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The definition of intentional homelessness (or threatened homelessness) is in Section 26 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.

From 7th November 2019 a local authority is no longer compelled to investigate whether an applicant is intentionally homeless but they may do so if they think fit.

What to consider

This section reviews the guiding principles when considering whether someone has become homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally. 

Definition of becoming homeless intentionally

Section 26 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 gives the definition of intentional homelessness. All elements have to be satisfied before the local authority can decide that the homelessness was intentional. 

Deliberate act or omission

A person becomes homeless intentionally if s/he deliberately does, or fails to do something, the consequence of which is that s/he ceases to occupy his/her accommodation. It is important to consider whether the act or omission that caused the homelessness was an act by the applicant, and whether that act was deliberate. 

Did act or omission cause homelessness

Without a clear connection between the act or omission and the homelessness, it would be inappropriate to see the applicant as intentionally homeless. 

Ceased to occupy accommodation

An applicant who refuses an offer of accommodation made under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 cannot be seen as intentionally homeless since they will never have occupied the accommodation. 

Accommodation must have been available

This section explains that to be 'available', accommodation must meet specific criteria. 

Reasonable to continue occupation

This concept of whether or not it is reasonable to occupy accommodation in part overlaps with 'availability'. If it is not 'reasonable' to continue to occupy the room provided then there can be no finding of intentional homelessness. 

Good faith or unaware of relevant facts

This section looks in more detail at what is meant by 'good faith' and 'unaware of any relevant fact' with regards to assessing intentionality. 

Duties if intentionally homeless

When a local authority decides that a person is homeless and that they became homeless intentionally, the local authority has two main duties which are outlined here. 

Period of intentionality decision

The Code of Guidance makes it clear that there cannot be an unlimited period during which the intentionality decision applies. 

Intentionality and closure orders

An additional provision in the range of measures available to deal with antisocial behaviour is likely to have an impact on findings of intentional homelessness. 

This content applies to Scotland

Last updated: 1 November 2019