Homeless advice for ex-armed forces personnel

If you’re leaving the armed services, or you are a former member, you may be entitled to extra help if you become homeless.

Key advice

  • Check our Housing Allocations policy.
  • Get help with housing or contact the council’s Housing Needs Team before you’re discharged.

Homelessness rights for ex-forces

You may qualify for help from us if you are a former member of the armed forces and are homeless or threatened with homelessness. In addition you will have to prove to us that you are eligible for housing assistance, and have not made yourself intentionally homeless.

Subject to you satisfying the above criteria we will have to help you with both emergency and longer-term accommodation if it is accepted that you are homeless and in priority need with regard to needing accommodation.

We must consider if we can help you using both general rules that apply to everyone and special rules that apply to people who were in the forces.

General rules for people in priority need

It can be easier to get help if you qualify under the general rules for people in priority need, for example if you have dependent children or are pregnant.

We will look to see if you are vulnerable in some way. This may involve showing how a disability, mental health problem, addiction or other issue effects your ability to secure housing for yourself compared with other people who are rendered homeless.

Extra homelessness rules for the armed forces

You should also be treated as being vulnerable and therefore in priority need for accommodation if you can show that your vulnerability is as a result of being a former member of the armed forces.

When deciding this, we may consider:

  • How long you were in the forces and what role you had.
  • If you spent any time in a military hospital.
  • If you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form).
  • If you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left.
  • How long it has been since you left service.

To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the MOD. including a Medical History Release Form (if you were given one). It can be hard to establish that you are vulnerable but we will help you find accommodation even if we decide you don’t have a priority need.

Re-housing in the area of your base

To be accepted as homeless in the local council area where you were based, you must be able to show that you have a local connection with the local council where your base was situated. You may be able to show a local connection with that area if you:

  • Currently work in the area.
  • Have lived in the area for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years.

If you have left the forces and are not yet working for another employer in the area, you won’t be able to show a local connection through working in the area. However, you may still be able to show that you have a local connection as the time you spent living or working in the area may still count.

You should also consider if you are able to show a local connection with this or another local council area where you have close family connections. You don’t need to have a local connection to apply to go on Bolsover Homes housing register if you are:

  • Serving in the armed forces or left in the last 5 years.
  • Applying as homeless before discharge from the forces.
  • Contact our Housing Needs Team if you think you will be homeless.

After you are discharged from the services, we should not wait until you are made homeless before we help you. Upon the production of a letter of discharge or some other evidence that confirms the date of your discharge from the Forces, we should accept that from the date of discharge you will become homeless. In the event that you have not sought any housing assistance from us prior to your discharge from the Forces you may need to stay in your accommodation as long as possible and wait for Defence Estates to evict you. The Housing Needs Team will negotiate with your landlord to get you more time in your accommodation whilst we help you find somewhere else to live

Defence Estates have to give you a Notice to Vacate before they can take you to court in order that they can obtain a possession order. You can use any Notice to Vacate and any possession order that is obtained against you as evidence in support of your homelessness application.

Ex-forces and single, homeless and on the streets

Many single homeless people don’t qualify for help from us or any other local authority.  There is a range of services for people who find themselves homeless and on the streets, for example:

  • Day centres are a useful source of practical support – they provide a warm place to stay during the day and food, clothing, laundry facilities and showers.
  • The Royal British Legion (opens in a new window) might be able to help with a rent deposit.
  • SSAFA provide housing advice to people currently serving in the forces and ex services personnel and their families.

For more details visit SSAFA.

Use the Homeless England directory to find details of other day centres and hostels in London and across the UK.

Further housing support and advice by Veterans’ Housing Advice

 Veterans’ Housing Advice is a new service which provides clear pathways for ex- Service personnel in housing need throughout the United Kingdom to move into permanent homes. It is provided in partnership with The Royal British Legion, Shelter and Connect Assist. Its main aim is to make accessing the services of charities easier through a telephone helpline open seven days a week from 8.00am - 8.00pm. It can, for example, provide a housing intervention that negates the need to consider a rent bond or rent deposit. There is now a Veterans Housing Advice (VHA) website and the direct number to an advisor is 0808 801 0880, that can also be accessed via the Veterans’ Gateway on 0808 802 1212 that is available 24/7. Services provided by members of the CHC (The confederation of Service Charities) include:

  • Supported Accommodation - providing temporary accommodation for veterans, with support.
  • Long Term Housing - providing settled accommodation for veterans, with or without support.
  • General Needs - Unsupported housing for members of the ex-Service community unable to buy or rent on the open market. Tenants will usually be self-sufficient, but may need to avail themselves of some of the floating support listed. Some adapted properties may be available or adaptations arranged as necessary. Floating Support - Services delivered by visiting workers to people in their own homes to help people maintain their settled accommodation.
  • Outreach Services - Covering work with rough sleepers or people in temporary accommodation to help them access more settled accommodation and any support needs.
  • Day Centres - The provision of activities and support to homeless and vulnerably housed people. (Also called by some providers ‘drop-in’ facilities)

Homes for Veterans provide supported accommodation to British Armed Forces Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Although supported accommodation is not in our area their website has lots of very useful information and contacts.

The Veterans Gateway website has a great deal of information on how to access support.

Homeless after dishonourable discharge

We may not have a duty to help you if you are homeless after being discharged on disciplinary grounds from the UK armed forces.

Joining the Housing Register

The following categories of applicants will be afforded a priority status for accommodation on Bolsover Homes Housing Register if they have left the Armed Forces within the last 5 years:

  • Those discharged from the Armed Forces as a result of sustaining a serious injury, illness, medical condition, or disability during service which is attributable (wholly or partly) to the person‘s service.
  • Those former serving members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service.
  • Those applicants who are in housing need and have been discharged from the Armed Forces such as former armed forces personnel in housing need.
  • Those bereaved spouses or civil partners of those serving in the regular forces where the bereaved spouse or civil partner has recently ceased to reside, or will cease to be entitled, to reside in Ministry of Defence accommodation.
  • Those applying following the death of their service spouse or civil partner, where the death was wholly or partly attributable to their service.

Additional advice

The MOD produce a booklet with information on Civilian Housing Options for those about to leave the armed forces.


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