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FAQ s

Applying and the Homesearch Scheme

How do I join Homesearch?

How do I know if I have been accepted onto the register?

Can I be refused from the register?

How will my application be assessed?

Do I need to renew my application each year?

Bidding and Offers

What do you mean by the term 'bid'?

Can I bid for a property that is too big or too small for my needs?

How do I bid for a property?

How many properties can I bid for?

If I bid for a property earlier in the week am I more likely to get it?

Will i know how many other people are interested in the same property?

How do you decide who is offered a property?

Will you tell me if I have been successful in bidding for a property?

What happens if I have been successful in bidding for a property?

Why was I queue position 1 at midnight, but not afte the cycle ended?

If i am offered a property, will i be able to view it before making up my mind?

Adverts

How often are properties advertised?

Will all your properties be advertised?

Will properties owned by Housing Associations be advertised?

How will I know what has happened to the properties advertised?

How will this information help me?

What does 'Available Immediatley' mean on adverts?

Support and Assistance

What do I do if my circumstances change?

I have no internet access, how can I apply?

I have no internet access, how can I bid?

How will I manage on Universal Credit?

Homelessness

What do I do if I am homeless or threatened with homelessness?

Mutual Exchange

What are Mutual Exchanges?

How long do exchanges take?

Where is the best place for me to find somebody who wants to exchange?

Can an exchange be refused?

If I have rent arrears can I still exchange?

What are the advantages to doing a Mutual Exchange?

Can I encourage an exchange by paying someone?

Can I encourage an exchange using presents or goods?

 

Applying and The Homesearch Scheme

How do I join Homesearch?

You must complete a housing Application form online at www.home-search.org.uk

It is important that when you complete your form you include all relevant information in relation to your circumstances  as any missing information could affect how your housing need is assessed, or your application may not be assessed at all.

How do I know if I have been accepted onto the Housing Register?

You will receive a letter confirming that you have been accepted onto the Housing Register.  This will tell you the Band you have been placed in and the date your application has been registered from.  you may be asked to supply further information, and you should do this as soon as possible as this may affect your priority on the waiting list.

The letter will also give you details of how to access your Homesearch account and how to search for and bid for available or soon to be available properties.

Can I be refused from the Housing Register?

There are some people who are not eligible, or do not qualify to be included on the Housing Register, these are;

  • Certain people who are subject to Immigration Control under the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act
  • Certain people from abroad who are not subject to immigration control but who are not habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland

For further information on immigration control please go to www.homeoffice.gov.uk

even if people are eligible, they may not qualify to access the Homesearch scheme because;

  • They have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour that makes them unsuitable to be a tenant

How will my application be assessed?

Your housing application will be assessed in accordance with the Housing Allocations Policy of the Council you have applied to and will be placed into a band in accordance with your housing need. 

Do I need to renew my application each year?

Yes, once a year, normally on the anniversary of your application you will be sent a re-registration letter.

The easiest way to renew your application is to complete the renewal online.  Alternativley, you can return the renewal letter to the Council.

If you fail to complete your renewal within 28 days your application will be closed.

Bidding and Offers

What do you mean by the term 'Bid'?

The term 'Bid' simply means letting us know that you would like to be considered for a particular property.  It does not mean that you have to pay any money for the property nor does it mean that you will have to attend an auction.  We use the term 'Bid' but another term for it is 'expressing an interest' or 'applying for a property'.

Can I bid for a property that is too big or too small for my needs?

Only in exceptional circumstances will a bid for a property which is too big or too small for your needs be considered.  Housing providers will not offer you accommodation that would mean that you are overcrowded.

The aim of meeting applicants housing needs is to offer accommodation that will be fully utilised and therefore it is only in exceptional circumstances that you would be offered accommodation which you would underoccupy.

How do I bid for a property?

The easiest way to bid for a property is to access your account online where you can view available or soon to be available properties and place bids on the properties that you would be interested in.

If you do not have access to the internet and have nobody that can help you then we can activate automatic bidding on your behalf.  This means that bids will be placed for you at the end of the advertising cycle.

How many properties can I bid for?

You can bid for up to 3 properties in each advertising cycle.

If I bid for a property earlier in the advertising cycle am I more likely to get it?

No - bidding earlier in the advertising cycle will make no difference.  Properties are allocated in accordance with the Housing Allocations Policy to the person on the shortlist in the highest band and who has been registered for the longest time.

Will I know how many other people are interested in the same property?

Yes, when you bid for a property you will be told where you are in the queue.  This is likely to change frequently due to other people bidding for the same property.  Using this information you may decide to withdraw your bid for one property and bid for a different property for which you are higher placed in the queue.  You can do this at any time before the end of the advertising cycle.

BIDDING FOR A PARTICULAR PROPERTY DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU AN OFFER OF THE PROPERTY

How do you decide who is offered a property?

Properties are allocated in accordance with published Housing Allocations Policies. 

Properties will be allocated to the applicant in the highest band who has been waiting for the longest time.

Exceptions will be detailed on the property adverts such as whether a Local Lettings Policy applies, or whether preference will be given to certain categories of applicant.

Will you tell me if I have been successful in bidding for a property?

We will only contact the applicant who is to be offered the property.  Unfortunately we cannot contact everyone who has placed a bid to let them know the outcome.  You will be able to monitor the outcome of any of your bids by accessing your online account.

What happens if I have been successful in bidding for a property?

If you are successful in bidding for a property you will be contacted by the housing provider.  Any offer of accommodation is provisional in the first instance and no contact is formed until a tenancy agreement is signed.

You will be invited to view the property once it is ready to let and then you can decide whether you wish to sign for the tenancy.

Where possible, properties are advertised in advance of them being ready to let, you will be advised of the approximate timescales involved at the time of offer.

Why was I queue position 1 at midnight but not after the cycle ended?

Automatic bids for applicants who receive assistance when placing bids are placed on adverts immediately after the end of the advertising cycle.  This may mean that your queue position at midnight may change once the automatic bids have been placed.

If I am offered a property will I be able to view it before making up my mind?

Yes, when you are offered a property you will be advised of the procedure for viewing the property.

Adverts

How often are properties advertised?

Properties are advertised each week.  The advertising cycle starts every Thursday morning at 0:01am and closes every Tuesday night at 11:59pm.

Will all of your properties be advertised?

Yes, with the exception of a limited number of properties, all soon to be available or available properties are advertised. 

Some properties will be allocated as a Direct Let, this can happen for example in cases of urgent management moves, or direct allocations to homeless applicants. 

Will properties owned by Housing Associations be advertised?

Housing Associations or Registered Providers who are partners to the Homesearch scheme will advertise their properties.

How will I know what has happened to the properties advertised?

Information about properties that have been successfully let is publised eavh week on the website.  This information tells you the number of applicants that bid on each property and the band and registration date of the successful applicant.

How will this information help me?

It will give you a better idea of how popular a particular property or area is and how long you would normally have to wait.  You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you may not have to wait as long.

What does 'Available Immediately' mean on adverts?

Some adverts will be shown as 'Available Immediately'.  This means that the property may have been advertised previously and not been let.  If you see a property that is advertised as 'Available Immediately' and you are interested in the property you should contact the landlord directly.

Support and Assistance

What do I do if my circumstances change?

It is very important that you tell us of any changes in your circumstances so that we can amend your application.  We will tell you if this results in your applicaiton moving to a different band.  If your priority is increased then the date used will be the date you are awarded a higher band.  If your priority decreases the date used will be your original date of application.

If you move address you must update your whole application, this is because your housing need is partly assessed on the type of accommodation you live in already.

I have no internet access how do I apply?

You can access the internet at your local library.  Alternativley you may be able to ask a friend or relative to help you. 

If you have nobody to help you please contact your local Council for advice and assistance.

I have no internet access how do I bid?

You can access the internet at your local library.  Alternativley you may be able to ask a friend or relative to help you. 

You can also request to have automatic bidding applied to your application.  You should contact your local Council to request this.

How will I manage on Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment which replaces six benefits.  It is simpler for claimants, and adjusts automatically when someone moves into work.  It is designed to mirror the world of work and the monthly payments reflect the way many peoples wages are paid.  Money for housing costs also goes to the claimant, rather than direct to a landlord, giving people control over there own finances.

Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches give people the support they need to prepare for, move into, and stay in work, including help with job searching, sign posting to relevant training and interview advice - and can provide budgeting advice for those that need it.

Money Advice Services Online Money Manager is an interactive tool that offers personalised advice on making the most of your money while you're on Universal Credit.  It offers help and advice on a range of money topics, including opening a bank account, keeping on top of bills and dealing with debt.

The Online Money Manager can be accessed at https://obs.moneyadviceservice.org.uk and includes:

  • Step by step questions that signpost users to financial guidance and support relevant to their personal circumstances
  • Hints and tips for managing money and paying bills from a monthly payment
  • Sign posting to further support such as Advanced Payments and free debt advice

Homelessness

What do I do if I am homeless or threatened with homelessness?

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should contact your Local Council for housing advice and assistance.

Mutual Exchange

What are Mutual Exchanges?

A Mutual Exchange is an exchange of homes between two households living in social housing.

Within the United Kingdom, Council and Housing Association Secure and Assured tenants have the right to exchange their homes.  You will need written permission from your landlords before you can exchange.

How long do exchanges take?

It depends on your excahnge, how many parties are involved, and whether you are moving a long distance or moving within the local area.

Section 92 (4) of The Housing Act 1985 states that landlords must grant or reject an exchange within 42 days.

Where is the best place for me to find somebody who wants to exchange?

You can register and advertise your property for exchange and search for a suitable match on Homeswapper at www.homeswapper.co.uk

Homeswapper is the national Mutual Exchange register and it is free for you to join if your landlord has subscribed to it.

Can an exchange be refused?

Yes.  You will not be able to exchange if;

  • There is a Possession Order in force against you, or Possession Proceedings have started against you or a Notice Seeking Possession has been served
  • The property you want to exchange into is too big for your requirements
  • The property has been specifically designed or adapted for you because of a physical disability and the person you want to swap with does not have the same needs.

This list is not exhaustive and you should contact your landlord for further advice and assistance.

If I have rent arrears can I still exchange?

No.  Tenants must pay all of their rent including any arrears before a Mutual Exchange can be permitted.

What are the advantages to doing a Mutual Exchange?

The advantages of Mutual Exchange are;

  • You can exchange with another tenant from anywhere in the country
  • You can exchange with a Housing Association tenant
  • You may avoid a lengthy wait for a transfer
  • You can thoroughly inspect the property and before it is suitable for your family before seeking approval.

Can I encourage an exchange by paying someone?

No.  Do not offer any cash incentives in return for an exchange.  It is illegal and you and your family could be evicted from your property by your landlord.

Can I encourage an exchange using presents or goods?

No.  do not offer any rewards in return for an exchange.  It is illegal and your and your family could be evicted from your home by your landlord.