How councils allocate housing

Council housing allocation schemes set out who can get a council or housing association home.

What a housing allocation scheme says

Each council has a scheme which sets out the rules for how the council allocates housing in their area.

A council's housing allocation scheme should tell you:

  • who can apply to go on the council's waiting list
  • who gets priority for housing
  • if you need a connection to the area
  • the size of property you could get

Where to find your council's allocation scheme

The allocation scheme should be on your council's website.

You can usually find leaflets explaining the scheme at the housing office or local libraries.

Who gets priority for housing

Councils must give some priority for housing to people who:

How council homes are allocated

Councils usually allocate council and housing association homes through:

Your council might use one or both systems.

Ask the council if any local housing associations have a separate waiting list. Sometimes you can apply directly to a housing association list.

How long you will wait for a home

Council and housing association homes are in short supply in most areas.

Your chances of getting a home depend on:

  • if housing is available in your area
  • your priority on the waiting list
  • the type and size of home you want
  • if other people on the waiting list have more priority

You may have to wait years for a council or housing association home. People with less priority may not get a home.

If you need to move home quickly, consider other options such as renting privately or applying as homeless.

How to challenge an allocation decision

You can ask for a review if you disagree with a decision that the council has made - for example, if you think you should be given higher priority for council housing.

Get advice if you want to challenge a council waiting list decision


Last updated 07 May 2019 | © Shelter

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