Waiting for an offer

  • Each council has it’s own policy about how it offers properties in it’s area.
  • The policy should tell you how you will be made an offer and give you an idea about how long you are likely to have to wait.
  • Depending on your situation, it can take many months, or even years, to be offered a community landlord property.

How do I find out what my council’s allocation policy is?

Each council has its own policy that explains how community landlord housing is allocated. This is often called a ‘housing allocations policy’.

The policy should tell you:

  • who can apply to go on the waiting list
  • which groups of people get priority
  • how long you have to live in an area to get on the waiting list
  • the size of property you will be considered for.

You should be able to find your council’s allocation policy on its website. Click here to find your local council. Leaflets explaining the allocations policy are usually available at libraries and council offices.

How long will I have to wait for an offer?

Your chances of getting an offer and how quickly you might get one depend on:

  • what is available in the areas you have asked to live in
  • the type and size of property you need (many areas have very few family sized houses available, for example)
  • how many people have higher priority (known as ‘preference’) than you on the waiting list.

In some areas there is a lot of housing available and you may get an offer quite quickly. But in popular areas, you may have to wait for years. If you don’t have much priority, you may have little realistic hope of being offered a place at all. You may need to look at other options, such as renting from a private landlord or applying as homeless, particularly if you need to move quickly.

You have the right to ask the council or community landlord whether you are likely be offered a home and, if so, approximately how long it is likely to take. They probably won’t be able to tell you exactly how long it will take, but should give you a rough idea.

Will I get a choice?

Councils usually allocate community landlord properties through either:

  • a ‘choice based lettings’ (CBL) scheme, or
  • a direct offer from the waiting list.

Your council might use either system or a combination of both.

Most areas have a ‘common housing register’, so you only need to make one application which would cover all community landlord housing in the council area.

In areas that do not have a common housing register covering all community landlord housing in the area, you might need to apply directly to local housing associations. If the council also have properties you might also need to apply to  their list which will just cover housing managed by the council. Ask your council for details of any housing associations operating separate waiting lists in the area.

What does ‘choice based lettings’ mean?

If your council operates a CBL scheme, ask them for information about the rules. They vary from one area to another, but in most areas CBL schemes work as follows:

  • Available properties are advertised locally, often in leaflets or newsletters available from local libraries, housing offices and community centres. There may also be a special website advertising properties in your area. To avoid missing out, check these regularly and stick to any deadlines for bids.
  • The available properties will say which type of household can bid for it (ie if it is for an elderly or disabled person, or for a household who needs a certain number of bedrooms).
  • You can then apply (or ‘bid’) for any particular properties that you like. In most areas, you can bid online, by phone, by text or by post. Different councils have different rules about how many properties you can bid for in one go.
  • The scheme then sorts the bids it receives in order of priority, and the person with the highest priority normally gets first refusal on the property.
  • If that person turns the offer down, the next person on the list gets the chance to see it, and so on. In some areas, more than one person may be invited to view the property at the same time.
  • If you refuse a property, the whole process starts again. However, some schemes will penalise you (ie. by reducing your priority) if you turn down several offers, or don’t make any bids at all.

If you’re worried that your priority may be reduced because you don’t bid for any of the properties that are advertised, speak to your council about the rules, and get help.

How many offers will I get?

You do not have to be given more than one offer of housing. When you make your application, ask how many offers you will get – some councils will only offer you one property.

Even if your council does have a policy of offering more than one property, you may have to refuse one before you are offered another – you are unlikely to be given a choice. You may also have to tell them why you’re turning the property down, which may cause problems if they think you didn’t have a good reason. Get help and ask what their policy on refusals is before you decide.

What if I am offered somewhere unsuitable?

Any community landlord housing offered to you should be suitable for you and your household, as defined in their allocation scheme. A number of things should be taken into account in a decision about whether a property is suitable, such as:

  • where the property is
  • what condition it is in
  • whether it is the right size for your household
  • whether you will be able to afford it
  • social factors (such as whether it is close enough to any support services, or special schools that you need access to)
  • whether it will affect your health (eg. if you have difficulty getting up stairs)
  • whether you’d be at risk of racial harassment or domestic violence there.

All of these issues should be looked at, along with any effect that moving to the accommodation would have on the health and welfare of your whole household. You should only be offered accommodation that is suitable for you.

If you don’t believe the offer is suitable, you can ask for a review of the decision. However, as there’s so much demand for social housing, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be offered something better, and, if the review decides that the property was ‘suitable’ you may not be entitled to another offer.

If you want to challenge the suitability of an offer, get help from Shelter Cymru Act quickly as there are time limits which apply.

Did you find this helpful?

Rydym yn ymddiheuro na fedrwn ddarparu’r wybodaeth yma yn Gymraeg, ond os hoffech siarad ag ymgynghorydd yn Gymraeg yna cysylltwch ar 08000 495 495.
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.

This page was last updated on: April 20, 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.