Housing Allocations Policy Summary

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. The Housing Register
  3. Home Size
  4. How applications are prioritised
  5. Medical, welfare, and hardship grounds
  6. Advertising a home and placing bids
  7. Offers
  8. Appeals
  9. Pre-tenancy support
  10. Succession
  11. Mutual exchange
  12. Contact us

Overview

This policy sets out who can apply for social housing (Council housing and housing association homes) and how we set priorities for who is housed.


The Housing Register

The Housing Register is a list of people who want to apply for social housing.

If you have been on the Housing Register for over twelve months, you may be asked if you want to stay on it, and if there has been any change in your situation.

If we do not get a reply from you within 28 days, your application may be cancelled.

Homes are mainly allocated through a system called Choice Based Lettings. This means you have more choice over where you live and what type of home you live in.

Who can join the Housing Register

You can usually join if you:

  • have a local connection
  • are at least eighteen years old
  • are not guilty of unacceptable behaviour

A local connection means:

  • Being a resident with permanent housing in South Tyneside for at least six months out of the last twelve months, or three years out of the last five years (not including time spent living in hospital or hostels).
  • Being in employment, training, or education in the Borough.
  • Having 'close family' living in South Tyneside for at least the previous five years. This includes:
    • parents
    • grandparents
    • children
    • siblings
    • stepparents
    • stepchildren
    • grand children
    • adoptive parents and children
    • This may be extended to aunts, uncles and in laws in exceptional circumstances

There are exceptions, for example, if you are a serving or former member of the armed forces and you are in urgent housing need, or if you are fleeing domestic abuse.

If you are aged sixteen or seventeen years old, you can join the housing register too. However, you must have a trustee who can hold a tenancy for you until you reach the age of eighteen.

You will not qualify to join the Housing Register if you have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour (including having housing related debt).

The law says that the Council must give 'reasonable preference' when allocating homes to vulnerable groups. For example, some homeless households.

We also give 'additional preference' to people because of serious medical, emergency, or social and welfare problems. For example, former members of the armed forces who are in urgent housing need, care experienced young people and survivors of domestic abuse.

Sometimes, owner occupiers can join the housing register. If you have assets, income, savings or investments of more than £80,000, this is usually thought to be enough money to help buy a home or pay market rent in the area.

Joining the Housing Register

You must join the South Tyneside Choice Based Lettings system if you want to apply for social housing. To do this you will need to complete the online housing application.

If you do not have access to a computer, support will be provided:

A Housing Options Officer will assess your application.

They may want to ask you questions and discuss options that are available.

Who can't join the Housing Register

You may be refused if you:

  • are subject to immigration control
  • are not classed as being habitually resident in the UK
  • are guilty of unacceptable behaviour.
  • have knowingly given false information or withheld information

If you cannot join, you will be told in writing. We will offer you advice and support about what options are available to you.


Home size

Usually, you will only be eligible for homes that are suitable for the size of your family. One bedroom will usually be allocated for each of the following:

  • A couple that lives together.
  • An adult (over sixteen years).
  • Two children under sixteen years of the same sex (including future adoption or surrogacy).
  • Two children under ten regardless of sex (including future adoption or surrogacy).
  • To allow for overnight care provision where a member of the household has a disability and a recognised care need.
  • For a child with a disability where there is medical evidence that they need their own room.
  • A foster child.
  • A bedroom is needed for a child where there is shared care for more than half of a week. This does not include access arrangements

You may be eligible for an extra bedroom if you or a member of your household has an evidenced medical or care need.


How applications are prioritised

Your application will get a priority banding based on your housing need and local connection.

In you are a joint applicant, only one applicant needs to have a local connection.

You will be given Band 4 priority if you do not have a local connection.

Your application is put alongside other people's bids in band and date order. The applicant with the highest band (1+ is the highest) and earliest priority date within that band is considered first.

The bands are:

  • Band 1+ (Critical need category) - Awarded for up to six weeks.
    • Band1 (High need category) - Awarded for up to three months.
  • Band 2 (Medium priority category) - Awarded for up to six months.

Failure to bid

If you are put in either Band 1+, 1 or 2 and a suitable home is available to bid on, and you fail to place a bid, your priority may be demoted to Band 3.

  • Band 3 (Low priority category)
  • Band 4 (General category)

Failure to Bid

Where you are put in either Bands 3 or 4 and a suitable home is available to bid on within twelve months of joining the Register and you fail to place a bid, you will be removed from the Register. You must apply again if you want to join.


Medical, welfare and hardship grounds

You will have greater priority for housing if you or a member of your household has a medical condition or disability that is affected by your existing housing.

For example:

  • a mental health problem
  • a physical or learning disability
  • chronic or progressive medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis
  • dementia
  • ill health due to old age

You will have greater priority for housing if you or a member of your household needs to move:

  • to give or receive care
  • to access specialised medical treatment

Please provide evidence of a medical need to the Housing Options service if you can. For example, a letter from a doctor.

The Council must be happy that you have a need to move, and that failure to meet that need would cause hardship.


Advertising a home and placing bids

Homes will be advertised every week.

You can only apply for homes for which you are eligible.

You can place up to three bids per lettings cycle:

If you cannot make an application online, then help is available:


Offers

Your application will be shortlisted based on:

a)    number of bedrooms needed
b)    priority Band
c)    length of time in the priority band

The shortlist will be given to the relevant landlord who may carry out more checks. This may mean doing an affordability assessment and making sure that your current circumstances match your application.

You will be invited to view a home if your application is successful.

Once you have viewed a home, you will usually be asked to decide straightaway if you want it.

You could be given forty eight hours to think about the offer. If it is refused, or there is no response from you, then the offer will be withdrawn.

Suitable offers

A suitable offer, is an offer of a home that meets your assessed needs.

When an offer is withdrawn

We may have to withdraw an offer because:

  • of a change in your circumstances that you have not reported
  • you are found to be not eligible
  • an error in the advertising details
  • where the offer might put a vulnerable person at risk
  • extensive repair works are needed
  • we find out that the information on your application form was incorrect

Refusing an offer

Where an offer of a home is made that meets your assessed needs in terms of size, type, condition, and location, the Council and partners will usually consider a refusal to be unreasonable.

Your application may be reviewed, and a lower priority banding may be given. You will be contacted to better understand your needs and discuss your options.

You can refuse an offer by telling the Council or a partner in writing by letter, email, or text, over the phone or in person.

Failure to respond to an offer is usually thought of as a refusal.

Direct Offers

Some homes will not be advertised on the South Tyneside Choice Based Lettings website.

A direct offer is when an Officer identifies a home as being suitable for the needs of an applicant that has a specific and urgent need for rehousing. Examples include:

  • existing tenants that need a transfer because they are at risk of violence
  • existing tenants whose homes will be knocked down
  • homeless applicants

Only one offer of suitable housing will be made.

Direct offers will usually only happen in exceptional circumstances.


Appeals

You have the right to ask for a review if you are not happy with decision(s). You must ask in writing within 21 days of the original decision. You must include the reasons for asking for the review.

Officers will tell you their decision(s) in writing.


Pre-tenancy support

We will:

  • check your ability to pay your rent
  • help to set up a bank account so you can pay rent by Direct Debit
  • work with the Welfare Support service to complete a benefit check
  • identify any support needs you may have
  • identify any tenancy training needs you may have

We will help with:

  • managing income and debt
  • training on budgeting
  • arranging for support services to be put in place
  • suggesting housing options to meet need
  • supporting you to get a job

Succession

Succession happens when a sole tenant dies and an eligible partner or qualifying member of his or her family takes over the tenancy.

Succession also includes when a joint tenant dies, and the surviving joint tenant succeeds to the tenancy.

The law says there can only be one succession to a council or housing association tenancy.

The rules are complicated so please contact us for more information.


Mutual Exchange

This is when you swap your home permanently with another tenant. For example, you may want to move because of a new job, to be closer to family, or for a bigger or smaller home. 

You will need to: 

  • have been a tenant for at least twelve months
  • be up to date with your rent payments

To organise a mutual exchange within South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Newcastle, or Gateshead, please register your home on the House Exchange website.

For advice, please contact the Housing Solutions Service.

Telephone: 0300 123 6633 
Email: connect2@southtynesidehomes.org.uk


Contact us

Telephone: 0300 123 6633
Email: housing.solutions@southtynesidehomes.org.uk  
Visit: South Shields Town Hall (Customer Service Centre)
Jarrow Town Hall (Customer Service Centre)    


For PDF and HTML versions of the Housing Allocations Policy see: