The staggering average wait for a council house in each London borough

Some Londoners face waits of over 10 years to get a council house in the city, a Freedom of Information request submitted by MyLondon has revealed.

MyLondon sent FOIs to every council in London and asked them how many tenants were on their waiting lists and how long the average wait for accommodation was.

Their responses laid the shocking state of London’s housing crisis bare.

READ MORE: Enfield dad says he’s been housed in ‘dungeon’ with swarms of rats after his son was murdered

The Borough of Lambeth alone has more than 36,000 people on its register.

Wait times across different boroughs vary according to each council’s priority scheme, but whatever a resident’s situation, it’s a possibility that they spend years waiting.

Below you will find information on each London Borough’s housing situation.

All information is accurate accurate as of April 2021 unless otherwise specified.

Barnet Homes has been approached by MyLondon.

Barking and Dagenham

Number of people on waiting list: 5,697

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council said: “We are unable to answer this question in this format as it has no date parameters.”

Bexley

Number of people on waiting list: 6,940

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

This varies depending on bedroom size. Average number of week is below.

  • 0 bedrooms – 144 weeks
  • 1 bedroom – 164 weeks
  • 2 bedrooms – 144 weeks
  • 3 bedrooms – 207 weeks
  • 4 bedrooms – 258 weeks

Brent

Number of people on waiting list: 2,647 everyone on the waiting list that has a priority as of 16/04/21

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

  • Sheltered accommodation: 22 months
  • Studio general needs: 34 months
  • 1-bed general needs: 27 months
  • 2-bed flat or maisonette: 8 years
  • 2-bed house: 10 years
  • 3-bed flat or maisonette: 13 years
  • 3-bed house: 17 years
  • 4-bed: 17 years
  • 5-bed: 17 years

Bromley

Number of people on waiting list: 2,403

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

As at 19 April 2021, the average length of time an applicant has been on the housing register is 905 days or 2.47 years.

Camden

Number of people on waiting list: 6,066

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 4 years

Croydon

Number of people on waiting list: 6,193

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

Croydon Council said: “Our data does not calculate the average waiting time, but please note the number of households who have been on the Housing Register for (a) 0 – 5 years (b) between five years and ten years (c) ten years or more.”

Croydon Council's housing data
Croydon Council’s housing data

You can read more about Croydon’s priority categories here.

Ealing

Number of people on waiting list: 10,910

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

“This will depend on which band the applicant is in,” the Council said.

Enfield

Number of people on waiting list: 4,125

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 4.6 years

Greenwich

Number of people on waiting list: 23,893

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 32.97 months / 2.75 years

“This is based on housed cases of all combined rehousing lists, during the period 1 st April 2020 to 31 st March 2021,” the Council told us.

“Average waiting times are a very rough guide and based on properties available and bids made. = 32.97 months.

“This is not representative of every year.”

Hackney

Number of people on waiting list: Hackney Council failed to specify the number of people awaiting council houses in the borough.

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

Figures based on joining the register on 9 April 2020.

Band 1 bed 2 bed 3 bed 4+bed
Urgent 1 year 2 years 2 years 9 years
Homeless 4 years 12 years 9 years 15 years
General 7 years 19 years 26 years 28 years

For more information on Hackney’s bands, click here.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Number of people on waiting list: 2,825

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 33.2 months.

Haringey

Number of people on waiting list: 11,719

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

“Average waiting times for 2019/20 are shown in the table below,” the Council shared with MyLondon.

Haringey Council's housing data
Haringey Council’s housing data

For more information on Haringey’s bands, click here.

Harrow

Number of people on waiting list: 4,004

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

“We are unable to provide this figure under the exemption permitted regarding officer hours in consideration of all the questions raised in your enquiry,” the Council said.

“To identify the average length of time all applicants who are waiting would require a manual exercise to review each application date and calculate the length of individual waiting times.

“This exercise with 4004 applications has been determined as taking a minimum of five minutes per application and this would equate to over 600 hours.

“In consideration of the estimated time to undertake this task your questions exceeds 18 hours worth of officer time and as such the question falls within exemptions permitted.”

Havering

Number of people on waiting list: 2081

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 7 years

Hillingdon

Number of people on waiting list: 2738

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 3.05 years

Hounslow

Number of people on waiting list: 3338

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

  • 1 bedroom home: average waiting time is more than 2 years
  • 2 bedroom home: average waiting time is more than 2 years
  • 3 bedroom home: average waiting time is more than 4 years
  • 4 or more bedroom home: average waiting time is more than 5 years

Islington

Number of people on waiting list: 14,530

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: “Due to the severe shortage of available social housing in Islington, only approximately 7% of those on the housing register are housed each year.

“Therefore, it is not possible to give an average time that a household would spend on the register before being housed.”

Kensington and Chelsea

Number of people on waiting list: 3110

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: “5 years 8 months based on current CHR as at 01 May 2021, excluding Grenfell related applications.”

Kingston upon Thames

Number of people on waiting list: 4004

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: “We are unable to provide this figure under the exemption permitted regarding officer hours in consideration of all the questions raised in your enquiry.

“To identify the average length of time all applicants who are waiting would require a manual exercise to review each application date and calculate the length of individual waiting times.

“This exercise with 4004 applications has been determined as taking a minimum of five minutes per application and this would equate to over 600 hours.

“In consideration of the estimated time to undertake this task your questions exceeds 18 hours worth of officer time and as such the question falls within exemptions permitted.”

Lambeth

Number of people on waiting list: 36,018

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 6.5 years

Lewisham

Number of people on waiting list: 9,944

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

Lewisham Council's housing data
Lewisham Council’s housing data
(Image: Lewisham Council)

To find out more about Lewisham’s bands, click here.

Newham

Number of people on waiting list: 32,062

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

  • Average waiting time for a 1 bedroom property is 6 years, 8 months, 3 days (01/01/2020-31/12/2020)
  • Average waiting time for a 2 bedroom property is 7 years, 1 month, 2 days (01/01/2020-31/12/2020)
  • Average waiting time for a 3 bedroom property is 9 years, 5 months, 3 day (01/01/2020-31/12/2020)

Redbridge

Number of people on waiting list: 7582

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: “Average waiting times are based on the lettings in the previous year.

“They indicate the average and some will wait shorter or longer depending on their level of priority and the stock that becomes available.”

Redbridge Council's housing data
Redbridge Council’s housing data
(Image: Redbridge Council)

You can find out more about Redbridge’s bands here.

Richmond upon Thames

Number of people on waiting list: 4893

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list?: 1676 days (4.5 years)

Southwark

Number of people on waiting list: 15,239

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: “We do not hold this information, as the Council does not record this data.

“Please note that a households waiting time will be determined by its own specific circumstances, including how often the applicant chooses to bid for a property.”

Sutton

Number of people on waiting list: 2502

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 2 Years and 2 months

Tower Hamlets

Number of people on waiting list: 20,974

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: Tower Hamlets publish quarterly updates on their housing demand and wait times.

That information can be found here.

Waltham Forest

Number of people on waiting list: 8648

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: It is not possible to give a figure as to the exact timescales for being rehoused permanently.

“This is because applicants may be removed from the Housing Register for a variety of reasons, and waiting times will depend upon numerous factors such as level of priority awarded to an applicant, required property size, the number of empty homes becoming available, and also how flexible an applicant is with regards to their areas of preference and which advertised vacancies they may decide to bid for (express an interest in).

“As an example, we currently have 6856 applicants who have so far been waiting for up to 5 years to be rehoused. We have 987 applicants who have been waiting for between 5-10 years to be rehoused.

“We also have 805 applicants who have been waiting for 10 years+ to be rehoused. Regrettably, many of our applicants will never be rehoused due to the housing crisis.”

Wandsworth

Number of people on waiting list: 11,538

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list: 1,268 days (3.5 years)

Westminster

Number of people on waiting list:

Numbers currently waiting as of January 2020 are:

  • over 2,100 homeless households
  • over 1,600 tenants waiting for a transfer
  • over 390 in other priority groups
  • over 4,200 households in total

The average length of time a person spends on the waiting list:

1 bed – 1 year

2 bed- 10 year

3 bed – 16 years

4 bed – 34 years

Have you spent years on a housing waiting list in a London borough? Email: john.james@reachplc.com

My London – Local News