing Advice - Polish
- Housing Advice - Lithuanian
- Housing Advice - Slovak
- Housing Advice - Russian
- Housing Advice - Portuguese
- Housing Advice - Romanian
- Housing Advice - Bulgarian
- Housing Advice - French
- Housing Advice - Mandarin
- Housing Advice - Cantonese