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Finding a home

Housing in St Albans is in high demand and there is a shortage of social housing and affordable private rented accommodation.

To solve your housing difficulties please consider all options available to you including staying in your current home, renting privately, or moving to a more affordable location. 

If you are faced with Homelessness within the next 56 days please refer to link to the Homelessness webpage for support.

See below to check whether you can apply for social housing, whether applying for social housing is the best option for your needs and how to do it. 

Apply for social housing 

To be considered for social housing you must apply to join the Council’s Housing Register.

It can take many years to get social housing depending on your circumstances. We may never be able to house some. There are more households registering for housing than the number of homes that become available each year. Usually there are between 500-600 households on the housing register at any one time. Typically around 300 social housing properties are let each year. Most properties becoming available are flats. The number of homes that become available varies each month.

The document at the bottom of this section shows how many properties were allocated in the past year.

See below to check whether you can apply for social housing, whether social housing is the best option for you and how to join the Council's Housing Register. 

Can I apply for social housing? Toggle accordion

To qualify for the Housing Register you must have a recognised housing need and have a local connection.  You must: 

  • Be aged 16 years of age or over, although you cannot hold a tenancy until you are 18. Not be subject to immigration control or be an applicant from abroad unless the applicant is a ‘qualifying person’ as described by law.  
  • Be habitually resident in the common travel area (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). See the Housing Allocations Policy for more details 
  • Have a local connection to the St Albans area. Full details of Local connection are given at 7.6 of the Housing Allocations Policy. 
  • Have an identified housing need (unless aged 60 and over and applying for sheltered or properties restricted for those aged 60 and over). 
  • Have no history of unacceptable behaviour. 
  • Not have the financial resources to resolve your own housing need (See Section 12 of the Housing Allocations Policy for income and capital thresholds) 

See our  Housing Allocations Policy  ( PDF - 246.29 KB ) for more details of these criteria. 

When should I apply for social housing? Toggle accordion

In general consider applying for social housing when you feel that you have no other option. However you may want to join the housing register in a number of specific circumstances. Check below to see your options if your house is too big, you have adaptations you no longer need, or you are over 60.

My social housing property has adaptations which I no longer need

You may want to apply to move to a different social housing property if your Council or Housing Association home has adaptations which you no longer need. There are a range of incentives available. See our Aids and Adaptations webpage for further information.

My social housing property is too big

If your council property is too big, there are a range of incentives available to move to a smaller council or housing association property. See details of our Tenants Incentive Scheme 

Housing for the over 60s

If you are over 60 years old, you may have additional housing options, including properties that are for applicants over 60 years of age only. 

Consider sheltered housing if you have a support need but wish to continue living independently. Sheltered housing properties are self-contained, usually 1-bedroom properties or studio apartments, with some communal facilities. See our Sheltered Housing webpage for further details. 

If you need help with cooking, housework or personal care then Extra Care or Flexicare housing schemes offer support. Hertfordshire County Council Adult Care Services will help to assess the level of support that you might need. 

What do I do next?

To apply for any of these types of housing, see ‘How do I apply for social housing’ below.

What other options to applying for social housing do I have? Toggle accordion

Depending on your circumstances you may not need to join the housing register. Other options may be better for you. See other options below.

Private renting

Due to the shortage of social housing in the district consider renting in the private sector. See our Private Sector Housing - Tenants webpage for further information. The St Albans Credit Union may be able to help with a low interest loan with a deposit or first month’s rent after a short period of time. Loans are available for many reasons so please contact them with any questions. 

Shared ownership and right to buy

You may be able to move into home ownership with help from Government schemes. If you cannot afford a property on the open market see the Government’s Help to Buy website for details on the different ways to own your home, eligibility and available properties. This will open in a new window.

The most common product is Shared Ownership. This can be for new build and resale properties.  

Shared ownership allows you to buy a percentage share of a property whilst a registered housing provider, also known as a housing association, keeps the other share. It is sometimes known as ‘part-buy part-rent’ because you will then be charged a rental payment on the remaining share owned by the housing association. In most cases shared owners can choose to buy additional shares at a later stage to increase the percentage of the property they own. This is known as ‘staircasing’. The more you own, the smaller your rent will be.   

Mutual exchange for existing Council tenants

If you are already a Council tenant you may find it quicker to arrange a mutual exchange to move to a different property that meets your needs. This process involves two or more tenants swapping their homes. This could be within the district or anywhere in the country. See our Mutual Exchange webpage for more details on the mutual exchange process.

For help with swapping your property and to view available properties you can register for free on the HomeSwapper website. This is outside the Council. 

I need adaptations

If you, or a member of your household, is in need of adaptations please see our  Aids and adaptations webpage for details.

How do I apply for social housing? Toggle accordion

To apply for social housing, you need to apply to join the housing register on St Albans HomeChoice. This is an external website. Click on the 'St Albans Homechoice: Apply for social housing' button below to go to the St Albans HomeChoice page. This will open on a separate page. 

St Albans HomeChoice: Apply for social housing

The opening screen looks like this:

Shows the St Albans Home Choice webpage. Join the housing register is bottom right. Login to your account is top right

There are two steps to applying to join the housing register:

Step one: setting up a St Albans Homechoice account 

Step two: setting up a housing application

Do you already have an account?  

You may already have a 'St Albans Homechoice' account. For example you may have set one up if you applied with My St Albans Council as homeless.

If you already have a 'Homechoice' account log in on 'Already have an account?' on the St Albans HomeChoice main page. For help with setting up your application scroll down to Step Two: 'Apply to join the housing register'.

If you do not have an account then follow Step one below   

Step One: Set up your account on St Albans HomeChoice

1. To create your St Albans HomeChoice account click on 'Join the Register' on the St Albans Homechoice main webpage.

2. Enter your email address and create a password. Passwords must be at least 8 characters long and include capital and non-capital letters, at least one number and at least one alpha-numeric character (e.g. * @  #).

3. Click 'Register'.

4. You will receive an email in the address you have used to register with St Albans HomeChoice with a link to confirm your account. This will come from 'Housing Jigsaw' Open the email in your inbox and click on the link. 

5. The link will take you to the login page on St Albans Homechoice. Login with the email address and password you used to create your account. 

6. You are now registered as a customer with St Albans Home Choice. 

7. You will now be asked to select the local authority you are in. Select 'St Albans' from the drop-down menu and press 'next'. 

8. Fill in your customer details. Make sure you complete all the necessary fields and that the information you are giving is accurate.  Click 'save and continue' when you have finished filling in your details. 

9. You can now make your application to join the housing register. 

Step two: Filling in the application to join the housing register

10. When you have logged in to your My St Albans Homechoice account you will come to a page offering a list of services. On the list of services, select 'Housing register'.

11. Click 'Start social housing application'. 

12. Add any joint applicants or other household members. To do this click on 'add' and fill in their details. 

13. Add more details about your current address and confirm all details are correct. Add the address for the joint applicant if it is different. Click 'save'. 

14. Add your address history going back at least 5 years by clicking 'add address' and filling in the details. If you have been in your current address for five years or longer the system will tell you that you do not need to add any more address history. Click 'save and continue' when you have finished this section. 

15. Select the areas where you want to live. You must choose at least one area but can choose as many as you wish.You can do this by clicking on the boxes or on the map.

16. Fill in the rest of the application form. Complete each section and click on 'save and continue' to move on to the next section. Make sure you answer all mandatory questions. They are marked with an '*'. 

17. If you are applying for a transfer from social housing, make sure that you answer the two questions on your current housing circumstances correctly. Mark yourself as a 'Council tenant' or 'Registered Provider/Social Housing Association Tenant' and that you are applying for a transfer. 

18. Once you reach the end of your application, sign by drawing in the box with your mouse. The system will automatically fill in the date. Click 'save' when you have signed. 

You have now completed your application. 

 A Guide to Applying to the Housing Register with images

If you would like screenshots of the application process you can access the 'St Albans Home Choice Application guide' below.

How can I get help to apply? Toggle accordion

See below to see what to do if you are not able to complete your application.

I don't have a computer

Applications can be made on a smartphone. Alternatively, If you would prefer to use a computer, you may use one of ours in the self-serve area at reception. St Albans library also have computers available for public use.

I can’t fill in the form

If you need help filling in the form or setting up an email address and no friends or family can help you, contact 01727 819450 to make an appointment with Customer Services.  

I can’t upload my documents

If you do not have access to a scanner at home, you may take photos of the required documents on your smartphone and upload them directly to your portal. Please make sure any photos and documents are clear and readable.

Alternatively, if you do not have family or friends who can help you, you may use facilities at a local library and scan your documents there.

What happens after I have applied? Toggle accordion

We will consider whether you are eligible to join the housing register and if so, what priority band you will be. Please see our Housing Allocations Policy for further details of our assessment criteria and details of our banding.

You will not hear from us until we have registered your application unless we need further information from you.

It normally takes about 12 weeks from the date that you have submitted all your documents for us to make our decision.

If more 12 weeks have passed since you submitted all the required information please email stalbans.homechoice@stalbans.gov.uk with your query. 

I am accepted on the Housing Register - what next?

If you are accepted on the Housing Register you will need to bid for a property. Click on the 'Bidding for a Property' button below to go to the bidding webpage.

Bidding for a Property