Choice-based lettings

A choice-based lettings scheme gives you the chance to bid for council and housing association properties that your council advertises.

Who can use choice-based lettings schemes?

If your council uses choice-based lettings, people on the housing waiting list who are looking for a council or housing association home can use the scheme.

Existing council or housing association tenants who want to transfer may also be able to use the scheme.

Not all councils use choice-based lettings. A council may make direct offers of council housing as well or instead.

Check local ads and online for homes

Council and housing association homes you can bid for are usually listed online. Sometimes they may also be listed in leaflets and newsletters that are available in local libraries, housing offices and community centres.

The listings explain who can bid for each property. For example the listing may say a property is for an elderly person or for a household with a two-bedroom need.

The council may issue a new listing each week or month.

Make your bid

You must meet any restrictions for the property. In most areas, you can bid online, by phone, by text or by post. Check with your council.

Some councils limit the number of properties you can bid for in one go.

Bids are prioritised

Usually, the bidder with the highest priority for council housing gets first refusal of a property that has been advertised.

If that bidder turns down the property, the next person on the list gets the chance to see it. Several applicants may be invited to view a property at the same time. The council can set local rules about priority.

Before it gives you the tenancy of a property, the council usually checks that all the information you gave in your application is still correct.

Urgent housing needs and homelessness

Your council must give you some priority on the housing waiting list if you are legally homeless.

If the council has accepted a duty to rehouse you as a homeless person it may automatically bid for properties that are suitable for you. This is called proxy bidding. You may have to take the property the council offers.

Don't turn down an offer of a home without getting advice. Your temporary accommodation could end and the council may not have to offer you another property.

Choice-based lettings for disabled people

The council should make reasonable adjustments so that you are not disadvantaged by choice-based lettings schemes if you are disabled.

Adjustments could include giving you extra time to bid and providing information in an accessible format such as Braille or an audio recording.

If a property is suitable for adaptation for disabled applicants, the council should give additional priority to disabled people who bid.

Lack of large homes

If you have a big family, bid for any large homes that are advertised. Such properties are rare.

Homes next to each other are sometimes let together. This can be useful for large extended families who need to live close together.

Help to use a choice-based lettings scheme

The council should take reasonable steps to make choice-based lettings schemes accessible. It should help you understand how the scheme works, especially when you first join.

Ask the council to help you with bidding if you have difficulty with the process.

Get advice about choice-based lettings

Get advice if you have problems using choice-based lettings or you're not sure about accepting an offer of a home.

An adviser may be able to help you:

  • increase your chances of being offered a home
  • check that you have the right priority
  • tell the council why you think a property is unsuitable
  • challenge a decision the council has made about your application

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person

Last updated 06 Oct 2016 | © Shelter

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