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How to move up the council housing waiting list

There are not enough council and housing association homes in most areas.

But you could get a council home quicker if you have more priority on the waiting list.

Tell the council if your housing needs become more urgent.

Challenge the council if you think they gave you the wrong band or points.

Find the allocations policy

This explains how your council:

  • gives priority to certain groups

  • makes offers from the housing register

Find your council's website on GOV.UK and search for 'housing allocations policy'.

Ask the council for a copy if you cannot find it on their website.

Allocations policies are often long but some councils have a summary.

Check if you have the right priority

Search the council's allocations policy for 'reasonable preference'.

Some groups of people must get 'reasonable preference'. This means they must get some priority for council and housing association homes.

You must get reasonable preference if you:

  • are homeless or at risk of violence

  • live in overcrowded or very bad housing conditions

  • need to move for health, disability or welfare reasons

Some councils also give priority or points to other groups. For example, people who need a new place to live because their home is being demolished for development.

Find out more about who usually gets priority for council housing.

Tell the council if your situation changes

Let the council know if a change in your income, health or housing situation puts you in urgent need.

Tell them straight away if:

Rent arrears

You might get less priority if you have a history of rent arrears. This is more likely if you owe rent to the council.

Sometimes it can help if you agree a plan with the council to pay back the money.

Find out where to get help with debts.

Antisocial behaviour

You might get less priority if you or anyone in your household has a history of antisocial behaviour.

Tell the council if:

  • the person responsible for the behaviour has moved out

  • you're getting help for a mental health condition that made your behaviour worse.

Ask for a review

You can do this if you think the council made a mistake.

For example, if they:

  • ignored your housing conditions

  • did not include everyone in your household

  • did not look at your health and welfare needs properly

  • made a mistake about your local connection to the area

  • unfairly gave you a lower band or points for rent arrears or antisocial behaviour

The council should tell you how long you have to ask for a review when you join the housing register.

You often have about 3 weeks to ask for a review.

How to ask for a review

Tell the council if they:

  • made a mistake

  • have not followed the law or their allocations policy

Say why you think they gave you the wrong priority.

Let the council know if you plan to send extra information later.

Send more information

The council might set a deadline for giving more information.

Send the council evidence if you need more priority because of:

  • health problems

  • disability

  • welfare issues

Show the council letters from health professionals, social workers or support staff.

Contact the environmental health department at the council if you have problems with repairs. A report could increase your priority.

Ask the council how long the review will take

Give the council 2 months to do the review.

The council might offer a meeting to talk about your case.

The council should write to tell you what they decide.

They must give reasons for their decision.

Make a complaint

You cannot usually challenge a review decision.

But you can complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if you're unhappy with:

  • the way the council has treated you

  • how they dealt with your application or review, even if the review was successful

Last updated: 7 April 2024

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