Tricks to get a council house

Are you in need of a council house but are frustrated by the lengthy application process? It may appear that obtaining a council house quickly is an impossible task, but there are strategies and considerations that can significantly increase your chances. 

In this article, we will look at various tips and tricks for speeding up the process and securing the housing you require. 

We will cover everything from being flexible in your preferences to exploring alternative options such as social housing and privately rented housing. In addition, we’ll discuss the council house priority list, waiting times, and even the possibility of purchasing the council house in which you currently reside.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of how council housing works and be able to navigate the world of council housing and increase your chances of finding the perfect home. 

What tricks are there to get council housing quicker

There are a lot of tricks to use when it comes to getting a council house quicker and making sure that you are able to find the housing you need. 

While there are no magic tricks or special things you can say to the council that will guarantee you housing, using the below list should increase your chances significantly.

Be flexible

Perhaps the biggest factor in whether you will gain approval for a council house is if you are able to stay flexible in your approach to where you will live. 

For instance, if you approach the council asking for a house that is a particular size, only in a particular location and with or without certain features, this will be hard to find and the council will inevitably delay your application.

In no particular order, here is how you can go about becoming more flexible so you can find more properties that are suitable for you and allow the council to give you a wider range of options.

Consider living in social housing

If you are having difficulty locating a council property, do not worry. Contacting your local authority for social housing is a wise decision. 

Obtaining a council house can be difficult, but don’t let that deter you as if you need housing it is only right you seek it out so. However, don’t overlook social housing associations either. 

Look into privately rented accommodation

There is also the option of private rental options such as rent-to-own or house sharing. These alternatives are frequently more affordable and may provide you with a place to live while your council application is being processed.

But a top tip to understand before you make a commitment is to thoroughly research any potential landlord as it is critical to gather information about their background and reputation. 

Consider the rent to buy scheme

When it comes to saving for a down payment or mortgage, it’s not always easy to come up with enough money. But don’t worry, there are alternatives worth considering like rent-to-buy.

They provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to rent a home at a reduced cost with the option to purchase it later if your circumstances improve.

The beauty of these schemes is that they usually require little or no money to get started so there is no downpayment needed. Hence, they are an excellent way to get your foot on the property ladder without incurring large upfront costs. 

Look into downsizing your home

If you are looking for a council house but finding it difficult because of the size of your current residence and finding a house that matches, an option is to downsize.

Smaller homes are in higher demand and downsizing can make the process of finding a council house much easier.

As a result, before you begin the application process, you must ensure that you meet the qualifications established by the local authority and they may have specific requirements, such as a minimum income level or having lived in the region for at least five years. 

Before you begin your house search, spend some time familiarising yourself with these criteria and then you can then be confident that you are well-prepared and eligible for consideration.

See if you are eligible for care home accommodation

If you or someone you know requires more care and support than a regular council house can provide, it’s worth looking into care home housing. These specialised living arrangements are intended for the elderly or those with disabilities who require a higher level of assistance.

Care homes provide round-the-clock staffing to ensure that assistance is available at all times and they too provide medical assistance, emotional and physical care, as well as a variety of other services. 

Care homes may be a better fit and more suited to the needs of individuals who require that extra level of care and if you qualify also much easier to apply for than a council house.

So, if you’re looking for a housing solution that prioritises comprehensive support, consider a care home to live in.

Become prepared for rejection

While meeting all of the requirements improves your chances, keep in mind that admission to a council house is never guaranteed. As a result, it is critical to be prepared for rejection and to have backup plans in place.

Consider exploring other types of housing, such as renting or shared ownership and while you look for a suitable council house, renting a home can provide you with a temporary solution. 

Furthermore, temporary housing can be used as a short-term solution until you can secure a more permanent housing arrangement and by considering these alternatives, you can ensure that you have plans in place in the event that your application for a council house does not go as planned.

Regularly update the council

Communication and updates with the council is a great way for you to gain access to the right number of properties and make sure you are at the forefront of the council’s mind.

At the end of the day, those that work for the council are just people and it is important that you follow up with them and do as much as you can to convince them your situation is important because they may be able to bend the rules in your favour if you make a good case.

Get into contact with your local authority

Getting into contact with your landlord doesn’t have to just mean looking at the local authority websites in the area. In order to increase the chance that the council will pick you, visit local authority buildings in person, and also check online listing portals.

On these portals, make sure you have selected filters to only show council housing and this will allow you to find property that perhaps recently came onto the market. Popular choices of finding these include Rightmove which you can find here, or Zoopla.

Demonstrate that you can manage your finances

The better able to show that you are a stable, functioning member of society, the more likely it is that the council will house you. In the same way as how a private landlord will conduct tenant referencing, a public landlord will do the same.

This means things like credit checks, bank statements and proof of paying off loans on time will all be used to assess how well you will be able to pay off your rent in the future if you were to move in.

Make it clear if you disagree with decisions

When it comes to the decision for a local authority to give you housing, your right to appeal the decision should be your best friend. To start, begin by looking at the reasons why the council hasn’t given you a house and then start by giving alternative reasons.

For instance, if the council says you aren’t eligible for housing because your situation isn’t that urgent, then the first thing to do would be to find the official complaints procedure of the housing authority.

If this doesn’t work, contact your local MP by mail and even the local government ombudsman. In the most extreme cases, this could result in a judicial review or even end up in you suing for damages.

Use the connections you have

Connections are very important as it is highly likely that a connection you find in your search for a house could actually get you fruitful results. Whether that be connecting with other landlords in different councils or finding other tenants to swap with.

Consider signing up with Facebook groups 

You may be able to find the right type of house for you by doing a house swap with someone that is also in a similar situation and you are able to find people like this by going to online communities like Facebook groups as seen here.

From here, you may be able to liaise with the council so that they can officially move you into each other’s properties without having to go through the entire council house application process.

Reach out to local charities and support if needed

If you’re looking for accommodation in the United Kingdom, there are numerous organisations and support groups that can help. They have extensive experience dealing with various housing situations, so contacting them is a good idea. 

They can offer advice and support tailored to your specific requirements, increasing your chances of finding the ideal home so it is a good idea to not hesitate to contact them for assistance and guidance.

Make sure you are in the right council tax band

In the UK, there are council tax bands (which can be understood by reading up on who pays council tax on rental property). If you are paying the wrong council tax band then you may not be eligible for the type of property that you think.

In order to make sure you are able to be in the right council tax band, there are a few things you can do.

Prepare yourself for the waiting list

It can be frustrating to find a place to live when there are no available properties. But don’t worry, there is an easy solution. Instead of endlessly scouring online listings, consider joining a waiting list. You’ll receive an alert as soon as something suitable becomes available, making the process more efficient for you.

Here’s another tip: If you’re already on a housing waiting list, the local council may prioritise those who have been waiting the longest. So, being patient could pay off in the end.

Get the documents for the property ready

When you’re ready to apply for a council house, make sure you have all of the necessary documentation which will include proof of income, bank statements, and any other paperwork requested by the local government. 

Having these documents on hand will make it a more pleasant experience for you and it is also a good idea to include any additional information that could help your application. 

This could include references, recommendation letters, or proof of employment and including these supporting documents can help validate your application and increase your chances of success.

Understand your local area a bit better

Knowing what the property market is like in the area you are looking for will help you make the best decision on if the council tax band you’re in is right for you.

Use up every bid you have

Bids are where you appeal to the council for a house and it is important to use them all up and make the most of them. Only after you have been approved or granted council housing will you be able to bid and you have up to three bids per cycle.

How long a cycle is depends on the borough but it is typically a three day to a week long period where those approved for council housing can bid on property using their allotted credit online or offline to let the council know they are interested.

From there, you will be able to find out if you have been given the property as the council will get back to you.

Make sure you visit the property you have

Visiting the property will often make your bid go further as it shows the council that you are serious.

Make sure you follow up on every application you have

If the council does not get back to you within a certain time frame that is suggested by them telling you that your application has been disapproved, it is a good idea to go to them and follow up by email or by phone.

Move with speed

Sometimes, the council will make their mind up about who should get a property based on the number of bids they have so far, even if the bidding cycle isn’t over. Simply because of the large number of applications.

This means it is a very good reason to submit your applications as early as you can and as soon as a property becomes available.

Only bid on property that meets you needs

When it comes to bidding on property, it is important to only bid on those that meet your needs and are able to house you and any of the people who you are responsible for.

This shows the council that you are not wasting their time bidding on houses that you will inevitably reject anyway because the building is not sufficient for your needs.

So, be sure to visit the property if you can and be sure to check out all of the specifics of the property before you place a bid.

Speak to a solicitor if you need to

There are a few situations where it may be unlikely you will get a council house like if you own a home. You may not be able to get a council house if you own a property so it could be worth speaking to a solicitor about your situation.

What makes you eligible for council housing?

To be eligible for council housing, there are certain criteria that need to be met. Generally, eligibility is based on factors such as income, residency status, and housing needs in order to make it on the list but the priority list is a different set of factors. 

How does the council house priority list work in the UK?

There are five main factors that the council house priority list is based on. This includes:

  • Homelessness or risk of it
  • Medical or disability needs
  • Unsuitable living conditions
  • Safeguarding of vulnerable individuals
  • A strong connection with the council

How long does it typically take to get a council house?

The time it takes to secure a council house can vary depending on if there is a high demand for housing first and foremost, resulting in longer waiting times. The availability of suitable properties and your priority on the housing list can also impact the timeline. 

On average, it can take several months to several years to get a council house but to get a more accurate estimate, it’s advisable to contact your local council or housing authority directly for information regarding waiting times in your specific region.

Can you buy the council house you are living in?

In some cases, it is possible to buy the council house you are currently living in. This is known as the Right to Buy scheme which you can read more on here and allows council tenants to purchase their property at a discounted price. 

However, not all council properties are available for purchase and the steps needed to qualify differ from area in the UK to area in the UK.

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andreas gerazis

Andreas Gerazis

Experienced landlord

Andreas is a certified landlord with extensive knowledge about the UK property market as he has been actively investing for half a decade. Founder of the first three-in-one property management software, Lofti Proptech, Andreas has a brilliant understanding of the details surrounding what it takes to grow and run a thriving property portfolio.