Applying for a Housing Association Home
The biggest difference between council housing accommodation and housing associations is the tenancy agreement.
There are two ways people on a low income (or in need of extra support) can get Social Housing. You can:
- Make a direct application to a housing association.
- Check what is available by contacting your local council.
Note: The regulation of social housing in England allows you to send an application to more than one housing association at a time.
Being Placed on a Waiting List
So how long does it take to get an association home? Well, anyone who applies for accommodation in one of the housing association homes will be put on a waiting list.
As a rule, housing associations will offer a particular type of property to the people who are ‘most suited’ to that type. Hence, you may spend a long time on a waiting list until your accommodation type becomes available.
Different Types of Tenancies
The rights and responsibilities of people who stay in housing association homes depends on what type of tenancy they have.
As a rule, a starter tenancy lasts for no more than twelve (12) months. Hence, they will offer starter tenancies to new housing association tenants because they are considered as being a ‘trial’ period.
In most cases, you would become an assured or fixed term tenant once the one year tenancy has ended, unless the housing association has (either):
- Extended your starter tenancy.
- Started the process of evicting you.
Important: Tenancy agreements are legal documents that inform tenants and landlords about the rules of living in the property.
Assured and Fixed-Term Tenancies
After a starter tenancy has ended, if the housing association wants to keep you as a tenant, you would usually be offered (either):
- An assured tenancy (generally allows you to live in the property for the rest of your life).
- A fixed-term tenancy (usually lasts at least five years – depending on whether your landlord renews it).
The extra rights that you would get can include:
- Right to Acquire (e.g. buying your housing association home).
- General reparations to the property.
- Being able to swap the home with another council or housing association tenant.
Note: The main section has further information about exchanging your council or housing association property in the United Kingdom.
Ending a Tenancy Agreement
There are several ways you can end a tenancy agreement with a housing association, such as by giving four (4) weeks of notice (in writing), or:
- By transferring the tenancy to another person (or through a swap home arrangement).
- Situations where the housing association needs to move you out of the property (e.g. to redevelop it). As a rule, if this happens they should offer you a new property to live in.
- If the housing association decides to evict you from the property.
Note: Another section explains more about the council and housing association eviction process and what would happen at a court hearing.
Standards of Housing Association Homes
Landlords must ensure that the properties they are renting out are meeting certain standards. Thus, the home must be warm enough to live in, and:
- Equipped with facilities that are ‘reasonably’ modern and in a ‘reasonable’ state of repair.
- In a safe condition and free from any ‘category 1 hazards’ (e.g. things that pose a serious danger to health or can cause death – hazards that may cause lung cancer, poisoning, loss of limbs, 80% burn injuries).
Note: Social housing tenants have the power to ensure their landlord provides the services, support, and advice they need by helping to run a maintenance service. You can read more about how to improve your social housing on the GOV.UK website.
Making Complaints about Housing Association Homes
You can make an official complaint if you have concerns about the standard of your association home, by (either or all):
- Complaining to the landlord. In most cases, they will have a complaints policy for you to follow.
- Making an official complaint to a ‘designated person’ (e.g. it can be a local councillor, a tenant panel, or your MP). Being able to resolve the problem with your landlord means this step may not be necessary.
- Contacting the Housing Ombudsman (e.g. if you are still unable to resolve the problem with your landlord).
Note: The ‘Right to Acquire scheme‘ allows tenants to buy their association home – often at a discount price of the market valuation.