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Check if you can pass the habitual residence test for housing

This advice applies to England

You might be able to get help with housing from your local council if you’re British, Irish or from the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) and you live in the UK. The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. You might also be able to get help if you’re from Switzerland. 

To be eligible for homeless help and for housing from your local council, you’ll usually need to show:

  • your main home is the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle or Man and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’ 

  • you have a ‘right to reside’ - you can have a right to reside for different reasons, for example because of your work or family 

Not all types of right to reside will give you a right to help with housing from your local council. You can read more about the right to reside for housing

You might not need to pass the habitual residence test - this is called being ‘exempt’. Most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are exempt. 

Check if you have to pass the habitual residence test

You won’t need to pass the habitual residence test if you:

  • are a refugee

  • have humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain

  • have leave to remain under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

You also don’t need to pass the habitual residence test if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national with a right to reside based on being:

  • a worker or self-employed person or their family member

  • someone who’s retired or permanently unable to work and their family members 

You can read more about the different types of right to reside

You will have to pass the habitual residence test if you’re:

  • a British or Irish national returning from abroad

  • an EU, EEA or Swiss national who has a right to reside as self sufficient or as a student - although you’ll only be eligible for help with housing in rare cases

  • an EU, EEA or Swiss national with a permanent right to reside based on 5 years’ residence but who hasn’t yet got settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • someone subject to immigration control but with indefinite leave to remain - this includes people with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • an Afghan citizen with leave under the Afghan settlement programme, an unaccompanied refugee child or someone brought to the UK when the Calais refugee camp was closed 

Passing the habitual residence test

If you arrived in the UK less than 2 years ago and apply for help with housing, you’ll usually need to show:

  • your main home is in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man

  • you plan to stay - this is known as being 'habitually resident' 

If you return to live in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man after spending time abroad but were habitually resident before that, you’ll be habitually resident immediately. 

To decide if you pass the habitual residence test, your local council will need to believe you plan to stay in the UK, not just visit. They’ll consider things like:

  • where you intend to make your home

  • if you’ll be working

  • your ties to another country - like if your family lives abroad 

  • how often you return to the country where you lived before and why

  • if you’re a member of local organisations - like clubs, gyms, social or community groups

  • the length of your stay - this can be as little as 1 to 3 months

Evidence you'll need

You’ll need evidence to show:

  • when you arrived in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man

  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home

It's best if you've got at least 2 documents to prove this. The documents can include:

  • your travel ticket or boarding pass

  • your wage slips or tax documents such as a P45 or P60

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man or proof that you’ve ended your tenancy in the country you’ve left

  • bank or building society statements from the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man

  • proof that you've closed accounts in the country you've left - you don't need to close bank accounts, but it will strengthen your case

  • bills or letters with your name and address in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man

  • a letter or email from your child's school

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