What is a Council House?

Mar 2nd, 2004, 07:06 PM
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What is a Council House?

While watching BBC America I will hear the term Council House. What does it mean does it mean low income housing? Thanks
yeadonite is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2004, 07:44 PM
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In the UK when people refer to "the council" they usually mean the local (city) government, thus "council housing" means publicly-owned housing. It does not necessarily mean "low income housing" in the sense of "public housing" in the US, but there certainly are many thousands of units that serve low-income folks. In parts of Britain the ratio of council housing to private housing was very high, a majority of units in some locations, unlike N. America.

Various schemes aimed at selling council units to sitting tenants, transferring ownership to associations (like nonprofits in the US), and so on, most of them politically motivated, have come and gone.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2004, 03:55 AM
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Yes - it is public housing - but more like New York - where there used to be some public housing for middle income people (now mostly sold off to the renters though) as well as for the indigent. But rather than being all high-rise apartments - a lot of it is tiny little bungalows in "estates" (developments) in suburban areas or small towns.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2004, 04:02 AM
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Thanks for the answers Gardyloo & NYTraveler. NYTraveler my dad lives in the NY middle income housing (Mitchell Lama) so I was trying to get a frame of reference.
yeadonite is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2004, 07:02 AM
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Actually "estate" equates with "project" in the US; they can be low-rise, high-rise ("towers") or mixed.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2004, 08:47 AM
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"Project" is usually used - at least in New York - for a group of public housing apartment houses. If they're small separate houses it wouldn't be a "project" but a "development"
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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Sorry to bring this old thread up again but is there a way to tell a council house. In some lovely areas of Swiss cottage/ Primrose hill there are some old run down buildings that dont fit in with the areas architecture. Just curious.
yeadonite is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 01:56 PM
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Council houses are usually grouped together in 'estates'. The houses you have seen are probably privately-owned houses whose owners have died/moved away/not maintained them. Sometimes the local council will buy and renovate old characterful houses and rent them out as council houses/flats.
gertie3751 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 02:16 PM
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no yeadonite, i don't think those are council houses. most council properties would not be grossly neglected as the council takes some responsibility for them. many old people have very expensive houses but are quite poor...not uncommon here.

council houses are subsidised so they are generally the domain of people who are on benefits. references to them in books, tv, movies are meant to stir images of people on the dole. no judgement at all just trying to explain in a more cultural context.

many council flats and houses have a certain look as many were built in the 50s (after the war took out a lot of housing stock). a property will generally retain the stigma of being "ex-council" forever after being privatised.

the trellick tower is a council block in london...one of my favourite buildings in the city. find it when you visit notting hill.

probably much more than you wanted to know.
walkinaround is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 02:51 PM
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Not everyone who lives/has lived in council housing is on the dole, or any type of benefit. Many low-income people who could not otherwise afford housing live there. Rental property is more comon in the UK now, but in the fairly recent past you either bought a house or flat or lived in a council house. Many people have bought the council houses they live in.
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Jun 20th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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There are virtually no council houses left, especially in reasonably central London. Virtually all were sold to their tenants in the 1980s, and most remaining houses were then sold to what Americans would call not-for-profit organisations: we call them Housing Associations. They can mostly be spotted by their relatively recent front doors (people who bought the under-maintained houses councils had previously owned immediately refurbed them, most visibly adding neo-Georgian sapele front doors)

What's left in public ownership in boroughs like Camden and Islington is a small number of flats (as opposed to houses), retained for difficult-to-place families, and usually in the least saleable complexes.

This may well be what yeadonite's seeing. We'd call them council estates, rather than council houses. If they're houses, I'm struggling to place them. There are a few unmodernised houses in the area, mostly rented out to relatively poor people and still, till the current tenant dies, enjoying some socialist-era rent protection. But they're always in architectural keeping with the rest of the terrace.

I'm intrigued now about what yeadonite's got in mind. Could you identify the street?
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for the further clarification.

walkinaround your information was very informative. The price of real Estate and even rentals is staggering even for a NYer. I love it here but could never afford living here.
yeadonite is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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>>>>
Not everyone who lives/has lived in council housing is on the dole, or any type of benefit. Many low-income people who could not otherwise afford housing live there.
>>>>>

Almost all, if not all council houses are rented to tenants below market value , therefore there all tenants are on a type of benefit.

Council housing is not dead. Local councils routinely still own houses that they rent out or the councils will rent privately owned properties at market rates and re-let them to council tenants at a subsidised rate.
walkinaround is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 04:27 PM
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You're right, walkinaround, they get the "benefit" of paying less for housing.
Barbara is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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No, Yeadonite, we can't afford to live there either, that's why we're all over here.
gertie3751 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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yeadonite,
I always thought Council housing and Co-Op City to be the same sort of thing.
Low/fixed income housing provided by the City.
(of course, my idea came from the sight of CoOp City as we drove by, and the Council housing on Prime Suspect and films with Gabriel Byrne in them)
Scarlett is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 05:42 PM
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Social housing in Britain has a very different history than its counterpart movements in North America. (I happen to work in the biz in the US and did my time in it in Britain too so forgive any oh so subtle biases.)

The US has tried taking a page from Meg's book regarding spinning off publicly-controlled housing, with results that are, shall we say, mediocre. And in Britain, the privatisation orgy left a lot of lower income folks paddling in its wake. But that message was lost on certain ruling classes in the US.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 20th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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No - it's not really the same as co-op city. That was built specifically to be co-ops - sold originally to the tenants. It was just low cost - as it was in an incomvenient neighborhood and is quite unattractive/unpleasant housing.

I believe there were income limits originally for purchase - but not nearly as strict as for low income city housing projects - for which you must be below the poverty level (I think it's below $24,000 per year for a couple - and on up depending on how many kids there are).

I don;t know of the limits to qualify for middle income housing - since there is hardly any left - most has been forcibly sold off.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 02:31 PM
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To the comments that council housing is subsidised and therefore the tenants are on benefits.

Council houses are run on a not-for-profit basis, which is why they are cheaper than commercial renting. However, the rents collected have to cover the total cost of the maintenance/management/servicing etc etc that happens, so no money is put in by the council. Councils are not permitted to put any other funding, other than from rents, into their housing stock. Therefore they are not subsidised in any way - the tenants pay the total cost of the housing - it is just lower as it is non-profit. council house tenants pay exactly the same council tax, utilities, water rates, sewage rates etc as everyone else.

The receipt of housing benefit (assistance with rent) is the same whether you are renting a council or privately owned house, or have a mortgage on a property of your own.(after a qualifying period)
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 03:31 PM
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Have to correct someone here. Not all council house residents pay below market rates for rent. My husband's aunt and uncle live in a council house and before their daughters moved out, they were paying exactly what private renters were paying on the estate. What you pay is based on your household income, and since the daughters were working full-time, they had to pay the full whack.
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