Housing associations are privately-owned, not-for-profit organisations that aim to provide lower-cost social housing. They are independent but they are regulated by the government. They're also sometimes known as registered social landlords or private registered providers of social housing.
Housing associations provide a wide range of housing. Some only own and manage a few properties, while larger ones might own whole estates. Housing associations offer similar types of housing as local councils but some specialise in particular types of housing - for example family homes, sheltered accommodation for older people, and accessible homes for people with disabilities.
In Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, you can usually only access housing association properties by applying for accommodation from your local council. The same eligibility criteria and waiting times will apply.
Your local council will provide information on how they work with housing associations:-
If you can be flexible about where you live then very occasionally you may be able to rent some housing association properties in your area or elsewhere in London by applying direct to the housing association - click here for a list of housing associations who may have available properties.
If you already live in a housing association property and want move to another area then there are various schemes which may be able to assist - but before you approach the following schemes speak to your housing association for more advice.
The HomeSwapper website may be able to assist housing association or Council tenants to find someone to swap with anywhere in the UK. Your local authority has partnered with HomeSwapper so you can use it for free as part of their Mutual Exchange Scheme. More information here:
Housing Moves is the Mayor of London's housing mobility scheme that allows tenants of London boroughs or housing associations to move outside their existing borough to a different part of London. It is run by the Greater London Authority and the majority of London boroughs and housing associations are participating.
The Seaside and Country Homes scheme is also run by the Mayor of London and provides bungalows and flats for council or housing association tenants over the age of 60 who want to move out of the city to a seaside or country location.
And you can contact your council's housing department if you are interested in registering for the Seaside and Country Homes scheme - go to our page on Local authority housing for contact details.
Exchange Locata is a direct, online social housing exchange service for tenants and landlords.
Gov.uk has useful information about housing associations, what you can expect when you apply and your rights as a housing association tenant.
Shelter has information on housing associations and how to apply.
Stonewall Housing have helped thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to find safe and secure homes.
Westminster have produced a leaflet on all aspects of finding somewhere to live, including with housing associations.