A realistic look at London’s housing situation

Waiting lists for social housing in London are very oversubscribed. The current situation is made worse by the chronic housing shortage in London. Other housing associations and councils are in the same situation as demand for rented housing far outstrips supply in London.

…First the bad news

Many tenants believe that their landlord is under a legal obligation to ensure that they are housed in accommodation that is adequate and suitable for their needs.
This is not the case.

  • A social landlord is required to ensure that an offer of accommodation is in line with its policy and housing law at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • It has no legal obligation to accept responsibility for future changes in the make-up of the household.
  • If you read your tenancy agreement, you will see that it gives a ‘permitted’ number. This is the maximum number of persons that can occupy the premises without it being ‘statutorily overcrowded’. The onus is on the tenant not to overcrowd the property, not on the landlord to find larger accommodation.

…However, the good news is

As social landlords we will try to meet any reasonable requests for transfers from our tenants and we would not normally consider taking action against a tenant that was unavoidably overcrowding their accommodation.

We have tried to make our transfer system as simple and transparent as possible. We operate a (first come first served) ‘Date of Entry Waiting List’; this means your place on the waiting list is determined by the date that you joined the list. This is the only criteria used and you cannot be overtaken by anyone else that applies for transfer after you (unless they have been made and emergency management priority transfer case).

You can apply for as many IDS areas (estates/schemes) that have appropriately sized accommodation as you are eligible for. The more areas you are prepared to consider the quicker you will get to the top of the waiting list and be able to bid.

All IDS tenants are eligible to apply for transfer. Any tenant can apply for transfer within their size eligibility. You do not have to have any health needs to be eligible. However, no offers will be made to tenants with rent arrears or those responsible for causing anti-social behaviour (nuisance) issues.


The chart below shows what size property you are eligible to apply for. You are eligible to apply for the size(s) of property indicated in the chart below:


Household Size

Accommodation Unit Size Range

Single person

Bedsit – one bedroom, two person unit

A couple

One Bed, two person unit * #

One adult, or adult couple with one child, or two adults not in a relationship, i.e. siblings.

Two bedroom, three person unit. On estates where there are no three person units, this household size will qualify for a two bedroom, four person unit.

One adult, or adult couple with two children of the same sex

Two bedroom, four person unit

One adult, or adult couple with 2 children of opposite sexes both under the age of five years

Two bedroom four person unit – three bedroom, five person unit

One adult, or adult couple, with 2 children of opposite sexes with either over the age of five years

Three bedroom four person unit – three bedroom five person unit.

One adult, or adult couple, with three children

Three bedroom five person unit – three bedroom six person unit

One adult, or adult couple, with two male

children & two female children

Three bedroom, six person unit

Larger households

The same principles listed above will be applied for larger properties

* A couple can be considered for a two bedroom, three-person unit when evidence is given supporting this need on medical grounds.

** In the case of 2 children of the same sex but significantly differing ages, (i.e. a baby and a teenage child), or two adult children (18 years +) IDS will consider the family for a smaller three bedroom unit.

# This may be relaxed to allow a couple a two bedroom property on the 3rd/4th floor at Evelyn Court if no applicant more suitable can be identified.


Please note:

IDS will only take account of ‘authorised’ household occupants’ when evaluating size eligibility. These are:

  • Persons listed as occupants at the commencement of your tenancy
  • A partner of the tenant
  • Children born to the tenant during the tenancy
  • Persons you have requested IDS to consider as a permanent part of your household and IDS have agreed in writing to recognise as such.

IDS owns close to 1200 general needs properties and 200 sheltered flats for people over the age of sixty.

We expect to let about 60 flats a year and of these normally around 20% will be allocated to transfer applicants.

Unfortunately, quick transfers are very rare and you should expect a considerable wait before you receive an opportunity to bid for properties.


You can also Mutual Exchange

We are signed up to Home Swapper, which is a national database of social housing tenants wishing to exchange their home. We will approve your registration and pay the fee for you to join. You can find out more and register on the Home Swapper website here or contact our Housing Team to find out more. If you need any help or assistance in getting set up on Home Swapper, please let your estate manager know and we will gladly help.