Apply for a council home

You apply for council housing through your local council.

Each council has its own rules.

You’ll usually have to join a waiting list and you’re not guaranteed to get a property. Ask your council how long you’re likely to have to wait.

You can apply if you’re 18 or over (some councils let you apply if you’re 16 or over).

You may be able to apply even if you do not live in the area.

Waiting lists

Councils decide who gets offered housing based on a ‘points’ or ‘banding’ system.

Points and bands are based on housing need. For example, you’re likely to be offered housing first if you:

  • are homeless
  • live in cramped conditions
  • have a medical condition made worse by your current home

Once you’re high enough on the list, your council will contact you about an available property.

Choice-based lettings

Some councils have a choice-based letting scheme. This lets you tell your council which properties you’re interested in. It depends on the council, but once you’ve been accepted onto the waiting list, the basic steps are:

  1. Find a property: check in local papers, on council websites, in council offices or in local libraries.

  2. Check you can apply for it: some properties are only suitable for single people, families or disabled people.

  3. Apply: this is known as ‘bidding’, but it does not involve money. You can bid online, by phone or by text.

  4. Get the council’s decision.

Getting an offer

Normally you only have a short time to accept a housing offer. If you do not accept it, you can usually stay on the waiting list (or bid for other properties), but you may be put lower down the list.

You may be taken off the list temporarily if you keep rejecting offers.

You can appeal if you’re not happy with your council’s decision.