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Accessing social housing

The problem

Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities and social housing providers have some discretion to exclude people on the grounds of “unacceptable behaviour”. In practice, this sometimes means people are excluded from housing because of their criminal record.

Under the old rules, councils would not have been allowed to make a rule which would apply to all people with convictions, or to anyone convicted of a particular type of crime. Past decisions showed that each application had to be considered individually.

The government’s guidance on the new regime states the following:

On the surface, therefore, the requirement that each case be assessed individually seems to have been significantly watered down by the Localism Act 2011. Since that came into force, we’ve seen anecdotal examples of local authorities who have refused people who have any unspent conviction, regardless of nature or seriousness.

What we're doing

As part of our work on housing policy, we want to understand more about if, and how, criminal records are having an impact on peoples’ ability to get, or indeed keep, social housing.
We’re gathering information and experiences to help us to better understand how a criminal record affects people when applying for social housing.

  • Has your housing situation been affected by a criminal record?
  • Have you been refused a tenancy or been evicted as a result of a criminal record?
  • Have you come across any blanket policies being used by local authorities or housing associations?

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12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

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