HOUSING ALLOCATION SCHEME
The RSL partners* are:
The Abbeyfield Society
Active Elderly Housing Association Limited
Anchor Housing Association
CDS Co-operative Housing Society
Cheshire Foundation Housing Association
Eddystone Housing Association
English Rural Housing Trust
Friends of the Elderly
James Butcher Housing Association
Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society
Haslemere Housing Association
Humanist Housing Association
London and Quadrant Housing Trust
Mount Green Housing Association
New Downland Housing Association
New Era Housing Association
Pavillion Housing Association
Pilgrim Housing Association
Raglan Housing Association
Thames Valley Housing Association Limited
*Other partner RSL’s may join the scheme from time to time.
5. WHAT IS THE HOUSING REGISTER?
q A dependent relative who has joined the household because they are unable to live independently and there are no other reasonable options for the family. The family will be expected to provide evidence to support this. Where necessary the advice of the Medical Adviser may be sought on whether the relative needs to live with the family. Where this is not considered essential, other options, such as sheltered housing, will be discussed with the family before a decision is made by the Council as to whether the relative should be included in the application or advised to make a separate application.
q A carer, where the applicant can demonstrate that a live-in carer is necessary and in consultation with the Council’s Medical Adviser the Council agrees that a carer is necessary. The applicant would be expected to provide written confirmation from their GP, Hospital Consultant, or details of the community care assessment by their Care Manager (where SCC fund the cost of the care) that a carer is necessary.
9. REGISTRATION PROCESS
a) All new applicants requesting re-housing and tenants requesting transfers must complete an application form to register on the Housing Register. New applicants for rehousing must provide the required supporting documentary evidence. Tenants requesting transfers may also be asked to provide supporting documentary evidence if their circumstances have changed since their original application. Supporting documentary evidence will normally include: -
· Proof of identity for all household members and evidence of their right to be allocated housing in the UK if they are not British Citizens. Note: Under recent regulations some people have the right to reside in the UK but no right to housing.
· Proof of current address
b) If the application form is incomplete it will be returned to the new applicant or tenant for completion. The date of the application will be the date the fully completed form is received at the Housing Advice Centre.
c) If any required supporting documentary evidence is not received the application will be returned to the new applicant or tenant to provide the documents required.
d) If the Council is satisfied that the new applicant or tenant is eligible to be on the register, an initial assessment will be made based on the information on the application form and any other information available. All eligible applicants or tenants will be assessed and placed in the appropriate bedroom category for their household size and in one of the five priority bands in date order of registration.
e) If the new applicant or tenant is not an eligible person the Council will notify them in writing, giving the reasons for the decision and informing them of the right to request a review of the decision. (See Section 34,Review Procedure). A copy of this letter will normally be sent to Social Services or other voluntary or statutory agency if they are involved or if it is considered appropriate.
f) In Waverley more people need housing from the Council and RSLs than is available. Most new applicants and transferring tenants have to wait many years before they will be offered a suitable property and some may never be offered a property. Information will be provided by the Housing Team about alternative options in the housing market, which include private sector opportunities and shared ownership.
10. APPLICATION UPDATE AND RENEWAL
a) Applicants are required to notify the Council of any changes in their personal circumstances in order that any necessary amendments can be made to their application.
b) Once a year, normally on the anniversary of an application the Council will send out a renewal notice to those applicants who have not bid in the previous 12 months. All applicants who receive this notice must complete and return it within 28 days.
If the applicant wishes to appeal against a decision to cancel their application they may contact the Council in writing within 21 days of the date of the cancellation letter to request a review. (See Section 35, Review Procedure).
If following an update or the renewal of an application a change in the applicant’s circumstances results in a band change, the Council will inform the applicant in writing of the new band, the reason for it and the applicable priority date, and of their right to request a review of this decision. (See Section 35, Review Procedure)
The system for determining priority has been designed to ensure that reasonable preference is given to the following groups of people, as required by s167 of the Housing Act 1996:
q People who are homeless (within the meaning of Part 7 of the 1996 Act as amended by the 2002 Homelessness Act);
q People who are owed a duty by any local housing authority under s190 (2), s193 (2) or s195 (2) of the 1996 Act (or under section 65(2) or 68(2) of the Housing Act 1985) or who are occupying accommodation secured by any housing authority under section 192(3);
q People occupying insanitary or overcrowded housing or otherwise living in unsatisfactory housing conditions;
q People who need to move on medical or welfare grounds; and
q People who need to move to a particular locality in the district of the housing authority, where failure to meet that need would cause hardship (to themselves or to others).
The scheme has been framed to allow additional preference to be given to those households identified as having the most urgent needs and/or multiple needs. In addition the Council has taken into account local circumstances in determining which applicants are to be given preference under the scheme.
13.1 TIME LIMITED BANDS
Applicants will normally be eligible to remain in Band A for a three-month period and Band B for a six-month period except in cases denoted by an * or where it has been otherwise agreed. This will be subject to review at the end of the time limit and may be extended depending on the circumstances of the case. In cases denoted by an * there will be no time limit, in view of the difficulty in meeting the requirements of these groups within the given timescale.
Other factors, which will be taken into account, are whether offers of accommodation have been made within the timescale and if a property offered has been refused the suitability of the offer and the applicants’ reason for refusal.
13.2 DROPPING BANDS
If it is decided that the applicant no longer warrants high priority and their priority is to be reduced, their application will be reassessed and placed in the band appropriate to their circumstances
Applicants who indicate that they or anyone in their household have an illness or disability, which is affected by their current home, or who may be vulnerable on physical or mental health grounds and in need of settled accommodation are requested to complete a medical self assessment form. The Council considers this information, together with any relevant information provided by health professionals working with the person concerned. Where appropriate the Council will also seek advice from the Council’s Medical Advisor who is an independent health professional.
Assessments are made of the effect of present housing on the state of health of the applicant or anyone in the household. In reaching a decision the Council will consider whether the overall effect on the household or any member of the household is sufficiently severe to warrant inclusion in a higher band and whether the Council or its RSL partners could provide accommodation that would alleviate the medical condition or substantially reduce the difficulties caused by it.
In each case the recommendation is based on the judgment of need. Households with medical needs will be placed in one of the following bands: -
Medical priority will be reviewed and may increase or decrease under the following circumstances if: -
Medical priority may also be time limited in certain circumstances and reviewed at the end of the priority period. In such cases priority may be extended if suitable accommodation has not become available over the time limited period.
Where an applicant has indicated that the household is living in insanitary conditions, including lacking one or more of the following: -
The Housing Team may make a referral to the Environmental Health Team. The Environmental Health Team will provide an assessment of whether the applicant is living in insanitary conditions or other unsatisfactory conditions such as the presence of a category 1 hazard under the Housing Act 2004, which puts the local authority under a general duty to take appropriate action. Applicants living in housing found to be unsatisfactory on any of the above criteria will normally be placed in Band C.
Applicants will be placed in Band A in the following circumstances: -
Intentionally homeless households will be placed in band D. After 6 months or more have passed since they were found to be intentionally homeless, if they can satisfactorily demonstrate that their circumstances have changed they can be reassessed for eligibility for other bands. This assessment will include a review of the circumstances that led to intentionality.
15. CUMULATIVE NEEDS
18. PRIORITY DATES
q An applicant’s priority within the bands will normally be based on their application date and they will be considered on a date order basis i.e. the longer they have waited the higher their priority.
q If an applicant moves up a band their application date will be the date that they moved into that band. This ensures that applicants gaining a higher level of priority do not overtake applicants who have had that higher level of priority for longer. Certain exceptions may apply when moving up from band D to band C (see section 14)
q If an applicant moves down a band their application date will be the date that applied when they were previously in that band or any earlier date when they were in a higher band. This ensures that applicants do not lose out by having to start at the bottom of the lower band.
The targets, set as a percentage of yearly allocations, will initially be as follows: -
In some cases whilst other households will still be eligible to be offered the property, preference will be given to applicants with a local connection to a village or parish where a vacancy in the Council’s existing stock occurs in that village or parish.
22.1 TENANTS (COUNCIL OR PARTNER RSL)
Tenants subject to a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) on the ground of rent arrears or on a suspended possession order would not normally be eligible for a transfer. However if (or when) the Notice expires and no new Notice is served, or they clear their arrears they will again be eligible for a transfer.
22.2 HOMELESS HOUSEHOLDS IN TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION
This policy may be departed from in exceptional cases at the discretion of the Council’s most Senior Housing Officer or his/her delegated senior officer or officers. Examples of exceptional cases include:
This Breach of Tenancy Conditions policy may be departed from in exceptional cases at the discretion of the Council’s most Senior Housing Officer or his/her delegated senior officer or officers, for example:
Maximum bedroom eligibility is determined using the following guidelines: -
There will be occasional exceptions to the above guidelines for example: -
25. INCENTIVE SCHEME FOR UNDEROCCUPYING TENANTS TO MOVE TO SMALLER ACCOMMODATION
The grants payable at the date of this policy are as follows:
If the condition of their current property has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect of the tenant or another person residing in the property, such that it is appropriate for a Notice of Seeking Possession under Ground 3 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985 to be served, the matter will be referred to the Housing Management Section. They will not be eligible to bid until any Notice served has expired or the situation remedied, whichever is the sooner.
If work is required to bring the property up to a standard that enables it to be let with minimal work being undertaken by the Council they will be advised of the exact nature of the work and a timescale will be agreed for this work to be carried out. Alternatively they can provide signed agreement that they are prepared for the Council to undertake the work and to be recharged for it. Only then will they be eligible for an offer
In the case of an RSL tenant transferring, although the Housing Officer will not carry out a full property inspection, they will notify the RSL that the condition of the property is poor and that the tenant may be in breach of their tenancy conditions. The RSL may subsequently request the Council to “suspend“ any offer of accommodation until they have carried out their own inspection to determine if the tenant is in breach of their tenancy conditions. This may result in an offer being withdrawn.
27. OFFERS OF ACCOMMODATION
The Council reserves the right, in exceptional circumstances, to offer a property out of a strict Band priority and waiting time order to an applicant who has special needs and for whom the particular property is uniquely or unusually suitable (e.g. location, layout, access or capacity for adaptation) to meet those needs.
Where the targets set for each band are reviewed and it is found that they are not being met, properties may be offered to applicants from a specific band to ensure that the target for that band is met.
Prior to making an offer a Housing Officer will undertake the following checks in respect of the shortlisted applicant: -
If the applicant is either ineligible for an offer or the required documentation is not provided within the given timescale the Council will overlook the applicant and move onto the next applicant on the shortlist.
Where the applicant is eligible for an offer and the documentation required has been provided within the given timescale the applicant will be sent a written invitation to view the property and advised to contact the Rehousing Team to make an appointment.
28 VIEWING A PROPERTY
Following the viewing the applicant will be required to confirm whether or not they wish to accept the property by the end of the next working day after the viewing, otherwise they will normally be deemed to have refused it.
If the applicant accepts the property they will be invited to sign for the tenancy and given an appointment to attend the Housing Advice Centre to do so.
If the previous tenants stated that they were victims of racial harassment, prospective tenants of ethnic minority origin will be advised of this after they have viewed the property and expressed an interest in it, but before they formally enter into a tenancy.
If the applicant refuses the property, the next eligible person is selected. An applicant will not normally be penalised for refusing a property, although checks are likely to be made if several properties are refused.
29. FACTORS AFFECTING OFFERS OF ACCOMMODATION
An applicant may not be considered for an offer of accommodation in a specific geographical area if any of the following apply:
q The applicant or a member of their household is excluded from a geographical area as a result of Court action e.g. subject to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), injunction or non-molestation order relating to a person known to be living in that area.
q There are other valid housing management grounds to exclude the applicant or a member of their household from a specific geographical area e.g. they were previously evicted from the area. Such a decision would be based on issues of community safety and reached following full and detailed consultation with all the relevant agencies.
Eligibility for the remaining homes in these 2 schemes is the same as for Sheltered Housing (see above) and the homes are subject to the Supporting People charge, rent and service charges.
Different lower age limits may apply to particular schemes both within Waverley Borough Council’s accommodation and in our partner Registered Social Landlords’ accommodation.
Before an offer of sheltered housing is made, the applicant is invited to visit the scheme. An assessment will be carried out to determine eligibility for Supporting People and also will assess that the particular accommodation is suitable for the needs of the applicant.
A recommendation for enhanced care at Riverside and Falkner Courts will be dealt with through the Allocations Panel for Enhanced Care. A care support worker may make a referral direct to the panel for consideration without the household being registered on the Housing Register. However, all applicants for Enhanced Care must register on the Housing Register prior to any allocation taking place.
There is some supported Housing in and around Waverley that is suitable for people with support needs. This includes: -
· Young people
· Younger single parents
· People with learning disabilities
· People with mental health problems
· People with substance misuse problems
· People with other vulnerabilities
The Council has nomination rights to Supported Housing providers. Some of the schemes provide long-term accommodation whereas others assume that there will be a requirement for the resident to move on either after a certain period or when they are capable of living independently.
33 SELECTION CRITERIA AND PRORITIES FOR SUPPORTED HOUSING
Before any nomination is made to a Supporting Housing provider clients are assessed according to their needs and support requirements at the time of the referral, together with any potential risk they may present to themselves and others. An assessment is made in respect to their suitability for the scheme and respective priority compared to other applicants.
· Normally overall priority is given to homeless applicants that are assessed as suitable, to whom the council has or may have a statutory duty to secure accommodation, unless there is a suitable applicant with a higher need for supported accommodation at that time.
· Where there is more than one suitable applicant for the vacancy and the applicants are assessed as having a similar level of need for housing and support, given that there is a shortage of supported accommodation in the Borough, priority will be determined on the basis of the applicants local connection followed by their application date. (An applicant with a local connection will normally be given priority over an applicant without a local connection even if they have an earlier application date).
34. ALLOCATIONS TO SUPPORTED HOUSING
The process for allocating vacancies varies slightly between the different landlords but is similar to that followed by the Council as detailed below.
a) Vacancies or prospective vacancies are notified to all the potential referrers by letter, or e-mail, inviting nominations by an agreed date. Referral organisations include those represented on Waverley Single Housing Panel and any others as may be appropriate including:
· Housing Advice Team
· Homelessness Team
· Neighbourhood and Housing management services
· Community Mental Health Team
· Community Learning Disability Team
· Adult and Community Care services
· Single persons hostels
· Voluntary agencies
b) Referrals are requested on a standard form. All applicants must be on the Housing Register or be eligible to join the register at the time of the referral. Self-referrals to supported housing are not normally accepted, as most schemes require the applicant to have a key worker from a statutory or voluntary agency.
c) On receipt of referral forms all applicants are assessed by the Supported Housing provider according to their eligibility criteria for the scheme and to see if any further information is required. Referrers will be advised if an applicant is ineligible or if further information is required e.g. occupational therapy reports, risk assessment, etc. Once the appropriate referral documents have been received, interviews will normally be held with all those who have been identified as potentially suitable for the vacancy.
d) Allocations for supported housing (subject to the number of applicants considered suitable for the scheme) are normally considered at a multi-agency panel meeting, which is called specifically for this purpose. This will normally include the Scheme Manager, the Chair of Waverley Single Housing Panel or Housing Officer and any key workers of the applicants being considered together with any other professionals that may have an interest in the particular project or scheme.
e) At the allocation meeting each professional who has made a referral should present the case for their client. A full exchange of information should then occur before the panel makes their recommendations. The decision as to who should be offered the vacancy should be based both on housing and support needs of the individual concerned and the scheme where the vacancy is occurring. The group dynamics of other residents will be taken into account where there is shared accommodation or flats. Of paramount importance are the needs and vulnerabilities of existing tenants and the likelihood of a person engaging successfully with the supported housing staff working at the scheme.
f) This arrangement may be subject to a fast track procedure where there are only a minimal number of referrals of 2 or less suitable applicants. In such instances the discussion would normally be by telephone between the Scheme Manager and the Chair of SHIP unless either party or the applicants key worker requests a face-to-face meeting. The final decision on suitability and allocation rests with the Supported Housing Scheme Manager.
Any appeals against allocation decisions in respect to supported housing are dealt with under the Council’s review procedure (See Section 35, Review Procedure) in the case of a decision made by the Council. Where the appeal is against the decision of a voluntary agency or RSL the applicant will need to follow that organisations appeals process.
35 REVIEW PROCEDURE
An officer senior to the officer making the original decision and who was not involved in making the decision will carry out these reviews.
q A request for a review must be made by writing to, visiting or telephoning the Housing Team within 21 days from the day on which the applicant is notified of the authority’s decision and the reasons for it. The Council has discretion to extend the time limit if it considers this would be reasonable.
q An applicant may provide any additional information that they think the Council should take into account when reviewing its decision. This must be in writing and provided within 14 days from the date the Council notifies the applicant that it is carrying out a review.
q The applicant will be advised of the outcome of the review within 8 weeks unless the applicant has agreed to an extension of time.
q There is no right to request a further review.
Reviews of decisions made under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 (Homelessness) are outside the scope of this Scheme.
36. DISCRETION AND DELEGATED AUTHORITY UNDER THE ALLOCATIONS SCHEME
This Allocation scheme has been designed to provide a comprehensive policy framework and follow current legislation, government guidance and case law. In addition it takes into account local housing need and provision at the time of writing. It is important that the Allocation Scheme remains sufficiently flexible and responsive to individual needs, changing legal requirements, case law and local circumstances.
Clearly, the Council must retain the ability to act appropriately in such situations. Therefore, as the Council considers every case individually on its own merits, the Council’s most Senior Housing Officer, or his/her delegated senior officer or officers, is permitted to exercise his/her discretion (subject to compliance with the provisions contained in legislation and in any regulations or guidance laid down by the Secretary of State):
· To depart from the policy framework set out above where there may be situations which would operate unfairly to restrict an applicant’s entitlement to housing:
· In such situations where the applicant can demonstrate exceptional circumstances,
· To offer accommodation to housing applicants assessed as requiring care and support on the condition that they comply with an agreed care plan or such supervision requirement as he may deem appropriate;
· To vary the Council’s standard Terms and Conditions of Tenancy as necessary (other than those stipulated by statute under Section 103 of the 1985 Housing Act) on an individual basis in appropriate cases by agreement or in accordance with Section 103 of the Housing Act 1985 (apart from Terms and Conditions required by law).
· As otherwise set out in this document.
And in consultation with the Lead Member or Portfolio Holder:
· To implement such amendments as may be required to ensure compliance with the legislation and Government Guidance.
· To make minor amendments to the scheme to ensure that it remains responsive to individual and local housing needs