Housing options in Westminster

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 came into effect on 1 April 2015 and aims to improve an individual’s wellbeing and independence by giving greater control and influence to those in need of support.

If you would like a little extra help, but don’t wish to move from your home, visit the People First website for further advice about staying in your own home or for more information on the Care Act.

1. Mutual exchange (home swap)

If you're a secure Westminster council tenant or an assured tenant of a housing association (contact your landlord directly), you can exchange your property with another tenant living elsewhere. If you don't have high priority for a move under our choice based lettings scheme or you wish to move out of Westminster, this may offer you a better way of finding another home.


To help you swap, the government has set up HomeSwapper, a website showing thousands of properties occupied by tenants who are interested in swapping. If you register, you will be able to look for possible swaps on the website. If there are any people interested, they will send you the details.

How to register

You can register online with HomeSwapper. If you don't have internet access, you can contact CityWest Homes or the Housing Options Service.

There are some restrictions on swapping. Importantly, you must get permission from your landlord before going ahead with a swap; if you don't, you could lose your home.

    2. Housing options for young people

    Finding somewhere to live in Westminster is very hard, given the high cost and lack of available places. It can be particularly difficult if you are trying to find a place for the first time.

    Living with friends

    Moving out of home for the first time is daunting, with no Mum or Dad to turn to when you need advice, or to chat to after work or college. You may find it is easier to make the break into independence if you get a place with your friends. Not only is this usually cheaper, but there will always be someone around while you are learning how to manage on your own.

    Or, think about finding a room to rent in an existing flat share. You can make a whole new group of friends this way, while gaining your freedom! Check out the section on private rented accommodation for hints and tips.

    Under 18s

    You cannot become a tenant in a property until you are at least 18 years old. If you are under 18 you may be able to live in rented accommodation as a licencee.

    Housing Benefit

    Your age also affects the amount of Housing Benefit that you might be entitled to. If you are aged 16 or 17 and have recently left local authority care, you may not entitled to any Housing Benefit. If you are single and aged under 25, you will be entitled to a reduced rate equivalent to renting a room in a shared house only.

    Full time students

    Generally, full time students are not entitled to Housing Benefit, however there are exceptions. For example, students who are lone parents may still qualify for full Housing Benefit.


    If you think you might become homeless, it is really important that you contact us as soon as possible. We will do what we can to try and prevent you from losing your home.

    You can find loads of useful information about housing and all sorts of other things for young people at National Youth Agency.

    3. Housing options for key workers

    The council's unitary development plan dictates that most affordable housing be social rented accommodation. However, a proportion of new affordable housing will be for key workers.

    Government-funded key worker initiatives include Open Market Homebuy, New Build Homebuy (formerly Shared Ownership) and Intermediate Rent.

    All Westminster key workers interested in housing opportunities specific to them are required to register with the Homebuy agent, Metropolitan Housing.

    4. Housing options for other priority groups

    In addition to the main priority groups listed here, we also have various other priority groups for applicants with a special need. In most cases, applicants are nominated for re-housing by their care co-ordinator or social worker. Full details of these groups can be found in the Housing Allocation Scheme.

    View our housing policies.

    5. Housing options for private landlords

    If you are a private landlord and have residential property to let in London we have a great opportunity for you. Lease it to us for three or more years and in return we'll pay you a good rent, guarantee payment and manage your property, all for free.

    Free tenant introduction service

    Alternatively if you are not looking for a management service but would still like us to try to introduce a tenant to you free of charge (that’s no cost to you whatsoever) we can do just that.

    Further information

    To discuss the options available please call the Housing Options Service on 020 7641 1000 and speak to the Westminster lettings team or email landlordenquiries@wcchos.org.uk.

    Last updated: 2 May 2018
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