Social housing

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This page provides tenants and prospective tenants with information about the different social housing options and advice on how to register for them.

Demand for social housing is high and registering for this type of accommodation is not an instant housing solution. As we house less than 10% of those registered each year, we have listed some alternative options for you to explore in order to address your housing need. If you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, please visit our homelessness page.

On this page:

Applying for social housing with Homechoice at Reading

Homechoice at Reading is the name for our housing register and is a list of customers who have applied for social housing in Reading. Registering with Homechoice at Reading will allow you to bid on social housing within the borough.

Before you apply

Due to lack of supply of social housing and the high demand, there may be alternative options available to you depending on your current circumstances. Please use the self-assessment below to find what other options you may have and check your eligibility to join the Homechoice at Reading register.

Registering with Homechoice at Reading

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Please note: if you’d like to register or check an existing application, you’ll need a Housing Online account. See our Housing Online – how to register page for guidance on how to create an account.

To register you must:

  • be at least 16
  • not be subject to immigration control
  • live in Reading and have done so for at least 3 consecutive years (unless an exception applies)

To apply, you must register with Homechoice at Reading by selecting the button below. Alternatively, you can print and send this paper registration form. However you should only complete a paper form if you do not have an email address. Your application will take longer to process if you complete a paper application. Also you must ensure you include copies of documents required with your paper form or your application will not be approved.

Priority banding

We base your priority band on the information in your registration form. We will award a Band 1 (highest band) to a Band 4 depending on your circumstances, or a Band NPFH (no priority for housing) if you do not have a recognised housing need.

We may reduce you to a Band NPFH if your circumstances change or you:

  • have a history of rent arrears or antisocial behaviour
  • are an owner-occupier or can meet your housing costs
  • have made yourself intentionally homeless
  • have altered your council house without our permission or are subject to possession proceedings

Further information on priority banding can be found on our priority banding page.

Further information on our assessment can be found in the allocations scheme set out below.

Registered but your circumstances have changed

If you have registered with Homechoice at Reading but your circumstances have changed, it is really important that you tell us of these changes as soon as possible. Not telling us may make any successful bid for accommodation invalid.

If you make a successful bid and we establish that your situation has changed, and you have not advised us, we will overlook your bid until a change of circumstances form has been completed.

If you are looking to update only your phone number or email address, you can do so by logging into your Housing Online account. All other changes require you to complete a change of circumstances form. This includes:

  • adding a new family member
  • moving home (change of address)

Once a change of circumstances form has been received, we will reassess your application and this may result in your band changing.

You can request a paper copy of this form by emailing your request to allocations@reading.gov.uk.

Allocations scheme

Following consultation, a new allocations scheme was implemented on Tuesday 7 May 2024. To get all the details, you can either read the allocation scheme summary or the full scheme available for download.

If you require further guidance regarding the new bands, please see our priority banding page.

If you prefer a printed copy of the allocations scheme, we can provide this and in other formats upon request. Please send your request to allocations@reading.gov.uk, and we will do our best to assist you.

Bidding for a home

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Please note: the bidding system was updated on Tuesday 7 May 2024. For more information on how to place bids using the new system, see our how to bid for properties page.

If you have registered with Homechoice at Reading you can bid for a home by selecting the button below.

Finding other available properties with Homefinder UK

Homefinder UK is an easy to use online service that matches applicants with affordable properties belonging to other local authorities and registered providers throughout the UK. This gives you more choice over where you live and how much rent you pay, and access to employment. It may be easier to access social homes outside of the South East if this is a priority for you.

How it works

Using Homefinder UK is very simple:

  1. Register on the Homefinder UK website
  2. Complete the online registration form
  3. Reading Borough Council then receives and confirms the information you gave
  4. Once approved, you will receive your login details and will be able to bid for homes

If you need any help with registering with Homefinder UK, please contact the Housing Needs Outreach Worker on 0118 937 2311.

Reading Borough Council have supported a number of customers to access accommodation through Homefinder UK. Here are some of the outcomes achieved:

Customer was living in temporary accommodation prior to their move. They secured a 2 bedroom home in Watford.

Customer was privately renting prior to their move. After the landlord sold the property, they were faced with homelessness and they were reluctant to move too far out of Reading. Eventually a property was found 2 hours outside the area which matched their bedroom needs and they were put forward for it, later viewing and accepting the property. They expressed their gratitude for the move, particularly the additional space that comes with having 3 bedrooms instead of 2, and are particularly grateful for the work Homefinder UK has done with them. They secured a 3 bedroom property in Salisbury.

Customer was living in private rented accommodation with her daughter which was proving too expensive, despite the fact that they were both in employment. Homefinder UK were able to put them forward for a property in an area that they could continue working. Regarding the move the customer said, “I am overwhelmed by all that Homefinder UK has done to find my daughter and me somewhere affordable to live. The property is lovely, and the kitchen is spacious, which is important because my daughter loves baking.” They secured a 2 bedroom property in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

If you are able to consider moving to another part of the UK, HomeFinderUK has produced a city guide providing helpful information on different areas.

Hear what others have to say about their experiences of HomeFinder UK and how it has impacted them.

Swapping your home

If you are a social housing tenant, you have the option to exchange your home with another social housing tenant through HomeSwapper. In certain areas, HomeSwapper helps facilitate up to 80% of all social housing relocations.

As long as you have a clear rent account and are not an introductory tenant, this may be the easiest way for you to find a more suitable home. Keep in mind all parties need permission from their landlords before an exchange can take place.

This short video will help you understand the process of swapping your home.

Watch time: 5 min

Your success in finding a tenant to swap with will depend on how you market your property. Here are some helpful tips:

  • take photographs of all the rooms in your home, especially the kitchen, bathroom and living space
  • declutter your home before you take any photographs
  • if you do not have anywhere to store belongings, you can move them to another room and put them back once you take the photographs
  • touch up any decor within your home
  • ensure that kitchen surfaces are clear of clutter and appliances, and the washing up is done
  • list all the positive points in the advert, such as proximity to schools, shops, and essential service

You must check the site regularly to make sure that you do not miss any opportunities. In-demand properties will be quickly taken.

If you are a council tenant and find a suitable match, you should let Housing and Estate Services know immediately on 0118 937 2161. We will make various checks before we give permission for the swap. We have to do this within 42 days.

Finding accessible homes

If you cannot use vital parts of your home because of a disability, you may be eligible for a disability grant. Learn more about the Disabled Facilities Grant.

Living independently through sheltered housing

Sheltered housing, also known as independent living, allows tenants to manage their property, with their own front door, kitchen, bathroom and living space. Learn more about sheltered housing.

Last updated on 04/06/2024