Ever since the right to buy a council home was introduced, this has led to a real shortage of council homes for those who really need one. If you are in a position where you need a council house, this list of tricks to get a council house might help. So if you are looking into how to get a council house quicker try the tips in this article.
Tricks to get a council house quickly include clearly communicating your circumstances to your local council on your application and keeping them up-to-date with changes in your circumstances. Once you are on their waiting list, bid for properties and be flexible when you’re offered a council home.
Before jumping to the list of tricks to get a council house, first make sure you are eligible for a council house and who gets priority council housing.
What qualifies you to get a council house?
To qualify to be on the council housing list you need to be a British or Irish citizen or you need to meet the immigration conditions, which normally means you are settled in the UK. Councils have their own rules who can join their housing register, which will be explained in their allocation policy (See below link to Gov.UK).
Council housing priority list
- You are legally homeless.
- You are living in cramped or over crowded conditions.
- You have a medical condition made worse by your current home.
- You are fleeing violence.
- You live in very bad housing conditions.
- You need to move for welfare reasons.
How to get a council house quicker
1. Clearly communicate your circumstances
Each local authority has a waiting list, and in order to make sure you are prioritised on that waiting list you should clearly communicate your circumstances. If you are on the council housing priority list, the council has an obligation to find you a council house as a priority to anyone else.
Your local council will decide who gets offered housing based on a ‘points’ or ‘banding’ system, which is based on housing need. For example, you are more likely to be offered housing first if you are homeless, live in cramped conditions or if you have a medical condition that is made worse by your current home.
Making sure you’re in the right band will make sure your local council priorities you correctly. The higher you are on the priority band, and the longer you’ve been on their wafting list, the more likely you will be offered a council home.
2. Update the council to any changes in circumstances
If your circumstances change, and in particular if you move into a new or higher priority band, let your council housing officer know immediately. By updating your local council of any important chances to your circumstances might change your position on the waiting list.
Examples where your circumstances might change with regards to the council housing priority list:
- Homelessness: If you are given notice to quite your current tenancy because you can no longer afford the rent, and you are about to be made homeless, make sure to let the council know about your change in circumstances.
- Living in cramped conditions: If your living conditions get worse and even more cramped that they were when you first applied for a council house, update the council of the change.
- Medical conditions: If your medical condition worsens or your medical needs changes, and in particular if the worsening is being caused by your living arrangements, make sure to update the council so they can move you up the council priority list.
- Fleeing violence: If you are being suffering from domestic violence you are classed as a priority. If you have been living with an abusive partner and things take a turn for the worst, update the council of your change in circumstances.*
- Prisoner release date: If your release date is less than the qualifying period to be eligible to get a council house, update the local authority responsible for council housing.
- Qualifying age: Most councils have a minimum age limit for who can have a council house or require a guarantor. If you now have a guarantor if you are less than the minimum age let the council know. But also, if you now qualify as you’ve just had a birthday, also make sure to update the council of your eligibility. But also, your circumstances change and your housing requirements change when you’re aged 60 and over, which includes an eligibility for bungalows or warden assisted living as “Retirement Life“. If you’ve just had your 60th birthday, make sure to let the council know.
- Other local requirements: Local councils will have their own qualifying requirements to become eligible for their Housing Register. This might include the length of time of residency in the area, close family connections and paid employment in the county, if any of these circumstances to make you eligible, let the council know.
- Become pregnant or give birth: If you become pregnant or give birth to another child, your circumstances change and you need to let your local council know immediately.
- Changes in income: If you are made redundant or you lose your job for other reason, or if your benefits stop, make sure you update the council immediately.
- Loss of home and repossession: If your home is being repossessed and you are about to become homeless, make sure you let the council know. If the court has made an order for repossession, and you have just received your eviction notice, you should update the council immediately to avoid being put out on the street.
- Move house: If you move house, make sure to update the council with your new address details so they are able to contact you if a council home becomes available.
- Being harassed: If your reason for needing a council home is due to being harassed, make sure you let the council know if the situation gets worse.
* Having lived with domestic violence myself, I know how terrifying this can be. The most important thing is to be safe and if in doubt about your safety, call the police first. If you are able to do so, get yourself to a safe place, either at a friends house or a relatives house. When this was happening to me, I had already spoken with a close friend about my situation, and when the time came I was able to move in with him and his family to be safe until I was able to sort out longer term plans. Fortunately for me, I didn’t need a council house, but if you need one, fleeing from domestic violence will put you on the priority list.
3. Have a flexible approach
If you are open to being flexible with your approach to getting a council house, you are far more likely to get one much faster. For example, if you ideally want a 3-bedroom house but you’re offered a 2-bed house and you can manage living in the smaller house, accept the smaller house.
If you have children that can share a bedroom for now, it’s far better for them to share and you get a council house sooner than to be on the waiting list for years. If you have two children of the same sex and they are under 16 they can share a room, or if they are opposite sex they can share a room if they are under 10.
Once you have a council house, which will happen a bit quicker if you have a flexible approach, you will become eligible to move to a large house when circumstances change, for example you have a girl and a boy sharing a room and one or both are about to turn 11.
4. Use your bids to get a council house
Once your application for a council home has been accepted you are eligible to bid on available council houses, which is called “bidding”. Your council will explain how this works and each home will have a closing date, so make sure you use the bidding system and bid in time for each suitable house.
Bidding for council houses doesn’t mean you will get the house, but it will mean you have a better chance of getting one if you do. Each council will set a bidding limit on how many homes you can bid for, but always make sure you use your maximum bidding limit on each bidding cycle.
To assess each person’s bids, the council will look at your level of priority and how long you’ve been wafting to decide on who gets the council home.
5. Only bid for eligible properties
When using the council home bidding process only bid for council houses suitable for your circumstances. You will have a bidding limit, so use your limit wisely by only bidding for those homes that suit you.
For example, the bedroom entitlement is calculated using the number of people in your household, which takes account of the age and gender of your children. So regardless of where you sit on the priority list, your council will only offer you a property that meets your household’s needs.
This means your local council will not offer you a property that is either too big or too small to house your family.
6. Accept the council home within the timeframe
When you are offered a council home your local council will tell you how long you have to accept or reject the offer. You usually only have a short space of time before they will offer the home to someone else, so make sure you don’t miss your opportunity, whilst bearing in mind staying flexible with your approach.
The council home you are offered may not be perfect, but it might be better than nothing, and it might be better to live in an imperfect council home than to be homeless of to carry on living where you are now.
7. Ask for a review of their decision
If you have been turned down by your council for a council home, and if you think the council got their decision wrong, you should challenge their decision by asking for a review.
You can ask for a review if for example the council says you are not eligible to be put on their waiting list for social housing, and if you can show that the council was wrong, they might change their decision.
You may be accepted for a council house, but they may have put you into the wrong priority band. If you think you should be given a higher priority for social housing, ask for a review of their decision.
When you receive a decision about your social housing application, check the deadline they give you for challenging their decision and asking for a review. If you miss this deadline, you may have to start the application process all over again, which will take more time.
If you don’t understand your local council’s decision, or if you need help with asking them to review the decision contact your nearest Citizens Advice. They will help you understand your position and how to make the review application, but when you come for your free appointment, make sure to bring any letters from council about your social housing application.
Final thoughts and advice on tricks to get a council house
Finally, to your local council will have its own rules on who can apply and who has priority for a council house, which is called an ‘allocation scheme’. Check on GOV.UK to find out how it works in your area here: Check your council’s website by entering a postcode.
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