Getting a Council House: Why and How to Get One in 2022

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Council houses are an excellent housing solution for those who can’t afford expensive rent. Such housing, however, may be challenging to acquire. This article explains how to get a council house and the application process and presents tips on how to speed up the application procedure. If you wish to increase your chances of being approved for a council house, carefully consider our guide.

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Council House: What Is It & Should You Get One?

A council house is a residence owned by local authorities that provides housing to those who cannot afford to rent accommodation or get a mortgage and buy a property. The council house is allocated based on an applicant’s eligibility and need, and the rent is determined by the applicant’s ability to pay, known as ‘differential rent’.

When getting a council house, if your income is low, the rent will be low; if your income increases, the rent will also rise. The income of all other adults in your household is also included in the rent calculation, but there are deductions for children and dependents.

The Road to a Council House

The main goal of council housing is to provide affordable housing to struggling families. So if you find yourself in this situation, you should apply for a council home. But keep in mind that it might be challenging to get approved. The introduction of the Right to Buy scheme in 1980 permitted people living in council houses to buy the homes at discounted rates.

So how to get a council property is a concern since so many of the houses were taken off the market via the Right to Buy plan. The waiting list for a council house has grown longer, and it is more difficult to get approved, but it’s not impossible. The following section addresses the application process and the requirements to get a council house.

DID YOU KNOW? Rent prices in England saw a 95% rise over 20 years. In 1999, the average rent was £81.59, while in 2019, it amounted to £159.2.

How to Get a Council House

A council house application must be submitted to the local council. Each council has its own rules (allocation policies) regarding council homes. So before you apply, make sure you’re familiar with these policies.

Applications can be submitted online or directly to the council. If your application is in order, the council will add you to the housing register and put you on a waiting list, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll acquire a home. The following section addresses the complete application process.

How to Apply for a Council House

The council house application can be found online, but keep in mind that these applications are extensive and require much detailed information. You need approximately one hour to fill out the application. If you can’t manage it yourself, you should ask for help. You must provide the following information on the application.

  • Income from employment and benefits
  • Health conditions and disabilities
  • Savings and assets
  • Previous and current living situation
  • Employment history
  • Visas and immigration documents (for non-UK residents)

Filling out the application in its entirety and meeting all requirements is how to get on the council list. You may be asked, however, to provide additional documentation to prove that you are eligible for council housing. The application has a checklist of documents you need to submit, including proof of identity, address and income, and proof of disability or any medical documentation.

The council will review your application and attached documents and decide if you meet the conditions to be put on the waiting list. Then, they will determine if you should be on the council housing priority list and the size of home you should receive.

How to Get the Council House I Want

In some cases, councils allocate a property they deem fit for your circumstances. If you’re not satisfied with the property you’ve been assigned, you can refuse it. But you must be careful about turning down a property, as the council can remove you from the waiting list.

Some councils have a Choice Based Letting (CBL) scheme that allows applicants to bid on properties they’re interested in. The bidding process includes simply applying for a specific home on the council’s website. Some of the properties are for single people, others for families, and some accommodate disabled people.

How to get a council flat or house to your liking includes bidding before the closing date, or else you might miss out on the property. But remember, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it.

DID YOU KNOW? Most recent rent and tenancy agreements require new tenants to provide a guarantor for rent, especially if they’re unemployed, low-income workers or have poor credit histories. The guarantor ensures that the landlord won’t lose any money due to missed payments.

Key Takeaways

Council houses are housing solutions for those who can’t afford rent accommodation.
Rent for council housing is based on the applicants’ ability to pay. 
Council housing applications are extensive and require detailed information.
Eligibility for council housing is determined by age, income bracket, local connections, and lack of savings and alternative accommodation.
The waiting period for council housing can be extended up to 70 months, but an application can be given priority under exceptional circumstances.

Who Can Get a Council House?

To be eligible for a council house, you must meet specific requirements. The more requirements you meet, the more ‘points’ you receive and have a better chance of being shortlisted for a council house. Applicants for a council must meet the following requirements.

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have low income
  • Have no savings or a small amount
  • Have local connections (a job or family in the area)
  • Have lived in the area for an extended period (not always applicable)
  • Don’t have alternative accommodation

Once you’ve read through the main requirements, you’ll know who is eligible for council housing. But the following categories of people are given priority when council houses to rent are allocated.

  • The homeless or those threatened by homelessness
  • Those who live in an overcrowded home
  • Those who have medical conditions worsened by their current living conditions
  • Those with a disability
  • Those with mental health issues (depression, etc.)

Even if you meet one or several priority conditions, the council may still refuse your application. You can, however, ask the council to review it again. And make sure that you notify the council if your situation changes, including pregnancy, the birth of a child, a new medical condition, harassment, or a change in income.

Once you know how to get a house from the council and understand the eligibility conditions and the council housing rules, you can start preparing your application.

DID YOU KNOW? Renting a council house comes with a set of responsibilities and privileges. Depending on the tenancy agreement, tenants might have the right to have repairs done on the structure or exterior of the property and some interior installations.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Council House?

The local council must assess a completed application 12 weeks after receiving it and decide if you qualify for social housing and place you in a band or tier. The time frame, however, can be extended if the council needs additional information that you’ll need to submit when requested, or your application can be rejected.

In some cases, the waiting period can be over five years, depending on the type of property you’re looking for. If you’re considering a studio, the waiting period would be shorter, but you’ll need to wait significantly longer if you want a four-bedroom property.

A Council House Offer

What to say to get a council house is always a concern for many. But remember, your complete application does the talking for you. And once you’re offered full housing, you only have a short time to accept the offer. If you accept it, the council will notify you when you can sign the contract and move into the property. If you reject it, the council will provide the property to someone else.

If you live in private rental accommodation while on the housing list, you can apply for a Rent Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), but be aware that you’ll be removed from the housing list if you choose the latter.

How to Get a Council House Quicker

Once you’re put on the housing list, you need to wait a long time before the council allocates a property to you. (Saving for a house, however, is also a long and strenuous process.)

Is there something you can do to speed up the process? Although there is no magic solution to this problem, you can employ the following tricks to get a council house if you wish to get your home sooner rather than later.

  • Be flexible: If you’re aiming to get a four-bedroom property but are offered a three-bedroom, accept it and adjust to the circumstances.
  • Use all your bids: You’ll probably be given three bids in each cycle; make sure you use all of them to increase your chances of approval.
  • Ensure you’re bidding for the correct type of property: It’s essential to bid on a property that you’re given priority for—don’t bid on a property that’s too big or too small.
  • Check if you’re in the correct band: If you want to know how to get a council house fast, you must ensure the council has placed you in the correct band.
  • Have someone write a supporting letter: Have a friend or family member write a letter to the council saying why you would be a good choice for a council house.
  • Update the council on changes: If your circumstances change while you’re on the housing list, notify the council immediately.

So how do I get a council house quickly? The tips above are actions you can take to speed up the process and get a council house. But still, the process will probably take quite some time.

DID YOU KNOW? If you’ve purchased a council house, you are regarded as a homeowner in the eyes of the law. You’re responsible for paying ground rent, service charges, council tax, and other house-related expenses.

Conclusion

Can I get a council house? Council housing in the UK is an excellent housing solution for disadvantaged citizens. Unfortunately, council houses are scarce, and the supply cannot meet the demand. Acquiring a council house depends on your circumstances. Hopefully, our guide has helped you understand if you’re eligible and, if so, how to apply and speed up the application process.

FAQ

What makes you priority for council housing?

Being given priority for council housing can be based on medical grounds or if you’re in dire need of shelter due to your current living situation.

How do I qualify for a council house in the UK?

If you’re over 18, unemployed or have low income and don’t have alternative accommodation, you can qualify for council housing.

Can you be rehoused due to mental health?

If you have poor mental health, you can be allocated a council house sooner since inappropriate housing can worsen existing mental health issues.

Can I get a council house if I have a job?

The question of how to get a council house if you’re employed is a common one. Your employment status doesn’t disqualify you from council housing; you can still get a council house if you’re employed.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Alex is an IT wizz gone SEO gone fire-juggler. We’re not even joking. When he isn’t researching why one personal loan is better than the other and which piece of hardware you should buy next, he’s rollerblading or selling homes (because he does that, too, the smarty-pants).

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