Many local councils and housing associations use Choice Based Lettings (CBL) schemes to advertise the majority of their homes. These scheme allows you to decide where you want to live and what home is most suitable for you.
Not all councils use CBL, some also make direct offers, therefore we recommend you visit your local council website for more details.
To apply for a council property you usually need to be on a housing provider’s waiting list (sometimes known as a 'housing register').
Once you've joined the waiting list, you should be able to use the housing providers CBL 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' however there is no cost involved in bidding and it has nothing to do with money.
If you’re wanting to move away from where you live now, you may be able to register with that areas CBL scheme through local housing providers. However, some schemes will only accept you if you have a local connection to that area, such as a relative who lives there.
Different councils run their schemes in different ways.
The general steps are shown below, but check with your council.
Find your local council
Step 1 – Find a property
Properties are advertised as follows:
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 the property.
Step 2 – Check you are eligible to bid
Check the advert to make sure you're eligible to bid for a property.
The advert should tell you:
The housing provider 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 this date.
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 housing providers 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 housing providers’ decision
It doesn't matter who bids first, all bids are looked at together.
Council and housing association homes are normally offered to the people who need them most.
For example, if you're homeless or currently live in cramped conditions.
Housing providers 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.
You’ve been offered the 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 properties but you may be put lower down the list.
If you keep rejecting offers, you may be taken temporarily off the waiting list.