Can I Rent A Council House With Bad Credit?

This blog post aims to help in answering the question of whether or not someone can rent a council house if they have bad credit. As we discuss the details of how bad credit, debts and rental arrears affect a council housing application, we will also look at the council housing verification process to see if bad credit affects your eligibility to get a council house. 

Can I Rent A Council House With Bad Credit?

Yes, you can rent a council house with bad credit. When an individual applies for council housing, the main area of concern for the authorities is to check the degree of priority the applicant has in terms of housing, income and health conditions. Since council housing is aimed at providing affordable residence to individuals and households on a low income, council authorities generally ignore bad credit scores.

If an applicant has a bad credit score due to loss of income, a health condition or a disability, the council can not only assist with providing affordable housing but can also guide them regarding the welfare benefits they can claim to support themselves, apply for jobs and be able to improve their credit score by paying back their dues with an increase in earnings.

There are times when council housing tenants have been able to purchase the council house that they live in despite having a bad credit score. However, they may find it difficult to arrange a mortgage in such cases.

Credit scores take into account the amount an individual owes such as loans and bills. These are areas that council authorities do not consider when considering the eligibility of a council housing application or conducting a verification check of the claimant. They may, however, take into account your ability to make rental payments on time and will check if you have had rent arrears in the past.

However, having rent arrears or debt of any sort will not disqualify you from being eligible for council housing. It may affect the priority rank that you are assigned if your circumstances show that you do not need urgent housing, it can take some time before you are assigned a council property to move into. 

That said, if you have any priority debts and you are applying for council housing, it is advisable to clear your dues at the earliest possible or work out a repayment plan with the concerned. Priority debts include the following:

  • council tax arrears
  • gas or electricity bills
  • mortgage arrears
  • payments for goods bought on hire purchase
  • phone or internet bills
  • rent arrears
  • secured loan arrears
  • television licence payments
  • unpaid income tax, national insurance or vat
  • unpaid child maintenance

What Is Included In A Council Housing Verification Check?

Verification checks are part of the council housing application process and require claimants to provide information as well as documentation related to the following:

  • You will need to provide proof of residence by furnishing council tax or utility bills or a copy of your previous tenancy agreement. 
  • You need to provide proof of identity by providing documents such as a birth certificate, driving licence, medical card or passport.
  • To give proof of income from earnings and benefits, you need to submit details of your (and your partner’s) wage slips, a letter from the employer benefits book/letter, bank statements showing payments, private/work pension details, mortgage statement, the current valuation of your property (if any).
  • To provide evidence of your National Insurance number you will be asked to share your tax letters, wage slips, P45/60 or National Insurance number card.
  • You will need to give proof of your current account deposit and savings including bank/building society passbooks/statements/letters, national savings and share certificates.
  • You will need to give details of your dependents and provide evidence through a child benefit book, proof of child benefit payments or birth certificate of your children (if applicable).
  • To give proof of non-dependents you will need to provide wage slips or benefit books (or both).
  • If you are retired from the British Armed Forces you will be asked to furnish your discharge papers.

Can I Be Refused A Council House?

Yes, there are certain grounds on which you can be refused to get a council house by the authorities. Some of the most common reasons are discussed below:

  • The applicant is unable to make the first rental payment: Rental payments for council housing are paid in advance (as is generally the case for tenancies). You may be asked to pay the first month’s rent as part of your verification check or on the day of signing the tenancy agreement. Failure to do so may result in the council housing offer being revoked.
  • You have housing debt: In some cases and depending on the housing rules of each council authority, applicants having housing debt will have to face a refusal from council housing until their debt is cleared.
  • The previous tenancy record is not positive: If you have been known to break tenancy rules or there is a record of antisocial behaviour, you may lose on the council house offer despite a successful verification check.
  • Change of circumstances: If an applicant experiences a change of circumstances that do not qualify them for council housing with time, the council housing offer will be refused.

If you believe that you have been refused a council housing tenancy in error, you can appeal against the decision by informing your local council. You will need evidence to support your claim.


The above discussion has brought us to the conclusion that if you have applied for council housing and you have bad credit, you will not have to worry about losing your eligibility for state-supported affordable housing. In fact, if you have a bad credit history due to a low income, you can seek guidance from your local council to claim welfare benefits that can increase your income and help you in clearing your debt. 


Applying for council housing while in debt

Housing verification checks | Harlow Council

Renting from the council or a housing association – Citizens Advice