How Long Does Shortlisting Take For Council Housing?

Having your council housing application approved will not lead to an immediate transfer to council property. Claimants will first go through a bidding process to express their interest in council properties and on the basis of the council or landlord’s approval, they will be shortlisted before being assessed to become tenants. Through this blog post, we aim to discuss in detail the waiting period for council housing, the bidding process as well as the criteria for getting priority for council housing allotment. 

How Long Does Shortlisting Take For Council Housing?

Shortlisting of council housing applications can take up to three weeks once bidding completes on a property. If an applicant bids for more than one property and gets done accepted, they will be asked about their preference out of the two (or more) options before their offer is accepted.

Applicants who bid for council housing properties are prioritised on the following basis:

  • Whether applicants have a local connection to the parish or town in which the property is located
  • This is followed by band 1, 2, 3, 4 and Open Market Register 
  • And in the end, the date applicants are placed in the band or on the Open Market Register

Once the application is approved, candidates are asked to visit the property in person. During this visit, candidates are encouraged to carry the following documents with them:

  • Proof of identity: such as birth certificate, driving licence, medical card, passport
  • Proof of income from earnings and benefits: including candidate’s and partner’s wage slips, a letter from employer benefits book/letter, bank statements showing payments, private/work pension details
  • Proof of National Insurance number: this may include tax letters, wage slips, P45/60, National Insurance number card
  • Proof of current account deposit and savings: such as bank/building society passbooks/statements/letters, national savings and share certificates.
  • Proof of dependents: for instance child benefit book, proof of child benefit payments, birth certificate
  • Proof of non-dependents: this includes wage slips, benefit book

Applying for a suitable property according to the number of household members that an applicant has will also play a major role in increasing their priority level and ability to get shortlisted. Below are details of the preferred household size of applicants versus the type of council property suitable for them:

The preferred household size of applicantsType of council property
Single people/couplesSingle bedroom flat/house
Single people/couples with part-time access to children (meaning they must stay overnight for at least 2 nights a week)Two bedroom flat
Disabled family member with a medical housing recommendation for adaptations such as a through floor lift or a stairlift.Adapted properties
Households with primary care of dependent children (generally referring to children up to 18 in full-time education) or a household with a medical recommendation for a houseHouses (with two or more bedrooms)
People aged 60 years old, or younger applicants with an appropriate medical housing recommendation (e.g. ground floor accommodation)Bungalows
People aged 60 and over needing an alarm call system and warden service, as well as younger applicants with a medical housing recommendation for sheltered accommodation. Retirement Life

What Is Bidding Queue Position On Council Homes?

Once your council housing application is approved, you will receive a letter from the council office confirming your position to be on the waiting list for council housing. This means that you will not be allotted a council property immediately and will be part of a bidding queue.

Each week, there will be council properties advertised on the housing website (details of which will be shared with you by your council authorities). If you find a property according to your needs, you can place a bid on it. Similarly, there may be other bidders offering their interest to avail the property.

Depending on the Band assigned to you in your council housing confirmation letter, you will be assigned a bidding queue position that determines your level of priority to be considered during the bidding process as well as your banding date. This means that a council housing claimant who is assigned Band A and was approved earlier will be allotted a council house based on their bid earlier than someone who is assigned a Band B and had their application approved much later.

How Can I Improve My Bidding Position For Council Housing?

Individuals with emergency needs such as medical conditions or disabilities will have a higher bidding queue position for council housing and will be allotted Band A. Meanwhile, those who may have less extraordinary circumstances will be assigned Band B.

To improve their bidding position, applicants may follow the tips given here:

  • Remain open and flexible: If you have requested a three-bedroom council house in your application while you are being offered a two-bedroom one, do consider it. If your children are younger, perhaps they can share a bedroom for some time and as they grow up you may re-apply for a larger space. 
  • Communicate with the council regularly: If there are changes to your living conditions or employment status, an increase in the health needs of your family members, or someone from your household has decided to move out or move in with you, do share these changes with your council office as it affects your housing needs as well as the council hosing priority allotted to you by authorities. 
  • Confirm your band allotment: Depending on the personal circumstance stated in the council housing application, councils assign priority bands to applicants with some of them being assigned a higher band for higher priority and a lower band for lower priority. While these bands are assigned by local councils, you must check if you have been assigned the correct band based on the information that you have provided. If you disagree with your band allotment, you can provide evidence and negotiate with the authorities to increase your priority level.
  • Use your housing bids wisely: Once your council housing application is accepted, you will be allowed to bid online on available properties. Applicants can bid thrice per advertising cycle. You must make the best use of this window of opportunity to bid on suitable properties so that a higher number of bids lead you to more options to choose from. At the same time, bid on suitable housing. If you need a single bedroom flat, it would not be advisable to bid on a larger property as it would be a waste of opportunity.

Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?

While each council has an individual allocation scheme to follow in terms of assigning priority to council housing applicants, claimants who fulfil any of the following criteria are expected to be higher on priority:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

As per a recent news report, foster parents and frontline workers will also get priority for council housing in some areas. Foster parents and adoptive parents are being assigned Band 1 to extend the maximum benefit to their children. In recognition of their work during the pandemic, key workers have been assigned Band 2 (The total number of bands is 4 with Band 1 being the highest on the priority list).

Why Can’t I Get A Council House?

Even after a claimant’s application for council housing is accepted, it may take anywhere between 12 to 16 months to find a 2-bed council house and between 36 to 70 months to get a 4-bed house.

During this time, claimants remain on a waiting list and are informed as and when a suitable property becomes available for them. In case there is a change in their circumstances, claimants must inform their local council authorities of this.

Generally, each council has their own rules for the provision of council homes. This is called an “allocation scheme”; according to which applicants’ eligibility criteria and priorities are assigned.

If someone’s council housing application is based on medical grounds (applicant’s personal condition or of an immediate family member) whether due to health reasons or disability, they are on a priority list for council housing and will be considered much earlier than others.


While it may take a minimum of three weeks to be shortlisted for council housing, it is still an elaborate process that can take months (and sometimes a couple of years) from the point of being approved to participating in council housing bidding queues, being shortlisted, assessed and screened and finally being allotted a council property to move into. However, individuals who rank high on the priority list for council housing.

FAQs: How Long Does Shortlisting Take For Council Housing?

What does it mean to be shortlisted for housing?

Being shortlisted for council housing means that out of all the applicants who have placed bids on the property, some of them have been selected on the basis of their rank on the priority list and how far back their council housing application is dated. These selected candidates will be considered as being shortlisted to be assessed on personal and financial grounds before being assigned council property to live in.

What happens when you are shortlisted for a council property?

If you are shortlisted for a council property, you will receive a notification on checking into the bidding website. Additionally, you may also receive an email, text message or phone call to confirm the same. You may be asked to share certain documents for a financial assessment or visit the property.

How long does it take to hear back after bidding on a house?

It generally takes 24 to 72 hours for an agent, landlord or your local council office to inform you if they have accepted your bid. However, it may take a little more time than this if there are other applicants in a higher priority band as compared to you.

What does your queue position mean on council bidding? 

Once you bid on a council housing property, you will be shown your queue position. This is an indicator of your ranking on the priority list for council housing. Your queue position can change at the end of the bidding process and even due to a change in your circumstances over a period of time.

Who gets a higher bidding queue position for council housing?

Individuals with emergency needs such as medical conditions or disabilities will have a higher bidding queue position for council housing and will be allotted Band A. Meanwhile, those who may have less extraordinary circumstances will be assigned Band B.


Bidding and Shortlisting – Wiltshire

Shortlisting & Offers – Homechoice

Your choice your home

Shortlisting and offers – Birmingham City Council

Shortlisting |

Bidding Process – Homeseekers

How our choice-based letting system works | Swindon Borough Council

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice

Council housing – GOV.UK

How To Get A Council House Quicker: Our Top Tips And Tricks | PPO