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Local authority allocations duties

This content applies to England

A local authority's duties in relation to applications for accommodation.

Local authorities are required to have an allocation scheme determining priorities for the allocation of accommodation and the procedures to be followed.[1] They are not required to maintain a housing register. Most allocation schemes give applicants for an allocation either a certain number of 'points' or place them in a group or 'band', depending on their circumstances.  See the section Priorities and preference for more information about what factors authorities should take into account in their allocation schemes, and how they can prioritise between applicants.

Local authority duties

A local housing authority must:[2]

  • not allocate housing accommodation unless in accordance with the allocations scheme[3]
  • provide free advice and information about the right to make an application for housing accommodation
  • provide free assistance in making an application to those who may have difficulty doing so
  • inform all applicants about their rights to request information about how their application is likely to be treated
  • inform all applicants about their right to request information about whether suitable accommodation is likely to be provided and, if so, how long this is likely to take
  • consider every application, provided it is made according to the requirements of the authority's allocation scheme
  • ensure that the operation of their allocations points systems is clear under the allocation scheme[4]
  • provide a summary of the allocation scheme to any member of the public who requests one[5]
  • not inform any other member of the public that a person is an applicant without the applicant's consent.

Find details of local authorities on

No duty of care

A local authority does not owe each individual applicant for its scheme a duty of care. See the page Information, offers and reviews for details.

Preparing or modifying an allocation scheme

In preparing or modifying its allocation scheme the local authority must have regard to:[6]

  • its homelessness strategy
  • its tenancy strategy (local authorities had until 15 January 2013 to prepare and publish this)
  • any statutory guidance on allocations
  • for London boroughs only, the London housing strategy.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.167(1) Housing Act 1996.

[2] s.166A Housing Act 1996, as inserted by s.147 Localism Act 2011.

[3] s.167(8) Housing Act 1996.

[4] s.167(1) Housing Act 1996 and R (on the application of Lin) v Barnet LBC [2007] EWCA Civ 132; R (on the application of C) v Islington LBC [2017] EWHC 1288 (Admin).

[5] s.168 Housing Act 1996.

[6] s.166A(12) Housing Act 1996, as inserted by s.147 Localism Act 2011.

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