How our choice-based letting system works

We provide council homes to people on the council housing waiting list through a choice-based lettings system.

The principle of this system is that you can see the properties we have available every week. You have that week - or bidding cycle - to make a bid for one of these properties. You can choose to "bid" on any property that meets the criteria established when we confirmed your place on the council housing waiting list.

We usually advertise a property as soon as we receive formal notice that it is going to become vacant. In some cases, we may use direct matching to allocate housing, meaning the vacant property will never be advertised through our choice-based lettings system.

Bidding cycle

A bidding cycle runs from 10.00am on Thursday to midnight the following Tuesday. You will not be able to make a bid for a property after midnight on a Tuesday. There is a bidding cycle every week of the year, except for one week over the Christmas period. 

We use Wednesdays for administration. Then a new cycle of bidding, for a new batch of properties, begins at 10.00am the following day.

Active bids

You can move your bid from one property to another at any time during the bidding cycle. Whichever property your bid is placed on at any given time is called your 'active' bid.

At midnight on Tuesday your one bid can only be active on one property. This is the bid we will take into consideration when we are allocating properties. You will not be able to move your bid after midnight on a Tuesday.

Your place in the queue

Your position in the queue when the bidding cycle ends depends first on the housing band you are in, and then on your banding date. Band A bidders take priority over band B bidders. Then, the older your banding date, the higher your position. You will have been given a banding date when you successfully applied for the housing register.

Bid timing

The timing of your bid during the bidding cycle - whether you make it right at the beginning or right at the end - has no effect on how you are prioritised for housing.

However, you should be aware that your place in the queue is likely to change during the bidding cycle. Near the beginning of the bidding cycle there is lots of time left for your queue position to change. Near the end of the bidding cycle, there might be a lot of bidding activity in a short space of time. 

You will move down the queue if other people with an older banding date bid on the property. You will move up the queue if a person already ahead of you moves their bid to another property.

What's in the property advert

A property adverts tells you:

  • who the landlord is (us or a housing association)
  • the property's location
  • the number of bedrooms
  • a photograph (where possible)
  • accommodation type (for example, house, flat, bedsit, bungalow, sheltered housing)
  • the rent amount*
  • other features such as outdoor space and off-street parking
  • special terms for the property allocation, such as a sensitive let
  • special restrictions of the tenant, such as a age range
  • special facilities such as medical adaptations

*Please note that the rent for council properties increase every year on 1 April. This means the rent advertised might be different from what you would actually pay when the tenancy starts.

Sheltered housing

When you register for council housing, we will advise you if you qualify for sheltered housing.

To qualify, you need to be aged 60 or over. You may also qualify if you are over 50 and meet other eligibility criteria. If you are aged 60 or over you can own your own home when you apply, but would be expected to sell it within a year of moving into a sheltered flat. 

Before you become eligible, you would also be subject to enhanced suitability checks. This means we would assess you as being suitable for sheltered housing, sometimes using information from other agencies such as the police.

If you are over 60 and meet other eligibility for council housing, you can bid for other properties in addition to sheltered housing.

The rent amount advertised for a sheltered flat also includes service charge, heating, water charges and a charge for a warden to support residents.

Sensitive lets

Some properties are advertised as being a 'sensitive let'. This means there are restrictions as to who can be shortlisted for these properties.

The advert won't always specify these restrictions. A typical example would be that a bidder with a history of anti-social behaviour would not be shortlisted. Or in some cases there are restrictions on the ages of the applicants or their dependants.

Sensitive lets involve enhanced checks and references, to make sure that any successful bidder is suitable for that property or area. If you do not meet the sensitive let checks that are done you will not be shortlisted for that property. This should not prevent you bidding on other properties unless we inform you otherwise.

Direct matching

In some cases a property will not be advertised through our choice-based lettings system. This is because it has to be directly matched to an applicant in special circumstances. This might be in an emergency case, or where the property has been specially adapted to meet specific needs.

Contact us about an application

If you can't find the information you need on this page, you can get in contact with us about an application you've already made for a council home.

Make an enquiry about a housing application

Was this information helpful?

Help us improve swindon.gov.uk

Please don't include personal information such as your name and address.