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How would applications and allocations work under the 'Optimising Social Housing' Policy?

This document sets out how Fareham Borough Council would allocate social housing under the proposed new policy. 

The full draft policy and a summary of changes can be found on the 'Have Your Say' page of the Council website or by contacting the consultation team on 01329 824409.

Who can apply?

Anyone over 16 can apply if they meet certain eligibility criteria. Young people 16-18 would be given a licence to occupy premises and a secure tenancy only when they turn 18.  

How to apply?

People will no longer be sent an application form but will be offered an appointment, or drop-in to see a Housing Options Officer any weekday at the Civic Offices. They will talk through their current situation and see how we can best help meet their needs.  Officers will make sure that applicants understand all the options available to them to prevent homelessness.  If they are able to join the housing register, we will tell them what priority band they will be placed in and how long it may be before they might be housed.

We will need applicants to bring any relevant supporting documentation such as proof of identity, a bank statement or a wage slip to help us make sure we can propose the best housing solution. 

What does 'eligibility' mean?

The rules for eligibility are set out in the Housing Act and the Localism Act and state that anyone who is not subject to immigration control (unless they are exempt by other rules laid out by the Secretary of State) can look to join the housing register.

What does 'qualifying person' mean?

The Housing Act lets us apply further criteria to determine whether people can join the housing register.  For example, if they haven't lived in Fareham before they might not be able to join the housing register; however, if they serve/served in the Armed Forces they might be eligible as a 'qualifying person'. The Housing Options Officer will assess people's circumstances against these criteria.

What may stop someone from being able to join the housing register?

The Housing Act says some people can't join the housing register.  For example, if they own their own home or have a lot of savings it is very unlikely that they will be able to join the register. We will still give them advice about other housing options.

There may also be problems in adding someone to the housing register if they have deliberately made their situation worse to get an advantage on the housing register, if they have been assessed as unable to keep a tenancy, have over £500 debts with their current social housing provider or they, or a member of their household, have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour.

How will someone be informed if they cannot join the Register?

The Housing Options Officer will discuss with them whether they can join the housing register or if they have been excluded for any reason. The decision will be confirmed in writing. 

Who is included on the application?

The Housing Options Officer will ask who normally lives with the person or who would normally live with them if they could.

If the applicant shares custody of children, the Council will classify them as living with the person who provides their main home. If they are a foster carer or looking to adopt, we will need to have an agreement with Social Services in place to make sure that we allocate the correct size property. 

Can someone who is already a tenant apply?

If someone is already a Council or Registered Provider tenant, they need to contact us so that we can determine whether they can be added to the housing register.

If we do not think they are eligible to move, we will help them use Homeswapper and discuss other options available to them. Homeswapper is a national social housing exchange website so advertises properties throughout the UK.

What happens if their circumstances change?

We priorities and allocate on the information we have available, so it is really important to let us know about any change in circumstances, for example a new addition to a household, as quickly as possible. We may need to make further checks to ensure they are still eligible; if this is the case we will write to them with the outcome.

Can people choose their accommodation?

When someone applies, they have the right to let us know the sort of accommodation they would like and areas they would like to live.  There is a limited amount of accommodation available, but we will work to find the type of housing that meets their needs and achieve a successful tenancy.

What is an allocation?

An allocation is when the Council nominates someone on the housing register for a property.  The property could either be owned by Fareham Borough Council, another Council or by a Housing Association (also known as a Registered Provider).

The types of properties we allocate are general needs housing (such as flats or houses), sheltered housing accommodation (for older people who need more support) and specially adapted properties for people with disabilities.

What rules does the Council have to follow?

A Local Authority must comply with Government legislation and statutory guidance when making allocations.  We also refer to our own strategies such as our Homelessness and Housing Options Strategy.

How would someone be prioritised?

We use a banding system to group together applicants and place them according to need. Each band takes into account the 'reasonable preference' categories and the Council's local priorities.  The bands are as follows:

Band A – where it is an urgent situation and no other option is available

Band B – where a high priority housing need has been identified, such as those leaving the care of Hampshire County Council

Band C – where a moderate priority housing need has been identified, such as applicants lacking one bedroom

Band D – where a housing need has been identified but no higher priority applies, such as those who qualify as 'right-to-move' applicants

As there are many preference and priority categories, the breakdown for each band is set out in a seperate appendix.

What else might be considered?

We are encouraged by the Government to support people in paid employment or those who are making a positive contribution to the community by adding a 'positive contribution' priority.  This can also include voluntary work or being a full-time carer. We also know that some people cannot work or volunteer, so if they have a chronic disability they should tell us as we can add this to their banding assessment. 

What happens if someone needs retirement living accommodation?

If someone would like to apply for retirement living accommodation they will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

How do the Council match me to a property?

After we have understood someone's preferences and needs and they have been placed into a priority band, we use a 'best match' method to allocate a property.

This means that the property is allocated based on urgency and type of house to the most suitable person in Band A first.  We then move down the priority band list; Band B, C then D.  Anyone with higher medical needs, is working or making a positive contribution will be prioritised if no other reasonable preference qualification applies. Where there are two or more suitable applicants, those who were added to the housing register first will be considered first.

As there is a limited amount of accommodation available, we must make sure that we allocate each person the right size as well as type of property, so we use the Government's 'bedroom standard' as a guide.

We also need to make sure that the applicant can afford the rent, so we look at their income and welfare benefits.  It will be their responsibility to ensure they can continue to meet the rental charge.

What happens when you have matched an applicant to a property?

When we have found a suitable property, we will contact the applicant.  If it is a property owned by us we will arrange a viewing and discuss any concerns, repairs or alterations that may be required.  A further appointment will be arranged to make sure they are still eligible and to sign the tenancy agreement.

If the property is owned by a Registered Provider, we will pass their details on and they will be the landlord. The viewing and tenancy agreement will be dealt with by them.

What happens if someone doesn't think that the property they've been matched to is suitable?

We talk about preferences for location and property type at the application stage. If, however, someone does not feel the property is suitable, we will ask them to tell us the reasons why to help us make a better match in the future. Anyone who unreasonably refuses an offer of a property may be removed from the housing register.  Applicants may apply to re-join the housing register, but previous waiting times will not be taken into account.

What happens if a false or misleading claim is made?

If we suspect, or it has been alleged, that false information has been given or deliberately withheld, the application will be frozen whilst an investigation is undertaken.  No accommodation offers will be made until the investigation is completed. 

We may remove someone from the housing register or seek back possession of a tenancy if we find that a false statement has been made. If the tenancy is with a Registered Provider, we will let them know. It is a criminal offence to make false statements on an application so, if there is evidence that this has happened, the Council may take proceedings that could result in a criminal record, a fine or imprisonment.

Can someone request a review of any decisions?

There is a right to request a review of any of the following decisions:

Review requests must be made within 21 days of the decision in writing.  The Council will consider an extension of the 21 days in exceptional circumstances and applicants should contact the Council for further advice.

The review will be dealt with by an Officer who is both senior to the original decision maker and who has not been involved in making that decision.  Review decisions will be made in writing to the applicant within 8 weeks.

 

Please go to the survey and give us your views on the proposed policy

 



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Fareham Borough Council, Civic Offices, Civic Way, Hampshire, PO16 7AZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1329 236100 | Mobile Text/Photo: 07876 131415 | Fax: +44 (0) 1329 821770
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