Allocations Scheme Summary for New Charter
your choice, your move!
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Policy Summary The allocations policy contains a number of schemes, the two main ones being;
The general scheme for people who are not yet New Charter tenants and
The transfer scheme for New Charter tenants who need to move.
Whilst there are similarities between both schemes, they have separate application arrangements and priorities. This booklet provides a summary of our general scheme for customers who are not yet New Charter tenants. Quotas will apply to available homes, providing 15% for the transfer scheme and 65% for the general scheme. The remaining 20% will be offered to the Local Authority for nominations. Available homes which are assigned to the two major schemes will be advertised using Choice Based Lettings. The advert will provide an outline of property details and an indication of which group will be given preference. A proportion of available homes will be advertised indicating that preference will be shown to those with community contribution. Applicants have the opportunity to advise us when they have met the requirements of our community contribution scheme.
Scope of the policy The policy will apply to residential lettings by New Charter Homes. The following will not be considered to be lettings and will not be covered by this policy: • Mutual Exchanges • Successions of Tenancy • Assignments of Tenancy • Conversion of sole to joint tenancies and vice versa • Market Rent properties
Who can apply (Eligibility) A key objective of this scheme is to provide customers with honest and accurate prospects advice at first point of contact, only registering applications from those with realistic prospects of being offered a New Charter home. The following groups will not be eligible to join the scheme:
• Groups excluded by the Secretary of State due to immigration status, or having limited leave to remain in the UK • Owner occupiers and tenants of other Registered Providers who do not have a housing need and those in suitable private rented accommodation • People currently resident in penal institutions, care homes etc. We will direct these enquiries to Tameside Housing Advice • Applications claiming to be of No Fixed Abode (NFA) will not be accepted. People in this situation are in need of more immediate assistance than a waiting list can provide, and will be referred to Tameside Housing Advice • Applications including a current New Charter tenants - these will be managed via our Transfer Scheme (please see the summary booklet for Transferring Tenants) • Applications including someone who has committed unacceptable behaviour or who has housing related debts, they are not addressing In addition, people will need a local connection to the Tameside area. This may be any of the following: • Residence in Tameside currently or previous residence for at least 3 out of the last 5 years • Work/volunteering in Tameside, for at least 6 out of the last 9 months • That they are a registered carer for someone who lives in Tameside • Members of H.M. Forces where the application is made within 12 months of an honourable discharge. Bereaved spouses and civil partners of members of the Armed Forces leaving Services Family Accommodation. Serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service. There will also need to be a realistic prospect of applicants being made an offer. This will include a requirement that applicants are seeking: • The type and size of home they would be eligible for • Area preferences which are reasonable • Either a housing need or an exemption based on age (only if requiring a maximum of one bedroom)
Sustainable tenancies Where an application includes someone who has a record of housing related debt (rent arrears, recharges, court costs etc) to either New Charter Homes, any other Registered Provider (RP) or Local Authority (LA), the total combined debt will be considered. Where the total debt to either New Charter or any other RP & LA is below £500, the application will be accepted onto the scheme. The applicant may bid on advertised homes, but that at the point of offer; they will be required to supply evidence of consecutive payments off the debt for a minimum of 12 weeks. Any missed payments will normally result in the count re-starting. Where the combined debt is greater than £500, the application will only be accepted following a financial assessment and an individually tailored repayment agreement which the applicant must adhere to before being admitted to the scheme. This agreement may be for a period of 3 to 12 months according to the individual’s circumstances. Where the applicant has abandoned a New Charter tenancy or been evicted by New Charter for debt or any other reason, no new application will be considered for 5 years following the date of the eviction.
Where an applicant or a member of their household has declared unspent convictions below the threshold which would prevent them from being admitted to the register, they will be included on the register and able to bid for vacant homes. They will be advised that before any offer of a tenancy is confirmed, we will carry out a risk assessment. We operate a pre tenancy training programme (Keys To Your Door) developed to equip people with the skills needed to sustain a tenancy. We will offer this programme to the customer group where the incidence of “failed” tenancies is greatest. This is single people or couples aged 39 and under (without children on their application) and without experience of successfully running a home. This may be an application for their first home, or they may have a history of a previous home(s) which they have lost due to reasons which were preventable. If invited to join the programme, customers will be expected to complete the programme within a period of 6 months from their application date. Failure to engage with the scheme will result in cancellation of the application. On successful completion of the programme applicants will be awarded community contribution status for a period of 6 months.
The Priority Band assessment system Following a housing needs assessment, applicants accepted onto the scheme will be placed in one of the following bands. Multiple housing needs will not increase the level of priority awarded to an application. Within each band, applications will be prioritised according to the date they were awarded that band. Band
Overcrowded by 2 or more bedrooms Former armed services personnel
Fitness and mental health need Overcrowded by 1 bedroom Private tenants or residents in unsuitable or insecure accommodation (includes residents in temporary / supported housing) Lodging with family, friends or private arrangements
Tenants of another Registered Provider (RP) needing to move for caring arrangements (in receipt of carers allowance) People in tied accommodation Under occupying tenant of social housing belonging to another R P.
Insecure or unsuitable private tenure Lodgers (whether lodging with family, friends or in a private arrangement) People in “tied accommodation” (service tenancies) Residents in supported housing schemes Private tenants will only be considered to be in tenure based housing need if their current accommodation is under threat e.g. the landlord has served them with a valid notice • Fitness or mental health need - Unable to climb a flight of stairs and currently living above ground floor or in a property with stairs. Or unable to use bathing facilities or access their home due to steps. NB people with for example mobility related medical need will only be considered for rehousing in flats on the ground floor or bungalows. In the case of mental health, need will only be recognised where a professional assessment indicates significant risks linked to their current housing. • Under occupying social housing belonging to another Registered Provider - The same formula will be applied to assess the number of bedrooms needed by a household as is used to determine Housing Benefit entitlement.
Community Contribution Housing allocations is an area which has the potential to influence our communities. The community contribution scheme aims to address this by providing for people who work, volunteer etc. to be awarded additional preference. The benefits of Community Contribution priority will be available to applicants on both the general and transfer schemes.
Housing need will be recognised where one or more of the following circumstances arise: Overcrowding - One or more bedrooms short based on the “bedroom standard”. This allows one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions: a child aged 21 or under would be expected to share with one other child of the same gender; and a child aged 9 or under would be expected to share with one other child aged 9 or under, regardless of gender. (Statutory overcrowding will be referred to Tameside Housing Advice for advice and assistance)
Including: • Permanent full time employed • Self employed • Employed on a temporary contract • Part time employment This will normally be at least one member of the household will have been employed for a minimum of 16 hours per week for at least 6 of the last 9 months
Including volunteering for: • Registered tenants groups • Registered charities • Not for profit organisations • Recognised community groups This will normally be at least one member of the household will have been volunteering for a minimum of 25 hours per month. Evidence will be required that they have been engaged in this volunteering activity for at least 6 out of the last 9 months
• Approved job related training • Completion of accredited pre tenancy training (e.g. New Charter Key to Your Door will provide additional priority for new applicants)*
People in receipt of Carers Allowance
Registered foster carers
Armed forces personnel
Serving or former members of the armed forces or reserves will be awarded Community Contribution. This award will continue for up to 12 months from the date of any honourable discharge. It will also be applied to the spouse or civil partner of service personnel required to vacate Ministry of Defence accommodation following the death in of their partner
*Time limited to 6 months following completion of programme unless they engage in volunteering or become employed during this period
receipt of a disability benefit.
New Charter Homes manages a variety of sheltered housing schemes, (bedsits, flats and bungalows) across Tameside and the neighbouring areas.
Customers indicating an interest in this type of housing will be asked to provide additional details including the areas they would most like to live.
These schemes are designed for communities of older people. In order to qualify for consideration for this type of housing, people will need to be aged either over 60, or over 55 with a support need, which would normally be evidenced by them being in
Sheltered vacancies will be advertised once. Should there be no eligible bidders; direct offers will be made from a traditional style shortlist of eligible applicants.
Extra Care Schemes
General Scheme bids with Community Contribution
New Charter Homes has a number of extra care units. In addition to traditional housing services, residents of these properties benefit from additional care support services commissioned by the Local Authority. All extra care vacancies are offered to Local Authority nominees.
Neighbourhood Lettings Schemes There may be occasions where triggers within a geographical area indicate a need to manage the allocations in this area differently. The Housing Act 1996 (s167) allows for the use of Neighbourhood Lettings Schemes to allocate certain accommodation for the exclusive use of certain applicants of a particular description. They will therefore be applied to homes offered to the local authority for nomination as well as properties let according to New Charter Homes Allocation Policy.
How to Apply - Three easy steps 1) Check you are eligible to apply to us by visiting our website: www.newcharter.co.uk to complete our questionnaire OR call our Connect Team on 0161 331 2000 OR call into one of our Hubs, contact details are on the back of this leaflet. 2) If you are eligible to join our waiting list, you will then be able to complete our application form online, or at one of our Hubs. If you don’t have access to the internet and are having difficulty getting to one of our Hubs then please call 0161 331 2000 and we can arrange a home visit. 3) Once your application is registered you can start bidding. Please remember it is your responsibility to provide evidence requested, if you delay you will not be made an offer of housing. Please only bid on properties you really want as we will suspend applicants who make unreasonable refusals. Advertised homes will indicate the group of bidders which will receive preference. However, if there are no suitable bids from that group, we will consider other bids ranked according to their position in band.
Open to bids from all General Scheme applicants Preference to:
Bids from New Charter tenants with preference to band 1 or Community Contribution Open to bids from all New Charter tenants
Some properties due to their nature, e.g. sheltered housing and groups of properties designed for and predominantly occupied by older people may be targeted reserved for single people or couples aged 55+. This will be indicated in the advert. Applicants may place up to 3 bids each advert cycle.
Refusals One of the underlying principles of Choice Based Lettings (CBL) is that customers express an interest only in those homes that they would wish to accept. As people have proactively chosen to bid for the home, refusals of offers should not occur frequently. To encourage people to be serious about the bids they place, the following arrangements are in place: • Before refusing any offer of a tenancy, customers will be advised that doing so could adversely affect their application. • Refusals will be assessed to determine whether they are “reasonable”. It is not practical to be precise in defining what is a reasonable or unreasonable refusal, but examples include: Reasonable Refusals are based on: • Something the applicant wouldn’t have known or been expected to know when they placed their bid • Error in advert information
Unreasonable Refusals are based on: • Something the applicant would have known when they bid e.g. area • Trivial e.g. colour of door, south facing garden • Repairs we will remedy whilst empty or after the tenancy starts • No response to attempts to contact • Requests for work that would exceed our published Lettability Standard Unreasonable refusals will trigger the following actions: • 1 refusal 3 months deferred • 2nd refusal within a 12 month period 6 months deferred • 3rd refusal within a 12 month period application cancelled. No new application for a minimum of 12 months (this may be extended in some circumstances)
Advice, support and information A summary of the Allocations scheme is available free of charge at www.newcharter.co.uk or at any of the Hubs. A full copy of the scheme will also be made available on our website. Should support be required at any stage in the application process, for example with language or literacy issues, this will be made available on request. Customers who are eligible, are invited to apply using our online application facility, or by visiting our Hubs.
Proof of identity In order to confirm the identity of the applicant/joint applicant, proof of identity for each will be required. This will include their National Insurance Number, proof of their current address (Council Tax, utility bill, bank statement etc.) and photographic ID (passport, photo driving licence, bus pass etc.).
Incomplete applications Applications need to be completed fully and honestly. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide all information required. Where information has been omitted, the application will not be registered.
Changes in circumstances During the course of an application, it is likely that a customer’s circumstances may change. Customers are required to advise us promptly of these changes.
Where customers deliberately withhold information about a relevant change in their circumstances, this may lead to their application being withdrawn or action taken to recover a tenancy they have been offered. Relevant changes include changes to the people included on the application, the accommodation available or any community contribution or caring arrangements which have been incorporated in the banding decision.
Deliberately worsening circumstances/intentional housing need Customers must not deliberately alter their circumstances to gain greater priority under the scheme. Examples of deliberately worsened circumstances may include ending a tenancy and moving to lodge with another household, moving to a smaller property to create overcrowding, not renewing a private sector tenancy agreement. Where there is reason to suspect that a customer has deliberately worsened their housing situation, their application will be deferred to enable an investigation to take place. Where deliberate worsening of housing need is established, the application may be placed in a lower band, or in more extreme cases, the application being cancelled and the applicant no longer deemed an eligible applicant.
Ending applications In order to ensure that waiting list information is up to date and that the list is maintained efficiently, applications will be reviewed each year on the anniversary of their application date. Applications from those who have not actively engaged in the scheme by bidding for a property during a 12 month period will automatically be cancelled. Should applicants make contact within the first 28 days after cancellation, the application may be reinstated. After this time, they will need to begin a new application. Any previously accrued time in band will be lost. Applications may be cancelled where an applicant does not respond when we try to contact them.
Data Protection / Information Sharing Arrangements As part of the application process, applicants are required to sign a declaration authorising us to share information with relevant agencies.
www.newcharter.co.uk 0161 331 2000 facebook.com/newcharterhomes @newchartergroup New Charter Hubs Ashton: 2, Henrietta Street, Ashton, OL6 6EF Denton: 9, Albert Street, Denton, M34 6ZA Hyde: 12/14, Clarendon Street, Hyde, SK14 2EL Stalybridge: 63/65, Grosvenor Street, Stalybridge, SK15 2JN
Resource Housing Reg. No. 2111