What Happens After Viewing A Council House?

Even after your application for council housing has been approved by the authorities, it may take a few months for you to actually get a council house to move into as the process of being assigned a bidding queue position, shortlisting and getting offers of council houses takes time. Through this article, we will explore the steps involved in attaining a council house tenancy after a property has been viewed by a prospective tenant. In addition to this, we will also discuss the other steps that are involved in acquiring a council house as well the eligibility criteria for different types of council properties.

What Happens After Viewing A Council House?

Once you have viewed a council house, you are expected to share your expression of interest in the property; while there is no compulsion to do so on the spot. Similarly, if you are not interested in the property after viewing it or it does not meet our household needs, you must inform the council authorities of your decision. However, if you refuse three council properties consecutively without good reason, you may be taken off the council housing waiting list for 12 months.

If you reject the property that you have viewed, it will then be assigned for viewing by the next bidder in line as property viewing is scheduled on the basis of one’s priority level in the bidding queue for council properties. You can continue bidding on properties that interest you and continue with the shortlisting process to acquire a council house tenancy.

If you accept the property, a tenancy agreement will be drawn up and you will be asked to visit again to officiate the process. You will also be given a date by which you can move into the council house.

If you are not claiming Housing Benefit at this stage, you may be asked to apply. If you are claiming the benefit, you will be asked to apply for a change of circumstance. 

Once you are offered a council house, the council will also inform you of a date by when they will need a response before they offer the house to someone else. Usually, there is a two to a three-day window during which applicants are required to visit the council house that they have been offered and let council authorities know of their decision of whether or not they intend to move into the premises.

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

Should you accept the offer, you will be asked to sign an acceptance slip that mentions the following information:

  • your name
  • the address of your new council house
  • the date your tenancy starts

After that, a tenancy agreement will be drawn up and you will be informed of the rent deposit amount as well as monthly rental payment.

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 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 bands 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

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 of 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 Get A Bigger Council House?

If your current living conditions fall into any of the following situations, you will get priority for getting a bigger council house:

  • your current house is overcrowded
  • your current house does not meet the medical or disability needs of a family member
  • your current house has an ill effect on your or a family member’s health

If none of these situations applies to you and you would like a bigger house to be more comfortable, you must know that council authorities will assign properties on the basis of your family size and structure. Below are the details of how council houses are assigned based on family size:

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

Can One Person Live In a 3 Bedroom Council House?

No, legally speaking, one person cannot live in a three-bedroom council house as it does not fulfil the Bedroom Standard criteria. In addition to this, having spare bedrooms in the house which are unoccupied reduces the Housing Benefit that the resident is claiming from local council authorities. 

As per council guidelines, below is the bedroom allocation of the council house as per the number of residents occupying the property:

Number of roomsThe maximum number of people allowed

Councils assign spaces or bedrooms as per the below criteria:

  • Residents who are aged 10 or over count as 1 person
  • Children who are aged 1 to 9 count as 0.5 (thus expected to share a room)
  • Children who are under 1-year-olds don’t count

It may be worth noting that while assigning bedroom space, councils will also count living rooms, studies or any extra liveable space as a bedroom. However, they will not take into account a space if it is either under 50 square feet in size. 

Can You Swap Council Houses?

Yes, you can swap your council house; however, the amount of time it takes will depend upon finding another property and the terms on which you are leaving the previous council house.

When a tenant is looking for another council housing tenant who is also intending to move, it is called “mutual exchange” as the decision to swap council houses depends upon a mutual agreement between both parties involved. You can either look for a swapping partner through your local council or through a mutual exchange website.

Once you and your landlord/council are in agreement, you can register yourself on the council’s website and list your council house as available for mutual exchange. You can easily find a swapping partner through the same website (if you haven’t already found one before making the decision to swap).

How Long Does It Take To Get A Council House?

According to this article even after a claimant’s council housing application 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.


We’ve learnt from the discussion in this article that once prospective tenant has viewed a council property, they are expected to share their decision with the authorities. If they are interested in the property, the terms of the tenancy will be discussed and an agreement will be drawn up. If they are not interested in acquiring tenancy of the property that they have viewed, it will be shown to the next bidder in the queue and they can revert to the bidding queue for shortlisting of council properties.

FAQs: What Happens After Viewing A Council House?

What happens when you get shortlisted for a council house?

If you get shortlisted for a council house, you will be informed via text message and email. You will also be informed of the next steps to be followed in this regard.

How long does it take to get a council house in the UK?

It can take up to a year or 12 months to get a studio or 1 bedroom council house in the UK. Meanwhile, in the case of a 4 bedroom council house, it may take between 3 to 4 years to find an appropriate council house.

What does under review active mean?

This means that while the usual processing time may have elapsed, your application is still being considered for certain details and is being reviewed.

What does queue position mean in council bidding?

Once you have bid for a council property, you will be assigned a queue position. This is your ranking in the level of priority among all the bidders who have expressed interest in a council property.

What makes you a priority for council housing?

If an applicant is faced with a terminal illness, a disability, fear of homelessness or domestic abuse or they are living in overcrowded or inappropriate conditions impacting their health, they will be consiered a priority for council housing.


Property viewings | Westminster City Council

Viewing and signing up for a council tenancy.

What To Expect When Offered A Property

Getting a council home – Citizens Advice.

Being offered a council property

Getting an offer of housing


Council housing: Apply for a council home – GOV.UK

Bidding and Shortlisting – Wiltshire.

Shortlisting & Offers – Homechoice

Council house exchange – how it works and what the rules are