Housing advice for armed forces

If you’re still in the armed forces

If you are still in the armed forces but you’re thinking about leaving and want some advice about your housing options, you should contact the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO).

The JSHAO provides service personnel and their families with advice about civilian accommodation options. Their advice line is 01252 787. They run regular sessions on:

  • buying a house and renting private property
  • independent financial advice and understanding the mortgage process
  • affordable home ownership schemes
  • forces help to buy
  • social housing and the MOD referral scheme

The sessions are available to all members of the armed forces, whether or not you’ve committed to leaving the services.

You’re about to leave the armed forces but don’t have accommodation sorted

It can be challenging to find affordable housing especially in London, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Get advice as soon as possible.

You’ll be told the exact date you stop being entitled to service accommodation 6 months before you’re due to leave. You should arrange somewhere else to stay before your entitlement runs out.

The MOD will issue you with a ‘Cessation of entitlement to occupy service accommodation’ certificate. Hackney Council will accept the certificate as evidence that you are threatened with homelessness, and will offer you housing advice.

If you are threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days, the Council has a duty to provide you with advice and information on:

  • preventing homelessness
  • securing accommodation when you’re homeless
  • your rights if you’re homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • what duties we have
  • help we and other local organisations can provide
  • how to get that help

Will Hackney Council house me if I’m homeless?

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act, we have a duty to help you to secure accommodation if you’re homeless.

We’re obliged to take reasonable steps to help you secure suitable accommodation with a reasonable prospect that it will be available to you for at least 6 months.

If we have reason to believe that you that you may be homeless, eligible and in priority need, you’ll be provided with interim accommodation while we work with you to secure suitable accommodation you can stay in for at least 6 months.

We may not house you if your actions contributed to you losing your home, for example, if you’ve been dishonourably discharged from the military (discharged on disciplinary grounds from the UK armed forces) and you lost your military accommodation as a result.

Priority need

Only people who are homeless and in priority need are owed a homeless duty. The main groups of people in priority need are people who are:

  • pregnant or living with a pregnant woman
  • responsible for dependent children
  • vulnerable as a result of age, mental illness or disability
  • vulnerable because of service in the armed forces

See Shelter’s list of who is in priority need.

A person who is vulnerable as a result of having been a member of Her Majesty’s regular armed forces has a priority need for accommodation. In considering whether veterans are vulnerable as a result of their time spent in the forces, we will consider factors including but not limited to:

  • the length of time you spent in the armed forces
  • the type of service you were engaged in (as people on active service may find it more difficult to cope with civilian life)
  • whether you spent any time in a military hospital (as this could indicate a serious health problem or post-traumatic stress)
  • whether armed forces medical and welfare advisers have judged you to be particularly vulnerable or have issued you a medical history release form giving a summary of the circumstances causing that vulnerability
  • the length of time since you left the armed forces, and whether you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation during that time
  • whether you have any existing support networks, particularly by way of family or friends

Applying for social / council housing

The Council runs a housing register for social housing. Most people are required to have lived within Hackney for at least 3 years before they can apply to join the housing register.

However, if you’ve served in the regular or reserve forces in the last 5 years, you’ll be exempt from all residency requirements applied to the housing register – because you won’t have been given a choice where you lived or how often you moved.

Higher priority

You’ll also be given a higher priority on the housing waiting list – if you apply for social housing you’ll be placed one priority band higher on the register that your circumstances warrant (up to the urgent band).

However, even with higher priority, social housing in Hackney is in extremely short supply. It could be years before a Council property becomes available – so getting a Council home is not a solution to your immediate need for housing.

Doesn’t the armed forces covenant guarantee me housing?

Unfortunately the covenant doesn’t give you a right to housing. It means we make sure:

  • our policies don’t unintentionally discriminate against members of the armed forces community
  • members of the armed forces community get the same access to our services as any other residents

It doesn’t guarantee preferential treatment.

There are 13,500 households currently waiting for social housing in Hackney, and only 500-600 social lets per year. So even with a higher priority it could be many years before a social home becomes available. Getting a council home is not a solution to your immediate need for housing.

Where else can I go for advice and support?

There’s a wide range of organisations and charities that provide advice help and support for Military Families and veterans.

Your first point of contact is Veterans’ Gateway. They’re a single point of contact for veterans seeking advice and support, and will connect you with key referral partners and organisations who can help you:

If you need advice, support, or are at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping, you can get help finding accommodation from:

There’s also a small number of housing association and organisations that provide housing for veterans:

Page updated on: 31 March 2020