To meet the ever-growing demand for council housing, the UK Government has announced a grant of £11 million as part of the  Brownfield Land Release Fund to support 23 redevelopment schemes across 11 councils in England. This is in addition to the £58 million allocation fund announced only a month ago (Oct-Nov 2021) to support development in 53 councils across the country. 

Why Can’t I Get A Council House?

According to an article titled How To Get A Council House Quicker: Our Top Tips And Tricks | PPO 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.

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.

To have an in-depth understanding of the eligibility criteria and application process for council housing, we will try to answer the below questions through this article:

  • Can I Get A Council House On Medical Grounds?
  • Can I Get Council House If I Have Disabled Child?
  • Can I Get A Council House If I Work?
  • Can Someone Live With Me In My Council House?
  • Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?
  • How Can I Apply For Council Housing?
  • How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?
  • Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?
  • What Happens After A Home Is Offered?
  • What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

Can I Get A Council House On Medical Grounds?

Yes, you can get a council house on medical grounds. In fact, depending on the severity of the medical issues being faced by an applicant or their family member, the council housing application may be given priority over others.

If you or a family member are faced with a medical condition that is being worsened due to the house you currently live in or the medical condition is a disability and your current house does cannot provide for disability needs (despite possible modifications) you should apply for council housing. Depending on the severity of the condition, you will be allotted a band to indicate your position on the priority list for council housing.

Can I Get Council House If I Have Disabled Child?

Yes, not only will you qualify for council housing if you have a disabled child but you will be put on priority so that you may receive council housing at the earliest possible. 

However, not everyone who has a child facing disabilities will be looking for a council house. Depending on the needs of their child, they may make modifications to their existing home and claim state benefits such as Disability Living Allowance.

It is in cases where the parents’ previous home becomes unsuitable for a child with disabilities or they can no longer afford it due to reduced income (in case one of the parents had to leave their job to tend to their child), would they be in need for council housing.

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. 

This includes 31 per cent in full-time jobs and 14 per cent in part-time work. The report further indicates that 25 per cent of social renters were retired. Irrespective of their employment status, social renters remain part of low-income households; a vulnerable part of the community.

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 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

However, as per a recent news report, foster parents and key workers will get higher 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).

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. To find out details about your local council click on this link Find your local council

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.

How Should I 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.

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.

What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

In case of refusal of their application for council housing, candidates may challenge the decision by asking the local council for a review.

Decisions about priority bands assigned by the council as well those stating refusal for housing may be requested for review if the candidate carries substantial evidence to prove their claim. It is only with proof of supportive documents that an application may be challenged for review.

Conclusion:

Acceptance of your council housing applications is not a guarantee of residence on an immediate basis. Depending on your household needs and circumstances as well as the priority band assigned to you by council authorities, getting a council house can take months or years.  

However, applicants must make sure when filing for a council housing application that their documents and evidential support are complete and updated so that lack of appropriate documentations is not the reason for a delay in finding a council house.

FAQs: Why Can’t I Get A Council House?

Can you be refused council housing?

If your application for council housing does not meet the eligibility criteria or it contains incorrect information lacking evidence, you may be refused council housing. If you are not in agreement with the council’s decision, you can make an appeal against the decision.

How can I get a council flat quickly?

If someone is legally homeless, they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability, is facing hardship or currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions, they will be considered on priority for council housing.

Is anyone eligible for a council house?

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 many times can you say no to a council house?

Under the current rules, if a council housing applicant refuses the suggested property more than once a year, they will be suspended from the council’s waiting list for  12 months.

Is mental health a priority for housing?

Yes, mental health is considered a priority for council housing and applicants are provided residence on an emergency basis.

References:

The housing register: Medical assessment | LBHF

People who need to move on medical or welfare grounds

A Guide to Benefits for disabled children – Working Families

Who has priority

Foster parents and key workers to get higher priority for council housing

New homes to be built as part of government drive to develop brownfield land and regenerate communities

Getting a council home

Council housing

English Housing Survey: headline report

Getting a council home

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