Can I Get A Council House If I Work?

Council Housing is one of the many ways that individuals with low income may be taken care of by the government by providing them affordable rents and preventing homelessness. 

According to the English Housing Survey Headline Report, 2019-20 published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government English Housing Survey: headline report, the social rented sector currently accommodates 4.0 million households which are 17 per cent of the total household population in England. This is the smallest tenure of all household categories and data suggests that there appears to be a downward trend.

This finding may be considered a positive indication of residents being able to afford rented homes or purchase their own homes; whether through outright payments or mortgage. 

Can I Get A Council House If I Work?

Yes, whether you are in full-time employment or are working on a part-time basis, you remain eligible for a council house. One of the key factors that make an individual eligible for council housing is low income and little or no savings. 

In fact, considering the economic conditions of social renters, recent data gathered and analysed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government indicates that in 2019-20, nearly 45 per cent of them were working. 

This includes 31 per cent in full-time jobs and 14 per cent in part-time work. The report further indicates that 25 per cent of social renters were retired. Irrespective of their employment status, social renters remain part of low-income households; a vulnerable part of the community.

This article aims to answer the following questions about council housing:

  • Can I get housing benefits if I work?
  • How should I apply for council housing?
  • Who is eligible for council housing?
  • Who gets priority for council housing?
  • Can council housing applications be refused?
  • Can I challenge the council’s decision?

Can I Get Housing Benefit If I Work?

Being a means-tested benefit for low-income households, housing benefit applies to all those individuals who may be social renters and on a low income. In fact, during the last fiscal, 2.2 million households living in council housing received a Housing Benefit of £81 per week so that they may be able to pay their rent on time. 

To quote statistics, this accounts for 56 per cent of all social renters living in the UK during 2019-20. This is a decrease from 62 per cent in the previous year, which again, like the decrease in social renters indicates a positive trend.

How Should I Apply For A Council Home?

How Should I Apply For Council Housing?

If you are in need of council housing, you should inform your local council office. They will inform you of the eligibility criteria to avail of council housing, their local council scheme in this regard and take you through the application process. Local councils may be contacted through a phone call or their websites. To find out more details about how to contact your local council office, click on this link Apply for council housing

The council office might require some basic information about your income, employment status, household size, medical and living conditions to suggest appropriate advice for council housing application. However, you will need to fill out an extensive form covering many personal financial details when you apply.

Once your application is submitted, it may take some time before it is approved and you are allotted a house to move into. During this period, you will be considered to be on a waiting list. This list is based on a hierarchy of priorities. Individuals considered to be in worse living conditions are allotted a living premise earlier than those who are not living under dire circumstances.

When it’s your turn, you will be offered a council home by the local authorities. You have complete discretion to choose or reject the premise. In some cases, council homes are put up for “bidding”. This means that the council office shares the details of the property with all those eligible for it and each claimant bids for the rent. The one whose bid is selected gets to move in.

Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?

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.

Other key criteria for council housing eligibility include the following:

  • the applicants hold British or Irish citizenship
  • they have indefinite leave to remain
  • they fall under settled status (under the EU settlement scheme)
  • they are refugees or under humanitarian protection
  • they are a Commonwealth citizen with a right of abode

Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?

While each council has an individual allocation scheme to follow in terms of assigning priority to council housing applicants, those claimants who fulfil any of the following criteria are expected to be higher on priority:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

Can Council Housing Application Be Refused?

If an individual or household have been part of any of the following situations, they may be refused council housing even if they fulfil the eligibility criteria:

  • damaged previous council housing property and did not repair it
  • breached the tenancy agreement
  • accumulated rent arrears of 12 weeks or more 

Can Council Decisions Be Challenged?

If an applicant believes and can prove with evidence that the council has made an incorrect decision with regards to their council housing application, they may request a review. For instance, if the council outright rejects an application and informs the claimant that they cannot be put on the waiting list. Or if the claimant believes that they must be assigned a higher priority than what they are actually given, they must share their point of view along with supportive evidence so that the council decision may be reviewed.


Council housing must not be considered as free accommodation for the unemployed. It is simply an affordable housing scheme that individuals on low income and low savings may apply for through their local council offices. 

Depending on individual council schemes, applicants may or may not qualify for council housing. Should their application be approved, they are assigned a priority band and put on a waiting list. 

According to their position in the priority list and their household needs, applicants are offered premises to move in. Once they share their agreement to move in, terms and conditions of the rent payment and tenure of contract are agreed upon.

FAQs: Can I Get A Council House If I Work?

Can you be refused council housing?

Yes, the local council office may reject your council housing application if you are unable to fulfil the eligibility criteria. Also, if you have been living in a council home previously and have caused damage to property or rent arrears, the council may refuse to offer you another council home.

What qualifies you for social housing?

Individuals who are on low income and have little to no savings are eligible for a council house. However, being homeless, disabled or living under poor conditions increases their positions in the priority list.

Can a single person get a council house?

A single person may qualify for a housing benefit, but it is unlikely that they will be offered council housing if they have a job. However, a council housing application cannot be refused on this basis, even though a single person who is low on income may not qualify to be high on the priority list.

How long do you have to wait for a council house?

Depending upon the applicant’s position in the priority list and their household requirements, waiting times for council housing offers may vary from months to years. Homeless applicants may be provided temporary shelter immediately and their council housing application processed within weeks. People with long term illnesses or disabilities may be given priority too. However, if the applicant is only opting for council housing due to low income and low savings, it may take months, or even a couple of years to be allotted a suitable property. 

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.


Getting a council home

Council housing

Who is eligible to apply for council housing?

Are you eligible for social housing? | The Tenants’ Voice

Obtaining Council Housing | Housing Rights Information (England & Wales)

Applying for local authority/social housing

English Housing Survey: headline report