Choice-based lettings (CBL) | The Tenants' Voice
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Choice-based lettings (CBL)

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In this article

  • How the choice-based lettings scheme works
  • Who is eligible for choice-based lettings
  • What happens if you turn down an offer of a home


The choice-based lettings scheme (CBL) basically gives people the chance to choose which council house or housing association accommodation they want. It works on a bidding principle as and when properties become available. However, TTV would like to point out that not all councils run a CBL.

Properties coming into the scheme are usually advertised locally via leaflets, newsletters, and on the internet. You can pick up leaflets and newsletters from your local library or community centre, as well as the housing department of your local council. This information is useful because it will tell you which type of household can apply for each property-type.

How to be included in a choice-based lettings scheme

When you find a property that you like and is also suitable for your needs, you then make a “bid” (or application) to be considered as a tenant for it. You might be able to make multiple bids (though some councils will set limits) and it is always wise to ensure you are bidding for the ones that are relevant to you otherwise it will be a waste of your time.

You can make a bid in various ways:

  • Phone
  • Online
  • Text
  • Post

The council or housing association will then decide who should be given first refusal on any of the houses listed. They do this by using a points-system based on priority needs of the applicant. It’s usually the case that those with the greater need and therefore higher priority will be given first option to view the property.

How a council or housing association makes their decision

It involves a two-stage process:

1) The council or housing association first decides whether you are eligible to make a bid

2) Your bid is then matched against the priority rating of other bidders applying for the same property as you

They do this to ensure the home goes to the most suitable applicant and the emphasis is very much the same when people apply to be on a council’s housing list – it all comes down to how high you sit based on your priority level, namely any of the following:

  • You are homeless
  • You are currently living in cramped accommodation
  • Your present home has prompted the onset of a medical condition or made an existing condition worse
  • You are connected to the local area and have already been living there for a certain time
  • You are working in the area
  • You are caring for someone resident in the area
  • Your income is below a certain level

There are many other factors the council/housing association will take into consideration so TTV suggests you do your research or seek further advice or assistance to ensure you get your application spot on.

An important note on turning down a home you are offered

If you do not accept a property you have been offered, then it’s very likely you will lose some of your priority points. Applicants also lose points if they repeatedly turn down offers or simply don’t make any bids at all while they are on the CBL scheme.

You will be penalised too if you are homeless and refuse a home that is offered to you. It doesn’t stop you bidding for alternatives; it just means you won’t be sitting quite as high up the list as you were.

What to do if you are not happy with the way the council or housing association has dealt with your bid

TTV recommends you get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Office or any legal representatives you may have and discuss the council’s decision. It might be you have a case to make a challenge if you did not receive the right priority rating.

Where to go for further help and advice

If you have difficulty getting to grips with the way the CBL scheme works, you should contact your council and seek help. Councils are obliged to make the process accessible to all and you can even ask for feedback if you have been making bids but not had any offers. The feedback might help you in future bids.

In summary

  • The choice-based lettings scheme is designed to give people looking for a council home the chance to choose their own by “bidding” for an available property when it is listed
  • The process of applying is more or less the same as when making an application to get on a council housing waiting list
  • Decisions are based on your priority-level – people with the highest rating get first refusal on a home
  • If you turn down an offer the council or housing association makes, you stand to lose some of your priority points which will affect future bids

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