In this article
- Whether you might be eligible for social housing
- Who council’s give priority to for social housing
- What you can do if the council refuses your application for social housing
If you are thinking of applying for social housing (also known as council housing) there are some very basic things you should know.
Firstly, just because you live in the UK it doesn’t mean you have an automatic right to receive social housing. You may not be eligible for various reasons, for instance if you are a registered citizen of a different country or if you are a British citizen who is returning to Britain after spending some time living abroad.
Councils usually have waiting lists of people who are looking to be housed by them, but these councils can also choose who they accept onto the list.
The demand for social housing is extremely high but unfortunately accommodation councils have to offer is very limited. Therefore, the councils have had to place certain restrictions on who can apply.
Generally though, council’s are obliged to accept applications from anyone who is:
- A British citizen who is living and settled in the UK aged 18 or over (though some councils accept applications if you have turned 16)
- A citizen of another country with the right to stay in the UK with no restrictions on how long they can stay
Circumstances when you will probably not be eligible to apply for social housing
If you are originally from a different country and subject to UK immigration control (you are a short-stay visitor or student on a visa) you more than likely will not be accepted onto a social housing waiting list.
TTV advises anyone who is unsure about their immigration status to check with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) before applying.
If you are homeless
There is a chance that if you have been made homeless and need somewhere to stay immediately, you will be given priority attention and be placed on the housing waiting list by a council. However, as applies to anyone else, you need to know if you will be regarded as a homeless person. (See our TTV info on homelessness – link required to page on homelessness).
How do councils decide who is eligible for social housing?
Most councils use a points system or banding system based on an individual’s or family’s needs to come to a decision on who they will offer accommodation to.
The following three criteria are high on the priority scale and would put you on the waiting list:
- You are homeless
- You are currently living in cramped accommodation
- Your present home has prompted the onset of a medical condition
In other words, the worse your situation the higher you will move up the waiting list and the sooner you will be offered a place.
Other factors councils take into consideration:
- You are connected to the local area and have already been living there for a certain time
- You are working in the area
- You are caring for someone resident in the area
- Your income is below a certain level
Where to go for further help and advice:
- No-one has an automatic right to social housing
- You will be eligible for social housing if you are a British citizen who is living and settled in the UK aged 18 or over (though some councils accept applications if you have turned 16) or you are
- A citizen of another country with the right to stay in the UK with no restrictions on how long you can stay
- There are factors that will determine your position on the waiting list
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
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