Money Wellness
Image of a row of social housing homes. Find out how to apply for social housing
category iconHousing
calendar icon30 Jan 2024

Allocation of social housing to be made fairer

The government has proposed changes to social housing to make it fairer and easier for people to find homes in their local community.

The new measures will ensure people who have a close connection to the UK and their local area are prioritised on waiting lists for new homes.

People will have to be able to prove a connection to the UK for at least ten years and their local area for at least two years.

And prospective tenants on higher incomes could also no longer qualify for social housing to ensure low-income families who need the support the most, receive it.

Also included in the changes will be new measures to stop antisocial behaviour.

Anyone who continually makes their neighbours’ lives difficult could face a five-year ban from being able to apply or live in social housing.

While those with a conviction for terrorism will also be disqualified for apply for social housing.

The government is looking for views from the public, councils, social housing tenants and providers and wants to bring in the changes as soon as possible.

If you have a view on these changes, please visit

What is social housing?

Social housing is lower-cost housing provided by a local council or housing association. Rent in social housing is linked to local incomes and rent increases are limited by the government. This means that the homes stay affordable long-term.

Who qualifies for social housing?

Each council has different rules on who can apply for social housing and who has a priority for the homes – this is called an ‘allocation scheme’. It’s best to check your local council’s website to find out what their policy is.

Generally thought, social housing is designed for households on low incomes without savings or those who have lived in the area for a number of years or have a job or family locally – this is called a ‘local connection.’

If you’re thinking about moving out of your local area, not all councils insist on a local connection. It’s best to speak to check the council’s website for their criteria.

Your immigration status will also play a role in you being eligible for social housing.

If you’ve moved to returned to the UK in the last two years, you usually have to be able to show you are ‘habitually resident’. You must do this even if you’re a British Citizen.

Your immigration status lets you apply for a council home if you:

  • Are a British or Irish citizen
  • Have settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Have indefinite leave to remain – unless someone had to sign a ‘maintenance undertaking’ that says they’ll support you financially
  • Have refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • Have right of abode
  • Have leave to remain in the UK as a ‘stateless person’

If you have pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme, you can only apply for council housing if you have a ‘right to reside’.

If you’ve applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and you’re wating for a decision, you can only apply for social housing if you have a right to reside.

How do you apply for social housing?

You can apply for social housing through your local council.

If you application is accepted, you’ll go on a waiting list of people who need a social housing. Your council will priorities applications based on who needs a home most urgently. You can find a list of who your local council deems as a priority on their website. It will be different for every council.

Even if you’re on the waiting list there’s no guarantee you’ll get a home.

You might have to apply to some housing associations directly instead of through the council – ask your council if there’s any near you.

And if your council has a long waiting list, they might ask if you want to apply for homes in other areas as well. You can be on several waiting lists at the same time and this might increase your chances of getting a home.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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