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This note gives a broad overview of the rights of migrants from outside the EEA (European Economic Area) to access social housing in England.

It is worth noting at the outset that there is no general entitlement to social housing for anyone in England, including British citizens. It should also be noted that even those people from abroad who may be eligible for housing assistance still have to qualify for assistance in line with an authority’s housing allocation scheme, or meet the criteria under which a statutory duty arises to households that are homeless.

The rules on eligibility for housing assistance in relation to persons from abroad are extremely complex. Additional guidance can be found in chapter 9 and annexes 11-13 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities (last updated in July 2006) The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and BMENational run a Housing Rights website specifically aimed at answering housing eligibility queries in regard to new migrants. Constituents seeking specific advice on their eligibility for housing assistance may be best referred for professional legal help.

Information on the eligibility of EU migrants to apply for social housing can be found in Library note SN/SP/4737. The note also considers whether there is any evidence to suggest that EU migrants are able to “jump the queue” to access social housing more quickly than other applicants.

Government action to limit migrants’ access to benefits, including Housing Benefit, is covered in other Library notes including: EEA nationals: the ‘right to reside’ requirement for benefits; SN/SP/416 The Habitual Residence Test; SN/SP/6889 Measures to limit migrants’ access to benefits; and SN/SP/6847 People from abroad: what benefits can they claim?

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