Housing assistance from the local government
Your local council can help you apply for a home. They may also refer to it as'social housing.'
If your application is approved, you will be added to a list of people who need a council home. Your municipality will then prioritize applications based on who needs a home the most. The council's allocations scheme will specify who gets first priority for homes in the area.
Even if you get on the waiting list, there's no guarantee you'll get a house.
Your local council or a housing association may offer you a home.
You may have to apply directly to some housing associations rather than through the council; ask your council if any are nearby.
If your municipality has a long waiting list, they may ask if you want to apply for housing in other areas as well. You can be on multiple waiting lists at the same time, which may increase your chances of finding a home.
Check to see if you qualify for a council home.
Your local council will have its own rules about who can apply for homes and who gets priority - this is referred to as an 'allocation scheme.' Check the GOV website for your local council. UK to learn more about how it works in your area
You will almost certainly need to:
- be on a low income or lack significant savings
- have lived in the area for a long time, or have a job or family there - this is referred to as a 'local connection'
Some councils do not require you to have a local connection. If you're considering relocating, it's worth checking the council's website to see if you can apply.
You might also be able to apply if you've previously lived in the area.
There are additional rules depending on your nationality, such as if you are a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.
The EEA includes EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. On GOV.UK, you can find out which countries are members of the EU.
You can apply if you are a British or Irish citizen living in the UK.
If you live abroad, you must return to the UK and demonstrate that you intend to stay before applying - this is known as the 'habitual residence' test. More information on the habitual residence test for housing can be found here.
If you arrived from Afghanistan,
If you came to the UK from Afghanistan after the government fell on August 15, 2021, you do not have to pass the habitual residence test. This means you could apply for a council home right away.
You may be required to provide proof that you were evacuated from Afghanistan.
If you're from Ukraine,
If both of the following apply, you do not have to pass the habitual residence test:
- You lived in Ukraine immediately before January 1, 2022.
- Because of the Russian invasion, you came to the UK from Ukraine.
This means you could apply for a council home right away.
You can only get housing assistance if you have:
- If you have British citizenship and can demonstrate that you are a 'habitual resident' - for example, if you have dual nationality -
- permanent residence or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, as well as an additional 'right to reside'
- You have limited leave to remain and'recourse to public funds,' which means you can claim benefits and get housing assistance.
You may also be eligible for housing assistance if you both:
- They applied for settled or pre-settled status by June 30, 2021, and are awaiting a decision.
- You have the right to live now, and you will have the right to live on December 31, 2020.
If none of these apply to you, you may be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme late. You must have a compelling reason for missing the deadline of 30 June 2021. You can learn how to submit a late application.
You are eligible for housing assistance if you meet the following criteria:
- You have a visa that allows you to stay in the UK.
- Your visa does not state that you are not permitted to use public funds.
If you are a family member of someone from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and one of the following conditions apply, you may be eligible for housing assistance:
- They have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- They have pre-settled EU Settlement Scheme status and another right to reside.
- They requested settled or pre-settled status by June 30, 2021, and are awaiting a decision or the outcome of an appeal.
The right of your family member to reside is determined by factors such as their employment, family, and personal situation. You can find out if they have the legal right to live in the country.
If you are a family member of someone who was born in Northern Ireland and is a British or Irish citizen - or both - you may be eligible for housing assistance. You must first obtain pre-settled or settled status - check GOV.UK to see if you can apply for pre-settled or settled status. UK
If you have permanent residency, you can apply for housing assistance.
The rules are complicated if you have pre-settled status; speak with an adviser to see if you can apply for housing assistance.
You could also be eligible if you:
- are a refugee - this means you've applied for asylum and been granted refugee status as well as leave to remain in the UK
- have indefinite leave to remain and are habitually resident in the United Kingdom - this cannot be subject to any conditions such as 'no recourse to public funds'
Speak with an adviser before applying for housing assistance.
If you came to the UK through one of these schemes at any time, you may be able to get housing assistance:
- ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy)
- Afghanistan Ex-Gratia Scheme for Locally Employed Staff (ALES)
- ACRS (Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme)
You may also be eligible for housing assistance if all of the following conditions are met:
- You came to the UK from Afghanistan because the government fell on August 15, 2021.
- You've been granted "permission to remain."
- Your immigration papers do not state 'no public funds.'
If you have a sponsor or are unsure about your immigration status, speak with an adviser.
Your local government may request proof of your immigration status. You must present one of the following:
- a document proving that you entered the UK through one of the schemes
- a visa or stamp in your passport
- a letter from the Home Office stating when and why you arrived
Speak with an advisor before applying for housing assistance.
You can apply for housing assistance if you meet the following criteria:
Determine whether you are a priority for a home.
If you've been given priority by your council's allocation scheme, you're more likely to get a council home.
If you are:
- If you are legally homeless or the council has a duty to find you housing, check what assistance the council should provide you.
- relocating due to a disability or serious long-term health condition
- Moving to a different area due to 'difficulty' - this could be to receive medical treatment, because you are in danger, or to start a new job.
- in an overcrowded or dilapidated dwelling
Even if you have priority in your area, it will most likely take you a long time to receive an offer. In areas where there are long waiting lists, you may not be offered a home at all.
It may be best to look for a home on your own or to stay where you are - if money is an issue, see if you can get rent assistance. You can also consider renting from a private landlord.
If you believe you have not been given sufficient priority, you can request that your council reconsider their decision. Check your local council's allocation scheme to see who is given priority in your area.
Making an application for a council home
You'll almost certainly need to apply online; check GOV.UK to see which council you need to apply to. UK
If the council approves your application, it does not guarantee that you will receive a home right away. You'll be put on a waiting list, and it could take a long time.
If you apply directly to a housing association, the rules may be different; check their website for details.
Completing the application
In your application, provide as much detail as possible. You may be asked to provide additional evidence to support your application, such as medical records if you have a health condition.
Your council will use the information you provide to determine whether you are eligible to join the waiting list. If your application is accepted, they will use it to determine whether you get priority and what size home you should get.
You may be required to provide information about:
- your earnings, including any from your job or benefits
- any long-term health issues or disabilities you may have
- your work experience
- your savings and any assets you may have - this is a valuable item, such as a car
- where you've lived in recent years and why you left
- if you are not a British citizen, any visas or immigration documents (such as a passport)
If you require assistance with your application, please contact us.
The application form will ask you a lot of questions, and it may take you more than an hour to complete. If you require assistance, contact your local government.
You might be able to enlist the assistance of a family member or caregiver to assist you with your application as well.
Making a decision
If your application is approved, your council will assign you to a group or "band" that corresponds to your level of priority.
If they believe you are in desperate need of a home, you will usually be given top priority.
Even if you have a high priority, you may still have a long wait for a home. Inquire with your local council about the length of the wait in your area.
Your council determines your priority level based on the criteria in their allocations scheme.
If you believe they have not given you the appropriate level of priority under their scheme, you can request a review. Check your council's allocation scheme before requesting a review.
If your application is turned down,
Request that the council reconsider their decision.
You could also consider renting from a private landlord or getting rent assistance.
If your circumstances change,
If your circumstances change, notify your council as soon as possible; this may affect your position on the waiting list.
This could mean you get a home sooner, but it could also push you down the list.
If you fail to notify the council of any changes that affect your priority level, you may be accused of lying on your application. This could result in you being evicted from any home you obtain.
You should notify your council if you:
- become pregnant or father a second child
- if you develop a new medical condition or if your medical requirements change
- have a change in income, such as when your benefits end or your salary changes
- are being harassed in your neighborhood
- move or have new contact information
Check to see if you are eligible to bid on a house.
Inquire with your city council whether you must bid on houses or if they will select one for you.
If they select one for you, they may make it available to you over the phone. They will usually respond with a letter.
Bidding on a house
Your local government may have an online system where you can look for a place to live.
If you like a house and think it's right for you, you can let the council know by applying for it online, which is known as 'bidding.' Your council will explain their bidding system to you.
All of the houses will have a closing date, so make sure you bid before that.
If you bid on a house, it does not guarantee that you will get it.
Your municipality will tell you how frequently you can bid on houses. They may also limit the number of homes you can bid on.
After the bidding period has ended, your council will consider your level of priority and, in most cases, how long you've been waiting.
Typically, the council will offer the home to the person with the highest level of priority in their scheme.
You may be able to refuse a council home if you believe it is unsuitable for your needs, but check first as some councils may remove you from their waiting list. Learn more about rejecting an unsuitable home.
If you are given a council house,
Your council will inform you of the time limit for accepting or rejecting an offer.
- You'll usually only have a limited amount of time before your council offers it to someone else.
If you accept a house, your council will set up a time for you to sign the contract.
A long-term tenancy or a fixed-term contract for a year or more may be offered to you.
Your city council will tell you when you can move in and when you must pay rent.
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