According to a recent press release issued by the Ministry for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities New homes to be built as part of government drive to develop brownfield land and regenerate communities additional £11 million has been allocated under the flagship government scheme. It is hoped that through this finding and the planned development, 6,800 more council homes will be constructed across 23 redevelopment schemes in 15 councils creating 21,000 more jobs.

This announcement comes only a month after £58 million were announced in October 2021 to support the development of council homes in 53 councils. 

Can I Get Council House If I Have Mortgage?

Chances are that you will not be considered eligible for a council house if you are already paying a mortgage on private property. Unless there has been a major change in your personal circumstances, your personal health or income status or the property in question is overcrowded for you and your family.

Even if your application is successfully processed for a council house in such circumstances, you will be put on a non-priority waiting list.

While local councils follow an “allocation scheme”; according to which each council establishes its own set of rules to determine their individual eligibility criteria to provide council housing, chances are that applicants facing the following conditions may be considered earlier than others for being provided of this residential facility:

  • homelessness
  • low income or low savings
  • cramped living conditions
  • deteriorating medical condition due to living conditions

To learn more about council housing, we will try to answer the following questions through this article:

  • Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?
  • Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?
  • How Can I Apply For Council Housing?
  • How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?
  • What Happens Once The Application is Accepted?
  • Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes
  • What Happens After A Home Is Offered?
  • What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

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, 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

However, as per a recent news report, foster parents and key workers will get higher priority for council housing in some areas. Foster parents and adoptive parents are being assigned Band 1 to extend the maximum benefit to their children. In recognition of their work during the pandemic, key workers have been assigned a Band 2 (The total number of bands is 4 with Band 1 being highest on the priority list)

How Can I Apply For Council Housing?

To apply for council housing, candidates are required to apply to their local council (mostly online), who will then consider it based on their criteria for awarding priority to those from certain demographics and or social classes. To find out details about your local council click on this link Find your local council

Even if the local council accepts and prioritizes the application, it does not mean that the applicant will be provided with occupancy rights immediately. They will simply be confirmed to be eligible and added to a waiting list. The time between application and occupancy varies from council to council and may also depend upon the size of the waiting list.

How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?

Candidates are advised to share as many relevant details as possible in their application and also include any supporting evidence to back up their claims. This may include medical reports or doctor’s notes, in case the application is being raised on medical grounds. 

Details of the following may be required:

  • income and/or benefits
  • employment history
  • long-term medical conditions or disabilities
  • savings 
  • assets in possession such as automobile
  • visas or immigration documents (if the applicant is not from the UK)

These details not only determine whether or not a candidate is eligible; but may also increase their rank in a list of priority applicants. Furthermore, they also help to determine the size of housing that may be required by them.

What Happens Once The Application is Accepted? 

Once an application is accepted, the local council assigns candidates to a group (also referred to as or ‘band’) and assigns a level of priority.

A high priority indicates that the candidate can expect to be assigned a home urgently. However, there are chances that despite being assigned a high priority label, some individuals may have to wait a long time. 

Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?

Applicants will need to check with their local councils whether a place of residence will be chosen and assigned by the council or the residents be given the option to choose. In the case of the latter, once the application is approved, the local council may share an online platform where the process of “bidding” takes place.

If a candidate finds a suitable home and prefers it as their residence, they may inform the council of their intent by applying for it online. This is called “bidding”. The council may then direct them on how to proceed with the next steps in the bidding process.

A bid is merely a show of interest from the candidates’ side and does not guarantee that they may be assigned the premises. Depending upon the priority band and the time taken as part of the waiting list, the council decides whether the property is to be assigned as a housing facility to the bidding candidate or not.

What Happens After A Home Is Offered?

The local council contacts candidates directly to inform them once they’ve been assigned a council home. Additionally, they also indicate the time frame that a candidate has to accept or refuse the premises being offered. There is usually a small window for candidates to respond before the council home is offered to someone else.

In the case of mutual agreement, a contract is drawn up and signed. Candidates may be offered a fixed-term contract (this may be for a year or more) or a long-term tenancy agreement. The council indicates the dates when occupants may move into the premises. They will also inform you of the dates when rent payments will be expected.

It must be noted here that as per the English Housing Survey of 2019-2020, social rents are charged higher if the property is located in London as compared to that outside. On average, social renters in London have been estimated to pay a weekly rent of £138 as compared to that of £95 outside London.

What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

In case of refusal of their application for council housing, candidates may challenge the decision by asking the local council for a review.

Decisions about priority bands assigned by the council as well those stating refusal for housing may be requested for review if the candidate carries substantial evidence to prove their claim. It is only with proof of supportive documents that an application may be challenged for review.

Conclusion:

Council housing is a low rent housing facility for those individuals who are either on low-income, living in cramped conditions or facing health challenges that affect their ability to work and are claiming benefits.

Anyone who is able to afford a mortgage of private property may not be considered for social housing unless they fulfil the above criteria. However, those wishing to claim a council house can file an application at their local council office and wait for feedback.

In case their application is approved, they will be added to a waiting list for council home; however, they may not be considered on a priority basis.

FAQs: Can I Get Council House If I Have A Mortgage?

Can a homeowner get a council house?

The chances of a homeowner getting a council house are extremely slim. The reason for this is that council housing is supposed to be provided for financially challenged individuals of the community while a homeowner is not expected to be in such a situation. If the homeowner seeks council housing on grounds such as their home being unfit for residence due to its condition or they are living in cramped 

Is anyone eligible for a council house?

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

Can I buy my council house on benefits?

Yes, you can buy your council house on benefit. In fact, there are certain government schemes that help people purchase their council houses.

Can I be refused right to buy?

  • Yes, you may be refused right to buy if you fail to meet the eligibility criteria. This includes the following:
  • The applicant must have spent at least three years as a tenant in a council house
  • The council house has been the applicant’s main residence during this time
  • The applicant should not be guilty of breaching their suspended possession
  • The property is not due for demolition

What is the affordable housing scheme?

The affordable housing scheme is part of a low-cost housing initiative of the UK government. The rents in such schemes are usually at least 20 per cent less than the market value.

References:

Foster parents and key workers to get higher priority for council housing

New homes to be built as part of government drive to develop brownfield land and regenerate communities

Getting a council home

Council housing

English Housing Survey: headline report

Getting a council home

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