Council usually provides help before any strict action as eviction for rent arrears. They do this 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.

The council can also help with essentials such as furniture and household equipment by giving vouchers to residents to purchase these through certain schemes or charities. Sometimes items are available at extremely low-cost; while at other times, charities may pay for them while residents claim to use them. 

How Much Are Rent Arrears Before Eviction From Council Housing In The UK?

The general rule is that when a council house tenant is unable to pay their rent for 8 weeks or more, they can be asked to vacate the premises. However, in most cases, there is a dialogue between the resident and the landlord (either the local council or social housing landlord; depending upon the type of property being rented) through which payment options and ways of debt clearance are discussed. This is done to make payments easier for the tenants. 

If the tenants are facing financial hardship, a repayment plan with easy instalments may be offered for debt clearance. If the tenant is claiming benefits, they may be asked to clear the debt through their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit claims. 

However, sometimes the rent is in excess of the claims made through these benefits or at other times the tenant is either unaware of their eligibility for benefits and hasn’t claimed them or they are not eligible for benefits and are required to increase their income to pay their dues. 

Even after a notice of eviction is issued to tenants, there are times when the landlord considers a mutual agreement on the repayment of rent arrears and agrees to continue with the tenancy agreement. It is advisable for tenants to contact their landlord or council housing authorities if they are unable to meet their rent payments. Additionally, they can take advice from Citizen’s Advice on the matter.

As the article explores details on the topic, we will try to answer the following questions:

  • Can Council Help With Rent Arrears?
  • Can Council Help With Household Essentials?
  • Can I Get A Council House If I Work?
  • Can Someone Live With Me In My Council House?
  • Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?
  • How To File An Application For Council Housing?

Can Council Help With Rent Arrears?

Yes, councils can help with rent arrears in many ways such as repayment plans of easy instalments. Additionally,  claimants who are also on benefits in addition to availing 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.

If this is not a workable solution as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit do not account for the entire amount of your rent, you may apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is extra money provided by your local council to meet your rent payments or arrears (if you have any). You are not required to return this amount to the council. If you are on Housing Credit or Universal Credit, you can ask your local council for a DHP form. Find your local council here.

You can also reassess your situation to see if you are living in a council house beyond your needs. If you have a spare room, you may consider moving into a smaller council house to reduce your rent expense or taking in a lodger to increase your income so you may be able to make rent payments on time.

If you are not on benefits Check if you can get Universal Credit to make rent payments easier.

If you are struggling with living expenses, you can try Reducing your living costs through your council’s assistance.

Can Council Help With Household Essentials?

Yes, local authorities can assist with household essentials for their tenants. While councils may not directly pay for the furniture or home equipment that a council house resident requires, they can connect them to charities who can either offer the pay for the furniture while the resident pays them back in instalments or sometimes they may simply make the payment on behalf of the resident(s) who is not expected to make any payment at all. 

To be eligible for an interest-free loan you must be on benefits including the following:

  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit

Residents who are on low-income and unable to afford living essentials such as furniture, household equipment may be able to find help in the following ways (in addition to council’s assistance):

  • Social landlord
  • Grant giving organisation
  • Second-hand furniture seller
  • Affordable credit

Can I Get A Council House If I Work?

Yes, whether you are in full-time employment or are working on a part-time basis, you remain eligible for a council house. One of the key factors that make an individual eligible for council housing is low income and little or no savings. 

In fact, considering the economic conditions of social renters, recent data gathered and analysed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government indicates that in 2019-20, nearly 45 per cent of them were working. 

According to the English Housing Survey of 2019-2020 (a nationwide analysis of people’s housing conditions), nearly 45 per cent of social renters were employed; with 31 per cent working full time and 14 per cent working part-time. They also constitute the majority of the social rented sector which accounts for 4.0 million households. The data from this survey further suggests that 25 per cent of social renters were retired, while 24% were in full-time education who were inactive. This relates to being out of work either due to a disability, long-term illness, or having to look after a family. 

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 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.

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
  • Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?

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

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.

Conclusion:

Although an eviction notice is a serious step taken by social housing landlords in response to rent arrears, it is a legal notice and must be abided by. However, at times, there is room for discussion on the repayment terms and sometimes the chance of changing their mind if tenants are able to provide evidence in support of any financial hardship that they may be facing. In certain circumstances, repayment of arrears and a mutual agreement between tenant and landlord cancels the notice for eviction.

As a council housing tenant, it is advisable for residents to budget their finances so that rent payments are made in a timely manner. If they are unable to pay their expenses from their incomes, they should contact their local council office to find out if they are eligible for benefits that may helo them to meet their living expenses.

FAQs: How Much Are Rent Arrears Before Eviction From Council Housing In UK?

What happens if you get evicted from a council house?

If the court decides that a council house tenant must be evicted, they will issue an eviction notice called “possession order” that states the date by which the property must be vacated. The time given for eviction may be in the range of 4 weeks to 4 months.

How many months rent arrears before eviction?

As a general rule, council housing tenants who have not paid their rent for 8 weeks (in case of weekly payments) or 2 months (in case of monthly payments) will be asked to vacate the premises as per court order. In some cases, a clause is added in the tenancy agreement to state the number of months arrears may be accumulated before an eviction notice is issued.

Can I move house with rent arrears?

Yes, you can move house with arrears. However, you will still be chased by local authorities (and in some cases by the court) for clearance of rent arrears.

Can the Council help with rent arrears?

Yes, the council can help with rent arrears and it often does by offering repayment plans with easy instalments or offering a Discretionary Housing Payment to those on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. This is financial support offered by local councils to help tenants with rent payments and housing costs.

Will the council rehouse me if I get evicted?

Yes, the council will rehouse you if you get evicted (especially if you face homelessness as a result of the eviction) but it may take some time for them to arrange another council house for you. Sometimes, they may arrange a temporary residence while you wait for a council house to be allotted.

References:

Eviction for rent arrears

Council and housing association tenants: eviction for rent arrears

Council and housing association evictions: Written notic

Paying off your rent arrears

You are taken to court for rent arrears

Get help with renting costs

Manage debt and rent arrears | Disability charity Scope UK

Managing council housing rent arrears | Hull City Council

Local welfare assistance | Local welfare assistance

If you’re struggling with living costs

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Getting a council home

Council housing

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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.