Getting a council house can take between weeks to months and sometimes years; depending on your ranking on the priority list. This article aims to provide detailed information regarding how claimants can get a bigger council house if they qualify to attain it. We will also discuss how council authorities ascertain the allocation of council homes to applicants, the process for applying for a council home and how you can get support from local authorities when you move into your council house.

How To Get A Bigger Council House?

If your current living conditions fall into any of the following situations, you will get priority for getting a bigger council house:

  • your current house is overcrowded
  • your current house does not meet the medical or disability needs of a family member
  • your current house has an ill effect on your or a family member’s health

If none of these situations applies to you and you would like a bigger house to be more comfortable, you must know that council authorities will assign properties on the bassi of your family size and structure. Below are the details of how council houses are assigned based on family size:

The preferred household size of applicantsType of council property
Single people/couplesSingle bedroom flat/house
Single people/couples with part-time access to children (meaning they must stay overnight for at least 2 nights a week)Two bedroom flat
Disabled family member with a medical housing recommendation for adaptations such as a through floor lift or a stairlift.Adapted properties
Households with primary care of dependent children (generally referring to children up to 18 in full-time education) or a household with a medical recommendation for a houseHouses (with two or more bedrooms)
People aged 60 years old, or younger applicants with an appropriate medical housing recommendation (e.g. ground floor accommodation)Bungalows
People aged 60 and over needing an alarm call system and warden service, as well as younger applicants with a medical housing recommendation for sheltered accommodation. Retirement Life

Councils consider the following conditions while assigning a council house that meets their tenants’ space requirements:

  • The number of bedrooms 
  • The number of people (their age and gender)
  • If the residents can share a bedroom

If you are found to be having spare bedrooms in your council house, the council will reduce your Housing Benefit by up to 14 per cent for one room and up to 25 per cent for two or more spare bedrooms. 

In such cases, councils will try to relocate their tenants into smaller housing facilities through mutual exchange. However, there are certain exceptions that can be made in case of any of the following situations:

  • A family member who had moved out or is staying at their university halls during the term is expected to return
  • A family member is serving the Armed Forces and is away from home most of the time during a year
  • A carer spend the night at your council house 
  • The resident is a foster carer and is on the waiting list for a child placement

If you are council tenant with a secure tenancy or a housing association tenant with an assured or assured shorthold tenancy and you qualify for a bigger house, you can apply using any of these methods:

  • Tenancy Transfer: You can apply through your landlord or local council to move into a bigger house. 
  • Mutual Exchange: You inform your landlord or council of your situation, search for someone to swap your council house with, take permission from the authorities and proceed with the transfer. 

Can One Person Live In a 3 Bedroom Council House?

No, legally speaking, one person cannot live in a three-bedroom council house as it does not fulfil the Bedroom Standard criteria. In addition to this, having spare bedrooms in the house which are unoccupied reduces the Housing Benefit that the resident is claiming from local council authorities. 

As per council guidelines, below is the bedroom allocation of the council house as per the number of residents occupying the property:

Number of roomsThe maximum number of people allowed
12
23
35
47.5
510

Councils assign spaces or bedrooms as per the below criteria:

  • Residents who are aged 10 or over count as 1 person
  • Children who are aged 1 to 9 count as 0.5 (thus expected to share a room)
  • Children who are under 1-year-olds don’t count

It may be worth noting that while assigning bedroom space, councils will also count living rooms, studies or any extra liveable space as a bedroom. However, they will not take into account a space if it is either under 50 square feet in size. 

How Long Does It Take To Get A Council House?

According to this article even after a claimant’s council housing application is accepted, it may take anywhere between 12 to 16 months to find a 2-bed council house and between 36 to 70 months to get a 4-bed house.

During this time, claimants remain on a waiting list and are informed as and when a suitable property becomes available for them. In case there is a change in their circumstances, claimants must inform their local council authorities of this.

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.

How Can I Apply For Council Housing?

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. 

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)

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.

What Happens After A Home Is Offered?

The local council contacts candidates directly to inform them once they’ve been assigned a council home. Additionally, they also indicate the time frame that a candidate has to accept or refuse the premises being offered. There is usually a small window for candidates to respond before the council home is offered to someone else.

In the case of mutual agreement, a contract is drawn up and signed. Candidates may be offered a fixed-term contract (this may be for a year or more) or a long-term tenancy agreement. The council indicates the dates when occupants may move into the premises. They will also inform you of the dates when rent payments will be expected.

Can Council Help With Moving Into A Bigger Council House?

Yes, local councils can help with relocation expenses related to moving into another council house. They can support you in making rental deposits by offering you a rent deposit scheme or a rent guarantee scheme. 

Through a rent deposit scheme, financial aid is extended to those who are unable to afford a rent deposit. The applicant receives the entire amount in advance and repays it in instalments.

A rent guarantee scheme provides a written guarantee to your landlord confirming your inability to make an immediate cash deposit and your commitment to pay the amount over a period of time. If the tenant is unable to pay this amount as per the date committed, the guarantor of the rent guarantee scheme is liable to make payment on their behalf. 

There is also the option of Discretionary Housing Payments extended through local councils. These are one time, non-refundable amounts for residents claiming Housing Benefits or Universal Credit and may be used to make payments for the following:

  • Rent not covered by benefits
  • Tenancy deposits
  • Advance rent
  • Removal costs

Councils can also help with moving costs. They have certain allowances available with them to extend financial aid in the form of grants or loans to those who are in need and qualify. 

Applicants claiming Universal Credit may apply for a “budgeting advance”. This is an interest-free loan that aims to cover the costs of advance rent, removal or moving costs.

While councils may not directly pay for the furniture or home equipment that a council house resident requires, they can connect you 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. 

Conclusion:

Whether or not you are able to get a bigger council house will depend on your ability to qualify for it; depending on the size and structure of your family. However, the bigger the house, the higher will be the rent and the general expense of maintaining it. If you require a bigger council house due to living under cramped conditions, disability or medical condition of a family member, you will be placed on the priority list for a bigger council house. If you qualify for a bigger council house but are financially constrained, you may find support from council authorities for paying your rent deposit and moving costs; as well as being connected to charities to find furniture and essential household items. 

FAQs: How To Get A Bigger Council House?

Can you swap to a bigger council house?

Yes, you swap to a bigger council house if you fulfil the eligibility criteria, have permission from your council office or social housing landlord and are able to find someone to swap your council house with under “mutual exchange”.

Who gets the highest priority for council housing?

The highest priority for council housing goes to anyone who is either homeless or at risk of being homeless; as well as an applicant with a severe medical condition that will be worsened by living in their current home (whether it is council property or private)

What is classed as overcrowded in a council house?

According to Section 325 of the Housing Act 1985, if two or more persons older than 10 years of age and opposite genders have to share a room due to limited space, this is considered as being overcrowded.

Is mental health a priority for housing?

Yes, mental health is a priority for housing. If someone is found to be at risk, they will be provided accommodation on an emergency basis by the council authorities.

Do the council give you money to move out?

While the council does not give you money to move out of council property, they do offer cash incentives to individuals who are able to and interested in purchasing or renting private property for their accommodation.

References:

Your council or housing association home is unsuitable – Citizens Advice

Help if your home is overcrowded – Shelter England

Council housing – GOV.UK

Council home too big or too small

Getting a council home

Council housing

Under occupation rules: how many bedrooms are you allowed?

I live in a five-bedroom council house which I don’t need, yet I’m not allowed to swap with an overcrowded family

Check if a room counts as an extra bedroom for Housing Benefit – Citizens Advice

Check if your home is overcrowded by law – Shelter England

Your council or housing association home is unsuitable

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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.