Can I Get A Council House If I Don’t Work?

Getting a council house requires certain conditions to be met by the applicants. Through the course of this article, we aim to learn if you can get a council house if you don’t work. In addition to this, we will also explore if you can claim a council house if you are on benefits; as well as review the eligibility criteria for council housing and the amount of time it can take to get a council house.

Can I Get A Council House If I Don’t Work?

Yes, you can get a council house if you don’t work. In fact, if you are a single mum with a dependent child or children, you will be considered on high priority for council housing, whether or not you work. 

In addition to this, if an applicant is at risk of being homeless, living in unsanitary conditions, a teenage single mum, especially between the ages of 16-17, or has fled domestic abuse, they will be assigned a higher priority band for council housing so that they are provided suitable living conditions at the earliest possible.

However, if you don’t work due to immigration-related reasons, or your visa states that you do not have recourse to public funds, you will not be able to apply for council housing. Some of these include the following:

  • If you are an overseas student
  • If you are a work permit holder
  • If you are on a partner visa
  • If you are a visitor or have limited leave to remain in the UK

In addition to this, if you have EU pre-settled status, you will need to provide evidence that you work (either through a job or self-employment) or have previously worked in the UK in order to apply for council housing.

Can I Get A Council House If I Don’t Work And Claim Benefits?

Yes, you can get a council house if you don’t work and claim benefits. In fact, the purpose of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit is to provide financial assistance to individuals who are either on a low income or are unable to work due to a disability, mental or physical condition.

One of the factors that determine the eligibility for council housing is a disability. If someone is a claimant for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA), they are not expected to be working and will still qualify for council housing.

If someone is not working due to a medical condition, they (or a caretaker) can apply to get a council house on medical grounds. 

Depending on their circumstances, some claimants of Universal Credit will have to commit to looking for work or preparing for work while they receive the benefit. Anyone faced with this situation will still qualify for council housing.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Council House?

The amount of time it takes to get a council house depends on the following factors:

  • The priority band assigned to you
  • The number of council houses available in your area
  • The number of people who have a higher priority band than you
  • How flexible you are in your choice of council properties being offered 

Even after a claimant’s application for council housing application is accepted, it may take anywhere between 12 to 16 months to find a 2-bed council house and between 36 to 70 months to get a 4-bed house.

During this time, claimants remain on a waiting list and are informed as and when a suitable property becomes available for them. In case there is a change in their circumstances, claimants must inform their local council authorities of this.

How Can I Qualify To Get A Council House?

You can qualify to get a council house if you are:

  • a British citizen living in the UK,
  • equal to or more than 18 years of age (although some councils may allow 16 years old to apply for council housing),
  • low on income and savings,
  • having a local connection to the area such as home or work located within the council premises.

While council authorities have individual criteria for assigning council homes to certain applicants on a priority basis; as a general understanding, council housing applicants faced with any of the below challenging circumstances will find themselves being given a priority by all council authorities:

  • legally homeless or at very high risk of becoming homeless in the next few days/weeks
  • having a disability, a severe (or terminal) health condition or a mental illness
  • faced with severe financial hardship
  • living in cramped, unhygienic or overcrowded conditions

In addition to this, individuals who have suffered or are at high risk of suffering from domestic abuse, are unsafe in their current homes, are pregnant, are single parents or have retired from the armed forces will also be given priority for council housing.


This blog post has covered in detail the different reasons why a council housing applicant may not be working and how their ability to earn impacts their eligibility for council housing; bringing us to the conclusion that you can get a council house even if you don’t work.

FAQs: Can I Get A Council House If I Don’t Work?

Do I qualify for a council house in the UK?

If you are an adult British citizen living in the UK, who is low on income and savings and have

a local connection to the area, you can qualify for a council house.

Who is the highest priority for council housing?

Anyone who is at the risk of homelessness or living in unsanitary conditions is the highest priority for council housing.

Is mental health a priority for housing?

Yes, mental health is a priority for council housing. Anyone suffering from a mental illness will be provided council housing on an emergency basis.

Can you be refused council housing?

If your application for council housing does not meet the eligibility criteria or it contains incorrect information lacking evidence, you may be refused council housing. If you don’t agree with the council’s decision, you can make an appeal against the decision.

Do immigrants get free housing in the UK?

Not all immigrants are eligible for this. However, if an immigrant is also an asylum seeker or refugee, they are eligible for free housing in the UK.


Council housing: immigration and habitual residence conditions – Shelter England

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice

How long does it take to get a council home? – Shelter England