Tenants may find themselves in a challenging situation when they are asked to vacate premises due to the proeprty being sold off by the landlord. Through the details of this blog post, we aim to discuss wheether or not council authorities can help a tenant if their landlord is selling the house that they are renting. Additionally, we will also explore other relevant topics under this umbrella discussion of getting council help at various stages of being a tenant. We will conclude with a review of the types of council tenancies.
Will Council Help If The Landlord Is Selling The House I Rent?
There is no evidence that the council authorities can help a tenant if their landlord is selling the house that they are living in. However, a landlord is obliged to give a 2 month’s notice to their tenants to look for another place to live when they decided to sell the house that is rented out. However, if a landlord is selling the house and the sale brings no change to the tenancy agreement (other than the landlord’s name), the tenant will have nothing to worry about.
Tenants cannot be evicted or asked to raise the rental payments simply because the property that they live in is about to be sold.
If you are a social housing tenant under a secured or fixed tenancy, there is no end to your agreement as long you keep paying rent and do not break any rules of the agreement.
Whether you live in a privately rented house or a social housing scheme, if you think you are being harassed by your landlord or you are being illegally evicted from the property, you can complain to the Environment Health office at your local council regarding the matter and expect to be supported. The authorities will investigate the matter and take legal action against the landlord.
Can Council Help With Rent Arrears?
Yes, the council can help with rent arrears 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.
Claimants who are also on benefits in addition to availing of 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 benefits 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.
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.
No matter what your situation is, the best way to proceed is to contact your local council or housing association if you are expecting financial constraints in being able to meet your rent payments. It is better to make arrangements prior to going into rent arrears. However, if you are already in such a situation, you must inform the local authorities to work out a mutually convenient solution.
Can Council Help With Deposit?
Yes, local councils can help with deposits by offering you a rent deposit scheme or a rent guarantee scheme. These are convenient options to make deposit payments convenient for those individuals who are either on a low income or are facing financial challenges in meeting their living expenses.
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. For this, the tenant might have to pay a nominal fee to the guarantor over the period of the guarantee.
However, in most cases, individuals facing homelessness or in dire need to leave their previous homes for a new one will be favoured for such schemes.
Can Council Help With Moving Costs?
Yes, councils can help with moving costs. They have certain allowances available to them to extend financial aid in the form of grants or loans to those who are in need and qualify.
At times, they may be able to arrange a Discretionary Housing Payment, which is a one time grant extended to cover the costs of housing.
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.
Can Council Help With Household Essentials?
Yes, the council can 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.
Some social housing providers provide council homes that are furnished. In the case of any changes or repairs needed for the furniture/washing machines/cooker etc, they are also willing to offer to repair or replace the items without any additional cost to the tenants. However, the items may be preloved and not brand new.
This is called a “welfare scheme”. Since each council runs their own welfare scheme you may need to connect with your own council office to learn specific details of it applies in your area. It is not necessary that you need to claim benefits to qualify for a welfare assistance scheme.
In some cases, the council may be able to offer you an interest-free loan to purchase household essentials. Although you will only be required to pay back what you have received, you must pay back the loan within 2 years.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Joint Tenancy: 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.
While there may be no concrete proof of councils intervening to help tenants if their landlord is selling the property that the tenants are living in, the authorities can surely intervene to defend the tenant if they are at risk of being harassed or forcibly evicted from a property only because it has been sold. The landlord will have to give due notice to the tenants in case they intend to end a tenancy agreement after the sale of their property.
Can Council Houses Be Bought?
Yes, council houses can be bought under the Right to Buy by local council tenants scheme but there are certain basic conditions to be met. These include the following:
- 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
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.
In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling out the Right to Acquire Application Form. To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes. Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.
FAQs: Will Council Help If The Landlord Is Selling The House I Rent?
Can a landlord sell the house while renting in the UK?
Yes, a landlord can sell their house while renting in the UK. However, they do need to make sure that the tenants have been issued a two-month eviction notice.
What rights do tenants have when the house is being sold in the UK?
As a tenant, you have the right to reject the entry of any individual into the house that you are renting. This includes any potential buyers that your landlord brings with him to survey the property.
Are the council stopping Right to Buy?
While there has been much debate regarding the Right to Buy scheme which was first introduced in the 1980s, there is currently no announcement by the UK government to stop the scheme.
Can you negotiate a rent deposit?
Yes, you can negotiate this amount with your landlord. However, it usually up to 5 weeks of rental payment which is returned to tenants when they vacate the premises.
Can the council force me to private rent?
While they may not force anyone to rent privately, councils, at times, do make arrangements for those who are on low income or homeless through paying their rent deposit and monthly rent in advance for a rented property.