This paper discusses the importance of trust, distrust and betrayal in the context of relational contracts in the modern welfare state.We use a specific case study of the allocation of social housing. That context is one in which the local authority has statutory obligations towards households in housing need but limited ability to fulfil those obligations without reliance on other social housing providers, specifically registered social landlords. Relationships between providers are,in theory, negotiated through nominations agreements. In this paper, we draw on data from a research project concerned with ‘problematic nominations’ to illustrate the production of trust, distrust and betrayal. Our analysis is structured by reference to three frameworks for the production of trust: characteristic-based, process-based and institutional based trust.