Allocation scheme – summary

Joining Homechoice at Reading

To join you must be at least 16 years old and have lived within Reading borough continuously for the last three years.

Exceptions

If you don’t meet the qualifying criteria you won’t be able to join unless you meet one of the following exceptions:

  • you have a permanent job in the Reading borough and you have worked here continuously for the last three years
  • you have immediate family members living in the Reading borough and who have lived here continuously for the last three years
  • you are a carer to a Reading borough resident who is dependent of your for support
  • you are fleeing a violent relationship and are currently living in a refuge in Reading
  • you were discharged from the armed forces within the last five years and are in housing need
  • you must leave the armed forces family accommodation following the death in service of your partner or spouse
  • you are a serving or former member of the reserve forces who needs to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of your service
  • the council has accepted you as statutory homeless
  • you were placed outside of the borough by any department of Reading Borough Council and they still have a duty towards you
  • you are a social housing tenant living in another area and need to move closer to your current employment in Reading borough or to take up an offer of employment within Reading borough if not moving would result in hardship

We will consider other exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Eligibility for social housing in the UK

Even if you meet the qualifying criteria or one of the exceptions listed above you won’t be allowed to join Homechoice at Reading if any of the below are true:

  • you are subject to immigration control as stated in the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996
  • you are excluded from entitlement to Housing Benefit by the Immigration and Asylum Act 199
  • you are from abroad and ineligible as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State
  • you are not deemed to be habitually resident in the Common Travel Area or European Economic Area

Contact the Voids and Letting Team if your immigration status changes as this may affect your eligibility to join the Homechoice at Reading scheme.

Disqualifying criteria

We disqualify people from joining or staying on the register for Homechoice at Reading if you, or anyone in their household, have done any of the following:

  • have been evicted from social housing for breach of tenancy – you will be excluded for three years from your eviction date
  • have been made homeless as a result of a Section 8 notice to quit by your private landlord on the grounds of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour – you will be excluded for three years from your eviction date
  • behaved in a way to make you unsuitable to be a tenant – you may be excluded for from one to three years
  • refused three reasonable offers of accommodation within a six month period – you will be removed from the register and unable to reapply for a year
  • are an introductory tenant – you can apply to Homechoice at Reading when you become a secure or assured tenant
  • have accepted a formal offer of housing via Homechoice at Reading

Who can be included on the application

You can only include your partner and any dependent children. You cannot include children if you do not have the main responsibility for them. We may make exceptions for any of the below:

  • a household member who moved in with you at the beginning of your current tenancy and is still living with you
  • a relative who needs to live with you so you can provide them with essential care and support
  • a live-in carer who provides essential personal care during the day and overnight
  • any household member due for release from prison within four weeks
  • children who are living with you and are studying at university or serving in the armed forces

You must provide evidence to support these exceptions.

Size of property you can bid for

This is based on the bedroom standard.

Single person1 bedroom or self-contained studio flat
Couple1 bedroom
+ an adult over 18 years old+ 1 bedroom
+ up to two children of either sex under 10 years old+ 1 bedroom
+ up to two children of the same sex under 18 years old+ 1 bedroom
+ two children of opposite sex where at least one is over 10 years old+ 2 bedrooms
A live-in carer+ 1 bedroom
Someone requiring their own room for medical reasons (based on an assessment)+ 1 bedroom

If anyone in your household is pregnant we will review your bedroom entitlement when the pregnancy reaches 30 weeks.

In certain circumstances we can consider you for smaller sized accommodation than you need as long as this does not result in:

  • statutory overcrowding
  • children 10 years plus of different sexes sharing a room
  • more than 2 children sharing one room

Prioritising applications

When we receive your application we will assess your situation and take the needs of all the household into account to place you in one of five priority bands.

Priority bands reflect a sliding scale of housing need – the most urgent cases are placed in band A, the least urgent cases will be assessed as having ‘no priority for housing’.

By law we are required to give higher priority (reasonable preference) to applicants who:

  • have been assessed as homeless under homeless law
  • are owed statutory housing duty under homeless law
  • are living in unsanitary, overcrowded or other unsatisfactory conditions
  • have to move on medical or welfare grounds
  • have to move to a particular area in the borough, where failure to do so would cause hardship to themselves or others (this includes out of borough social housing tenants who need to move to take employment or an offer of employment in Reading)

Additional preference

We can give further priority to applicants who have a reasonable preference to reflect the urgency of their situation – we base our decision on evidence provided by relevant professionals involved.

We apply these additional preferences to applicants:

  • where there is a risk of violence or threats of violence that are likely to be carried out
  • who are witnesses or victims of crime where there is a risk of violence or threats of violence if they remain in their current home
  • who need to move for urgent medical or welfare reasons
  • who are members, or former members, of the armed services or reserves
  • who meet an ‘Exceptional Strategic Lettings’ criteria

Exceptional Strategic Lettings

We use exceptional strategic lettings criteria to manage our housing stock in the best interest of current tenants and those applying for accommodation. This includes:

  • applicants who succeed to a property which is larger than they need
  • applicants whose current accommodation is now larger than they need
  • Reading Borough Council tenants whose homes are being demolished
  • applicants who need to move out of their current home because it requires major renovations, where moving to a temporary home is not an option
  • applicants who live in accommodation that has major disabled adaptations where these are no longer required

Priority bands

  • Band A: Emergency need to move – you meet five or more reasonable preference categories or overriding priority
  • Band B: Urgent need to move – you meet four reasonable preference categories
  • Band C: Intermediate need to move – you meet three reasonable preference categories
  • Band D: Moderate need to move –  you meet two reasonable preference categories
  • Band E: Low level need to move – you meet one reasonable preference categories
  • No priority for housing – you are deemed to be adequately house or assessed as having no priority for housing

Any priority awarded as a result of your assessed medical/welfare issues will be taken into account in the context of the overall priority awarded to the application.

No priority for housing

If our assessment of your current housing situation shows that you are adequately housed you will have no priority for housing.

We may also reduce your priority to ‘no priority for housing’ permanently or for a set period of time if you:

  • have a current or proven history of rent arrears, nuisance, anti-social behaviour or other unacceptable behaviour – we will only review your priority once you have met the conditions we set for you
  • own and occupy a property in the UK or abroad, unless
    • someone in your household requires disabled adaptations that are not possible in your owned accommodation
    • you and your partner are over 60, one of you needs sheltered accommodation but you are unable to buy this type of property
    • you have negative equity in the property and you can no longer afford to live there
  • deliberately make your living conditions worse to try to increase your priority for housing
  • fail to tell us that your circumstances changed 
  • are subject to possession proceedings by us or a registered provider because you have breached conditions of your tenancy or licence agreement
  • have neglected/mistreated your council or registered provider home and/or garden and it is now not in a tenantable condition
  • have applied to buy your council property or are being considered for a help-to-buy scheme
  • have financial assets, savings or a level of disposable income that you could use to secure alternative accommodation in either the owner-occupied, low cost ownership or private rented sector
  • have made unauthorised alterations to your council property and have not carried out the work to reinstate the property, or repaid us for the cost of this work
  • received a Disabled Facilities Grant to pay for major adaptation to your home (you will have no priority for housing for a period of five years)
  • have made yourself intentionally homeless (your priority will be removed for at least 12 months)

Direct lets

In certain circumstance we may bypass the Homechoice bidding process and offer a vacant property to a specific applicant. We will tell you if were are considering you for a direct let and explain what will happen if you refuse a direct offer of housing.

Refusals

We consider you to have refused an offer property if you:

  • fail to turn up to a viewing – unless you have given us good reasons
  • fail to complete a Registered Providers Application Form which wold have led to an offer of accommodation
  • turn down an offer of a property you bid on
  • turn down a direct offer of a property
  • have been assessed as a homeless household or as needing management transfer and you fail to participate with the Homechoice process

If you refuse three suitable offers of accommodation within any six month period we will remove your application from Homechoice at Reading and you won’t be allowed to reapply for 12 months from the date of your last refusal.

If you are assessed as statutory homeless, in need of a management transfer, or we have made you a direct offer of housing, different rules apply. Please see our full allocations scheme for details.

If you disagree with our decision

You have the right to ask us to review our decision:

  • to exclude or remove you from the Homechoice scheme
  • if you believe the property offered to you through Homechoice was not suitable
  • if you disagree with our assessment of the facts of your Homechoice application