COUNCIL housing accommodates roughly 200,000 people who are struggling to stay afloat.
Over five million council homes have been built in the last century – here is what you need to know about applying for a council house.
How do you apply for council housing?
To apply for a council house, you need to hand in an application with the local council.
Simply access the gov.uk website and enter the postcode in which you want to apply for a council house in.
It will guide you to which council you need to contact.
Be aware that you'll probably have to join a waiting list and this still does not guarantee you a council house.
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Once you are relocated to the council's website, it will show you guidelines on how to complete your application.
You will also get advice on how to stay in your home and solve any issues you might have, such as problems with a private landlord or mortgage, or even tell you what to do if you're in immediate risk of becoming homeless.
Who is eligible for council housing?
You are eligible to apply for council housing if you are a British citizen living in the UK and you have not lived abroad recently.
Each council has its own local rules about who qualifies to go on the housing register in its area, but it is based on "points" or "banding" system.
For example, you’re likely to be offered housing first if you:
- are homeless
- live in cramped conditions
- have a medical condition made worse by your current home
Some councils let people apply at the age of 18, while others even let 16-year-olds apply.
EU workers and their families and refugees may also be eligible.
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Will there be a waiting list?
Yes, there will be a waiting list.
A council house is reached through a points system, so depending on your housing needs, you may be a low priority.
The council will contact you about any available property once you are high enough on the waiting list.
According to a report commissioned by the Local Government Association, called Building Post-Pandemic Prosperity, waiting lists could double in 2022.
It states that as a result of the pandemic, council housing waiting lists could reach 2.1 million households, "due to the impact of Covid-related support schemes winding down and a potential increase in homelessness".
What are choice-based lettings?
Some councils offer the choice-based letting scheme (CBL).
This will let you tell your council which property you are interested in.
When a home becomes available, new and existing tenants can place a bid.
Bids can usually be made online, by text, over the phone or by post.
All councils have different rules but the basic steps for this scheme are:
- Check your local papers, council website, offices and local libraries to find a property that you like.
- Check whether you can apply for it as some houses are only available for single people, families or disabled persons.
- Apply for the house by phone, text or online. This stage is known as "bidding" but it does not involve any money.
- Then you just have to hope for the best and await the council's decision.
Once you get a housing offer, you will have a short time to accept it and if you do not accept it you can either bid for other properties or stay on the waiting list.
You may be put lower down on the list if you reject a property or even removed if you keep saying no to offers made.
If the council made a decision which you think is unfair and are unhappy about, then you have the right to appeal such decision.
How do I complain to my council?
You council will have a complaints policy that you can follow.
If the issue is not resolved make a complaint to your MP, or a local councillor.
You can also contact the Housing Ombudsman if you and your council still can’t come to an agreement.
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