The Housing Register and SEARCH Moves
If you wish to register for affordable housing to rent within Elmbridge you are required to complete an online housing application form. The Council operates a choice-based lettings scheme called |SEARCH Moves (www.searchmoves.org.uk). Please visit the |registration page on the SEARCH Moves website and click on the link to begin your application online.
By law, councils are required to have a housing allocations policy in place that outlines how we prioritise applications for social housing and how we allocate these homes.
Elmbridge Borough Council and |Spelthorne Borough Council, |A2 Dominion Housing Group and |Paragon Community Housing Group have a common housing allocations policy in place and operate choice-based lettings scheme called |SEARCH Moves. Choice based lettings (CBL) gives housing applicants more choice about where they want to live. The scheme is a fairer and simpler way of letting homes. Please be aware that there is a high demand for social housing and the Housing Register is not a quick route to secure accommodation. Unfortunately we cannot provide a timescale on how long it could take to be rehoused and it could take a number of years.
Important changes to the Common Housing Allocations Policy
The SEARCH Moves partnership is changing its Housing Allocations Policy in order to better manage their housing registers. These changes will restrict who will qualify to join our housing registers and alter the way in which we prioritise applications for housing. These changes will apply both to existing and new applications. The new policy will be implemented on 21 July 2014. Please note you can continue to bid for properties advertised through SEARCH moves as normal.
The |full version of the new Housing Allocations Policy is available and a |summary guide has also been published. Everyone who is currently on the Council's housing register has been sent a copy of summary guide. They have also been sent a letter advising they must go on line to re-apply by 5pm on 14th July to have their case reassessed against the new policy. The following sets out the main changes being made:
- The Search Moves partners will operate a 4 banding system, instead of the current 5 banding system. Qualifying applicants will be placed into one of four bands, as set out below, with those in Band A having the greatest priority for housing and those in Band D, the lowest.
- Band A - Emergency / priority
- Band B - Urgent need to move
- Band C - Identified need to move
- Band D - Low housing need and no "deemed" housing need
- The criteria for local connection due to residence has changed. The Search Moves partners will now require local residence for the last three years as a qualification.
- Applicants with no local connection to the boroughs of Spelthorne or Elmbridge will be removed from the housing register and any future applicants with no local connection will not qualify to register.
- Households earning £50,000 or more per annum (gross) or with total household savings are greater than £30,000 will not qualify for the Search Moves scheme.
- Property owners in the UK or abroad will not qualify for the Search Moves scheme.
- The Search Moves criteria for calculating bedroom shortage (or bedroom need) has changed.
- Private sector tenants (with an Assured Shorthold tenancy) with no other housing needs will be placed in band D.
- The priority date for band B applications will change to the date their application was moved into that band (not the original application date.)
- Armed forces personnel will be given additional help under the new Search Moves scheme.
- Working households - a small proportion of advertised properties will be set aside exclusively for working applicants.
I'm on the Council's Housing Register - what will happen to my application?
Every existing applicant will be written to in the week beginning 2 June 2014 and told that they will need to re-apply for housing in order to be assessed under the new scheme and given instructions as to how to do this. Existing applicants must complete an online housing application through the |SEARCH Moves website by 5pm on 14th July 2014 if they wish to remain on the the Council's Housing Register. The on-line re-application process is accessed through the SEARCH Moves website will be open from the 3rd June 2014 and is the only way you can be assessed under the new Common Allocations Policy. Please note that your banding and or priority date may change under the policy and some applicants may no longer qualify to remain on the register. Any applicants who have not completed the online application form by 5pm on the 14th July will have their existing Housing register application cancelled. If your application is cancelled then you will still be able to re-apply on line but you will lose your existing priority date.
What if I need extra help or don't have access to a computer?
Assistance can be provided to applicants to help them apply on-line. If you think you may need help to re-apply then you could ask a family member, friend or support worker if you have one, in the first instance or you can contact the |Housing Options Team at Elmbridge Borough Council. Officers will be providing a drop in service at the Civic Centre between 10am to 12 noon and from 2pm to 4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3rd June to 14th July for those that need assistance. You will not need an appointment but may need to wait to see an officer. The SEARCH Moves website will also have a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ's) with the answers to the most common questions that applicants are likely to have. Remember you can access public computers at local libraries, or at one of the SEARCH Moves partners offices. If you have any questions, or need assistance to access an internet enabled computer please contact the Housing Options Team on 01372 474590.
What about new applicants?
The Housing Register will need to close to new applicant for approximately six weeks whilst the changes are made and existing applicants re-assessed under the new policy. It is anticipated that new applications will be accepted from the week commencing 21 July 2014.
How to bid for a social housing property under SEARCH Moves
The SEARCH Moves scheme enables registered applicants to "bid" i.e to express an interest for vacant social housing properties within the Elmbridge area. In addition 30% of properties that are located within the Spelthorne and Runnymede areas will be advertised as "Cross Partnership" which gives further choice to where applicants may want to move to a different area.
There are four ways in which an applicant can bid for a property
- |Search Moves
- Text Message
Please click on the following link for more detailed information on |how to bid via each route.
Properties that become available are advertised on the Search Moves website fortnightly during a bidding cycle. You can also obtain a "Free sheet" leaflet which contains the property details from local libraries within the Elmbridge area or from the Council offices. All bids must be placed before 12 noon on the closing date shown on the website and on the Freesheets. Any bids placed after 12 noon on the closing date will not be considered.
When you bid for properties please consider the following Bidding Tips:-
- If you have a Local connection to the Elmbridge area, ensure that you bid for properties under the Elmbridge Borough Council and the Cross Partnership listings first.
- If you have a Local connection to more than one Local Authority then ensure that you bid under those listings and the Cross Partnership properties first.
- If you are a Homeseeker and place a bid on a property that is advertised under the Elmbridge Housing Trust listing or A2 Dominion, please note that preference will be given to the Housing Associations tenants first.
- Please note the Age restriction icon on the adverts, a large number of bids are being placed by applicants who are not of the age group. If you do not meet the age group you will not be considered and you could have wasted a bid which could have been placed on a suitable property.
Elmbridge Borough Council recognises that some households may need additional help when bidding on the Search Moves Scheme.
Examples may include but are not exclusive to ....
- Care Leavers
- People with a physical or mental disability
- Domestic violence and serious harassment victims
- People with Learning disabilities
- Offenders or ex offenders
- Older applicants
- People with drug or alcohol issues
- Rough Sleepers
- Teenage parents
- People with low literacy skills
- Applicants whose first language is not English
If you feel that you meet one of the above criteria factors then please contact the |Housing Options Team we can discuss how we can assist you further. This may include bidding on your behalf, ensuring that Property Freesheets are sent every cycle or assisting with the completion of relevant documentation.
Changes to your circumstances
If you are on the Council's Housing Register at any time your circumstances change i.e. you move address, change telephone numbers, have an additional person to add to your application, you must inform us of these changes using the online form as soon as possible.
If you are interested in living in retirement accommodation (also known as sheltered accommodation) owned by a housing association you can apply to the Council for assistance through through the Choice Based Lettings scheme. Housing Association retirement accommodation is open to applicants aged 55 years and over and is primarily bedsit and 1 bedroom properties although 2 bedroom vacancies occasionally become available. Generally, it would be easier to be rehoused to sheltered accommodation than general needs/ordinary housing via the housing register using Choice Based Lettings. If you are successful in bidding for a retirement property the housing association may carry out an interview to assess your current needs/circumstances. For further information please see |Housing Options for Older People
For more information
If you require any further information about the SEARCH Moves scheme and the the Housing Register, you can contact the |Housing Options Team.