Our frequently asked questions about our Allocations Policy and Choice Based Lettings should help you understand the way homes are allocated by us.
Q: What is Herts Choice Homes and who is involved?
A: Herts Choice Homes is a partnership of five councils in Hertfordshire which means there will be some opportunity for you to move to other areas of Hertfordshire. The five councils are: us, St Albans District Council, Watford Borough Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council.
Q: What is Choice Based Lettings?
A: Choice Based Lettings is a way of deciding who is offered a rented home and gives you more say in where you live.
Properties used to be allocated to those on the Housing Register, using a point-based system according to need. Applicants were offered homes they may not necessarily have wanted.
Under Choice Based Lettings, landlords now advertise their properties and you can choose which home you are interested in applying for. The points system has been replaced with a five band system (A to E) to reflect the priority we have given your application.
Q: What is the Housing Register?
A: The Housing Register is a register of everyone who is looking for affordable accommodation in Hertsmere.
Q: Can I join the Housing Register?
A: As long as you are aged 16 or over, you can join the register, unless:
We have decided that your behaviour (or a member of your household's behaviour) is unacceptable and serious enough to make you unsuitable as a tenant.
You are subject to immigration control or are not habitually resident, as described by law.
Q: How do I join the Housing Register?
A: You need to fill out our Housing Registration application form, available through Herts Choice Homes Website.
Q: How will my application be prioritised?
A: Your application will be placed into one of the five priority bands A to E based on an assessment of your housing need. Applicants in band A will have the highest priority, applicants in band E the lowest.
You will also be given a priority date, which initially will be the date of your application. Should your circumstances change and you are reassessed to a higher priority band you will be given a new date. This will be the date you were awarded the higher priority.
Q: What is the five band system?
A: There are five bands - A, B, C, D and E, with A being the highest priority.
The different bands reflect broad categories of housing need, from very high to low. If you are in a higher band you will have greater priority for housing.
If you have a local connection, you will be in bands A, B, C or D. If you cannot demonstrate a local connection you will be placed in band E.
If you have a valid local connection, but we consider that you have enough financial means to resolve your own housing situation, or you have no identified housing need, you will be placed in band E.
Includes people that we have to house as soon as a suitable property is available, e.g. people who have an over-riding medical need.
Includes people that we have to house urgently and people that by law we must give 'reasonable preference', e.g. those to whom we owe a statutory homeless duty.
Includes people who have high need to move, e.g. applicants who are assessed as lacking two or more bedrooms.
Includes people with a medium need to move, e.g. applicants lacking one bedroom, or facing financial hardship.
Includes applicants who are assessed as being adequately housed. This will include people with sufficient funds to secure appropriate housing. Applicants with no local connection will also be placed here.
If your priority changes you may move up or down the housing priority bands following assessment.
Q: What do you mean by local connection?
A local connection to Hertsmere means that one or more of the following criteria applies - both at the time of applying and when an offer of housing is made.
Are permanently employed within the borough for a minimum period of 12 months, working 16 hours or more per week and the distance from your current home to your work place is 75 miles or more;
Have lived for at least 12 months in the borough by choice, either in rented or other accommodation we consider permanent;
Have lived in the borough by choice for three out of the last five years;
Have close relatives, (such as parents, adult children, brothers or sisters), who live in the borough, and have done so for at least five years. In exceptional circumstances other family members may be considered, such as in the case of an elderly applicant who needs to move to the area for support. Each case will be assessed individually.
Members of the Armed Forces will have a recognised local connection if they meet the above criteria, are living in services accommodation within Hertsmere, or lived in Hertsmere prior to joining the Armed Forces.
All local connections will need to be verified by us. 'Care of' addresses and sofa surfing (ie staying with friends on their sofa) are not considered as having a local connection as this is not permanent accommodation.
Q: What happens once I am on the Housing Register?
A: Shortly after your registration on the scheme, you will receive confirmation in the post. The letter will give you your registration number and date (normally the date we received your housing registration form), and details of the priority band you have been placed in.
If you are eligible, it will also tell you the size of property you will be allowed to bid for under the scheme.
Q: How long will I have to wait on the register?
A: It is not possible to say how long you will need to wait before you are successful in getting a property. We have more people on our housing register than there are available properties and not everybody on the register will secure housing.
Q: Will I need to let you know of any changes in my circumstances?
A: Yes. Once you are on our Housing Register you must tell us as soon as possible:
Any change in your employment status
If anybody moves in or out of your current property
Of any change of address
Q: Do I need to keep in regular contact with you?
A: If you are bidding regularly on properties, you do not need to keep in regular contact with us. If you have not bid for any properties for six months then we will contact you to ask whether you want to stay on the Housing Register. If you do not make contact we will review your application, which may result in it being cancelled.
Q: What happens if you cancel my housing registration application?
A: If we cancel your application you will need to re-apply to us at a later date. You will not be able to keep your former application date so you may lose the time you have already spent on the housing list.
Q: How are properties advertised?
A: All properties available for letting are advertised on the Herts Choice Homes website.
If you are unable to access the website, and are defined as in a vulnerable group, such as being infirm, disabled or have learning difficulties, arrangements can be made for the list of available properties to be posted out to you.
Q: How do I bid for a property?
A: Properties are graded A to E so you need to be eligible to apply for the empty property, (i.e. be in the same priority banding as the property.)
Properties are advertised weekly. Bidding opens on a Friday and you will need to apply before noon the following Tuesday.
You can bid via the Herts Choice Homes website, by telephone, by text message, or, if you are vulnerable, staff will help you in making a bid.
Q: What happens after I have bid?
A: Applications are ranked by us according to priority band i.e. band A first and then band B, C, D, E; then the date you were placed in the band. Applicants in band D are prioritised according to local connection.
The person in the highest priority band with the earliest priority date will be invited to view the property. We may shortlist between one and five applicants to view a property, depending on how popular the property is.
Q: Will I qualify for sheltered accommodation?
A: You can apply for sheltered housing if you are over 60 years of age. We will assess your needs and suitability for living in sheltered housing.