Durham Key Options

Help to apply for social rented housing in Durham

What does it do?

Durham Key Options is a ‘Choice-based lettings’ (CBL) system intended to make it easier for you to apply for rented housing and, if you are eligible, to choose between properties that become available.

A key feature of most CBLs  is that you only need to provide your details (ie. register) once for all or most of the ‘social housing’ landlords in its area. Your needs will be assessed and you will be awarded a ‘priority rating’. Then when properties become available they will be advertised, and you will be able to ‘bid’ for them.

All CBLs advertise properties on their website, and many libraries have computers available for use if you don't have one at home. In most areas the Council ensures that printed lists are also available in libraries and council offices, and sometimes in local free newspapers or newsletters.

Applicants on the housing register can then place bids on properties they are interested in. Bidding rounds typically last either a week or a fortnight. If several people bid for the same property, their relative priority rating will usually determine who is offered the property first. In some areas the length of time you have been registered may also be taken into account.

People who are already tenants of councils or ‘social landlords’ and who want to move (‘transfer’) to a more suitable property will generally have to register with the choice-based lettings system, just like other applicants. However in many areas they will be awarded a higher priority if they want, or are willing, to move to a smaller property.

Who it is for?

Anyone who wants to apply for social rented housing in County Durham.

Where it is available?

Local service (Durham, Easington, Teesdale, Wear Valley, Chester-le-Street, Derwentside, Sedgefield).

What it costs:

It is a free service.

How to access or apply for it:

Visit the Durham Key Options website to register, search and bid for properties.

If you need help, either:

  • Email Durham Key Options via the 'Contact us' page of the website, or:
  • See 'Other Contacts' where you can download contact details for all the housing providers involved in Durham Key Options.

What to expect then:

Visit the website to find out what to expect next, and to answer any other questions you may have.

Additional information:

Most rented housing that is designed for older people is provided by local councils or housing associations. It is usually let at below market rents, either‘social rents’ or ‘affordable rents’.

In many part of the country it is in short supply, and therefore applicants must generally be able to show that:

  • they need this kind of housing;
  • they cannot afford to buy it, or to buy a share in a ‘shared ownership’ property;
  • they live, or need to live, in a particular council area.

All ‘choice-based lettings’ systems will assess you according to these criteria, and perhaps other local requirements, before awarding you a ‘priority rating’.

If you are interested in ‘extra care’ housing, which caters for frailer older people, then your care needs will also be assessed. 

Important note
In some areas not all sheltered or retirement accommodation is let through choice-based lettings. Some housing associations are able to let a proportion of their properties outside of the system. EAC’s website www.HousingCare.org carries advertisements for many of these, and provides details of how to apply direct to the landlords concerned.


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