Court makes it clear – spent convictions shouldn’t be taken into account for housing applications

We’ve put out a call for experiences. See below.

For more latest news, you can:

  1. see the posts at the bottom of this page
  2. click here for a full list of news posts
  3. sign up our mailing list to receive updates by email
  4. follow the latest on Twitter using the hashtag #housingconvictions


The problem

Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities and social housing providers have some discretion to exclude people on the grounds of “unacceptable behaviour”. As we cover on our information site, we’ve seen examples of local authorities filtering out people with convictions.

We want to understand more about if, and how, criminal records are having an impact on peoples’ ability to get, or indeed keep, social housing.


What we’re doing

We’ve put out a call for experiences. See below.



Under the old rules, councils would not have been allowed to make a rule which would apply to all people with convictions, or to anyone convicted of a particular type of crime. Past decisions showed that each application had to be considered individually.

The government’s guidance on the new regime states the following (with emphasis added), “Housing authorities should avoid setting criteria which disqualify groups of people whose members are likely to be accorded reasonable preference for social housing…. However, authorities may wish to adopt criteria which would disqualify individuals who satisfy the reasonable preference requirements…for example, if applicants are disqualified on a ground of anti-social behaviour.

When deciding what classes of people do not qualify for an allocation, authorities should consider the implications of excluding all members of such groups. ”

On the surface, therefore, the requirement that each case be assessed individually seems to have been significantly watered down by the Localism Act 2011. Since that came into force, we’ve seen anecdotal examples of local authorities who have refused people who have any unspent conviction, regardless of nature or seriousness.


Experiences – What we’re looking for

We’re gathering information and experiences to help us to better understand the situation as it stands.

Questions we’re looking for answers to include:

  1. Has your housing situation been affected by a criminal record? If so, how?
  2. Have you been refused a tenancy on the basis of a criminal record or been evicted as a result of a criminal record? If so, please tell us the procedures that were used, the questions you were asked and also if family members including children were affected.
  3. Have you come across any blanket policies being used by local authorities or housing associations? If so, which ones?


Sending us your experiences

You can get send your experiences by email to with the subject line “Housing and criminal records”. If it helps, use the questions above as a guide.

Also, although it’s not required, it’s helpful if you can provide your name, contact details, the details of the criminal record involved, and any other personal details you think are relevant. Copies of documentation are also helpful.

Any personal details that you send us will be entirely confidential and will not be shared outside of Unlock without your express permission.

For more details on sending your details to us, click here.


Case studies

Court makes it clear – spent convictions shouldn’t be taken into account for housing applications

Andy – Having an application for social housing refused on the basis of spent convictions


Latest news

See the bottom of this page for our latest posts about this issue.

You can also find below the latest from Twitter, using the hashtag #housingconvictions (although we cannot endorse what gets displayed here).



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