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. 

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.

Can You Live In 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.

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

To learn more about the topic, we will try to explore the following areas:

  • How To File An Application For Council Housing?
  • Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?
  • Can Someone Live With Me In My Council House?
  • Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?
  • Can Council Houses Be Bought?

How To 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.

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.

In some cases, should candidates not approve of the housing facility assigned by the local council, they have the option of refusing it. However, too many refusals may 

Can Someone Live With Me In My Council House?

Yes, someone can live with you in your council house as they are generally intended for eligible candidates and their families; whether they are dependants or non-dependants. However, if you intend to ask someone to live with you as a carer or a joint tenant, or you intend to sublet your council house, you must consult your tenancy agreement and discuss with your landlord/local council office prior to making any commitments.

If you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, any changes to the number of people in your home might have an impact on the amount of benefit you were receiving prior to them moving in especially if they are expected to contribute towards the rent. Even if the additional occupants are not expected to contribute towards the rent, the council expects them to share your rent and taxes if they are non-dependants. This means that you will face a reduction in your benefits if someone who is classified as a non-dependant comes to live with you.

If you are not on benefits, you only have to inform your landlord of the addition of occupants to your household especially if they are expected to share the rent with you. There is a possibility that your tenancy agreement will need to be changed to adjust for joint tenancy. 

If you are under a Secure Tenancy or Fixed Tenancy agreement with the housing authorities, you may sub-let rooms in your council house; however, subletting of the entire council house is not allowed. You will find a clause in your tenancy agreement that confirms the same. Therefore, it is advisable not to add someone to your council house with the intention of subletting the premises.

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.

Can Council Houses Be Bought?

Yes, council houses can be bought under the Right to Buy by local council tenants scheme but there are certain basic conditions to be met. These include the following:

  • The council house is the applicant’s main home
  • The property is self-contained
  • The applicant is a secure tenant
  • The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years

There is also an option of buying your council house under a joint application. In this case, it is essential for the applicant to either file their council house application with someone as their joint owner and be willing to share their responsibilities as a house owner or have up to three family members (who have lived with them for at least 12 months) willing to share ownership rights.

Under “Preserved Right To Buy” you can purchase a council house that you lived in but the council sold it to a housing association landlord.

In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling the  Right to Acquire Application Form To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes.

Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.

Conclusion:

To be able to qualify for council housing, applicants are required to formally declare their financial health status and being a homeowner is a straight disqualification. The reason for this is that council houses are provided for those individuals who may not be able to afford rental properties at the market rate and need support from the government.

If someone’s personal circumstances change during their council housing tenancy, it would be unfair on their part to own a home and claim residency in a council house for personal benefit. It would also mean that they have intentionally provided false information or hidden facts from local authorities. Such acts can not only lead to eviction from council housing but also be punished by the government through hefty fines. 

FAQs: Can You Live In A Council House And Own Another Property

Can a council tenant own another property?

No, a council tenant can neither own another property nor be part of joint ownership. In certain cases, they may be granted permission from local councils but council housing tenants need to take prior permission from the authorities.

Is a council house yours for life?

Yes, a council house can be yours for life in the case of a Secure Tenancy. However, you need to make sure that you do not break any of the conditions of the tenancy agreement.

Can I buy my council house for cash?

Yes, you can buy your council house for cash. This may either be from your income, savings, inheritance or even benefits.

Can you get kicked out of a council house?

Yes, you can get evicted from a council house for breaking the conditions of the tenancy agreement or if you are found guilty of illegal or inappropriate actions. Anything from rent arrears to anti-social behaviour or damage to property can reason enough for council housing tenants to be kicked out of the property by authorities.

Can I swap my council house?

Yes, you can swap your council house under mutual exchange. If you are keen to do so, your local council office can help you with the transfer.

References:

Council Tenancy Explained – Goulden House

Council tenants with second homes – a Freedom of Information request to Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities – WhatDoTheyKnow

Occupancy rights

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Getting a council home

Council housing

Taking over a tenancy

Succession rights

Buy your council home

Taking over a tenancy

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.