Renting a home

Find out how you can rent a home from a housing association.

How can I rent a housing association property?

Housing associations work with local authorities to meet local housing needs. Most areas operate a central waiting list for all council and housing association properties, although some housing associations do keep their own waiting lists.

Who is eligible?

Most people who live in the UK are eligible for a council or housing association home. But the fact that a person is eligible for housing does not guarantee an allocation - affordable housing is in short supply in the UK, and there is high demand for the available homes.

How do I apply?

Procedures will vary from one local authority to another, but all local authorities must follow certain rules:

  • first you must get an application form from the housing department at your local authority or housing association (some are available to download from the relevant website)
  • your local council may have transferred their homes to a housing association - if so, the council will probably still keep a housing register that acts as a joint waiting list for properties from the council and housing associations in your area.

How do councils and housing associations decide who to house first?

All applications are assessed and prioritised on the applicants' housing needs. 'Reasonable preference' must be given to people who are homeless, living in unsanitary, overcrowded properties or on welfare grounds.

In addition to granting 'reasonable preference', local authorities and housing associations may also grant extra priority on the basis of need, such as:

  • your medical needs, which may require you to be rehoused
  • your accommodation was provided as part of your employment, but you have now left your job
  • you have suffered domestic abuse or racial or sexual harassment in your own home

These are only examples, and may or may not form part of your local allocations policy. You should contact your local council or housing association for a copy of their allocation policy.

Allocations Schemes

Local authorities and housing associations in your area will use one of the following ways to allocate homes.

Traditional (point based) allocation schemes

Once the local authority has received your application form, it will assess your case based on the information you have provided. After an assessment, your application will be awarded a number of points.

The number of points you have is used to assess your priority. When you reach the top of the housing waiting list, you will be allocated the next available property which is suitable for your needs.

You should seek immediate advice if you feel you have been allocated a property which is unsuitable - you could be dropped to the bottom of the waiting list, or suspended completely, if you reject a property you are offered.

Choice based lettings

Once the local authority has received your application form, you will be able to put in bids for properties that are suitable for your needs from a list of properties advertised (this may be on the internet and/or local press).

Once bids have been received, the property is allocated to the bidder with the highest priority under the scheme. Allocations are made to those with the longest waiting times and those with the most urgent housing needs first. The responsibility is on you as the applicant to bid for properties.

Direct applications

You can apply directly to housing associations for accommodation, but it is also advisable to apply for an allocation through your local council. Assessment criteria will vary from housing association to housing association; each will have their own processes. Please contact the housing association you wish to apply to for more information.


Some statutory and voluntary organisations (for example, probation, social services, or some refuges) may have arrangements with local housing associations. Please contact the housing association you wish to apply to for more information.

The Federation is not able to advise on individual suitability or eligibility for the schemes.