Generally, each council has their own rules for the provision of council homes. This is called an “allocation scheme”; according to which applicants’ eligibility criteria and priorities are assigned.

However, as a basic rule, anyone who is above 18 years of age, low on income and savings can apply for council housing. Some councils also require a “local connection” of the applicant. This means that either they have lived in the vicinity for a number of years or they have a family or job in the area.

Can Council Inspect My House?

Yes, council authorities have a duty to visit houses; both privately rented ones and especially council housing premises. Such visits are scheduled in advance and residents are informed ahead of the visit to expect a visit by the council authorities at a specified date and time.

The nature and purpose of this visit may vary. For instance, sometimes visits by council authorities are an informal assessment before a formal inspection is carried out for home improvement or extension work to be carried out.

The reasons for a council visit may include any other following:

  • Inspection or assessment prior to home improvement/restructuring/modification/extension tasks is planned.
  • Inspection or follow up on complaints of pest control.
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the tenant(s).
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the neighbours against the tenant(s). 
  • Inspection to check multiple occupancy status (if the resident claims to be a single occupant for the property).

Details of the reasons for council visits and their consequences can be found here Shelter Legal England – Local authority duties to inspect homes and assess hazards

There are times when the reason for council authorities visiting a council house is in response to a complaint filed by the resident(s).

When residents have complaints about their living conditions, or if the property that they are living in (whether it is privately rented or is part of social housing) is not fit for inhabitation, they may request the local council authorities to visit the premises especially if the authorities are expected to take any action int his regard. Sometimes when landlords are uncooperative about home improvements (those that may harm the health of tenants or cause external damage), they mask request council authorities to visit their house for inspection.

This is generally an informal visit followed by official health and environmental inspection under the Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS

To assess details about council visits, we will explore the following topics:

  • Can council authorities visit to inspect home improvements?
  • Will the council visit for council tax?
  • Can council visit to check occupancy status?
  • What are the different types of tenancies?

Can Council Authorities Visit To Inspect Home Improvements At Council Houses?

While a resident can decorate council houses, the premises is usually inspected in case of any major home improvement work such as rewiring or restructuring or installation of fittings. In some cases, the council provides you with a voucher when you move into a council house to purchase items for home decor. You may be able to use this voucher for specific items only. 

Certain home improvement tasks need to be carried out prior to home decor. These may include rewiring, extensive re-plastering or fitting central heating systems. You should make sure that there is a thorough assessment of the kind of home improvements that are required so that such work is complete before you start decorating your council house. In most cases, your council or social housing landlord will bear the expense of major home improvements.

The council may want to visit your house to inspect and assess the requirements for major home improvements especially if they will affect the structure of the house. In most cases, you will not be able to commence any work on the property before their inspection and approval. 

Find your local council to learn more about the specific guidelines that apply to your district.

Will The Council Visit Me For Council Tax?

Unless your council tax is due, it requires alterations due to change in your personal circumstances or revaluation of your property or you are to be summoned for council tax arrears, council offices generally do not contact residents other than the time that their council tax bill is sent. This is usually a printed version of the bill that you receive through the post but if you require an e-version, you may request it from your local council office.

If your council tax payments are being made on time, chances are that there will be no further communication initiated by the local council office; unless an announcement is to be made. However, should you not pay your council tax bill on time, this is when you can expect to be contacted by the local council office.

They usually contact for clearance of council tax dues if you miss the due date and send you a reminder for payment to be made in the next 7 days. In case you do not make payment by then and miss another council tax payment, they will contact you by sending you a second reminder to clear your dues as per the same lead time of 7 days. The next time the council office contacts you will be with a court summons for clearance of council tax debt.

Can Council Visit To Check Occupany Status?

Yes, council authorities can come to check the occupancy status of your home especially when you claim single-occupant benefits. Someone can live with you in your council house as they are generally intended for eligible candidates and their families; whether they are dependants or non-dependants. However, if you intend to ask someone to live with you as a carer or a joint tenant, or you intend to sublet your council house, you must consult your tenancy agreement and discuss with your landlord/local council office prior to making any commitments.

If you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, any changes to the number of people in your home might have an impact on the amount of benefit you were receiving prior to them moving in especially if they are expected to contribute towards the rent. 

If you are not on benefits, you only have to inform your landlord and council authorities of the addition of occupants to your household especially if they are expected to share the rent with you. There is a possibility that your tenancy agreement will need to be changed to adjust for joint tenancy. 

If you are under a Secure Tenancy or Fixed Tenancy agreement with the housing authorities, you may sub-let rooms in your council house; however, subletting of the entire council house is not allowed. You will find a clause in your tenancy agreement that confirms the same. Therefore, it is advisable not to add someone to your council house with the intention of subletting the premises.

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound. 
  • Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

Irrespective of the type of tenancy agreement that you may have for your council house, council authorities may visit you(mostly after informing you of their scheduled visit) as a routine inspection of the property. The reason for this visit may range anywhere from a check on ongoing home improvements to responding to a complaint from the neighbours about residents’ attitude or negligence.

Conclusion:

Council authorities have the right as well as the duty to visit residents. These visits may be intended towards the assurance of maintenance of housing standards by tenants, in response to resident’s concerns about the property (sometimes in cases where landlords are not willing to cooperate and assist with complaints) or an assessment and inspection prior to major home improvement to be undertaken at the premises.

It is advisable for residents to cooperate with council authorities during such visits and provide the information desired/required by them. Failure to cooperate may lead to force entry by council authorities. 

FAQs: Can Council Inspect My House?

Do councils do house inspections?

Yes, councils conduct house inspections whether it is a privately rented property or a council housing one. The purpose can be anything from a routine inspection to responding to a resident’s complaint.

Why does the council want to inspect my house?

Council authorities visit houses to assess the property if any major home improvement or modifications to the structure or extension has been requested by the resident. They may also visit if a neighbour has complained against inappropriate actions or attitudes of the tenant(s). 

Can council officers enter my property UK?

Yes, council officers can enter your property. They generally inform residents prior to their visit and share the reason for the visit as well. Residents are expected to cooperate and provide a tour of the premises. They may also be asked to provide certain documents (if need be) and it is advisable to keep such documents available during the visit. However, unannounced visits by the council are also common.

Can the council force entry?

Yes, council authorities are authorised to force entry in case residents fail to cooperate and disallow entry to their homes.

What is a HAP inspection?

If you are a tenant under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the local authority will inspect your premises (especially during the first 8 months) to assess whether there are smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers etc in place.

References:

Complain to environmental health about private rented housing

Council want to inspect my property – Property118

Shelter Legal England – Local authority duties to inspect homes and assess hazards

Council housing: Types of tenancy

Occupancy rights

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Getting a council home

Council housing

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.