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Social housing

When you rent a home from a council or housing association (also known as registered provider) you are living in social housing. Social housing is provided to eligible households in housing need.

Housing associations are not-for-profit organisations and are the main providers of social housing. Councils may also own and manage social housing, and those who do not, will have transferred their housing stock to housing associations.


The rents in social housing are usually lower than in the private rented sector. Councils and housing associations may also charge slightly higher rents than social rent called affordable rent. This is where the rent is charged up to 80% of local market rent levels. The aim of affordable rent is to have greater flexibility offered for the range of people accessing social housing.

Types of tenancies

There are different types of council and housing association tenancies that have different rights, so it’s good to know what these are before you take up a tenancy. If renting from a council you may be given an introductory, secure or flexible tenancy. If renting from a housing association you may be given a starter, assured or flexible tenancy. Read more..

If you want to rent social housing in Kent

Kent Homechoice is the choice-based lettings service for all social housing in Kent. There is a high demand for social housing and those who have the highest housing need have the best chance of getting a home this way. The scheme user guide tells you all you need to know about how Kent Homechoice works and you will need to register and be eligible to take part.

Contact details for your local council can be found here. Housing associations that operate in Kent can be found here.

Mutual exchange

Mutual exchange is where social housing tenants can swap their homes with other tenants providing they have the right to do so. Exchange Locata is a direct, online social housing exchange service.


If you live in social housing and your home is now too large for your needs, you may wish to consider downsizing to a smaller property. Many social landlords run incentive schemes to help you downsize Read more..

For more information


Gov.UK provides useful information on council housing.


Shelter provides useful information on renting from a council or housing association.