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Apply for Council housing and housing association

Apply for a home

Housing associations offer similar types of housing as local councils – often to people on a low income or who need extra support.

You can apply:

  • directly to a housing association
  • often through your local council

You can apply to more than one housing association at a time.

Waiting list

Once you apply, you’ll be put on a waiting list.

Housing associations normally offer housing to people most suited to that particular property. You may have to wait a long time for a suitable property to become available.

Housing associations are also known as Registered Social Landlords or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing.


Types of tenancy

Your rights and responsibilities depend on the type of tenancy you have.

Your tenancy agreement is a legal document that tells you all the rules about living in your property.

Starter tenancy

New housing association tenants may be offered a starter tenancy. These usually last 12 months and are like a ‘trial’ period.

You become an assured or fixed term tenant after 12 months, unless your housing association has either:

  • started action to evict you
  • extended your starter tenancy

Assured and fixed-term tenancies

At the end of your starter tenancy you’ll be offered either:

  • an assured tenancy – meaning you can normally live in your property for the rest of your life
  • a fixed-term tenancy – usually lasting for at least 5 years (your landlord will decide whether it’s renewed)

You rights may include:

  • buying your home
  • having your home repaired
  • swapping your home with another council or housing association tenant

Ending your tenancy

Your tenancy can be ended if:

  • you give the housing association 4 weeks’ notice in writing
  • the housing association evicts you
  • you transfer your tenancy to someone else or swap homes
  • the housing association needs to move you (eg to redevelop your property) – it should offer you a new property

Standard of your home

Your landlord has to make sure that your home meets certain standards. It must be:

  • safe and free from ‘category 1 hazards’ – these are things that can cause death or pose a serious danger to your health (eg by causing lung cancer, 80% burn injuries, loss of limbs, poisoning)
  • in a reasonable state of repair
  • equipped with reasonably modern facilities
  • warm enough

If you have concerns about the standard of your home you can make a complaint.

As a social housing tenant you can help run a maintenance service.




Follow these steps if you have a problem with your housing association home:

  1. Complain to your landlord – they should have a complaints policy that you can follow.
  2. Make a complaint to a ‘designated person’ (your MP, a local councillor or a tenant panel) if you can’t resolve the problem with your landlord.
  3. Contact the Housing Ombudsman if you and your landlord still can’t resolve the problem.

Housing Ombudsman
Telephone: 0300 111 3000
Find out about call charges

Buying your home

As a housing association tenant, you might be able to buy your housing association home at a discount.

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