Applying for social housing

Getting offers or bidding for homes

When a home becomes available, the council or housing association will either:

  • offer it directly to someone on the waiting list

  • advertise it in a choice-based system, where you can bid on available homes

If you're offered a home directly

Your offer should be in writing, and you should be given reasonable time to consider it.

Check how many offers you’ll get

You'll only get one offer at a time, and there's usually a limit on how many reasonable offers you'll get. Reasonable means that the home is suitable for your needs.

Ask how many offers you’ll get and what happens if you refuse an offer.

If you refuse too many reasonable offers, you could lose your priority or be suspended from the housing list. This means you could wait a long time before getting another offer.

If you decide to refuse an offer, explain why – for example, if it's too far away from your workplace. The council or housing association will usually take this into account when deciding which types of homes to offer you in future.

If you think an offer is not reasonable

You could ask for the offer to be withdrawn. This means it will not count towards the number of offers you get.

An offer could be unreasonable if the home is not suitable for your needs. For example, if:

  • you’re disabled and it’s not adapted for your needs

  • it’s too small for your family

  • it’s in an area that would put you at risk of violence or harassment

Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser if you’re in this situation. An adviser can check if an offer is unreasonable and help you get it withdrawn.

Bidding in choice-based systems

In a choice-based system, when a home is advertised that's suitable for your needs, you can make a bid for it.

There might be a limit on how many homes you can bid for at once.

If there are multiple bids for the same home, it will usually be offered to the person who has the highest priority. If 2 people have the same priority, it will be offered to the person who has been on the waiting list the longest.

If you accept a home

You’ll usually have a Scottish secure tenancy. This is open-ended, which means there's no end date. You have strong rights, and you can only be evicted in specific circumstances.

Check our guidance on your rights in a Scottish secure tenancy.

If your circumstances change and you want to move, you could get another social home by:

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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