Even after a claimant’s application for council housing 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. Through this blog post, we will analyse the steps involved in getting a council house once the authorities make an offer to applicants. We will also discuss the steps prior to this stage which involves the bidding process for a council house as well as the criteria for getting priority on the waiting list and how to find a suitable council house that meets your needs.

What Happens After You Are Offered A Council House?

Once you are offered a council house, the council will also inform you of a date by when they will need a response before they offer the house to someone else. Usually, there is a two to three-day window during which applicants are required to visit the council house that they have been offered and let council authorities know of their decision of whether or not they intend to move into the premises.

During this visit, candidates are encouraged to carry the following documents with them:

  • Proof of identity: such as birth certificate, driving licence, medical card, passport
  • Proof of income from earnings and benefits: including candidate’s and partner’s wage slips, a letter from employer benefits book/letter, bank statements showing payments, private/work pension details
  • Proof of National Insurance number: this may include tax letters, wage slips, P45/60, National Insurance number card
  • Proof of current account deposit and savings: such as bank/building society passbooks/statements/letters, national savings and share certificates.
  • Proof of dependents: for instance child benefit book, proof of child benefit payments, birth certificate
  • Proof of non-dependents: this includes wage slips, benefit book

Should you accept the offer, you will be asked to sign an acceptance slip that mentions the following information:

  • your name
  • the address of your new council house
  • the date your tenancy starts

After that, a tenancy agreement will be drawn up and you will be informed of the rent deposit amount as well as monthly rental payment.

If you don’t like the property or you think that it doesn’t meet your housing needs, you can refuse it and inform the council authorities. However, if you refuse three council properties consecutively without good reason, you may be taken off the council housing waiting list for 12 months.

How Long Does Shortlisting Take For Council Housing?

Shortlisting of council housing applications can take up to three weeks once bidding completes on a property. If an applicant bids for more than one property and gets accepted, they will be asked about their preference out of the two (or more) options before their offer is accepted.

Applicants who bid for council housing properties are prioritised on the following basis:

  • Whether applicants have a local connection to the parish or town in which the property is located
  • This is followed by band 1, 2, 3, 4 and Open Market Register 
  • And in the end, the date applicants are placed in the band or on the Open Market Register

What Is Bidding Queue Position On Council Homes?

Once your council housing application is approved, you will receive a letter from the council office confirming your position to be on the waiting list for council housing. This means that you will not be allotted a council property immediately and will be part of a bidding queue.

Each week, there will be council properties advertised on the housing website (details of which will be shared with you by your council authorities). If you find a property according to your needs, you can place a bid on it. Similarly, there may be other bidders offering their interest to avail the property.

Depending on the Band assigned to you in your council housing confirmation letter, you will be assigned a bidding queue position that determines your level of priority to be considered during the bidding process as well as your banding date. This means that a council housing claimant who is assigned Band A and was approved earlier will be allotted a council house based on their bid earlier than someone who is assigned a Band B and had their application approved much later.

How Can I Improve My Bidding Position For Council Housing?

Individuals with emergency needs such as medical conditions or disabilities will have a higher bidding queue position for council housing and will be allotted Band A. Meanwhile, those who may have less extraordinary circumstances will be assigned Band B.

To improve their bidding position, applicants may follow the tips given here:

  • Remain open and flexible: If you have requested a three-bedroom council house in your application while you are being offered a two-bedroom one, do consider it. If your children are younger, perhaps they can share a bedroom for some time and as they grow up you may re-apply for a larger space. 
  • Communicate with the council regularly: If there are changes to your living conditions or employment status, an increase in the health needs of your family members, or someone from your household has decided to move out or move in with you, do share these changes with your council office as it affects your housing needs as well as the council hosing priority allotted to you by authorities. 
  • Confirm your band allotment: Depending on the personal circumstance stated in the council housing application, councils assign priority bands to applicants with some of them being assigned a higher band for higher priority and a lower band for lower priority. While these bands are assigned by local councils, you must check if you have been assigned the correct band based on the information that you have provided. If you disagree with your band allotment, you can provide evidence and negotiate with the authorities to increase your priority level.
  • Use your housing bids wisely: Once your council housing application is accepted, you will be allowed to bid online on available properties. Applicants can bid thrice per advertising cycle. You must make the best use of this window of opportunity to bid on suitable properties so that a higher number of bids lead you to more options to choose from. At the same time, bid on suitable housing. If you need a single bedroom flat, it would not be advisable to bid on a larger property as it would be a waste of opportunity.

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, 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

As per a recent news report, foster parents and frontline workers will also get priority for council housing in some areas. Foster parents and adoptive parents are being assigned Band 1 to extend the maximum benefit to their children. In recognition of their work during the pandemic, key workers have been assigned a Band 2 (The total number of bands is 4 with Band 1 being the highest on the priority list).

However, generally speaking, if someone’s council housing application is based on medical grounds (applicant’s personal condition or of an immediate family member) whether due to health reasons or disability, they are on a priority list for council housing and will be considered much earlier than others.

What Is A Suitable Council Property?

A suitable council property is one that is (a) sized according to the number of family members in the household (b) meets the special needs of elderly or disabled family members. 

Applying for a suitable property according to the number of household members that an applicant has will also play a major role in increasing their priority level and ability to get shortlisted. Below are details of the preferred household size of applicants versus the type of council property suitable for them:

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

Conclusion:

Through the discussion in this article, we have come to learn how applicants of council housing can prepare themselves in advance of being offered a council house while they are on the waiting list and continue to bid for suitable properties. Claimants must keep in view that it is ideal to apply/bid for suitable properties so that they don’t have to reject them at a later stage as three rejections can reduce their ranking on the waiting lsit and they may not be offered a council property for the next 12 months.

FAQs: What Happens After You Are Offered A Council House?

What happens when you get shortlisted for a council house?

When you get shortlisted for a council house, you will receive a notification stating this once you login to the council housing website that you have been bidding for properties on. Additionally, you will also receive a text message, phone call or email (as per your indicated preference during the application process).

Who gets the highest priority for council housing?

If someone is legally homeless, they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability, they are facing hardship due to potential danger or a change of jobs, they are currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions, they will get the highest priority for council housing.

What does your queue position mean on council bidding?

Once your council housing application is approved, you will receive a letter from the council office confirming your position to be on the waiting list for council housing. This means that you will not be allotted a council property immediately and will be part of a bidding queue.

How can I increase my chances of getting a council house?

To increase your chances of getting a council house, firstly you should state your requirements as per needs that are factual and can be proven with evidence. Secondly, applicants should try to remain open and flexible to council housing options. Finally, they should not bid on too many properties and focus only on the ones that are suitable for their own requirements.

What does skipped mean on housing bidding?

Being skipped on housing bidding means that the authorities have skipped making an offer to you for council housing and offered it to someone on either a lower band or the same band as you but they have been listed on the Housing Register for a shorter time than you. The reason may be that they have a more local connection to the area than you or the property meets their needs more than yours.

References:

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice.

Being offered a council property

Getting an offer of housing

How_to_apply_for_council_housing/bidding_and_offers

Council housing: Apply for a council home – GOV.UK

Bidding and Shortlisting – Wiltshire.

Shortlisting & Offers – Homechoice

Your choice your home

Shortlisting and offers – Birmingham City Council

Shortlisting |

Bidding Process – Homeseekers

How our choice-based letting system works | Swindon Borough Council

Council housing – GOV.UK

How To Get A Council House Quicker: Our Top Tips And Tricks | PPO

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