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Housing allocation scheme

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

7. How homes are let

7.1. Making an application

Everyone that wants to be considered for inclusion on our Housing Register must carry out the application process set out below:

  • Follow instructions on how to apply for housing and complete the online application form.
  • Provide original documents to verify your identify and current housing circumstances
  • Complete any supplementary forms that we may send or answer further questions that we ask you.

This process ensures that all applicants are assessed in a transparent and consistent manner. That we have all the information needed about your household and current circumstances to determine whether you qualify to join the Housing Register and if so, what priority banding is appropriate.

You can complete an assessment form to record your household’s housing needs if you are 16 years of age or over. You can be included on only one application for housing in this borough. This can either be your own personal application or you can be included as a household member in another person’s application.

You must complete the assessment form fully and accurately. We will use it to decide your priority on the Housing Register so that housing can be allocated fairly on the basis of the greatest need. We will carry out home visits and interviews to confirm housing needs.

If you are between 16 and 18 years of age, before you are offered social housing, your ability to manage a tenancy will be assessed, usually via a referral to Social Services or other support services, to identify any need for support. You will need a guarantor, usually your parent, legal guardian or other relative as any tenancy granted will be held in trust until you reach 18 years of age.

You are required to sign declarations to confirm that you:

  • Have provided true, accurate and complete information
  • Will notify us of any change in your circumstances within 14 days of the change.
  • Understand that information given on the assessment form will be shared with housing association landlords, other council departments, data matching companies and other relevant parties.
  • Consent to us making relevant enquiries to verify the information given on the assessment form.
  • Consent to the disclosure of relevant information by third parties to us, or by us to third parties.
  • Understand that information provided may be used to help in the detection and prevention of fraud.

7.2. Who can be included on applications

You can include members of your household who are currently living together with you, including:

  • Your partner, whether you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting
  • You and your partner’s dependent children under the age of 18, including adopted children
  • Relatives, including adult children, parents or brothers/sisters unless they have a separate application or otherwise intend to live independently from you
  • Someone who currently lives with you as your caregiver.

We will also consider including partners, carers and their dependents who are not currently living with you if you are:

  • No longer able to live independently because you need care and support that they can provide (or they need care and support that you can provide) and you are unable to live together as your current accommodation does not meet any needs arising from a disability.
  • Unable to live together as neither you nor any other member of your household have accommodation available which is large enough to accommodate your whole household together.

7.3. Advice and information about your application

Advice and information about your application can be obtained by emailing allocations@gravesham.gov.uk

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should contact housingneedsteam@gravesham.gov.uk for immediate advice and assistance. Further advice can be found at our homeless advice pages.

All applicants accepted onto the Housing Register are entitled to see their entry and receive a copy of their application. An applicant also has the right to request general information to assess how their application is likely to be treated under this housing allocation scheme and whether and when housing appropriate to his/her needs is likely to become available.

Waiting times depend on number of factors:

  • Your personal circumstances including your priority banding and the size and type of property needed to meet your household’s need
  • The number of properties available for letting
  • the number of bids placed on each property
  • Changes in the law, regulations or guidance, or the rules of this Housing Allocation Scheme.

Only a very general indication can be given as to how long an applicant may have to wait to be successful by using historical allocations data. There is no guarantee of housing by a certain date regardless of the priority band awarded. Households with a relatively low need are likely to wait a very long time and many have no realistic prospect of receiving an offer of social housing.

7.4. How to bid for accomodation

We are a member of Kent Homechoice which is a partnership of local councils and housing associations who allocated housing throughout Kent via a Choice Based Lettings (CBL) system.

CBL enables applicants to apply for suitable housing in their borough via an online bidding process. After a property is let, feedback about the number of households that made a bid, the priority band of the successful applicant, and their priority date is available to view to bidders on Kent Homechoice. This helps applicants to understand the availability of suitable properties, their likelihood of success when applying and to gain an indication of the time they could be waiting.

Using CBL is in accordance with the Council’s policy of offering people who are to be allocated housing accommodation; a choice of housing accommodation, or the opportunity to express preferences about housing accommodation, where this is practicable.

When your application has been accepted onto our Housing Register you will receive confirmation of your priority banding and details of how to access the Kent Homechoice CBL process. All housing offered by Gravesham and our partners within the borough is advertised at Kent Homechoice and each property will be available for applicants to place bids for a period of five calendar days.

The advertisements show photographs and give basic details of the properties including:

  • The area
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Floor levels
  • Mobility levels
  • Weekly rent
  • Service charges
  • Any pet or age restrictions

There are no restrictions on the number of properties that you can bid for and you can place bids on any property that meet your household’s needs as and when they are advertised.

If you prefer, we can set up auto-bidding on your account which means that a bid will automatically be placed on all properties that meet your needs by the close of bidding so that you will be included on all of the relevant shortlists and do not miss any opportunities to be offered affordable housing.

Certain properties will not be advertised under CBL or will only be open for bids from certain applicants, including section 3.3. Direct Lets. Properties that have been adapted for wheelchair users and those within sheltered housing schemes are usually offered only to those who would benefit from them. Properties made available under local lettings plans (see section 7.4) will only be open to bidding from applicants meeting the criteria set under those plans.

7.5. How housing is allocated

After the advertisements have closed, a shortlist is produced for each property which ranks all the bids placed in priority order, with applicants in Band A first, Band B second and so on. Within each band, the order of bids is ranked by the applicant’s priority date, starting with the earliest.

If two or more applicants share the same priority date within the priority band, the system will randomly place them in order of priority. The applicant at the top of the shortlist will be verified to check that the information they have given is correct and that the property is suitable. Once verified, the highest priority applicant will usually be offered the property, subject to any additional criteria that apply such as a local lettings plan, age restriction or suitability. If an applicant is not verified, does not respond to an offer or the offer is refused, the property will be offered to the next applicant in the shortlist, and so on, until the property is successfully let.

An applicant who is the highest priority bidder for more than one property will be asked to list the properties in their order of preference. They will usually be offered their first choice of property. If this is not suitable they will be offered their second choice, and so on.

The relative position of bidders on the shortlist for a property may change between the close of bidding and when the property is offered. This will only happen where there is a change in the priority band awarded for one or more bidders on the shortlist, this would normally be as a result of the verification process. In such cases, the property will usually be offered to the applicant with the highest priority at the time the offer is made.

If there are no successful bidders the property will usually be re-advertised or it may be offered as a direct allocation to another applicant on the Housing Register. Once you are shortlisted and nominated for a property you will not be considered for any other properties that you have placed a bid on.

7.6. Keeping the register up to date

We will contact you once a year, on or near the anniversary of the date you were first registered to check whether you wish to remain on the register for another year. We will also remind you to tell us about any changes in your circumstances. If you fail to respond, or fail to provide any further information we ask for within 28 days, we will assume that you no longer wish to be on the register, and your application will be removed. If you notify us of a change of circumstances, you must also supply evidence of the change within 28 days so we can reassess your application.

Your application will be removed from the Housing Register if you:

  • Accept an offer of accommodation made from the Housing Register
  • Accept a private sector tenancy, including when we have provided financial assistance by way of a rent deposit and no longer have a qualifying housing need
  • Do not respond to the annual review
  • Do not respond to correspondence from the Council asking you to provide information
  • Are no longer eligible to be included on the register
  • No longer wish to be re-housed
  • Have left temporary accommodation that we arranged for you and we do not have your forwarding address
  • Have moved without notifying us of your new address

7.7. Local Lettings plans

National and regional policies encourage new housing schemes to be mixed tenure, catering for a range of needs and aspirations. Alongside this we may use Local Lettings Plans to make social housing available to a wider range and variety of households, rather than concentrations of those with particular support needs to contribute towards balanced and sustainable communities.

Local lettings plans will set out the criteria and priorities for letting homes within a specific housing development or area. Local Lettings Plans will be agreed by the Assistant Director (Housing) in consultation with the relevant Cabinet member.

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