Council homes are intended for tenants who are unable to afford the rents of privately owned properties. Through this blog post, we will discuss whether or not someone can buy a house and keep their council house as well. Additionally, we will also consider some common situations related to council housing that bears an impact on the residents’ occupancy status.

Can I Buy A House And Keep My Council House?

No, you cannot buy a house and keep your council house as well. The reason for this is that the eligibility criteria for council housing include a means test. Therefore, individuals facing financial hardship qualify for council housing while those who may be financially stable enough to own a private property may not.

There have been instances in which individuals have deliberately concealed their private property or inheritance from council authorities in order to maintain council housing residency as well as state benefits that they were claiming. However, once councils find out about intentional attempts to hide factual details about one’s financial (or even personal/circumstantial) situations, tenants may bay be evicted from council housing property or even fined a hefty amount.

On the other hand, you may consider purchasing your council house if you have the means to buy a property. You will be required to meet the following conditions in this case:

  • The council house is the applicant’s main home
  • The property is self-contained
  • The applicant is a secure tenant
  • The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years

While there are many options on how to purchase a council house, applicants may not be successful in their attempts under the following conditions:

  • the council house that they wish to purchase is designed for the elderly or disabled 
  • the housing was provided to the applicant in connection to their employment

If you do manage to purchase your council house, you will automatically be purchasing the freehold of the property. In case of purchasing a council flat, you will be entitled to a 125-year lease on the flat, while ownership of the block remains with the council authorities.

Can I Add Someone To My Council Tenancy?

You can add someone to your council tenancy by seeking permission from your local council office and following their guidelines with regards to changes in your tenancy agreement. Joint tenancies are usually applied in cases where:

  • The additional tenant is the resident’s husband, wife or civil partner
  • The additional tenant has been living with the resident as part of their household for at least 12 months
  • The additional tenant has succession rights and could inherit the tenancy 
  • The additional tenant has lived with the resident when they first moved into their council home

As joint tenants, both of you will become responsible for the following:

  • Timely payment of the rent
  • Protection and care of council property
  • Each other’s social attitudes

A disadvantage of adding someone to your tenancy agreement is that you may lose a significant proportion of the benefits you claim especially Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

However, if your landlord or council authorities have evidence that you, as the primary tenant intend to move out of council housing in the near future, or that any of the eligibility criteria is not being met, they have the right to refuse the addition of another tenant to your tenancy agreement. They may continue to live with you as a household member but will not be able to claim tenancy rights.

Can I Transfer My Council House To My Daughter?

Yes, you can transfer your council house to your daughter if you are able to fulfil the following conditions:

  • The council house is her main home
  • She has lived there for at least 12 months 
  • It is a secure tenancy
  • There is no partner to inherit the council housing tenancy

If the tenancy agreement of the premises in question started before April 1, 2012, your daughter will gain succession rights to the council house. However, if the tenancy agreement started on or after April 1, 2012, she will have succession rights only if she meets all the conditions that are pre-set in the tenancy agreement.

If you and your daughter were joint tenants to the council housing property, she will become the sole tenant if you move out of the premises. However, if there has already been a previous succession of the property in question, a second succession may not be possible; until there is 

Can I Transfer My Council House Tenancy To Someone Else?

Yes, you can transfer your council house tenancy to someone else but certain conditions need to be met for the transfer both by the tenant as well the individual to whom the council house is being transferred. This is only possible with the formal permission of your local council office.

You can either transfer your council house tenancy through succession or assignment. In case of succession tenancy, the council house tenant nominates an individual (usually a close family member) who may continue with their council house tenancy in the event of their death. In this case, one must remember that even though council houses can be passed down through succession this can only be applied once per the tenancy agreement. For instance, if the tenancy has passed down from one person to another, the successor will not be able to pass it down again. 

The only exception to this rule may be the permission for “second succession” or “discretionary succession” granted by local council authorities in their council tenancy agreement with renters.

In case of a tenancy being assigned to another individual, council housing tenants need to file an application for transfer of tenancy with their local council office. This may either be due to the current tenant moving out of council premises or seeking a mutual exchange of council property with someone else. In the case of the former, it is essential for both parties to be living in the council house in question for a minimum period of 12 months.

Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?

Yes, council houses can be passed down but this can only be applied once per the tenancy agreement. For instance, if the tenancy has passed down from one person to another, the successor will not be able to pass it down again. The only exception to this rule may be the permission for “second succession” or “discretionary succession” granted by local council authorities in their council tenancy agreement with renters.

In addition to this, the type of tenancy also plays an important role in deciding on the succession of a renter. Let’s analyse the different situations that apply in the case of succession of tenancy:

  • The succession of a council house in case of joint tenancy: A joint succession agreement includes two (or more) tenants as the renters who share the responsibility of maintaining responsibilities towards the property. In this case, if one tenant dies, the tenancy is automatically passed on to the surviving tenant. However, it is essential for the successor to maintain the council property as their main residence.
  • The succession of a council house in case of sole tenancy: In most cases, council house tenancy can be passed down to the surviving partner/spouse/civil or unmarried partner of a deceased tenant through “succession rights”. However, it is essential for the partner to be living in the council house at the time of the demise of their partner in whose name the tenancy agreement is. In some cases, it may also be passed down to close family members if the deceased is your parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, child, grandchild, niece or nephew.

As a general rule, in the case of succession rights, the rights of surviving partners override those of close family members.

Can Council Houses Be Bought?

Yes, council houses can be bought under the Right to Buy by local council tenants scheme but there are certain basic conditions to be met. 

There is also an option of buying your council house under a joint application. In this case, it is essential for the applicant to either file their council house application with someone as their joint owner and be willing to share their responsibilities as a house owner or have up to three family members (who have lived with them for at least 12 months) willing to share ownership rights.

Under “Preserved Right To Buy” you can purchase a council house that you lived in but the council sold it to a housing association landlord.

In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling out the Right to Acquire Application Form To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes.

Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.

Conclusion:

From the detailed discussion in this article we can conclude that while you may not be able to buy a house and keep your council house at the same time, you may be able to purchase your council house with the amount of money you have. Even if you do not purchase a house with your money and inherit property, you will not be able to continue living in a council house as it is aimed towards catering to individuals who are unable to afford privately rented housing.

FAQs: Can I Buy A House And Keep My Council House?

Can I sell my house to the council and rent it back?

No, the council does not allow you to sell your house to them and then rent it back. While this used to be a common practice in the case of private companies some time back, it is no longer applicable.

Can my wife buy my council house?

Yes, your wife can buy your council house if it is her main residence and she has lived in it with you for at least 12 months.

What is the difference between the right to buy and the right to acquire?

The right to buy scheme applies to council housing tenants while the right to acquire scheme applies to tenants of housing associations.

Can I sell my house to the bank and still live in it?

Yes, under a home reversion scheme you can sell your house (or a part of it) to the bank, receive a lump sum amount from them and continue living in it during your lifetime.

How can I sell my house but still live in it?

If you have sold your house under a certain scheme or to a home buyer who will pay you in instalments, you may be able to continue living in your house even after selling it.

References:

Council Tenancy Explained – Goulden House

Will Inheritance Affect My Council Tenancy?

Council Tenancy Explained – Goulden House

Council tenants with second homes – a Freedom of Information request to Department for 

Succession rights

Can I pass on my Council tenancy to someone else?

Can_you_inherit_a_council_tenancy

Adding someone to your social tenancy | Housing Advice NI

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