Council housing allocations policy
The Housing Needs Register and How to Apply
The Housing Needs Register (HNR) is a list of all applicants looking for affordable, rented accommodation in the Welwyn Hatfield borough.
Who can join the Housing Needs Register?
Anyone who is over the age of 16 years is able to join our Register unless:
- The Housing Allocations Manager has decided that the behaviour of an applicant (or a member of their household) is unacceptable and is of a serious enough nature to make him or her unsuitable as a tenant. The Housing Allocations Manager will consider all available, relevant facts and circumstances before making this decision. Unacceptable behaviour includes providing false or misleading information.
- An applicant is subject to immigration control or is not habitually resident as described by law.
- An applicant does not have a recognised housing need as outlined in this policy
- An applicant does not have a local connection as outlined in this policy
- An applicant who is considered to have sufficient financial resources to resolve their own housing need. This includes home owners/shared owners or those who have owned a home within the last seven years and exceed our trigger points for income/savings.
What is the importance of a Local Connection?
The council is committed to supporting sustainable communities by providing homes for applicants with a connection to this borough. In order to be seen as having a local connection with the Welwyn Hatfield borough you must demonstrate local residency, local employment,or a close family connection.
Please note: -
- Only applicants who can show a valid local connection will be able to join the waiting list although in exceptional circumstances applicants with no local connection (such as those who have had to flee domestic abuse) may be able to join the list.
- Any applicant who owns a home either in the UK or abroad, regardless of their local connection to Welwyn Hatfield, will be considered to have sufficient financial means to resolve their own housing situation and will not qualify to join the Housing Needs Register.
The following persons will be exempt from requiring a local connection to join the register:
- Persons who are serving in the regular forces or have done so in the five years preceding their application to join the HNR;
- Bereaved spouses or civil partners of those serving in the regular forces where their spouse or partner's death is attributable (wholly or partly) to their service and the bereaved spouse or civil partner's entitlement to reside in Ministry of Defence accommodation then ceases;
- Seriously injured, ill or disabled reservists (or former reservists) whose injury, illness or disability is attributable wholly or partly to their service.
- Any household accepted as homeless under part VII of the Housing Act 1996.
- Any household who is accepted as having a 'Right to Move' from social housing in another Local authority area. (Please refer to the Glossary of terms which outlines the Right to Move in detail)
In the case of no housing need or where an applicant does not hold a local connection. Exception will be made for those over the age of 60 who are registering for sheltered accommodation, providing they are not home owners.
I am already a Council tenant. Can I still apply?
Yes. We accept applications from council or Registered Provider (RP) tenants but they must give vacant possession of the property that they are leaving.
Can I make a joint application with someone else?
We will accept joint applications from people who wish to live together as a couple.
In the interests of maximising the use of our housing stock, we will consider prioritisation of applications from tenants who, by forming a household with another tenant, will give vacant possession of two properties to the Council and/or a local Registered Provider (that WHC nominates to). Where we consider a proposal to be in our interest the joint application will be put into Band B. Each decision is made on a discretionary basis by the Housing Allocations Manager and the applications will be subject to the usual checks. If one of the applicants is already in Band A, no further priority may be given to the applicants.
I have a joint tenancy. Can I still apply?
We cannot accept applications from joint tenants of council/RP homes where they are living separately and are not including the other tenant in their application as they may be considered to have no housing need. In these circumstances you should seek the advice of your Neighbourhood Officer.
If you have a joint tenancy and cannot decide who should leave the home, you should contact a solicitor for advice. In such cases, the courts will normally decide which tenant should leave the home.
There is no automatic right to immediate rehousing for the person who leaves the home, even if the court have authorised the removal of their name from the tenancy they must find alternative accommodation and if they qualify, join the housing needs register but this is unlikely to provide an immediate solution to their housing needs.
Children who live with you
All young people under the age of 18 will be treated as children for the purposes of housing allocations. Anyone 16 or older, living with their parents, will be eligible to have their own housing application as well as to be on their parents' housing application.
However, we reserve the right not to offer larger, family accommodation that won't be needed if we are to imminently house an adult member (including 16 & 17 year olds) of the household separately to their parent(s).
Once your youngest child reaches 18, you will no longer be able to queue for two bedroom houses.
Contact with children
We do not offer family-sized accommodation to an applicant who has contact with children that are not living with them on a permanent basis.
Can I make - or be part of - more than one application?
No, we do not usually accept applications from people who have already registered a sole or joint application with us. However, we will consider exceptional circumstances.
How do I join the Housing Needs Register?
You need to fill out the Housing Needs Register form online. Depending on your circumstances, you may also have to complete a Medical Form. Assistance on completing these forms is available from the Housing Allocations Team on 01707 357090.
We aim to assess all applications within five weeks of receiving the form and any supporting information we have asked for.
Applicants have the right to request a review of certain decisions made about their applications. These include:
- A decision not to accept an application onto the Housing Needs Register.
- A decision on the priority banding of an applicant. This includes applicants not awarded “reasonable preference” as a result of anti-social behaviour.
- Facts taken into account when considering whether to allocate accommodation to a particular applicant.
- A decision to cancel an application.
- A decision to not award medical priority to an application.
Applications for reviews should be made in writing, along with any supporting information you wish to be considered, and they will be considered the Housing Allocations Manager. We will aim to consider the appeal within 21 days of receiving it.
What documents will I need to provide?
Dependent on the Band you are placed in, we will register your application once we have received proof of identity, income and evidence of where you live. The documents we can accept are listed below. If anything is not provided, we will contact you telling you what we need.
You will need to provide one form of photographic proof of your identity for you, your partner and any other person over 16 included on your application. This would normally be a passport or a photo driving licence. You will also need to give us at least one other form of identification for every person on the application. The documents we can accept include:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage Certificate
- Medical Card
- Driving Licence
- Immigration documentation
- Proof of Benefit
We need one proof of current address each for you, your partner and anyone else over 16 included on the application. This could include any of the following:
- Tenancy agreement
- Recent bank or credit card statement (within last three months)
- Recent utility bill (also within last three months)
- If you are living with a parent or guardian, a letter from them confirming your residence, plus proof of their address
3. Children under 16 included on an application who live with you
We need a copy of the full Birth Certificate for each child and satisfactory proof that the child lives with you. This would normally be proof of Child Benefit/Tax Credits and/or a letter from the child's school and any other agencies supporting your family.
4. Proof of Income
We will need to see proof of income for all household members over the age of 16. This will be wageslips, proof of benefits and for self employed applicants, copy of accounts and should be dated within the last three months.
If your only connection with this borough is through your place of work, you may need to provide evidence of your employment when you apply to join the Housing Needs Register. If you are not asked for this evidence when you first apply, it is likely that you will be asked once you have been bidding for a certain amount of time. The council will also contact your employer for confirmation that you are still employed in the borough before making an offer of accommodation.
We carry out checks for rent arrears or other outstanding debts with any Council or Registered Providers and can cancel applications or make them non active as a result of current or former debts. If you have current or former arrears or there is a current breach of tenancy which your landlord is taking action against you for, you may not be eligible to join the HNR until such time that the Council believes the situation has been satisfactorily resolved. Each case is considered on its individual merits - taking account of specific needs, reasons for the debt/tenancy breach, any repayment plan that is in place and whether this is being maintained.
We also check with the Register of Electors, employers and landlords, and conduct home visits.
If you are a WHC tenant, your Neighbourhood Officer will visit after you have applied, to inspect your home. They will tell you if you need to do any repairs or decorations before your application is made active and before you will be offered a property.
Your application will be made non active if we need to find out whether you qualify to join or remain on the Housing Needs Register, or where we need to check whether you are eligible for a particular band or property type.
What if my circumstances change?
You need to tell us before your circumstances change or as soon as possible afterwards, so we can make sure our records are up to date and that your application is prioritised correctly. You can complete an online change of circumstances form at www.welhat.gov.uk
Deliberately worsening your circumstances
If we think you have deliberately worsened your circumstances to gain extra priority on the Housing Needs Register you will be placed in the priority band you held or would have held before your circumstances changed. This will be reviewed after one year from the date you were considered to have deliberately worsened your circumstances.
Are these details kept confidential?
We will only share details about your application if you give us permission to do this or, in the case of a criminal/fraud investigation because the police have the right to ask for information from us.
False or Misleading Information
If we find that you have given us false or misleading information, or have withheld relevant information, we may exclude you from joining the register. This will be agreed by Housing Allocations Manager. If we have already housed you, we can take action to repossess the home. We may also prosecute.
Changes from sole to joint applications and vice versa
1. Sole to Joint applications
If you are a sole applicant who does not have a tenancy with the council or Registered Provider and wish to become a joint applicant with another non-tenant, we will reassess your application and update it to include the other applicant. If you are both already registered on the Housing Needs Register we will reassess both applications. We will keep and update the one which has the highest priority and cancel the other.
If you are a sole applicant who does have a tenancy with the council or Registered Provider, we will reassess your application and update it to include the new joint applicant. If that person is already registered on the Housing Needs Register their sole application will be cancelled.
2. Joint to sole
If we need to end a joint application (for example in the event of a relationship breakdown) the main applicant will normally keep the original application number. We will ask them to complete a change of circumstances form online so that the application can be updated and reassessed. The other applicant will be removed from the original application and asked to complete a new online Housing Needs Register application form so they can reapply for a sole application. We will assess the new application and write to the applicant with confirmation of their band and banding date.
Active/Non active applications
If your application is made non-active (placed in pending) you will not normally be considered for offers of accommodation but will stay on the Housing Needs Register. We will usually make an application non-active for a set period of time or until an action has been completed. We can make applications non-active for any of the following reasons:
- If you have not responded to an offer of accommodation, or to a request to contact us about your application. (In these circumstances we would write to you asking that you contact us within 28 days. If you did not make contact within that time we would cancel your application.)
- If we are informed that you have breached your Tenancy Agreement, for example, by acting anti socially, by subletting your home or if your property is in poor condition or decorative order.
- When we are informed of a change in circumstances and those circumstances need to be reassessed
We will consider the individual circumstances - including exceptional circumstances, health issues or support needs - of an applicant before making an application non-active. We will also consider the reasons for the debt and any efforts made to repay debt or arrears and/or change to a pattern of behaviour.
When are applications cancelled?
We can cancel applications for the following reasons:
- If you ask us to cancel your application.
- If you are re-housed as a result of being made an offer of secure accommodation from the council an RP or another Local Authority.
- If you have a sole application that is being replaced by a joint one, or vice versa (see further explanation below).
- If you are no longer permitted by law to remain on the HNR
- If you have not told us that you have changed address and we are unable to contact you.
- If we give you a secure or flexible tenancy, or a local Registered Provider has given you an assured tenancy or starter tenancy.
- If you have succeeded to or been assigned a secure tenancy or an assured tenancy of a local RP.
- If you have had a secure tenancy or an assured tenancy of a local RP vested in your name.
- If you are a secure tenant or RP tenant and buy your current property under the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire.
- If you are a secure tenant and mutually exchange to another property we will cancel and no longer have a recognised housing need.
- If you are a secure or RP tenant and have given up your property or been evicted.
- If you have not made a bid for alternative accommodation for 6 months or more. An exception will be made for those who are:
- Waiting to downsize from a Council/Housing Association tenancy as a result of under occupation.
- Those living in general needs accommodation who wish to move to sheltered accommodation.
- Care Leavers we are dealing under the Joint Housing Protocol with Hertfordshire County Council.
- Those living in supported housing schemes who are not yet ready to move on.
- If you have a change of circumstances which means you no longer qualify for the Housing Needs Register.
- If you have been served with a Notice of Seeking Possession for your council or RP property due to rent arrears or another tenancy breach.
- If you do not provide requested documents within the time frame given.
Can I reapply after my application has been cancelled?
You can reapply to join the Housing Needs Register but your new application will not usually be backdated and may not be included in the same priority banding as before. Anyone applying to join the Housing Needs Register, should have a recognised local connection and housing need as set out in this policy.
Exclusion from the Housing Needs Register
You may be excluded from the HNR for one of the following reasons:
- If you are subject to immigration control
- You are under the age of 60 and do not have a recognised housing need or local connection as outlined in this policy
- If the Housing Allocations Manager has decided that either your behaviour (or that of a member of your household) has been unacceptable or anti-social and is serious enough to make you unsuitable as a tenant. Unacceptable behaviour includes supplying false or misleading information.
We will write to tell you why we are excluding your application from the HNR, and tell you how long it is to be excluded for. This period can be indefinite if the behaviour has been seriously anti-social.
You have the right to ask for a review of the decision. Details of how to do that are below. Otherwise, you can apply again at the end of the exclusion period, when the Housing Allocations Manager will reconsider your circumstances.
In some cases, the Council may decide that the behaviour is not serious enough to remove you from the Housing Needs Register but that your application should not receive any reasonable preference (to which you would otherwise be entitled). 'Reasonable preference' is the term used to describe the factors which are used to decide what priority your application has on the HNR.