Choice-based lettings is a way for local authorities, housing associations and registered social landlords to allocate social housing to applicants on their waiting and transfer lists.
The choice-based lettings system
Choice-based lettings (CBL) is one way that local authorities, housing associations and registered social landlords (RSLs) can allocate social housing to applicants who are on their waiting and transfer lists. Available properties are advertised to applicants, for example on a website or in a local newspaper. Applicants can then show their interest in an advertised property by registering a bid. However, local authorities, housing associations and RSLs are still required to fulfil the duties placed on them by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003.
Bidding for a property
CBL schemes will vary depending on the organisation running the scheme, but typically, properties will be advertised with information about who the property is suitable for, for example a person aged 50 and over, or a family with two children. Many organisations also put applicants into bands depending on their priority. Properties are then advertised as being suitable for people in a particular category.
The way in which a bid can be registered will vary depending on the individual CBL system that is concerned. Applicants should not be discriminated against or treated unfairly by the bidding process/policy that is in place for CBL. However, applicants are encouraged to actively bid for properties where possible to ensure that they are reasonably considered for allocation of a property.
Allocation of a property by a choice-based lettings system
Local authorities, housing associations and RSLs are still required to allocate housing based on 'reasonable preference'.  See the section on allocation of tenancies for more information on reasonable preference. In addition to this, local authorities, housing associations and RSLs must take other legislative requirements into account when allocating housing. See the sections on allocation policies and other statutory restrictions for more information on allocation of housing. Therefore, any CBL system developed by a local authority, housing association or RSL should be comprehensive enough to allow these duties to be fulfilled.
Allocation of a property to homeless applicants
Under current legislation, any person who applies as homeless and is assessed as unintentionally homeless has the right to be offered permanent accommodation.  This legislative duty still stands even where a CBL system is in place. It is not sufficient for a landlord operating CBL to only give a homeless person who is in priority need and is unintentionally homeless an opportunity to bid for a property. The landlord and the local authority that has assessed the homeless application must ensure that a reasonable offer of permanent accommodation is made to a homeless person who is unintentionally homeless, whether or not they actively bid for a property via CBL. However, homeless applicants are encouraged to actively bid for properties, where possible, to ensure they are reasonably considered for a property.
For more information, see the section on local authority duties to those assessed as unintentionally homeless.
Challenging a decision
Applicants who are unhappy with a decision that a local authority, housing association or RSL has made in respect of choice based lettings may be able to challenge the decision. See the page on challenging allocation decisions for more information.
Last updated: 29 December 2014