Who is eligible to apply for a community landlord home?

Eligibility for a community landlord home depends on your nationality, immigration status and if you’ve recently lived abroad. In Wales, it can also depend on your past behaviour.

What does ‘being eligible’ mean?

You won’t be allowed onto your council’s housing list or other community landlord waiting list if:

  • you are not eligible, or
  • you are treated as not eligible because of serious unacceptable behaviour.

Most people who are living in the UK permanently are eligible, but there are some exceptions.

Being eligible doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be offered a place. It means that you are entitled to be considered for a home and to go on the waiting list. In many areas, there is very little housing available, so there is often a very long wait, and some people may never get an offer.

People from abroad

Only certain people from abroad are eligible to apply for a community landlord home.

Eligibility depends on whether you are a person ‘subject to immigration control’.

People who are subject to immigration control

If you are subject to immigration control you are not eligible for community landlord housing in Wales, unless:

  • you are a refugee
  • you have exceptional leave to remain in the UK, and your leave doesn’t state that you should have ‘no recourse to public funds’
  • you are habitually resident in the UK and your leave was granted without any conditions
  • you have humanitarian protection
  • you are an Afghan citizen who has served the UK Government, or
  • you have limited leave to remain in the UK on the grounds of ‘respect for family or private life’ under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention and your leave doesn’t state that you should have ‘no recourse to public funds’.

You are not eligible for community landlord housing if your immigration status means you have ‘no recourse to public funds’.

People who are not subject to immigration control

If you are a person from abroad who is not subject to immigration control, you are eligible for community landlord housing in Wales if:

  • you are a classed as a ‘worker’ (or are a member of a worker’s family)
  • you are self employed (or a member of family of someone who is self-employed)
  • you, or a member of your family, have the right to stay here for other reasons

People from the European Economic Area (EEA) whose only right to reside in the UK is as a jobseeker, or who only have an initial right to reside for 3 months, are not eligible to apply for social housing. See our page on EU and EEA nationals for more information.

The council may contact the UK Visa and Immigration Centre if there is any doubt about your status.

UK citizens who have lived abroad

You may not be eligible to apply for community landlord housing immediately if you have been living outside the UK, Eire, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for a lengthy period. This is because community landlords can only provide housing through an allocations scheme for people who are classed as ‘habitually resident’. When they assess your application, the council or other community landlord will decide whether you are habitually resident, and will look at things like:

  • where you live
  • where you work
  • where you have family or friends
  • the reasons why you have come to live in the area
  • where you intend to live in future
  • whether you have been ‘habitually resident’ in the past.

If it is decided that you’re not habitually resident, get help. The decision could affect your entitlement to benefits as well as your rights to housing.

Transfer applicants

If you already have a secure contract or an introductory standard contract with a community landlord, and are applying for a transfer, you are eligible regardless of your immigration status.

More advice

Immigration law is extremely complicated, so get advice before you apply for housing if you are not sure of your status:

Can past behaviour be taken into account?

You may not be eligible to go on the housing register if it is decided that you, or any member of your household, have been guilty of antisocial behaviour in the past. This may be the case if:

  • you have caused nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours, the landlord or contractors
  • you have used a property for illegal purposes (such as drug dealing)
  • you have been guilty of domestic violence.

In some cases, instead of deciding you are not eligible, the council may agree to put you on the housing register, but not give you any priority when deciding who to house.

What can I do if they say I am not eligible?

If you are in one of the situations outlined above, the council or community landlord you have applied to has no obligation to offer you a home.

They should write to you explaining their decision and the reasons for it. They should also explain to you that you have a right to ask for the decision to be reviewed. They should explain it to you in person if they think that you might not be able to understand the decision.

Asking for a review

You can ask for the decision about your application to be looked at again. This is called a ‘review‘. This might be worthwhile if you think your behaviour was not serious enough to mean you’re not eligible, or it happened so long ago that it shouldn’t count.

Applying for a judicial review

If the correct legal procedure hasn’t been followed when the decision about your application was made, or when dealing with your review, then you might be able to challenge this in court by judicial review. For example, if  relevant information has been ignored, such as how long you have been in the UK, or things that shouldn’t have affected the decision, such as non-housing debts, were taken into account.

You will need specialist help from a solicitor if you want to challenge the decision by judicial review.

Take a look at our page on challenging allocation decisions for more advice.

Making a fresh application

You can make a new application for the housing register if your circumstances change. This may be worthwhile if:

  • your immigration status changes after a time in the UK
  • you have paid off past rent arrears, or
  • you have not behaved in an unacceptable way for a long time, or the person guilty of that behaviour is no longer part of your household.

If the council do not let you apply again, then get help.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

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This page was last updated on: April 12, 2023

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.