The allocation of social housing support is a matter for the relevant local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations.
Section 22 of the 2009 Act requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households. The manner in which the allocation process is managed including allowing prospective tenants to view properties being offered is a matter for the relevant local authority concerned. My understanding is that currently the approach varies across the country.
As part of the broader social reform policy framework the Social Housing Allocation (Amendment) Regulations 2016 were made on 30th September 2016, and required all local authorities, if they had not already done so, to provide for Choice Based Letting (CBL) as a method of allocation in their allocation schemes by 31 December 2016. Where a local authority, having included a provision on CBL in its allocation scheme, decides to operate a CBL scheme, it must implement it in accordance with Regulations 6 – 11 of the 2011 Regulations. Decisions on which properties are to be included under a CBL scheme is a matter for individual authorities.
CBL is a method, whereby available social housing is let by being openly advertised, allowing qualified applicants to 'bid' for or 'register an interest' in available homes. Applicants have to act on their own initiative to respond to adverts and bid for dwellings that they would like to live in, rather than waiting for an authority to offer a dwelling.
This approach offers more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting a new home, thereby reducing the likelihood of a refusal, and helping to build sustainable tenancies and stable communities. In order to improve responses to CBL, authorities have been asked to consider putting in place a process to allow bidders to view the property.
My Department is committed to monitoring the roll-out of CBL across all Local Authorities and will continue to liaise with them over the course of the second half of the year, with a view to ensuring that CBL is implemented, as widely as possible, across the country.