Abiding by your tenancy conditions is essential to maintain a healthy tenant-landlord relationship. When signing this legal document you must make sure to not only read all the terms stated by your landlord but also ensure that conditions considered essential by you are also stated so that (a) there is no miscommunication on the terms of agreement and (b) important issues are dealt at the beginning of the tenancy.

Can I Keep My Council House If I Go Abroad?

Whether or not you can keep your council house if you go abroad depends on the length of your stay. If your council house is going to be unoccupied for more than 42 days, you should inform your local council of the reason(s). If the local council office does not find your reasons to be evidence or there is a possible council housing fraud detected, you stand at a very high risk of losing tenancy of your council housing.

In certain cases, a council housing resident expecting to leave their council house empty for 4 weeks in a row is required to seek permission from their landlord/council authorities. The authorities generally take around 2 weeks to revert with their response to your applications. They will ask for information regarding the reasons for your absence and a forwarding address.

The council will also ask you to share an expected date of return If you fail to return to the premises by the agreed date, local authorities or continue to remain to be absent from your council house without maintaining any contact with them, there is a chance that you may lose your right to council housing.

If you, as the tenant, were allowed to sub-let your council house, you will remain responsible for their behaviour and treatment of the premises even in your absence.

In the case of the following situations, local authorities will not be able to grant permission for leaving a council property unoccupied for more than 4 weeks:

  • the tenant is expected to remain absent for more than 6 months
  • the tenant has rent arrears of more than a month and has made no arrangement for clearance of dues
  • the tenant has made no arrangements for payment of council housing rent during their absence
  • the tenant has made no arrangement to maintain the upkeep of the garden (if any)
  • the tenant is moving to other premises to be considered as their main residence
  • the tenant has not shared any forwarding address
  • there is evidence that the tenant has no intention of returning to the council property 

To learn more about council housing options, we will discuss the following topics: 

  • Can I Keep My Council House If I Inherit A House?
  • Can You Keep A Council House And Own Another Property?
  • Can My Daughter Keep My Council House If I Go Into Care?
  • Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?
  • Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?

Can I Keep My Council House If I Inherit A House?

There are chances that you may not be able to keep your council house if you inherit a property. 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 at 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.

The very reason that council houses are provided on low rent by the government is to give shelter to those individuals faced with low incomes or those who may be claiming benefits. If someone has the means to own a property, it is not only unethical to claim council housing but also illegal as they would have had to submit false documents to prove eligibility for council housing or have deliberately hidden the facts about their finances from local authorities.

Can You Keep A Council House And Own Another Property?

No, you cannot live in a council house and own property. The very reason that council houses are provided on low rent by the government is to give shelter to those individuals faced with low incomes or those who may be claiming benefits. If someone has the means to own a property, it is not only unethical to claim council housing but also illegal as they would have had to submit false documents to prove eligibility for council housing or have deliberately hidden the facts about their finances from local authorities.

Can My Daughter Keep My Council House If I Go Into Care?

Yes, your daughter can continue to live in your house if you go into care especially if you are funding your care home fees through savings or other income. In this case, your home may be considered as capital during a financial assessment by local councils but may not necessarily have to be sold to pay care home fees. 

However, if your savings or investments are not sufficient to cover your care home fees, your daughter can only continue living in your house (and prevent it from being sold) by fulfilling any of the following conditions:

  • She is a joint owner of the house
  • She is above 60 years of age
  • She is under 18 years of age
  • Your spouse/partner is also living in the house
  • Your former spouse/partner (who is a single parent) is also living in the house
  • The house is rented out (either to her or a tenant)

This is termed “property disregard”. 

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.

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

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

Conclusion:

When council housing tenants continue to remain absent from their homes for a certain amount of time, they are indirectly depriving the eligible individuals on the council housing waiting list to be assigned a free property. Currently, there are hundreds of council housing qualifiers on waiting lists that exceed 2-3 years of a time-lapse. 

From a legal point of view, councils or social housing landlords do not permit their tenants to leave their house unoccupied for more than four weeks, they may face n eviction notice through the court especially in case of unpaid dues or lack of a forwarding address during their absence.

FAQs: Can I Keep My Council House If I Go Abroad?

How long can you go abroad on housing benefit?

How long you keep receiving your housing benefit while abroad depends on the number of days that you will be away, your intent to return as well as the country that you will be in. If you are in Scotland or Wales, you may receive your housing benefit for up to 13 weeks. However, if you are living abroad due to fear of domestic abuse or violence, you may continue receiving housing benefits for up to 52 weeks.

What happens if I leave my council house?

If you leave your council house, you will lose your council tax benefit and will still be required to clear your debt for council house rent.

How long can I stay abroad without losing my benefits?

This depends on the nature of the benefits that you were claiming as well as the reason and duration of your stay. In most cases, you may be able to claim housing benefits for up to 13 weeks. However, it is best to seek advice from your local council office prior to your departure.

Will DWP know if I go abroad?

The DWP requires claimants to inform them when they are travelling abroad as well as the dates and details of their travel. If claimants fail to provide this information, DWP can independently find out as well.

Do you get money for giving up a council house?

While you do not get money from the council specifically for giving up your council house, if you intend to purchase a private property, the council may offer you a cash incentive scheme to help you make the purchase and move out of council property.

References:

Council tenant not living in the house

Permission Leaving Home 4 Weeks or More

Help for council tenants

Paying for adult social care in England

Can you inherit a council tenancy?

Staying in your council home when someone dies

Taking over a tenancy

Council housing: Buy your council home

Council Tenancy Explained – Goulden House

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

Will Inheritance Affect My Council Tenancy?

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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.