Applicants will need to bid (express an interest) on properties they wish to be considered for. Advertised properties will have details of who is eligible to bid for the property. If applicants are not eligible their bid will not be considered. By advertising properties and inviting applicants to apply, the council is enabling them to choose where they want to live.
In order to ensure we make the best use of our housing stock, we will label some properties for transfer applicants only. This will help create vacancies so that we can best meet housing need. These decisions will be recorded at Senior Officer Panel. All applicants will be given a copy of the Herts Choice Homes Scheme User Guide, which explains how bids can be made in a simple format.
When deciding who to offer a property to we take account of three factors in the following order:
|Property eligibility:||Applicants' age, household size and make up in relation to the size and type of property being allocated.|
|Banding Priority:||Applicants' priority banding on the Housing Needs Register (A to E).|
|Date in band:||The date that the application was awarded a priority banding.|
Where more than one applicant from the same band has bid and are eligible for the same property, the person who entered that band first will be considered. If more than one applicant shares that date, then the choice will be made on the basis of who has been on the Housing Needs Register the longest (that is to say, the person who applied first).
The Senior Officer Panel can make exceptions to this where exceptional circumstances exist.
We expect to make best use of our properties, so for each property type we have set out which household type and housing need criterion will be given the most priority. Due to the increasing length of time homeless families are waiting in temporary accommodation, some properties are being earmarked for homeless families. A bid for one of these properties from a household the council have accepted a homeless duty towards will be prioritised over a bid from other households.
Some households will require a property with an adaptation or special feature to suit their needs. Our adverts will indicate whether a property has any adaptations or special features and which applicants will be prioritised for that property.
The Council wishes to make the best use of its housing stock. In certain circumstances, a tenant occupying a family sized home who wants to move to a smaller property can be considered for properties which are one bed space above their needs. Similarly tenants may be considered for houses, rather than flats or maisonettes. Approval for this needs to be given by the Housing Advice Manager.
This accommodation is for those with low to medium support needs. Those wishing to move to sheltered accommodation who do not meet the usual age requirement, can be considered for such accommodation if they have medical factors. Approval for this needs to be given by the Senior Officer Panel.
Applicants who require a significantly adapted property
Where the council considers (usually on the advice of the council's independent Medical Advisor) that an applicant requires a significantly adapted property, the application will be 'flagged' to show this.
When we advertise a property that has had significant adaptations, we will indicate on the advert that extra priority will be given to applicants who require these features. We will then prioritise those applicants from the shortlist, who have an appropriate 'flag' within Bands A to C. Applicants with a flag will have a higher priority than an applicant who does not have a flag, even if that applicant is in a higher band.
If an applicant successfully bids for an adapted property, but on viewing the property it becomes clear that further adaptations will be required to make it suitable, we will make an assessment as to whether or not the property can be offered.
Allocating purpose built or significantly adapted properties
Properties that have been purpose built or significantly adapted for people with disabilities will be advertised, however we will give priority to applicants who have a special need for them. Please refer to the Applicants who require significantly adapted property section above for further clarification.
Allocating partially adapted properties
Details of basic adaptations will be included on the advert so that applicants can make an informed decision about whether a property is suitable.
Examples of partial adaptations include a level access shower, ramps and widened doorways. Applicants who bid for a property with an adaptation that they require will usually be prioritised over an applicant with the same priority banding who does not. This will be stated on the advert when applicable.
Ground floor flats
Priority for ground floor flats will usually be awarded to applicants (providing they are within the same band) who have a medical condition which requires ground floor accommodation. This will be stated on the property advert when applicable.
Local Lettings Policies
The council may agree a Local Letting Policy for properties in its own stock or in partnership with Registered Providers. These policies will outline any specific local letting initiatives for the neighbourhood, taking into account supply and demand and other management factors.
Local Lettings Policies are normally short term measures put in place to address specific local issues such as promoting sustainable and balanced communities. Measures may include:
- increasing the proportion of tenants in employment
- reducing child density in an area
- reducing anti-social behaviour or incidence of crime in an area.
Local Lettings policies may override the normal shortlisting rules for specific neighbourhoods, local housing estates or developments for a specific period of time. Policies will be monitored, developed and amended in response to local circumstances or supply. The use of Local Lettings Policies have to be agreed by the Senior Officer Panel.
Properties within a neighbourhood or sheltered housing schemes are reserved for people over the age of 60 or those with support needs. Each property has communication equipment installed within it which connects the occupant to the council's 24-hour Control Centre. Neighbourhood schemes have no communal facilities. Traditional sheltered schemes will have communal facilities available. All sheltered housing properties are charged a communal facilities charge irrespective of whether the services of the Scheme Manager and use of other communal facilities are utilised.
In order to make the best use of the services available we must ensure that sheltered housing properties are only offer to people whose needs can be met by the supported housing service and the Scheme Manager. Properties in these schemes will not normally be offered to people under the age of 60, although we may occasionally consider applicants under that age with certain support needs. These cases will be considered by the Senior Officer Panel.
Properties not in schemes and complexes may be situated amongst homes that are not reserved for elderly people or people with support needs. Some of the properties may be considered for decommissioning in the future. Decommissioned properties will be labelled in the advert and will only be offered to bidders who meet the set criteria until every property in that particular block has been decommissioned.
Households with specific property needs
We will consider applicants' specific property needs and we will try to meet these where possible and appropriate.
If you bid for a property that you are eligible for, but it is apparent to us that the property is not suitable for your specific needs, we will overlook your bid and explain our reasons for this.
Registered Provider Nominations
All Registered Provider properties for which we have nomination rights will be advertised in the same way as our own properties. We nominate applicants to local registered landlords in accordance with the same allocations rules used for council-owned dwellings; however some Registered Provider's may apply additional rules such as the size of the household that may occupy a property, for example.
Cross Partner Pool
All of the partner local authorities within the Herts Choice Homes Scheme will advertise a small percentage of properties in a 'Cross Partner Pool'. Applicants from any of the five local authority areas can bid for properties in this pool, although the same eligibility criteria will apply. This will give applicants the opportunity to move to neighbouring areas.