This content applies to England only.
Housing laws vary between England and Scotland. Get advice relating to Scotland
Housing associations are the main providers of new not-for-profit housing in England, with around 3.5 million people living in housing association accommodation. They are also known as registered social landlords (RSLs) or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing (PRPSHs).
Housing associations do not make a profit. Any money they do make is put back into improving existing homes and helping to build new ones.
See our pages on housing association tenancies for more information about the rights you would have if you get a housing association tenancy.
Applying for a rented housing association place
If you want to get a rented housing association home, you will normally have to apply to go on a waiting list. In most areas, there is a central system for deciding who gets all council and housing association homes, but some housing associations also keep their own separate waiting lists.
To contact housing associations in your area and find out how to apply direct - you can:
- search for housing associations in your area
- ask your local council for their details, or
- look in the Yellow Pages.
But make sure you also apply through your local council's central waiting list as this will increase your chances of getting a place. You can get application forms and information from the housing department of your local council, and most councils will have these forms on their websites.
Buying a home through a housing association
If you are already a housing association tenant, you may be able to buy the property you currently rent. This may be possible through:
- the Right to Acquire – similar to the Right to Buy, this scheme allows some housing association tenants to purchase their rented home at a discount
- Social Homebuy - a Government-backed scheme allowing you to buy between 25 and 100 per cent of the property you currently rent, usually on a shared ownership leasehold basis.
If you want to buy a property other than the one you currently rent, or you are not already renting from a housing association, you may be able to buy a home on a shared ownership basis, or through an equity loan with the help of a housing association through a number of other home ownership schemes.
Further advice and information on housing association policies
Contact the relevant housing association directly to get more information on their policies for letting out their property. You can also download Shelter's free guide to Housing association tenancies.
If you are not happy with a decision made by a housing association you can make a complaint.