How to apply for council housing

You can apply for housing by joining the council's housing list.

Ask the council how to apply

Most councils have online application forms for the housing register on their website.

You can also contact the council directly for an application form.

Housing associations and other organisations manage applications in some areas

Check if you can apply

You can usually apply if you:

You can make a joint application if you are married, have a civil partner or a partner who lives with you.

If one of you isn't eligible because of your immigration status, the eligible person can still apply

Choose which council to apply to

Some councils have an open housing register. You can apply as long as you meet immigration conditions.

Most councils decide their own rules on who can apply.

You can apply to more than one council. You can be on several lists at the same time if you qualify.

Waiting lists may be shorter in areas with less demand.

Some councils give more priority to people with a local connection to the area. Check the council's rules before you apply.

Complete the application form

The information you include on your application form helps the council decide:

  • if you're eligible to apply for council housing
  • your priority on the waiting list

Explain in detail any special needs, difficulties or problems you or your family have - for example, if you have mobility problems.

You should also include relevant information about problems in your current home, such as:

  • overcrowding
  • disrepair
  • no adaptations for medical problems or disability
  • violence or harassment

Get letters from your doctor or other health professionals to support your application if you have medical or welfare needs.

Say where you want to live

The application form may ask you to select where you want to live in the local area.

Choosing more areas gives you a better chance of getting a home.

Some councils run choice based lettings schemes. The council advertises properties and you bid for the property if it suits your needs and is in an area where you want to live.

Other councils offer properties directly so they need to know if you want to live in a certain area.

If you refuse a suitable offer, the council may remove you from the list or not offer other properties for a time

Keep your application up to date

You must tell the council if your circumstances change. For example, if you have a baby or a new household member or move home.

Changes in your circumstances can affect:

Some councils contact you each year to ask if you still want to be on the waiting list.

You may be removed from the list if you don't reply.

Still need help?

Ask for a review if the council says you can't go on the housing register and you think the decision is wrong.

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person.


Last updated 26 Apr 2019 | © Shelter

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