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Saturday, July 13, 2024

How to Get a Council House in the UK

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Before you read any further, you would do well to ask yourself one very important question: Are you sure you want to pursue social housing as a viable option? Okay, well, I warned you.

The Social Housing Waiting List

So, the first thing you will need to do is to apply to your local council and explain your circumstances; namely, why you feel you need cheaper accommodation and cannot realistically afford to secure a property privately either via a mortgage or via paying rent to a landlord. They will then ask about your medical and current accommodation status, to gauge whether or not you are at immediate risk in terms of your or other people’s health and safety, and thus should you be considered a priority, what benefits you are currently receiving, whether you have any relatives that can help you out instead, and many other questions, at which point, assuming your application is approved (and this is quite a big assumption), you will be placed in a queue until a suitable property can be made available, which you will need to bid on when it appears. Properties generally go to bidders who’ve been on the waiting list the longest unless their priorities change.


Once you are within the top bidders, which in some cases might take a few years, you’ll be asked to view the property. Major health and safety risks and minor cosmetic changes will usually be covered by the council, whether that’s removing mould, getting some roofers or pest controllers in, or replacing a carpet, but generally speaking, these will not be properties you’d ordinarily find on the private rental market for good reason. Beggars cannot be choosers, however, and if you refuse multiple properties in a row, then the council reserves the right to send you to the back of the queue or remove you from the waiting list entirely. There is also absolutely no point whatsoever in pouring one’s heart out to try and emotionally blackmail one’s way to a better deal; this will not work. Housing officers have generally heard it all before, and their compassion is long since spent. The mentality is this: social housing is not a charity, rather it is an insurance policy on behalf of the taxpayer, and insurance providers, by their very nature, are not, because they cannot afford to be, in the habit of handing out to those they are not completely convinced either require or are legally entitled to their support.

Is it Any Easier for Immigrants?

Before anybody says anything, no, not all social housing goes to immigrants. Some do, of course, as they have just as much right to a roof over their head as anyone else, but statistically speaking, there is no evidence to suggest they are prioritised whatsoever. On the contrary, asylum seekers cannot even pursue social housing and are usually housed in military barracks until more permanent solutions can be found. If they can obtain refugee status, they can either pay rent privately to a landlord, or ask for government help, at which point they will be assessed like any other citizen, and if their case is dismissed for any reason, then they will generally then face deportation.

The Bottom Line

Honestly, it is easier to apply for and secure a higher wage job, or a contract with more hours, or move to a cheaper area, or befriend someone and sleep on their couch than it is to secure social housing, hence this article’s opening statement.

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