Social housing allocations legal framework: statutory guidance for social landlords

Sets out the legal framework which social landlords must work within when developing their allocations policies.

14. Age

14.1 Landlords generally cannot take the age of an applicant into account, provided that the applicant is 16 years of age or over. The only exceptions to this are the allocation of:

  • houses which have been designed or substantially adapted for occupation by persons of a particular age group; and
  • houses to persons who are, or are to be, in receipt of housing support services (within the meaning of section 91 of the 2001 Act) for persons of a particular age group.

14.2 'Housing support services' include any service which provides support, help, advice or counselling to an individual with particular needs with a view to enabling that individual to occupy, or continue to occupy, a house as their home.

14.3 The 1987 Act does not define what 'substantially adapted' is, or what design factors would be relevant. Landlords would have to assess whether the circumstances justify use of the exemption.

14.4 These exceptions reflect the fact that age should not be a barrier to being allocated a house. In some cases, certain housing will be particularly or only suitable for certain age groups, and therefore can be allocated only to applicants in those age groups. The law does not define the age groups and such housing can include, but is not restricted to, sheltered housing for older people and supported housing, such as foyers, for young people.

14.5 While it is important to match a property to an applicant and take into account the potential impact on existing tenants, this can be achieved by a sensitive letting rather than by a blanket approach based on age. For example, housing a young person amongst a predominately older population may sometimes lead to housing management problems, but this is not always the case. Where there is a history of housing management problems landlords should take care to make sure the allocation delivers the most suitable housing for the applicant themselves and the surrounding neighbours. Essentially houses should be allocated on the basis of an applicant's needs and circumstances, without having regard to their age.

14.6 Housing legislation does not prevent the composition of the household being taken into account in allocating a particular property. So, it may be reasonable to decide not to house families with young children in multi-storey flats because of the lack of play space. Landlords would have to balance this against the make-up of their stock and the demand from young families. For example if a high proportion of family sized homes were multi-storey flats it would not be reasonable to impose this restriction. Landlords could also have to consider whether the Equality Act 2010 (which includes age as a protected characteristic for persons aged at least 18, but with exclusions) had a bearing on such policies they might develop.



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