Council homes are mainly provided as a means of housing support to individuals on a low income. Through this blog post, we will discuss how and where to find council housing projects that may be considered aesthetic or unique in design and decor since most council estates are uniform in their design and layout. We will also explore whether council housing tenants have the option of choosing their own council homes, the different council housing tenancies and the extent to which someone can customise their council house according to their taste.  

Where Can You Find Nice Council Houses?

According to an article posted in The Guardian, below is a list of some of the best council estates in the UK:

  • Byker Wall, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Bishopsfield, Harlow, Essex
  • Boundary Estate, Shoreditch, London
  • Dawson’s Heights, Dulwich, London
  • Davy Place, Loddon, Norfolk
  • Gallowgate, Aberdeen
  • Golden Lane, London
  • Lillington Gardens, Pimlico, London
  • Park Hill, Sheffield
  • Trellick Tower, London

In more recent years, Salford Council in Manchester has made available a social housing project with two and three-bedroom council homes in contemporary design. This is a far shift from the classical design of council homes which are primarily known for their sturdy structures and spacious area.

However, tenants of council homes can decorate the council property that they live in according to their tastes. In fact, in some cases, the council provides you with a voucher when you move into a council house to purchase items for home decor. You may be able to use this voucher for specific items only. However, with certain items paid for, you can allocate your own finances to other areas of home furnishing.

In some cases, if a council house resident is above 70 years of age and claiming benefits, they can apply for help with home decor especially if the following conditions are being met:

  • The resident is above 70 years of age and claiming benefits
  • They have no help to get home decor work carried out 
  • The room(s) have not been decorated in at least 10 years
  • The resident has been paying their rent on time
  • There are no legal notices against the property
  • They have not applied to purchase the property

Sometimes certain home improvement tasks need to be carried out prior to home decor. These may include rewiring, extensive re-plastering or fitting central heating systems. You should make sure that there is a thorough assessment of the kind of home improvements that are required so that such work is complete before you start decorating your council house. In most cases, your council or social housing landlord will bear the expense of major home improvements.

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound. 
  • Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

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 bands 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

Once the application is approved, candidates are asked to visit the property in person. 

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 lead to removal from the waiting list.

How Can I Buy A Council House?

Council houses are freehold property. This means that when you purchase a council house, the land also belongs to you.

One of the most common ways to purchase council property is the Right To Buy Scheme which applies to both current council housing tenants and those who may not live there anymore. Under this, council houses can be purchased by local council tenants by fulfiling the following conditions:

  • 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


In addition to the Right To Buy Scheme, 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.

How Often Do Councils Replace Kitchens?

As a general rule, kitchens in council houses are meant to last a minimum of 30 years. In addition to the age of the property, the below criteria are essential for kitchen replacements in council houses:

  • A new kitchen has not been fitted in the past 30 years (these include referrals from social services).
  • No major repairs have been carried out in the recent five years.
  • The tenant has not applied to purchase their council house under the Right To Buy scheme.

Unless there is a dire need for a kitchen replacement due to unforeseen circumstances, kitchen replacements are not undertaken before the end of a 30 year period. However, small scale alterations and instalments can be carried out by tenants with approval from the council.

Any installations that are required will be prioritised depending on the age of the property. Once a tenant’s request for kitchen replacement is approved, the council assigns a design consultant to visit the property and discuss the layout/requirements.

Can I Use My Own Furniture In A Council House?

Yes, you can use your own furniture in a council house but sometimes the council can also help tenants with furniture by giving vouchers to purchase furniture through certain schemes or charities. Sometimes this furniture is available at an extremely low cost; while at other times, charities may pay for them while residents claim to use it. 

This means that while councils may not directly pay for the furniture 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. 

Some social housing providers provide council homes that are furnished. In the case of any changes or repairs needed for the furniture, they are also willing to offer to repair or replace the items without any additional cost to the tenants. However, the furniture may be preloved and not brand new.

Can Home Improvements Be Done In Council Houses?

In case of home improvements to be carried out in a council house, you may have to seek permission from the council authorities prior to work commencing on the property. The expense of most of the following may be reimbursed by the council:

  • Toilet, bath, shower, wash-basin
  • Kitchen sink and work surfaces 
  • Storage cupboards 
  • Heating equipment 
  • Radiator valves
  • Insulation
  • Draught-proofing 
  • Double glazing or other window replacement
  • Rewiring, fixing electrical fittings (including smoke detectors)

Conclusion:

From the above discussion, one may be able to conclude that while most council homes are designed in a similar fashion with a focus on a sturdy structure and spacious area for residents; however, there are certain council housing projects that stand out from the rest in terms of their design and layout. However, one must keep in mind that council housing preference is based on the number of years a resident has lived in the council district and it may be difficult to attain a council house in another council.

FAQs: Where Can You Find Nice Council Houses?

Where are the best council houses?

Some of the best council houses can be found in Dawson’s Heights, Dulwich, London, Davy Place, Loddon, Norfolk, Park Hill, Sheffield, Boundary Estate, Shoreditch, London, Lillington Gardens, Pimlico, London, Gallowgate, Aberdeen, Trellick Tower, London and Golden Lane, London.

Which borough has the most council houses?

The most populated borough for council housing is said to be Becontree in The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham.

How can I get a council house fast?

To get a council house early, one may need to rank higher on the priority list for council housing. Another way is to apply for council homes that fit (and not exceed) your needs and remain flexible towards the council houses offered to you.

Are council houses for the poor?

Council houses were introduced in the UK to provide affordable housing for individuals on low income who could not afford privately rented homes and needed better living conditions than in the slum areas that they were previously living in. 

What is the difference between social housing and council housing?

Social housing provides affordable houses through housing associations to tenants which makes individuals landlords of the property being rented. Meanwhile, council housing is provided by local councils and funded through government schemes. There are minor differences in the tenancy agreements between the two types of housing; however, residents can rent either of them and after living there for a period of time, they may also purchase the property.

References: 

The 10 best council estates | Art and design | The Guardian

Inside Greater Manchester’s luxurious new council houses

The real pros and cons of buying an ex-council home

Shortlisting & Offers – Homechoice

Your choice your home

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

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice

Council housing – GOV.UK

Which side of the fence is mine council house?

Kitchen and bathroom replacement

Council housing: Repairs and maintenance – GOV.UK

Solar Panels For Council Houses 2021 | The Eco Experts

Carrying out improvements and alterations to your council home | Ipswich Borough Council

Decorating and improvements to your council home – Epping Forest District Council

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