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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Who can apply for properties through Homes Direct?

You must have been accepted onto Homes Direct's Housing Register to be able to apply for either properties for rent or sale. Anyone aged 16 years or over may apply to join the Housing Register.

How do I apply to join the Housing Register?

You will need to complete an on-line application form. 

Is my web browser compatible with Homes Direct?

Homes Direct is compatible with the following web browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10

  • Firefox (v22)

  • Google Chrome (v31)

  • Mobile Safari (IOS7)

  • Mobile Android (KitKat)

How do I know if I have been accepted onto the Housing Register?

 Once you have submitted your on line application, you will receive confirmation of acceptance on the housing register straight away. You will also be able to see the band you have been placed on, the date your application has been registered from and the size of property you are eligible for.

Can you refuse to accept me onto the Housing Register?
You may not be acepted for a home if for example;

  • Certain people who are subject to Immigration Control under the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act.
  • Certain people from abroad who are not subject to immigration control but who are not habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.
  • People (including members of their household) who have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour that makes them unsuitable to be a tenant.
  • People that have refused two offers of accommodation will be suspended for 12 months.
  • People who do not turn up to viewings without a good reason.
  • People who do not respond to offers of accommodation.

Do I need to renew my application each year?
Yes, once a year, usually on the anniversary of your application, you will be sent a renewal reminder. You must renew your application within 28 days of this reminder message. If you do not renew your application within 28 days, your application will be closed and you will have to create a new social housing application using your existing login details.

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How do I apply for a property?

You can express your interest or bid, as it is also known, in the following ways:

  • Online through our website, www.homesdirect.org.uk
  • Through our 24hr automated telephone service on 0300 111 7510   

How many properties can I express an interest in?

You will be able to express an interest in a maximum of three properties each time properties are advertised. However, you will only be able to express interest in properties that are suitable for your family. There are no limit to the number of properties you can express an interest in East Northamptonshire.

How long will I have to bid for a property?

Properties will be advertised from midnight on a Wednesday and you will be able to register your interest in properties up until midnight the following Sunday.

Will I know how many other people are interested in the same property?

Yes, when you bid for a property you will be told where you are in the queue. This  is likely to change frequently due to other people bidding for the same property. Using this information you may decide to withdraw your bid for one property and bid for a different property for which you are higher placed in the queue. You can do this at any time before the closing date.

How do you decide who is offered a property?

Once the closing date for bids has passed a shortlist of interested applicants is drawn up. The shortlist is in order of eligibility according to the criteria stated in the advert details for that property. The applicant at the top of the list will normally be offered the property. Click Step Three-Offer for more details.

 If I successfully bid for a rented property, can the landlord refuse to let it to me?

You may not be invited to view the property for the following reasons:

  • You owe rent or have other housing related debts
  • You are a Council or Housing Association tenant and legal action has been taken against you because you have broken your tenancy conditions
  • You have sufficient resources to solve your own housing problems
  • You have not provided the required documentary evidence to support your application by the date given
  • Your circumstances have changed and this results in a reduction in your level of priority. 
  • You have provided incorrect or misleading information, which has resulted in your application being awarded a higher priority than it deserves.

If I successfully bid for a rented property, will I be able to view it before making up my mind?

Yes. You will be given an opportunity to view the property and decide whether you would like to accept it.

What if I don’t like the property when I have seen it?

You will not normally be penalised for refusing a property that you have been offered and will still be able to express interest in properties that become available. However if you are a Band A because you are statutory homeless, you will only be able to receive one offer of a home. If you refuse this, you will no longer be eligible to remain in Band A.

How often are properties advertised?

Properties available for rent are advertised each week.  The advertising cycle will start on Wednesday (12am) and close on Sunday (12am). As soon as we are given formal notice that a property is due to become vacant we will advertise it. For more details click Step Two-Choosing, part of our step-by-step guide to using the service.

Where are properties advertised?

Properties are advertised in the following ways:

  • Online at www.homesdirect.org.uk
  • In a newsletter available from local offices.
  • On display boards in the all our local office.

Other locations may be added in the future.

What information will the property adverts contain?

The adverts will tell you the landlord, location, size, rent and other features of the property. Where available a photograph of the property or a similar house type will be provided and you will be able to access information about the local area and facilities. The advert will also tell you if there are any special requirements that the applicant must meet, such as age requirements, which bands may bid for the property and which will be given priority for the property. It also tells you the number of bedrooms that applicants applying for the property need to be entitled to. If your bedroom entitlement is different to this you will not be able to bid for that property.

I can't find a property

There are a number of different reasons why you may not see any properties to bid for

  • you may be looking on a Monday or Tuesday (properties for rent are advertised from Wednesday to Sunday each week)

  • there may not be any empty properties advertised that week in the area you are looking for

  • you may already be matched to a property (in which case you would need to be unmatched before you can bid for another property)

  • there may be some incorrect information on your application that needs to be amended before you can see any properties to bid for

  • your application may have been closed because you did not complete your yearly update or your application may be suspended for some reason

  • you may be trying to bid on properties that are too large or too small for your assessed needs

  • you may not match the requirements of a property that is advertised (for example, you may be too young, or not have a medical need or local connection to the area)

When you log in to your active social housing application between Wednesday and Friday, you will see all the properties for which you are currently eligible to bid. These properties can be in any area, so please look through them to see if any of them are of interest to you.

There may be properties advertised which you are not eligible to bid for. To see these properties, log in to your account (between Wednesday and Friday), click on the ‘Property search’ box, tick ‘Properties for Rent’, tick the property type (for example ‘house’), tick the number of bedrooms you need, type in an area where it says ‘Enter a location’ (or leave this blank) and then click ‘Search’. You will then see everything that is currently advertised and whether you are ‘eligible’ or ‘not eligible’ for the property and, if you are ‘not eligible’, the reason why.

You can search for ‘Immediately Available Homes’ at any time. Simply log in to your account, click on the ‘Property search’ box, tick ‘Immediately available homes’, tick the property type (for example ‘house’), tick the number of bedrooms you need, type in an area where it says ‘Enter a location’ (or leave this blank) and then click ‘Search’. You will then see everything currently advertised but please look at the ‘Further information’ for each property before applying for the property.

How will I know what has happened to the properties advertised?

Information about homes that have been successfully let or purchased through shared ownership is published. We tell you the number of applicants that expressed an interest in each property, the band and the registration date of each property. To see the results of properties that have been let click 'Property search' and then click on 'Recent lets'.

How will this information help me?

It will give you a better idea of how popular a particular property or area is and how long you would normally have to wait. You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you may not have to wait as long.

You can express your interest or bid, as it is also known, in the following ways:

  • Online through our website, www.homesdirect.org.uk
  • Through our 24hr automated telephone service on 0300 111 7510 

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What are priority Bands?

Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed in one of 4 bands, A to D. We will also take into account your personal and housing circumstances in deciding the band you are placed in. Within each band applications are placed in date order. If you require housing in East Northamptonshire, you will be placed in one of 5 bands, Priority Card to 4.

Why do I have an East Northamptonshire/East Lindsey/Newcastle-under-Lyme band?

 All applications through Homes Direct are automatically given four different bandings. This is because there are four different allocations policy in Homes Direct: one for Homes Direct, one for East Northamptonshire (if you require housing in East Northamptonshire), one for East Lindsey and one for Newcastle-under-Lyme.

How long will I stay in the same band?

You will remain in the same band until your circumstances change. 

What do I do if my circumstances change?

You are responsible for updating your own housing circumstances. If your details change, it is very important that you update these directly onto your online application. If this results in your application moving to a different bandm the system will automatically notify you. If you move up a band the date used will be the date you move into that band. If you move down a band the date used will be the date that applied when you were previously in that band or any earlier date when you were in a higher band.

Does my child qualify for his/her own bedroom?

If you share responsibility for your child/children with a former partner, only the parent/guardian that is the recipient of the child related benefits will be allocated the number of bedrooms needed for that household. If you are a parent/guardian and have access to children but you do not receive child related benefits, you will not be eligible for any additional bedrooms to accommodate your children.

If you receive child benefit for your children and have included your children on your application but they are still not showing as needing a bedroom, please check to make sure you have not ticked 'granted access only' by mistake on their details. If you have, untick 'granted access' and resubmit your application on the last page. This will change your bedroom need.

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What if someone in my household has a medical condition?

If someone in your household has a medical condition you will need to be able to provide evidence of this at shortlisting stage.You can continue to choose which properties to express an interest in but must be mindful of your condition and only express interest in suitable properties such as ground floor flat or bungalow if you cannot climb stairs.

What if I become homeless?

You should contact your local council office in the first instance. They will arrange an interview with you to discuss your circumstances. They will work with you to try to prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your housing options with you. If this is unsuccessful you may be offered temporary housing. You may still express an interest in properties through Homes Direct, providing your application has been accepted on the Housing Register, but in most cases it is unlikely that this will be in time to resolve your homelessness, as most applicants will have to wait some  time before being successful.

Descriptions of different circumstances that might affect your housing need 

Please note that having the required paperwork when making your application or before being allocated a property can improve the allocation process.

Lack of facilities

For the purposes of housing applications and allocations you will be considered to be lacking facilities if:

  • The property you currently live in does not have a kitchen
  • The property you currently live in does not have a washroom
  • The property you currently live in does not have an inside toilet
  • The property you currently live in does not have a toilet
  • The property you currently live in does not have a system for providing hot water, for example a boiler.

Please note:

  • You may be asked to provide evidence of this lack of facilities if your application is successful, this might be a letter for your local environmental officer or local authority.
  • If you are lacking bedrooms please ensure that you tell us about all the people who will be living with you in your new house in the appropriate part of the application.  For the purpose of this application, bedrooms and facilities are assessed separately.
  • If you require a property with adaptations due to a health or mobility problem please tell us about this in the medical and access needs part of the application.

Experiencing harassment or domestic abuse

If you are experiencing harassment or domestic abuse and have detailed this on your application form we may ask you to provide information such as crime reference numbers of letters from support agencies that you have been in contact with.

Homelessness

If you are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness you will need to be able to provide evidence of this. This could include:

  • A letter from the owner or main tenant of your current home detailing the circumstances of your forthcoming homelessness, for example the property is going to be sold.
  • A homelessness assessment from the local authority in which you currently live.
  • Confirmation of this assessment from the hostel or refuge where you currently live.

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What other documents do I need to provide?
If you are offered a property, you will need to provide the following:

  • Proof of identity for all household members (e.g. passports, birth certificates)
  • Proof of current address (e.g. recent utility bill)
  • Evidence of your right to reside in the UK if you are not a British Citizen (e.g. passport & other relevant Home Office documentation)
  • Evidence of your personal and housing circumstances.

You will also need to provide additional documents to support your application. We will tell you what documents to provide and when to provide them.
All documents provided must be originals, up to date and valid. For a full list of acceptable documents contact the landlord who has successfully shortlisted you for a property. 

The following table shows some examples of acceptable ID.

LIST A – Information from either Group 1 or 2 can be used to evidence an ‘UNLIMITED RIGHT TO RENT’

LIST A GROUP 1: Any Single item from this list can be accepted:

1.

A passport (current or expired) showing that the holder is a British citizen or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the right of abode in the UK.

2.

A passport or national identity card (current or expired) showing that the holder is a national of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

3.

A registration certificate or document (current or expired) certifying or indicating permanent residence issued by the Home Office, to a national of a European Union, European Economic Area country or Switzerland.

4.

A permanent residence card, indefinite leave to remain, indefinite leave to enter or no time limit card issued by the Home Office (current or expired), to a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national.

5.

A biometric immigration document issued by the Home Office to the holder indicating that the person named is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK. The document must be valid (not expired) at the time the right to rent check is made.

6.

A passport or other travel document (current or expired) endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, has the right of abode in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK.

7.

A current immigration status document containing a photograph issued by the Home Office to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the named person is permitted to stay indefinitely in the UK or has no time limit on their stay in the UK. The document must be valid (not expired) at the time the right to rent check is made.

8.

A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

 

GROUP 2. Any two of the following documents when produced in any combination can be accepted

 

1.

  1. A full birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland, which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s parents or adoptive parents.
  2. A letter issued within the last 3 months confirming the holder’s name, issued by a UK government department or local authority and signed by a named official (giving their name and professional address), or signed by a British passport holder (giving their name, address and passport number), or issued by a person who employs the holder (giving their name and company address) confirming the holder’s status as an employee.
  3. A letter from a UK police force confirming the holder is a victim of crime and personal documents have been stolen, stating the crime reference number, issued within the last 3 months.
  4. Evidence (identity card, document of confirmation issued by one of HM forces, confirmation letter issued by the Secretary of State) of the holder’s previous or current service in any of HM’s UK armed forces.
  5. A letter from HM Prison Service, the Scottish Prison Service or the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirming the holder’s name, date of birth, and that they have been released from custody of that service in the past 6 months; or a letter from an officer of the National Offender Management Service in England and Wales, an officer of a local authority in Scotland or an officer of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland confirming that the holder is the subject of an order requiring supervision by that officer.
  6. Letter from a UK further or higher education institution confirming the holder’s acceptance on a current course of studies.
  7. A current full or provisional UK driving licence (both the photo card and paper counterpart must be shown).
  8. A current UK firearm or shotgun certificate.
  9. Disclosure and Barring Service certificate issued within the last 3 months.
  10. Benefits paperwork issued by HMRC, Local Authority or a Job Centre Plus, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions or the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, within the 3 months prior to commencement of tenancy.

 

List B for evidencing a LIMITED RIGHT TO RENT

List B ANY ONE ITEM FROM THIS LIST CAN BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF A TIME LIMITED RIGHT TO RENT.

Documents where a time-limited statutory excuse is established

1.

A valid passport or other travel document endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK for a time-limited period.

2.

A current biometric immigration document issued by the Home Office to the holder, which indicates that the named person is permitted to stay in the UK for a time limited period.

3.

A current residence card (including an accession residence card or a derivative residence card) issued by the Home Office to a non-EEA national who is either a family member of an EEA or Swiss national or has a derivative right of residence.

4.

A current immigration status document issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK for a time-limited period.

5.

In the case that the person has an ongoing application with the Home Office, or their documents are with the Home Office, or they claim to have Home Office permission to rent, an email from the Landlords Checking Service providing a “yes” response to a right to rent request. This will only be sent to the landlord by the Landlords Checking Service.

 

What happens if I do not provide the required documents?

If you do not provide the required documents, then you will not be made an offer of accommodation or any offer of accommodation that you have been made will be withdrawn and you will be moved into a lower band. If you are found to have deliberately provided false or mis-leading information in your housing application then your application will be suspended.

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How do I request a review of a decision?
If you disagree with any of the following decisions you can request a review:

  • You are not eligible to join the housing register
  • You are not eligible for an offer
  • Your application has been cancelled other than at your own request
  • You think that you have been placed in the wrong band or given the wrong priority date
  • You have been given the wrong bedroom entitlement

To request a review you must contact one of the housing providers within 21 days of the date you are notified of the decision and the reason for it. If your landlord is a partner of Homes Direct, you must contact your landlord to request a review. You may provide additional information in writing that you wish to be taken into account when the review is carried out. You will normally be advised of the outcome of the review within 2 weeks.

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Are carpets and appliances provided?

You will normally have to provide your own carpets and appliances.

What other options are there for housing?

There is a shortage of homes in most of our areas, especially larger family homes. Most applicants on the Housing Register will have to wait a long time for re-housing and many of those in the lower bands will still have little chance of re-housing in the local area. Depending on your circumstances you may wish to consider other options such as renting in the private sector. Your local council may be able to help you with a deposit for private rented properties if you meet certain criteria.  

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