Providing a home

Providing a home


Sometimes when two people separate and divorce, there is insufficient money to continue to maintain the former matrimonial home and pay the mortgage. In such circumstances, both may be reliant upon the local authority to provide each a home.

Housing benefit

To be eligible for housing benefit, a person must be responsible for the rent on the home in which they live and not have capital exceeding £16,000.00. There is no requirement that they are in receipt of any other benefits.

If the person is on income support or Jobseeker's Allowance, the benefit can be all of the rent payable. If a person is earning an income, they may be entitled to housing benefit. Some or all of their rent may be paid to them. It will be reduced by approximately £0.65p for each £1.00 by which their income exceeds the income support level.

The person's income is assessed in a similar way as with income support. However, there are some disregards. They include:

  • Maintenance received for children
  • Childcare bills
  • Certain earnings

The amount of benefit will be reduced if one or more non-dependants living with the person are not claiming income support or Jobseeker's Allowance.

If the person is a council tenant, the housing benefit will reduce the amount of rent payable. This means that no money will pass through his or her hands.

If the person is a tenant of a private property owner, they will receive an allowance that they should pay to the property owner.

Local authority housing

Following divorce, separation, or domestic violence, it is possible that one of the parties will not have a home in which to live. The local authority is under a duty to provide help. This may include providing accommodation to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The duty depends upon whether the person is homeless or threatened with homelessness. There is no duty upon a local authority to provide housing for someone intentionally homelessness. The local authority will assess the priority of each application and allocate resources.

The local authority considers that a person is homeless if there is no reasonable accommodation that they and their family are entitled to occupy. If they have accommodation to which they do not have access, they may be classed as being homeless. Further, if their occupation of their home is likely to lead to violence from someone living there, they may be considered homeless.

If a person is threatened with homelessness, they are entitled to help. The threat of homelessness must be about to occur or at least occur within the next 28 days.

If a person deliberately does or fails to do anything which results in them not occupying accommodation that was available for occupation and which was reasonable for them to continue to occupy, they will be intentionally homeless.

Council tax benefit (England & Wales only)

For a person to be entitled to council tax benefit, they must be liable to pay council tax. This means that they must be living in a property and registered with the local authority as being liable to pay the council tax.

Provided they are liable to pay council tax, the person may apply for council tax benefit. The local authority administers this. Any application for benefit must be made to the local authority.

There is no requirement that the person be in receipt of any other benefits. However, if a person is in receipt of a housing benefit, they will also be eligible for council tax benefit.

To be eligible for council tax benefit, the person must not have capital exceeding £16,000.00. For those on income support, the amount is usually 100% of the council tax payable. Council tax benefit will be reduced by approximately £0.20p for each £1.00 by which their income exceeds the income support level.

Income is calculated in the same way as for housing benefit. Council tax benefit may be reduced where there are one or more non-dependants who are not on income support living with the person making the claim. Council tax benefit is given by a reduction in the council tax bill.

Priority need

A person will be treated as having a priority need if:

  • They have dependent children who are living with them or might reasonably be expected to live with them
  • The homelessness resulted from flood, fire or other disaster
  • They, or a member of their household, is vulnerable through old age, mental illness, handicap, physical disability or other special reasons
  • She, or a member of the household, is pregnant

If other suitable accommodation is available, the local authority must provide advice and assistance to the person so that they may secure that other accommodation.

If accommodation is not available, the local authority has certain duties. If a person does not become intentionally homeless and they have priority needs, the local authority must re-house. If the person continues to have a priority needs, the local authority must provide accommodation for a minimum period of two years. The local authority may continue to provide accommodation after the two-year period, but it is not obliged to do so. If it does continue to provide accommodation, it must be reviewed at least every two years.

If a person has a priority need and has made themselves intentionally homeless, the local authority must provide accommodation while they find their own accommodation. It will be provided for a period that the local authority feels is reasonable to enable the person to find accommodation. During that time, the local authority must provide assistance in finding alternative accommodation.

For a local authority to provide accommodation, the person must have local connections with the area. This will include being normally resident, employed, or having family associations in the area.