Social homes, sometimes referred to as ‘council homes’ are provided by local councils and housing associations (not-for-profit organisations that own, let, and manage rented housing.
To access social housing, you will need to register with your local council.
Each council will have its own rules on who can apply and who has priority for homes but you’ll most likely need to:
- Be on a low income and/or not have large savings
- Have lived in the area for a number of years, or have a job or family there, this is called a ‘local connection’
You will be allocated points depending on your needs. The points help councils to ensure those most in need are provided with accommodation first. If your health condition is the main reason for moving you will need to build a ‘case’ by detailing why your current accommodation is unsuitable and causing ‘significant hardship’ or increasing the risk of an ‘emergency’, such as a lack of a ramp increasing your chance of a fall.
You apply for social housing through your local council, some housing associations also require you to apply directly to them, the council should be able to provide you with details about housing associations in the area. You will need to provide evidence of your income and savings. This is also the time to apply to the ‘priority list’ if your impairment means you require certain type of housing, such as a bungalow if you are a wheelchair user. Council’s priority allocation scheme can differ, but you’re more likely to be added if you’re:
- Legally homeless or the council has a duty to find you accommodation if you’re homeless.
- Moving due to your impairment or other long- term, serious health condition.
- Moving to a different area due to ‘hardship’. This could be because you are in danger, take up a new job or for medical treatment.
- Currently in a home which is overcrowded or in poor condition.
It is likely you will be waiting a long time, even if you’re on the priority list in your area. If you don’t feel the council has given you enough priority you can ask them to review their decision.
Councils and housing associations have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so you can access the housing application process. This could include providing the application in an accessible format, support to complete the application and advice on bidding for properties.
Many housing associations and some councils offer housing support. Housing support is there to enable someone to manage day to day while living in their home. This can include help budgeting and paying bills, emotional support and help to pursue social or leisure interests.
If you’re renting privately you still have certain rights and your landlord has key responsibilities, including:
- Keeping the property safe and free from hazards
- Making sure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
- Providing an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Securely protect your deposit in a government approved scheme.
If you are finding it difficult to access basic facilities in your home, or feel unsafe moving around your property, you may benefit from a home adaptation. If the adaptation costs less than £1000, your council or local health board should provide this for free. If the cost is over £1000, you will need to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) from your local housing authority, DFG’s are generally means-tested.
If you privately rent, you still have the right to adaptions. You will need the permission of your landlord to make changes to the property, however they cannot refuse unless they have ‘reasonable grounds’ for doing so. You will also need your landlord to confirm, alongside you, that you plan to stay in the property for the next five years.
Housing advice can be sought from a number of organisations:
- Shelter offers in-depth advice about renting and your rights. They can be contacted through webchat
- Citizens Advice also offers Advice on a range of housing issues.