Applying for social rented housing

The first step to securing an affordable rented home is to register with your local authority (or council) in the area where you wish to live. All housing associations and local authorities let this way in what is known as the choice-based lettings scheme. 

A list of local authority websites across our area of operation can be found in our Useful links section.

What happens?

All the councils we work with give the same consideration to housing families or individuals regardless of whether you are already living in social housing (with us or another housing provider).

Each council has their own method of assessing housing applications but each system is based on housing need. For example you may be assessed as having a higher need if you are overcrowded or have medical problems which are made worse by your current home.

The council will therefore assess your situation from the information you give them. However, most councils now require you to have a “local connection” to their area in order to give you any priority. In some areas you will not be able to go on the council’s housing register (list) unless you have a local connection.

What does ‘local connection’ mean?

Usually this means that you live in the council area, you have close family living there or that you work in the area.

For some councils, you need to have lived in the area for a set amount of time (for example for the last three years or two years out of the last five) in order to be able to apply to that council for a move. Similar rules will apply to how long your family has lived in the area or how long you have worked there. You should check the council’s website or give them a call if you need more information on their “local connection” rules. 

What if I want to move to another area where I don’t have a local connection?

If you already live in social housing the best way to move to an area in these circumstances is to find another social housing customer to swap with

How will I be offered a property?

All the councils we work with operate the the choice-based lettings system we described above. This means that they advertise all the rented properties available in their area. These properties may belong to us, another housing association or to the council themselves.

How does it work?

  1. Properties are advertised online. You can look at the basic property information such as number of bedrooms, rent amount and if it has a garden. Properties will be advertised for a set amount of time known as the ‘bidding cycle’. Most councils advertise on a fortnightly basis, but some advertise weekly.
  2. Once you are registered with the council for a move you can place a ‘bid’ online for the properties you are interested in. You can bid for any landlord’s property, not just those that belong to us. Bidding doesn't mean you have to pay any money – it simply means you are registering an interest in a particular home.  If you can't access the internet please speak to the council you are registered with about alternative ways to bid for properties.
  3. Once the advert has closed there will be a shortlist of people who have said they are interested in each property. The council will look at this list in priority order. If there are several people with the same priority they will be looked at in date order based on the date they were accepted onto the housing register. The person at the top of the shortlist will usually be first to be offered the property.

How long will it take for me to be offered a property?

This will depend on what sort of property you want to move to and the area(s) where you wish to live.

Generally, you are likely to get a move more quickly if you look at exchanging your property as there are usually far more people on council waiting lists wanting to move than there are properties available. You can look for an exchange at the same time as being registered with the council for a transfer.

If you are on a council waiting list you are more likely to get a move if you are willing to consider flats as well as houses and if you are prepared to consider different areas. Most choice-based letting systems allow you to bid for up to three properties each time A council will not offer you a property if you do not bid for it so remember to check the website regularly.