Choice-based lettings – bidding for properties that become available
Many councils run a ‘choice-based lettings’ scheme. It gives you the opportunity to tell your council which properties you’re interested in, instead of the council deciding what you will be offered. Find out about this method of allocating council housing and how to ‘bid’ (apply) for a property.
Choice-based lettings - the
To apply for a council property you usually
need to be on your council's housing waiting list (sometimes known
as a 'housing register').
Once you've joined the waiting list, you
should be able to use your council's choice-based lettings scheme
to let them know which properties you're interested in.
There are rules about what properties you can
express an interest in. Expressing an interest in a property is
known as 'bidding'. There is no cost involved in bidding and it has
nothing to do with money. See the section 'Bidding - a step by step
guide' for more detail. Find your local council Opens new window
Bidding - a step by step guide
Expressing an interest in a property is known as 'bidding' -
there's no cost involved in bidding and it has nothing to do with
Different councils run their schemes in different ways. The
basic steps are shown below but check with your council.
Step 1: find a property
Properties are advertised:
- in local papers
- on council websites
- in council and housing association offices - often as a weekly
or fortnightly leaflet you can take away
- in local libraries
The advert will tell you about the property - for example, its
layout, the number of bedrooms, if it has a garden etc. It will
also contain details about who is eligible to bid for a
Step 2: check you're eligible to bid
Check the advert to make sure you're eligible to bid for a
property. The advert should tell you:
- if the property is suitable for a single person, couple or
- about any other criteria you need to meet - for example,
adapted properties may be offered only to disabled
The council will check you meet the criteria.
You should bid before the deadline - it doesn't matter who bids
first because all bids are looked at together
Step 3: make your bid
Check the advert to see when the deadline is and make sure you
bid before the deadline.
You can usually do this online, by telephone or by text. If
you're already on the waiting list you may have a personal
applicant number - this identifies you when bidding.
Some councils limit the number of bids you can make within a
certain period. For example, you may only be able to bid for one or
two properties a week.
Step 4: the council's
It doesn't matter who bids first, all bids
are looked at together.
Council homes are normally offered to the
people who need them most. For example, if you're homeless or
currently live in cramped conditions. To find out more about how
council housing is allocated, see the link 'Apply for a council
Councils don't contact people who are
unsuccessful because of the amount of applicants they have to deal
with. They might provide feedback about properties that have been
let on their website or in newsletters.
If you're offered a property
Normally, you'll only have a short time to accept an offer. If
you don't accept it, you can usually still bid for other
If you keep rejecting offers, you may be taken temporarily off
the waiting list.