Access to social housing and homelessness assistance for EEA and Swiss citizens in England

This guidance explains the rights of European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens to access social housing and homelessness assistance in England.

Applies to England

EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020

EEA citizens and their family members who have been resident in the UK, or who have been working in the UK but not primarily resident (known as frontier workers) before 11pm on 31 December 2020 will have their rights protected.

The government has legislated to ensure resident EEA citizens, and their family members, can continue to live, work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on broadly the same basis as they did before the UK exited the EU. This includes maintaining their eligibility to access social housing and homelessness assistance. on broadly the same basis as prior to 11pm on 31 December.

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) enables EEA citizens who were resident in the UK before 11 pm on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to apply for UK immigration status. The deadline for applications to the EUSS is 30 June 2021. However, where a person eligible for leave under the EUSS has reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.

Moving to the UK from 1 January 2021

Newly arriving EEA citizens, moving to the UK from 1 January 2021, are no longer able to rely on rights to reside under EU law. They do not have any rights under EU law unless they are protected in another capacity, for example, where they are a family member joining an EEA citizen who was residing in the UK by 31 December 2020.

If you arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 you are able to apply for an immigration status under the current immigration system. The new points-based immigration system will align the treatment of EEA citizens with that of other foreign nationals, including for the purpose of access to benefits and public services.

This means newly arriving EEA citizens and their family members will not be eligible for an allocation of social housing or homelessness assistance until they are granted indefinite leave to remain (typically after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK), unless exempted under the Eligibility Regulations, for example, by having a refugee status.

Guidance to local authorities in England

Local authorities can find guidance for assessing applications from EEA citizens and their family members from 1 January 2021 onwards below. Please note this guidance is for England only.

This information should be considered alongside relevant statutory guidance: the Social housing allocations guidance and the Homelessness code of guidance.

These have been reviewed to reflect the changes to the eligibility regulations (The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020) that came into effect from 1 January 2021.

Irish citizens living in England

Irish citizens and their family members living in England, are able to continue to access social housing, including supported housing, and homelessness assistance as prior to the UK leaving the EU.

Published 20 March 2019
Last updated 2 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Amended to reflect the Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) 2020 Act receiving Royal Assent and the laying of the consequential SI on 18 November which includes the changes to MHCLG's housing legislation which will come into force by 31 December 2020. Also added letter to local authorities on the changes to the social housing and homelessness eligibility legislation.

  2. First published.