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Applying for Social Housing FAQs

Who can apply for housing? Toggle accordion

To qualify for the Housing Register an applicant must have a recognised housing need and have a local connection as defined by the Allocations Policy.

How do I apply for housing? Toggle accordion

You will need to complete an online housing application at www.stalbanshomechoice.co.uk.

Is there information available on how to apply? Toggle accordion

Yes, information is available on our webpage Finding a Home.

What if I can’t complete the online application form? Toggle accordion

Please contact Customer Services on 01727 819450 for assistance.

What if I can’t upload my documents? Toggle accordion

Please contact Customer Services on 01727 819450 for assistance

In what format should bank statements be submitted? Toggle accordion

Bank statements should be uploaded as a PDF or Word document showing at least a full month’s worth of transactions on each document.

Please do not upload screenshots of bank transactions.

How long will it take for my application to be registered? Toggle accordion

It takes approximately 8 weeks from the date that you submit all your documents.

You will not hear from us until we have registered your application unless we need further information from you.

I haven’t heard from the Council that my application has been processed? Toggle accordion

If at least 8 weeks have passed since you submitted all the information requested please email stalbans.homechoice@stalbans.gov.uk with your query.

How long will it take for me to be rehoused? Toggle accordion

It is not possible to give you an estimate of the time it will take. It depends on the type and size of property you need and what homes become available.

There are more households registering for housing than the number of homes that become available each year, usually there are between 500-600 households on the housing register at any one time.

The number of homes that become available varies each month - the majority of properties becoming available are flats. Typically around 300 social housing properties are let each year.

See how many properties were allocated in the past year in the document below.

 

How are properties allocated? Toggle accordion

Applicants will need to bid for properties they are interested in, on the St Albans Home Choice website.

The property advertisement will give details of the size and type of property. Some properties are prioritised for transfer applicants, applicants in Bands C and D or advertised for a particular group of applicants – for example elderly designated accommodation, supported accommodation or where a local lettings policy applies. Applicants should make sure that they meet any criteria specified in the advertisement before bidding.

After bidding closes on available properties (12 noon each Tuesday) the Council will shortlist the applicants that have expressed an interest in the property.

I am on the housing list – what next? Toggle accordion

You will need to bid for a property on St Albans Home Choice.

Available properties are advertised on a weekly basis from Friday at 9.00am to Tuesday 12.00pm. Each property advert will be clearly labelled as to the size and type of property and who is eligible to place bids - only bid for properties you are eligible for.

A guide on how to place bids is available below.

Can I get help with bidding? Toggle accordion

You can ask for assisted bidding to be set up if you need help to bid. Email us at  stalbans.homechoice@stalbans.gov.uk to request this help.

 

Why has my queue position changed on a list? Toggle accordion

Your queue position is likely to fluctuate during the bidding cycle period (Friday 9am –Tuesday 12 noon) as more people make a bid or withdraw their bid. If someone makes a bid after you and they are in a higher band or in the same band with an earlier priority date, their bid will be placed higher than yours in the shortlist.

Why does my position on lists change from week to week? Toggle accordion

Your position on a shortlist is based on your priority banding, priority date and the number of other applicants that have bid on the home advertised.

During one week, you may have the second position in a shortlist but the following week, if applicants with a higher priority band or an older priority date bid on the same properties as you, your position on those shortlists will be lower.

This means that your position on shortlists will change, moving up and down depending on who else bids and what homes are available in any given week. If you are in second position one week, you should not think that you will be top of a shortlist the following week. The more popular the home advertised, the more bids we receive and the more likely your position will change.

My bids keep being unsuccessful. Is there any point in me carrying on bidding? Toggle accordion

The lower your housing Priority Band, the longer it will take for you to be housed and some applicants will never be housed by the Council. If you are in the lower Priority Bands, you may want to consider other housing options such as private rented accommodation or low cost home ownership.

I am already a Council/Housing Association tenant - are there any other options that would help me move home? Toggle accordion

You may find it quicker to arrange a mutual exchange to move to a different property to meet your needs as there is a shortage of social housing in the district. This process involves two or more tenants swapping their homes. This could be within the district or anywhere in the country.

It is possible to register for free and view available properties, with HomeSwapper. If you identify a mutual exchange please contact your Housing Officer.

How does shortlisting work? Toggle accordion

After the bidding has closed the Council will look at the bids that have been made for each property advertised. Being first on the list when the bidding closes does not automatically mean that you will be offered the property.

The Council will carry out a number of checks to shortlist applicants:

  • Eligibility criteria - size of property, need for any adaptations in the property, any specific requirements for the property advertised (transfer applicants only, identified need for ground floor, local lettings policy etc). For age restricted property, only applicants who met the age requirements will be  considered
  • Priority Band on the Housing Needs Register
  • Priority date in the Priority Band

For applicants meeting the eligibility criteria, the order on the shortlist is dependent on their priority band and then their priority date. The day and time when the bid was placed does not have any effect on their position on the shortlist. 

Where more than one qualifying applicant meets the criteria for the property, the applicant with the highest priority band and earliest priority date will be made the offer of accommodation.

Where two qualifying applicants have the same priority band and priority date, the property will be offered to the applicant for whom the Council considers the property is most suitable, taking all other factors into consideration, particularly making the best use of the vacancy.

The Council reserves the right to overlook bids in some cases, examples include (but are not restricted to):

  • Where the applicant is already under offer for a different property.
  • Where the applicant poses a risk to individuals or the community.
  • Where the applicant has bid for a property for which they are not eligible due to a system or administrative error.
  • Ground floor properties would generally be allocated to applicants who have a medical need for a ground property over those who don’t.
  • Where the applicant has bid for a property for which they are no longer eligible following a change in their circumstances.
  • Where the applicant is in rent arrears.

My bid was successful - what happens now? Toggle accordion

Please wait to be contacted by our staff – make sure you have your documents ready for the verification process. You will be asked to provide a number of documents so that staff can check your current circumstances. For example - bank statements, proof of earnings/benefits, confirmation of any medical issues (if applicable), proof of address and landlord details (if applicable). Staff will also check ID for all household members. This list is an example - staff will tell you what you need to provide.

It is essential that you provide the documents when requested – if they are not supplied within 48 hours, your bid may be bypassed and you will no longer be considered for that property.

Please note - if you are contacted and asked to provide documents for verification, you will not be able to bid on other properties.

What happens if I am top of more than one shortlist in the same week? Toggle accordion

If you successfully bid for more than one property in the same bidding cycle, you will be asked which property you would prefer as your first choice. Whilst a property is under offer to you, you will not be considered for any other properties.

Can I see the property? Toggle accordion

Staff will contact you to arrange a viewing (this may be an online viewing). If the property is owned by a Registered Provider, they will contact you directly.

I have been offered a property - what do I need to do? Toggle accordion

You will need to let us know if you wish to accept it – you will be given details of who to contact and by what date when you receive an offer.

Please think carefully before refusing an offer – it could be some time before any bid you make is successful again.

How soon can I move in after accepting a property? Toggle accordion

Usually it will be very soon after you have accepted the offer, sometimes there may be a delay if any work needs to be carried out prior to you moving in. You will be told when the property will be available and when your tenancy begins. You will be responsible for rent payments from the day that the tenancy starts.

You will be required to pay rent when you sign up for a tenancy – the landlord will tell you the amount. Deposits are not required.

What about rents and deposits? Toggle accordion

You will be required to pay rent when you sign up for a tenancy – the landlord will tell you the amount. Deposits are not required.

Are the properties furnished? Toggle accordion

No, they are unfurnished and you will need to provide your own furniture.

If you have been offered a Council property please read about our Lettable Standard.

If you have been offered a Registered Provider home please contact them if you have any queries.