Whether someone is a private renter or a social one, a homeowner selling their property or someone fearing the loss of their home and becoming homeless, residents will usually turn to their council authorities seeking help and advice regarding their housing needs. This is the reason why we aim to learn about whether the council can help their residents with housing and if yes, what are the circumstances under which one can demand support and if there are any eligibility criteria.

Can The Council Help With Housing?

Yes, the council can help with housing whether you want to:

  • rent privately,
  • from the council, a housing association,
  • or are at risk of homelessness.

If you rent privately and need help from the council regarding the payment of a rental deposit to start your tenancy, you can ask them for financial support. Otherwise, they can help you find charities and grants to support you.

If you are applying for housing in a council property or one owned by a housing association or social housing landlord, the council can help you with advice and support during the application process. They can also help you in learning about your priority rank based on your application so that you can be prepared for how long it will take you to rent a property under social housing.

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, the council can help you by providing emergency shelter and temporary housing until your situation changes or they are able to arrange a council house for you to live in.

In addition to this, the council can also help you get a discount on your council tax bills if you fulfil the below conditions:

  • you have a low income 
  • you claim benefits
  • your savings are less than £16,000 
  • you are the only adult in the house

If you need help with the cost of housing and are eligible for benefits such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, the council office will guide you on how to apply for these benefits.

Since each council runs their own schemes, you should seek guidance from your local council office to learn about the options available in your area. You will be asked to provide copies of your bank statements, proof of income and savings to establish the extent of the financial assistance required from the council.

How Does The Council Help With A Deposit For Private Rent?

The council can help tenants with a deposit for private rent primarily in one of two following ways:

  • a rent deposit scheme through which financial aid is extended to those who cannot afford a rent deposit. The applicant receives the entire amount in advance and repays it in instalments.
  • a rent guarantee scheme that provides a written guarantee to your landlord confirming your inability to make an immediate cash deposit and your commitment to pay the amount over some time. 

There is also the option of Discretionary Housing Payments extended through local councils. Being at the discretion of council offices, these are one-time, non-refundable amounts for residents claiming Housing Benefits or Universal Credit. You can contact your council’s Discretionary Housing Payments scheme to apply for a DHP.

How Does The Council Help With Social Housing Rental Arrears?

The council can help with rent arrears by offering tenants in social housing convenient options such as a payment plan to clear their dues and make future payments easier for them. 

In such a case, social renters pay an extra amount above their usual rent to cover their arrears. However, before committing to a plan of such nature, you must calculate the amount you will be able to spare for this additional expense by considering your income and preparing a budget.

Claimants who are also on benefits in addition to availing of a council house will find it easier to seek easy payment plans from their councils or social housing landlords. For instance, if you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you may simply have your payments transferred to for payment of your rent through Direct Debit or a Standing Order.

How Does The Council Help If You Are Homeless?

If you are homeless, the council will provide you accommodation at an emergency shelter and if you do not expect your situation to improve in the near future, you can apply for council housing for long-term accommodation.

If you fear that you will be homeless, you can ask the council for help with accommodation 8 weeks in advance by applying with a homeless application.

In addition to this, the council can also help you with e following solutions if you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:

  • provide support and advice for housing
  • accommodate you in an emergency shelter
  • help you keep your home if it is possible
  • if you need help in finding a home provide support and assistance
  • provide you with a council home for long-term housing

Conclusion:

The above discussion not only answers the question of whether or not councils can help with housing but also explains in detail how the council authorities can extend advice and support to residents depending on their circumstances and eligibility to get support. This support is irrespective of whether you are a private tenant, a council or housing association tenant, homeless or threatened with homelessness.

FAQs: Can The Council Help With Housing?

How can I get a council flat quickly?

If someone is legally homeless, they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability, is facing hardship or currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions, they will be considered on priority for council housing.

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.

What makes you a priority for housing?

Claimants who are either legally homeless or have had to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability or due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs or are currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions are expected to be higher on priority for council housing.

Do I qualify for emergency housing in the UK?

To qualify for emergency housing in the UK, an individual must be legally homeless, have a priority due to pregnancy, young children or domestic abuse and fulfil the immigration conditions.

Can you be refused council housing?

Yes, if you fail to meet the desired eligibility criteria for council housing, the local office can reject your application and refuse council housing. However, should your find such a decision to be made in error, you can appeal for reconsideration by providing suitable evidence to support your claim.

References:

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice

Housing – Citizens Advice

Applying for help if you’re homeless – Citizens Advice

Council housing – Shelter England

Get help with renting costs – Citizens Advice

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