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Finding accommodation in a housing co-operative

This content applies to England

Advantages and disadvantages of living in a housing co-operative, and how to find accommodation in one.

For some people, particularly young and single people, the option of living in a housing co-operative may be the best available.


There are a number of advantages to living in a housing co-operative, including:

  • it can provide good quality housing at a reasonable rent
  • tenants have collective control over how their housing is run
  • tenants may receive support from other tenants
  • in learning how to manage their own housing, tenants may learn new skills such as decision-making, budgeting and how to carry out minor repairs.


Drawbacks to living in a housing co-operative include:

  • the co-operative may take up more time and energy than a tenant is willing to give
  • occupiers may not have much security of tenure (see the page below for information about Occupiers' rights).

How to find accommodation

If a person is interested in living in a housing co-operative, s/he should:

  • apply to the local authority's housing register as this may be a requirement to be on a housing co-operative's waiting list. See the section on the Allocation of local authority housing for more information about how to apply to the housing register
  • ask the local authority's housing department for a nomination to a local housing co-operative. Local authorities may be reluctant to do this unless they have a duty to the person under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (see the section on the Duties of local authorities to homeless people for more information)
  • write to any housing co-operatives in the area to find out the likelihood of vacancies and keep in regular contact with them. The local authority or a local advice centre will usually have details of housing co-operatives operating in their area(s).

Housing co-operatives without office workers can be difficult to contact. Not all of them operate waiting lists and it is unusual for housing co-operatives to have a vacancy. It is difficult for housing co-operatives to attract funding for development and, without expanding the number of properties in the housing co-operative, their ability to provide housing for people other than existing tenants is limited.


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

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