Applying for accessible council and housing association homes
Applying for accessible council and housing association homes
Go to your local authority website or contact your local housing service to find out how to apply for social housing in your area. The process can vary in different areas. But you usually apply online to your local authority or council housing service.
Local councils and housing associations will have different applications and rules. For example, some might ask for references from a previous landlord. Read your local council or housing association allocations policy or scheme. It should tell you:
how the process works in your area
how they decide priority
Councils and housing associations usually organise priority using a points or group system, sometimes called ‘bands’. Each council or housing association will have their own band system. Priority will be based on your needs, such as if you’re:
moving because of disability or a serious, long-term health condition
moving to a different area because of hardship, such as getting medical treatment or because you’re in danger
Knowing how they allocate priority bands can help you include the right information in your application. Speak to a housing adviser or occupational therapist (OT) if you need support.
Filling in the application form
Local authorities or councils usually have an application form you can download or fill in online. Filling in the form with someone who knows you well can help. This could be a family member, friend, OT or social care worker who understands your needs.
Each local area will have its own process but the information you need to include will be similar. For example:
who lives with you
how many rooms you need
adaptations you need
if you need an adapted home, like a wheelchair accessible flat
your income, including benefits
your savings and any assets, like a car
If you need adaptations or an adapted property, some councils and housing associations might ask for a OT needs assessment as part of your application. You can ask your local authority for this.
You might need to give medical information or evidence. This could be letters or reports from healthcare professionals, like your GP, OT, hospital doctors or specialists. Some local areas might have a ‘medical assessment’ form to fill.
Check your local allocations policy to find out what medical information or assessments you need.
If the local authority approves your application, you will join a waiting list. Local authority waiting lists can include:
housing association homes
housing associations only providing accessible housing
If you think you do not have the right priority, ask the council to review it. Make sure you check the priority criteria in the allocations scheme before asking for a review.
Some local housing associations will let you apply directly. But it can help to speak to your local council housing office first. They can tell you about the process for your area and if there are housing associations with their own lists. It can help to register for these independent lists as well as the council list.
Some housing associations offer adapted properties only, for example Habinteg. If there is a waiting list for your area, you can usually apply on the housing association website. They can also list their adapted homes with the council and may recommend you join the council list too.
Waiting for a property
Your priority on the waiting list is based on your needs. How long you’ll wait for a home will depend on:
how many properties are available
how high your priority is
how many people are before you on the waiting list
if you need an adapted property and how many are available
You can ask the housing association or council how long they think you’ll have to wait. This estimate is not based on your personal situation but can help you make a decision about your current housing.
Warning Waiting lists can be long
You may have to wait a long time for a suitable property to become available, even if you are high priority.
Direct offers and bidding for properties
Check the allocations scheme to find out how your council assigns properties. This will vary between councils and could be one of the following systems:
you have to ‘bid’ for homes (choice-based lettings)
you’re offered a suitable home when it becomes available (direct offers)
the council uses both choice-based lettings and direct offers
Choice-based lettings (CBL)
You look for properties you’re eligible for and apply. This is usually called ‘bidding’. People with the highest priority will get an offer first. With choice-based lettings, you need to find and bid on properties.
If your council only uses choice-based lettings, you will not get offers without bidding, even if you are high priority.
You can bid online, by phone or by text. If the system is not accessible to you, the local council must give you another way to bid. For example, a proxy bid system where the housing association or council bids for you.
Ask your council or housing association for more information.
The council or housing association will offer you a suitable property when it becomes available. They might do this by phone and then follow it up with a letter.
If your council uses both direct offers and choice-based lettings, you might also need to bid for properties you’re eligible for.
Getting offered a property
Check your local council or housing association policy on offers. Some will only offer 1 suitable property.
If you only get 1 offer, accept the property even if you feel it is not completely suitable. Once you’ve accepted, you can ask for adaptations or a council review of the suitability.
Some councils or housing associations may give you a chance to explain why you feel a property is not suitable. Do this in writing and include evidence from professionals supporting you, like an OT or a social care worker.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) has guides on your rights and responsibilities.
If you need minor adaptations, first accept the property and ask for them. Local councils and housing associations will usually pay for small adaptations that cost under £1,000. You can try working with them to make the adaptations before you move in.
Or you can wait until after you have signed the tenancy agreement. Once you are a tenant, your social landlord must make reasonable adjustments. You can ask for an OT needs assessment if you do not already have one.
What is considered reasonable will depend on cost and the type of adaptation. Social housing landlords should have a budget for reasonable adjustments and minor adaptations.