Can The Council Make Me Move To A Smaller Property?

This blog post aims to help its readers in answering the question of whether or not the local council authorities can make a social housing tenant move to a smaller property. To understand the causes and consequences of moving from one social housing property to another, we will discuss the potential support that tenants can expect from local councils when they ask them to downsize.

Can The Council Make Me Move To A Smaller Property?

Yes, if you are a social housing tenant (whether renting from the council directly or through a social housing landlord), the council can make you move to a smaller property if you have inherited a property from a close relative or an unmarried but it is much larger than your needs.

In such cases, if you have inherited a property that has more rooms than you need, the council will offer you a smaller property to move into. 

However, if you inherit a larger property from a married or civil partner, the council will not be able to make you move to a smaller property and you can choose to live in it or downsize; depending on your preference.

Downsizing is a voluntary scheme under the local councils according to which council and social housing tenants who occupy larger properties according to the rooms they may need are offered to move into more space-appropriate properties by the council authorities. In this way, the larger property can be freed up and offered to a larger family.

That said, the council will not force you out of your social housing and can only encourage you to consider moving into a smaller property. They can suggest some options to you or you can opt to search for a preferred residence on your own. 

However, if there is a lack of cooperation from the tenant’s side and the council has evidence to prove that the tenant is living in a property that is much larger than what they need, they can take the tenant to court if the tenant is not willing to consider moving out.

If you consider the pros of downsizing you may benefit from moving into a smaller space that is easier to manage. If you live in a house larger than your needs, you may have to forego a certain amount of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit since you would be charged for spare bedrooms. 

If you move into a smaller council property, your benefits payment may increase, your rent will reduce and so would the expense of maintaining the residence.

You can move into a smaller council property either by being offered a suitable property from your local council or social housing landlord or you can choose to swap your property through mutual exchange with another social housing tenant.

Does The Council Pay You To Move To A Smaller Property?

Yes, in some cases, councils provide cash incentives to social housing tenants when they offer them to move into a smaller property. For instance, Thurrock Council in Essex offers £2,000 to help tenants move into a smaller property. This can help tenants with moving costs such as the following:

  • removals including a packing service
  • carpet fittings at the new property
  • disconnection and reconnection of cookers, washing machines and dishwashers
  • handyman service for small jobs or putting together furniture
  • disposal of any unwanted items

Meanwhile, the London Borough Of Havering offers its tenants up to £1,000 for the first bedroom (spare in their previous property) they give up with an additional £500 for each subsequent bedroom that the tenants are willing to give up. They also provide £500 to social housing tenants to help them with the cost of moving their house.

Can The Council Help Me Move To A Smaller Property?

Yes, the council can help you move to a smaller property. They can assist in the following ways:

  • prioritise your ranking on the social housing register 
  • find a suitable social housing property for you to move into
  • offer cash incentives for the number of rooms you give up
  • provide financial assistance to help you with moving costs
  • arrange a Discretionary Housing Payment; a one-time grant that can cover the costs of housing
  • support to help you with payments of your tenancy deposit or rent (or both); as well as with household essentials such as furniture and household equipment including white goods

In addition to this, if you are claiming welfare benefits such as Universal Credit, you may be eligible for a “Budgeting Advance”. This is an interest-free loan that covers the costs of advance rent, removal or moving costs.

If you are claiming any other benefit, you can request a “Budgeting Loan” from the DWP. Deductions for loan repayment, in either case, will be made from the amount you receive through your benefits claim.  

You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Centre to connect you with charities that help people with rent and moving costs.


The above discussion helps to conclude that in most cases, the council authorities can ask tenants to move into a smaller property that is more suitable to meet their needs. Unless a tenant inherits a council property through marriage or civil partnership, they can be asked to downsize by the local authorities.


Can the council force you to downsize? | Urban Jungle

Apply to move into a smaller property with a cash incentive | Housing exchanges and downsizing for council tenants | The London Borough Of Havering

Help to downsize your property | Moving to different council housing