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Local authority housing

Local authority housing (or council housing) is housing you can live in that is owned by your local authority. You have to apply for local authority housing.. Your Council will assess your needs and decide if you are high priority. If you are, you can join the housing register, which is a list of people waiting for housing or to be rehoused.

Housing legislation and entitlement

You will only be entitled to housing from your local authority if:

  • You are eligible for public funds
  • You have a connection to the local area
  • You are unintentionally homeless
  • You are in priority need

Your prospects of getting local authority housing will vary depending on your local authority. You should check their websites (see below) for more details.

If you have been told that you don't qualify for local authority housing and think you should, you can request a review for the decision to deny you housing within 21 days. This can be done in writing or verbally

If you are not eligible for housing from your local authority and are struggling to find somewhere to live then have a look at our page on Homelessness for advice on where you might go for support in an emergency.

Amongst those eligible for local authority housing vulnerable people are given priority. The kind of things which might increase the priority of an application include:

  • when the current property does not allow the person to live safely and independently, for example it does not meet the needs of a disabled person
  • Having served in the naval, military, or air forces
  • Having been in detention or custody
  • Having had to leave a previous home due to abuse, violence or threats
  • Being aged 16 or 17
  • Being 18-20 years old after being in care
  • Situations where young children will be at risk
  • Situations where a pregnant mother will otherwise be left homeless

The waiting time will depend on the size of the property you need and where you want to live. Most local authority websites will give estimates for waiting list times, but these are just a guide and won't take into account your own needs and priority.

If you are considered to have a priority need your council may have to offer you temporary accommodation until a suitable long-term property becomes available. Temporary housing may include being offered a place in bed-and-breakfast or hotel accommodation, or housing outside of your council's area.

There are a number of different tenancies available to you in local authority housing. If this is your first local authority home, you will be offered an introductory tenancy, which usually lasts 12 months. Under this tenancy you cannot make changes to the home, swap your home with another local authority home or apply for the Right to Buy scheme.

Once you have lived in a local authority house for over a year, you may be offered a secure tenancy.  This can be for a fixed period of time or ongoing with no specific end date. Under these tenancies you can rent out rooms, buy your property through the Right to Buy scheme, swap your home with another local authority housing tenant and transfer your tenancy to someone else in certain circumstances. Only under a secure tenancy can you make changes to your home

You will need to read your tenancy agreement or speak to your landlord to be sure of your rights.

If you live in local authority housing you will be a tenant who pays rent to the local council. Depending on your situation you may be eligible to claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit to pay towards your rent.

If you want to move within your current area then you will need to speak to your local authority's housing department - see below.

If you want to move to another area then there are various schemes to help you to do this, but speak to your council's housing department first.

The HomeSwapper website may be able to assist you to find someone in that area who wants to swap with you.

Housing Moves is the Mayor of London's housing mobility scheme that allows tenants of London boroughs or housing associations to move outside their existing borough to a different part of London. It is run by the Greater London Authority and the majority of London boroughs and housing associations are participating.

The Seaside and Country Homes scheme is also run by the Mayor of London and provides bungalows and flats for council or housing association tenants over the age of 60 who want to move out of the city to a seaside or country location.

In Kensington and Chelsea the council provides a Mutual Exchange Scheme  for people who are already housing association or Council tenants and want to swap their property with another tenant.

Exchange Locata (not for Westminster residents) is a direct, online social housing exchange service for tenants and landlords.

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Housing Department
Ground Floor Reception - Town Hall
Hornton Street, W8 7NX
Tel:- Housingline: 020 7361 3008
Fax:- 020 7368 0328
Email: housing@rbkc.gov.uk

If you want to find your local housing office, or speak to someone about repairs, paying your rent, making a complaint, or any other issue then you can find details here.

Westminster

Housing Options Service
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP
Contact us

And Westminster have produced a leaflet on all aspects of finding somewhere to live, including in the private sector.

If you want to find your local housing office, or speak to someone about repairs, paying your rent, making a complaint, or any other issue then you can find details here.

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

H&F Advice 
Ground floor - 145-155 King Street 
Hammersmith 
London W6 9XY
Telephone: 020 8753 4198
Email: housingadvice@lbhf.gov.uk
Or Contact us

If you are already a council tenant and want to find your local office, or speak to someone about repairs, paying your rent, making a complaint, or any other query, please contact us.

Obtaining legal advice

If you think you want legal advice in relation to a housing issue then you can get more information on our Obtaining legal advice page.

General

You can find more information on applying for local authority housing on the government's website.

Shelter also provide detailed information on your rights to local authority housing.

Homeless UK provides a searchable directory to help you to find your local council's housing department.

Stonewall Housing have helped thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to find safe and secure homes.

Westminster

If you would like to receive independent advice on housing, or on benefits, legal issues, accessing care and support, your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact Citizens Advice Westminster

Kensington and Chelsea

Nucleus offer confidential and free legal advice and assistance to people living in Kensington and Chelsea on a variety of issues, including on housing issues.