Tips for bidding for a council home

After you successfully apply for council housing and receive a letter confirming you are on the waiting list, you are able to bid for available properties through our choice-based letting system. Here are our top tips for making a bid. Before you read them, make sure you're familiar with how our choice-based letting system works.

1. Get organised – don’t miss your bid

You are allowed to bid for one property every week. You probably won’t be successful straightaway, as there are many more people on the housing register than there is housing available. If you make a bid every week, it is likely you will be successful more quickly than you would if you bid less often. You can bid at any time during the bidding cycle – and properties aren’t allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. So, set aside a time to bid each week. Perhaps even set yourself a reminder on your smartphone.

2. Bid from anywhere

You need to get online to search for properties. We don’t publish the list of properties anywhere else. If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can search properties and make your bid at home or on the go. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can visit a local library, or come into customer services and ask our staff to show you what to do.

3. Your bid is precious - don’t waste it

Remember, you can only make one bid a week. Make sure you understand what types of property you are eligible for, and don’t waste your bid by choosing a property that doesn’t fit. It's true that the online system won't allow you to bid for properties that you're obviously not eligible for - but it doesn't cover everything. You're not necessarily eligible for all the properties you can bid for. Read the advert carefully. If you're the successful bidder and it turns out you're not eligible for the property, we will disregard the bid. You'll then have to try again in the next bidding cycle.

4. Be flexible

Try to be as flexible as possible regarding the properties and areas you’d be willing to live in, and be realistic about your needs. If your circumstances don’t put you in band A, and you have a very fixed idea about the property you want, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait a long time to be successful.

Instead, if you’re open-minded about things like the area you live in, the number of rooms, and the floor the property is on, you’re more likely to be successful more quickly. Once you're housed, you can always re-apply for the transfer list of the housing register if your circumstances change.

5. Be sure you'd live there - refusing an offer could have consequences

A flexible mindset can help you get housed - but when you bid you should be as sure as you possibly can that you would live in the property. Our choice-based letting system is designed to make it as efficient as possible to house as many people as possible. This doesn't work if successful bidders refuse properties. 

You should certainly visit the area first and picture how your life would be if you were to live there. Be sure you'd accept a tenancy offer if you were to receive it. 

You can refuse a property after you've been offered it, but your refusal will be closely considered by a senior housing officer. If you refuse an offer that we or the relevant housing association believe to have been reasonable, it may result in you being removed from the housing register altogether. This would mean starting again with a new application for the housing register, and a new banding date if your application is successful.

We don't consider it reasonable to refuse a property because you decide you don't like the area.

6. Do your research

Every three months we release figures showing the number of people on the waiting list for council housing, broken down by band and bedroom needs. Engaging with this information can help you to set a realistic expectation about how quickly you will be housed.

We also publish information to help you make bids that are more likely to be successful. We also publish information about the properties that have been allocated in the previous month. This includes the address, type of property, number of bedrooms, the property band, and the number of bids made. This gives you a good idea about how popular a particular type of property or area is, and how long you would probably have to wait to bid successfully for something similar. You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you may not have to wait as long to be housed.

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