Apply for housing

Last updated: 18 July 2017

Housing associations and local councils offer an alternative to renting from a private landlord. Anyone over the age of 16 has the right to apply.

When you apply, your housing needs will be checked and your application will be held on a housing list.

How to apply

You can find information about how to apply for housing from your local council.

Alternatively, you can apply directly to a housing association/registered social landlord (RSL) in your area.

You can visit the Scottish Housing Regulator online and view the public register of all RSLs in Scotland.

How decisions are made

Organisations decide who gets offered housing based on a 'points' or 'banding' system – usually according to their allocations policy.

Points and bands are based on housing need. For example, you're likely to be offered housing first if you:

  • are homeless
  • live in overcrowded conditions
  • have a medical condition made worse by your current home

You might have to join a waiting list and you're not guaranteed to get a property. Ask your potential housing provider how long you're likely to wait.

Applying through a common housing register

Instead of filling in separate applications for each landlord in a specific area, applicants fill in one form and join one common housing list that a number of social landlords use to allocate their housing.

The size and scope of common house registers vary throughout Scotland but typically they share 3 main components:

  • a single application form for all applicants
  • a single database for all applicants seeking housing
  • a joined up approach to providing housing information and advice

Ask the council's housing department if there's a common housing register for your area. This may be provided by the council or a housing association.

Applying through choice-based letting

Some councils operate a choice-based letting scheme. This lets you tell your housing provider which properties you're interested in.

Check with your local council and see if they offer a choice-based letting service.

Some housing associations across Scotland also offer choice based lettings. Your council housing department will know if they operate in your area.

Housing exchanges (swaps)

If you're a tenant and would like to move home, sometimes looking for a swap is an option worth considering.

A swap – also known as a mutual exchange or housing exchange – can help you move quickly, and gives you control in deciding where you stay.

Some councils offer this service online and others require you to complete an application form.

Check with your local council in the first instance to see if they offer this service in your area.