After a bidding cycle has closed, a shortlist of all applicants who have bid for the property is made.
Each bid is verified and the following information is checked:
- The details of your application are accurate, including eligibility for the property and the priority band in which you have been placed.
- There has been no change of circumstances.
- Your current rent account, the condition of your property and conduct of your tenancy (for tenants of the council and local Registered Local Landlords) is satisfactory.
- If there are any support issues that require a support plan.
- For an approved bidder, we will also check if the bid made is within the criteria we have agreed.
When you are eligible for an offer of accommodation we will contact you. Offer letters are delivered or posted and we may also contact you by phone or email. If you are a council tenant, any offer is subject to your home being in a satisfactorily decorative condition, not damaged and have no unauthorised alterations.
On occasion, we offer properties before they are ready for letting. The property may even still have a tenant living there under Notice that the tenancy is to end. This is called 'preallocation'.
If the property you are offered is empty, an accompanied viewing can be arranged depending on the level of repair work being carried out and whether the property is safe to enter. Children under the age of 12 will not be able to attend accompanied viewings.
We require permission from our maintenance contractor before we are able to arrange accompanied viewings.
Provisional offers for people with support needs
Properties that are reserved for people over 60 or with support needs may be offered on a 'provisional' basis, subject to a satisfactory Needs Assessment. The Scheme Manager completes the assessment in order to find out whether the scheme is suitable for you, and that your needs can be met by the supported housing service.
Applicants who have personal connections with council employees and representatives
Offers made to the following people must be reviewed and approved by the Head of Housing and Community or the Head of Housing Operations:
- All council employees.
- Family members of Housing Services staff, or anyone else with whom they have a close personal connection.
- Any Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council member.
- Any member of the Welwyn Hatfield Tenants' Panel.
When are offers not made?
Offers will not be made if:
- a property has been purpose built or significantly adapted for a person with a disability and you do not need that type of property
- you have rent arrears or a debt relating to a current or former tenancy
- you are below the age of 18 and have no guarantor and no support being provided by Social Services
- a local lettings policy is in operation and you do not meet the criteria
- you intend on bringing pets that are not allowed in the property
- a nomination to a Registered Provider would not meet the rules of that landlord in relation to income, household size or any other reason
- you need a level or type of support that the property or scheme cannot provide.
An offer may be withdrawn if:
- we find that the property is not suitable for your needs or circumstances
- we find that you are not entitled to the offer
- you are currently a council tenant and the condition of your current property is not satisfactory
- you have not responded to the offer
- an error has been made in the advertising criteria
- there has been a serious breach of tenancy subsequent to the offer, but before it has been accepted.
How long do I have to decide?
We would normally expect a decision from you within two working days of the offer being made. If we have received no response within two days, we will withdraw the offer and treat it as a refusal.
Refusing an offer
Generally applicants may refuse any offer of accommodation they have successfully bid for without penalty. However, if an applicant refuses three offers, we will contact them to discuss this and check that they fully understand the Herts Choice Homes Scheme. In exceptional circumstances, where there have been multiple refusals, the Senior Officer Panel will be asked to consider whether the application should be made 'non active' for a period of time. Applicants who we have accepted a duty to under the homeless legislation are normally expected to accept the first offer that is made to them.
Time limited bidders
If you have refused an offer and you are a 'time limited' bidder, we will contact you immediately to check your reasons and to ensure that you understand any implications this may have. In certain circumstances your priority will be reduced if you do not accept an offer of housing within the timeframe given. An example of this would be an applicant who has been awarded Band B priority due to being considered homeless, which the council aim to prevent as quickly as possible.
In exceptional circumstances we will make an active bid on behalf of an applicant. An example of a situation where this is necessary is for homeless applicants that have not placed a successful bid for accommodation within their time limited bidding period. In these circumstances, where the active bid leads to an offer, we will make one reasonable offer of a council or Registered Provider property. This will take into account any special circumstances. If you are homeless and refuse this offer we will consider that we have fulfilled our duty under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 and will not make any further offers to you.
Homeless applicants have a right to request a review of that decision, but we strongly advise all homeless applicants to accept the offer subject to the review decision.
If the applicant still wishes to refuse the offer, we will write to advise that the council's duty to them under homeless law has ended and they will no longer be able to stay in temporary accommodation.
Likewise, we will have no further legal obligation to provide accommodation to non-secure tenants that will not accept an offer of a tenancy on a permanent basis. If that happens, you will be allowed to remain on the Housing Needs Register but your banding will be recalculated to reflect your new housing circumstances.
Next steps after an offer of accommodation is made
When the property is ready to let we will write to invite the applicant to their Neighbourhood Housing Office to sign for the tenancy and complete other paperwork.
If you are already a tenant of the council or a local Registered Provider, you must give up vacant possession of your current home and return the keys on an agreed date which is normally the date the new tenancy starts.
If you return the keys late, you will be charged rent on both properties. If you claim Housing Benefit you will normally have to cover this cost yourself. You will need to contact our Housing Benefits team for further advice.
Once you have accepted and signed for the tenancy, your Housing Needs Register application will be cancelled. You will then be expected to use the property as your main home and keep to the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.