What is the housing register and who can join it?

The housing register is a waiting list of people who qualify for social housing. Once you’re on the housing register, you can bid for properties, in accordance to your room size on Choice Based Lettings (ChoiceHomes).

Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of social housing in Hackney, meaning we can not provide a social housing property to the vast majority of people who would like one. Only applicants with the highest levels of housing need will be accepted onto the waiting list.

Once you’re on the housing register it can then take many years to obtain a social home, and waiting times are lengthy, with a very high number of bids placed on every available social housing property that becomes available. Being on the housing register does not mean you will be successful in bidding, and many individuals on the waiting list will never obtain a property.

Because of this we would encourage residents not to rely on the housing register as a housing solution, and to consider alternative housing options.

Our Housing Advice team can give detailed advice on what else you can do to solve your housing needs, including considering private rented accommodation.

The private rented sector provides much more choice, and is available more frequently. You can contact Housing Advice on 020 8356 2929 or by emailing housingadvice@hackney.gov.uk.

Who can join the housing register?

In order to join the housing register you must establish that you are eligible, in housing need and qualify to join the register, as defined in our allocations policy.


You are eligible and qualify to join Hackney Council’s housing register, if you are:

  • aged 18 or over
  • are not subject to immigration controls and have recourse to public funds

You can apply to go on the register if:

  • you currently live in Hackney continuously for at least 3 years
  • you do not own a home or residential property
  • you have capital and savings below £80,000
  • you have an income of less than £80,000 per year, or £100,000 if you are seeking a property with 3 or more bedrooms
  • you have not willfully worsened your housing situation to take advantage of the process, such as knowingly moved into accommodation that was too small for your household size, or deliberately damaged your current accommodation
  • you have not been found intentionally homeless by a Council in the last 3 years
  • you are not squatting in a social property
  • you have not sublet your social home, or temporary accommodation without permission
  • you do not have extensive support needs which means you would be unable to manage a Social letting

Residency requirement

The majority of applicants need to have lived in Hackney continuously for the last 3 years to be able to join the housing register. This is sometimes called local connection. However, certain individuals are exempt from our 3 year residential qualifications:

  • nominees under the National Witness Mobility Scheme
  • households accepted as homeless by Hackney Council
  • individuals moving to Hackney to provide care to a Hackney resident, where the Council has agreed it is medically required, and there is no alternative
  • individuals fleeing domestic violence, who apply as homeless
  • cases where there is a significant social or welfare need to move to Hackney and the Council accepts the residency requirement are not reasonable
  • members serving in the armed forces, or who have served in the last 5 years
  • divorced and separated spouses of members of the armed forces who have to leave MOD accommodation, or who have divorced / separated in the last 3 years
  • someone who has served in the reserve forces who is suffering serious injury, illness or disability which is attributable to that service
  • students who are studying away but intend to return to Hackney at the end of their course

Housing need

Due to the chronic shortage of social rented homes in Hackney, you can only join the housing register if you have a high housing need as listed in our allocation policy. This means:

  • your household is severely overcrowded, meaning you must be in a property that is, at least, 2 rooms overcrowded, according to the room standard
  • you have a significant social need – meaning there is a threat to the life of you or someone in your household, and there is no alternative effective remedy other than moving
  • you have a significant medical need – This means your accommodation is unsuitable because you or a member of your household has a severe and enduring medical condition. Applications will not be accepted where the effect of the household’s housing conditions on health is moderate, slight or variable
  • you are homeless, and Hackney Council has accepted a homeless duty
  • you are living in unsanitary accommodation – where the accommodation is lacking the basic essentials for daily life, such as electricity, water or sanitation. This will only be accepted where efforts to make the property habitable have failed
  • you are a quota case – the Council sets annual quotas.These are to assist with move on for; young people being discharged from care, singles accommodated in Hackney’s mental health pathway, individuals in young people’s community housing, and vulnerable singles and ex rough sleepers accommodated in Hackney’s single homeless pathway

Discretionary offer of a tenancy

Following the death of a Council tenant, we may offer a tenancy to a household member on a discretionary basis. This is normally where the occupant has always lived with the tenant and there are special circumstances such as vulnerability.

All decisions to make a discretionary offer of a tenancy will be made by the lettings team manager.

Where a property is too large and you are under occupying the property a discretionary offer of a tenancy will be made in accordance with your households assessed housing need.

The process and procedures for discretionary offers of a tenancy are contained in appendix 3 of the lettings policy.

Unfortunately where couples are going through separation due to a marriage or relationship breakdown – and no longer wish to live together these are not grounds for establishing housing need or access to the housing register.

Transitional cases

A small number of households who no longer meet the above criteria for housing need but were on the housing register prior to 1 October 2021 have retained transitional protection and can remain on the housing register. You can remain on the register if:

  • you were on the register at 30 September 2021, and your application included one or more children, and you live in single bedroomed accommodation
  • you were on the register at 30 September 2001, were assessed as overcrowded by one room, and had children sharing a bedroom, where your child is within 24 months of qualifying for an additional bedroom in their own right

Emergency cases

Every year a handful of emergency cases are added to the housing register – where their circumstances are such that their housing need constitutes an emergency. This includes:

Emergency hospital discharge cases

Where you can’t be discharged because of the medical unsuitability of your home, or if you don’t have a home and there’s no available suitable temporary accommodation.

(The decision whether to make an award is at the discretion of the appropriate designated officer).

Police witnesses cases

Where your life, or the life of someone in your household, is at risk as a consequence of providing assistance to the police or other law enforcement body. (The decision whether to make an award is at the discretion of the appropriate designated officer and will be based on evidence from the police or similar organisation).

Cases of fire, flood and roof collapse

Where a current Council tenant property has become uninhabitable because of a fire, flood and roof collapse – (The decision whether to make an award is at the discretion of the appropriate designated officer).

As ordered by the Local Authority Ombudsman

Where a person has complained to the Local Authority Ombudsman and they have identified a case of maladministration by the Council, or by an agency acting on behalf of the Council, and recommend that emergency housing is appropriate.

Following a successful Judicial Review

If you’ve applied to the Administrative Court and a judicial review has decided that your housing need is such that it constitutes an emergency.

Connected carers needing additional rooms

Where children are unable to live safely with their parents and need to come into our care and we are supporting them to live with friends or family in a connected carers arrangement.

These emergency cases are exceptional, and the threshold is extremely high. Only the most urgent cases will go onto the housing register in an emergency.

For more information about who is eligible for the housing register please read our housing allocation policy.

Page updated on: 6 January 2022

Housing Supply Team


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY