Help if your home is overcrowded

Find out what your options are if there's not enough room to live in your home.

Apply for council housing

You can apply to the council for housing if your home is overcrowded. 

Your priority on the council housing waiting list depends on the rules in your area. You can find these in the housing allocations policy on your council's website.

Find your local council on GOV.UK

Your council may be unable to find you a home that's big enough if there's a shortage of larger properties in your area.

Sometimes the council might house your family in 2 homes. You may be able to get housing benefit or universal credit on both properties.

Check if your home is overcrowded by law

Find out if your home counts as illegally overcrowded. Some councils may give you higher priority on their waiting list if it is.

Transfer to a larger council or housing association home

You can apply for a transfer to another property in the area if you're a council or housing association tenant.

There's usually a waiting list for transfers but you should get some priority if your home is overcrowded.

Mutual exchange

You can also use mutual exchange to swap homes with another council or housing association tenant anywhere in the UK.

You might not be allowed to swap homes if:

  • the property you want to move to is too big or too small for you
  • your property is too big or too small for the tenant who wants to move in

Look for a larger private rented home

You may be able to find a larger private rented homeMost private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy.

If you’re a council or housing association tenant, get advice before giving up your home as you may not be able to get another one. Council and housing association tenants usually have:

  • better protection from eviction
  • longer tenancies
  • lower rent levels

Help with rent in a private tenancy

Private tenants can claim housing benefit or universal credit to help pay the rent.

The maximum benefit you get could be reduced if:

  • you have more bedrooms than the government says you need
  • your home has more than 4 bedrooms
  • the benefit cap applies to you

If your rent is more than the benefit you receive, you have to pay any rent shortfall. Apply for a discretionary housing payment if you need help with this.

There are rules that limit the amount of housing benefit or universal credit which can be paid on homes in the private rented sector.

Make a homelessness application

You can apply to the council as homeless if your home is so overcrowded that it's unreasonable for you to continue living there. You may need an environmental health officer from your council to inspect your home to decide if it's overcrowded.

Even if your home is considered overcrowded by law, you might not be entitled to help.

If the council offer you a tenancy, it could be a:

  • private tenancy
  • council or housing association home

Don't leave an overcrowded home before the council makes a decision on your homeless application. The council may decide you are intentionally homeless.

Last updated 13 December 2019 | © Shelter

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