Housing options

One of the most important things to sort out when leaving service is where you are going to live. If you don’t already have your own home or family to live with find out what your options are and what help is available.

The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) holds briefings all year round whether you’re leaving the service or not, so stay MoneyFit and attend one of their briefings, especially if you are thinking of renting or buying on Civvy Street.

If you're going to rent

If you're going to rent privately, see our Renting a property section.

Social housing

The following applies to England only - there are differences for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Veterans UK (formerly SPVA) can help clarify your particular circumstances.


  • By law, local authorities must give 'reasonable preference' for social housing to certain people. The Armed Forces Covenant ensures you should not be disadvantaged if you have no local connection. The Housing Act states that additional preference criteria is applied to members of the Armed Forces, but this does not mean you are given priority. 
  • Local authorities usually give preference to those in ‘priority need’. There are a number of ways in which you can count as in priority need, including:
    • Being pregnant or living with someone who is pregnant.
    • Having dependent children living with you.
    • Being vulnerable because of mental illness or disability or physical disability.
    • Being vulnerable because of your service in the Armed Forces.
  • Local authorities may also give 'additional preference' (high priority) to people in the reasonable preference categories who have more urgent housing needs. If you do not qualify as being in priority need through having care of children or pregnancy, you will need to show the local authority that you are vulnerable in some way to get a chance of being allocated housing.

Applying to the local authority

  • You can register with the local authority in the area where you want to live. You should not be disadvantaged if you don't have a ‘local connection’.
  • Some housing associations will take applications directly from applicants, others will only accept referrals from local authorities.


Renting from a housing association or through the local authority is usually cheaper and more secure than private rentals. 

Where to get help

  • Some charities and non-profit organisations specialise in providing housing for ex-Service men and women.
  • You can get further information from your Resettlement Adviser or look at the Shelter website.
  • You can get advice and help from the JSHAO and from your Resettlement Adviser and from the Career Transition Partnership.
  • In an effort to reduce homelessness, the Secretary of State for Defence is required to refer members of the regular forces in England whom he considers may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, to a local housing authority, with the individual’s consent. See Chapter 24 of the Code of Guidance for more information.

Whether you rent privately, through the local authority or housing association, you have certain responsibilties - see Responsibilities when renting and Budgeting and sharing costs when renting

If you’re going to buy

Affordable housing

There are a number of affordable home-buy schemes available where Service personnel have 'priority status'– check whether you are eligible for one of these . See Affordable housing schemes.


If affordable housing is not for you, use our HomeFinder tool to see where in the UK you can afford to live.

Go to our pages on Buying a property and Getting a mortgage for more information.

If you had an LSAP

You have to repay in full the balance of any Long Service Advance of Pay that you had to help you buy a home on leaving the Services. If you can’t pay before you leave, it will be deducted from any pension entitlement.

If you have a Forces Help to Buy advance

If you leave service within the 10 year repayment period then the balance of the loan will have to be settled when you leave. Terminal benefits can be used where applicable. 

Where to get help

You can get advice and help from the JSHAO, from your Resettlement Adviser, the Career Transition Partnership and SIIAP

Top tips – renting or buying

  • Make sure you can afford the property you rent or buy. If you fail to make rent or mortgage payments you may be evicted.
  • Do a budget. Be realistic about your income and expenditure – use our Budget planner. Remember that mortgage interest rates go up as well as down.
  • Find out how much the Council Tax is for the property. If you do not pay your Council Tax you can put yourself at risk of being made bankrupt, or worse, imprisonment. You can find out the Council Tax for a property by going to your local authority website.
  • You will also need to budget for utility bills, water, gas and electricity. Go to Save money on your energy bills and Save money on your water bills for tips on reducing your costs.
  • If you are on a low income, check whether you are entitled to any benefits - contact The Royal British Legion's Benefits and Money Advice team for help.

There are a number of Service charities that can help, including Veterans UK who can provide advice and support on housing and what you need to do.  They can also assign a Welfare Manager to help you with securing accommodation. Contact them for free advice on 0808 1914 218.  

Last reviewed: 14/05/2018