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The Housing Register and SEARCH Moves
Housing Allocations Policy Review - January 2013 Consultation
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 and Spelthorne Borough Councils, Elmbridge Housing Trust and A2 Dominion have a common housing allocations policy in place and operate choice-based lettings scheme called SEARCH Moves. The four organisations are proposing to amend the policy following a change in the law, which has given councils the freedom to better manage their housing registers. Our proposals would restrict who would qualify to join our housing registers and change the way in which we prioritise applications for housing. The changes would apply both to existing and new applications.
A consultation exercise was carried out in January 2013 to seek views of housing applicants and local residents on our proposals. The consultation period ended on 30 January 2013 and the responses gathered will be helped to finalise the policy, which we plan to introduce in the coming months.
Elmbridge Borough Council operates a Choice Based Lettings banding 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.
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.
The Search Moves banding scheme consists of five bands ranging from A - E based upon an applicants housing need. Band A is the highest priority banding and E the lowest. Within each band there is a priority order, for Band A applicants the priority is based on the date the banding was awarded. For applicants in Bands B - E the priority order is based on the registration date of the application.
||Band A||Emergency / Priority Need|
||Band B||Urgent Need to Move|
||Band C||Identified Housing Need|
|Band D||Housing Need But No Local Connection|
||Band E||Low Housing Need|
Please select one of the Bands A, B, C & E above to establish the various factors that make up each Bands assessment. Applicants that fall into banding's A, B, C or E but do not have a local connection with Spelthorne Borough Council, Elmbridge Borough Council or Runnymede Borough Council will be placed in Band D.
A local connection will be awarded to an applicant that meets on of the following criteria
- An applicant currently lives in Spelthorne, Elmbridge or Runnymede and has done so for at least six months out of the last twelve months or three years out of the last five.
- An applicant has lived for five years or more continuously within Spelthorne, Elmbridge or Runnymede areas.
- An applicant has immediate family (mother/father/brother/sister/son/daughter) who are currently living in Spelthorne, Elmbridge or Runnymede and have done so for at least five years or more.
- An applicant has a permanent job in Spelthorne, Elmbridge or Runnymede.
- An applicant has a connection with the borough of Spelthorne, Elmbridge or Runnymede because of any special circumstances, such as the need to be near specialist medical or support services which are only available in a particular district.
Sufficient evidence must be provided by an applicant before local connection can be considered and will only be eligible for properties in the Borough/s where a local connection has been established.
For information on the SEARCH Moves Common Allocations Policy for the North Surrey Choice Based Lettings Scheme please see the following document: |SEARCH Moves Common Allocations Policy
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.
How to Join the Search Moves Housing Register:
If you would like to join the Search Moves Scheme, you will need to be registered on one of the Search Moves partners' housing registers. You would normally contact the local authority that is nearest to you. If you are tenant of either Elmbridge Housing Trust or A2 Dominion you should apply to your landlord as a Transfer applicant. For all other households you will be registered as a Homeseeker
If you would like to join the Elmbridge Borough Council Housing Register, you will need to complete a |Housing Register Application Form. You can request a form by phoning 01372 474 590 or pick up a copy from the Council Offices. Please note that at this time we cannot accept completed application forms via e-mail.
Once you have completed an application form, you need to return it to us with proof of identification for each person listed on the form. This is required in order to assess that you are eligible to join the Housing Register. In some certain circumstances, applicants may not be eligible for housing and they will be excluded from the housing register they apply to. These are people from abroad who are ineligible for social housing or people who have demonstrated unacceptable behaviour or those who are under 16.
You will need to provide one of the following forms of identification:
- Full Birth Certificate, Passport or Drivers Licence
- For Non UK Citizens please can you provide Travel or Immigration Documentation as well
In some circumstances, applicants may not be eligible for housing and they will be excluded from the housing register they apply to. These are people from abroad who are ineligible for social housing or people who have demonstrated unacceptable behaviour or those who are under 16.
You must ensure that all parts of the application form are completed - if a section does not apply to you please write "Not Applicable". If an application form is not fully completed then it will be returned to you as we will be unable to fully assess your details.
Upon receipt of the completed form, we will assess your housing need based upon the Search Moves Common Allocation Policy. If after the initial assessment of your form it identifies that you may meet the Band A or Band B criteria then you will be required to submit further evidence to support your application before you are able to bid with this award. We will will send you a letter advising you of the further documentation that you will need to provide -a |Verification Checklist of the documents required can be found here.
Most applicants who join the Housing Register are assessed within Bands C to E. If you are placed in one of these bands you will not be requested to provide any further evidence to support your application to be registered at this stage.
However, if officers consider there is a prospect that you might be offered accommodation through Search Moves you would be contacted and required to provide the further evidence to support your application. So you may need to plan ahead to ensure that you have the verification documents readily available for the future (|Verification Checklist)
Once you are registered with Search Moves, you will received an Acknowledgment letter from Elmbridge Borough Council with you unique registration number, banding award details and the date that you joined the Housing Register. You will also receive a New Member Pack from Search Moves that contains your log on details, a Search Moves User guide and some coupons (if you would like to bid in this way). |SEARCH Moves User Guide
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 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.
If 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 the Housing Options Team as soon as possible because this may have an effect on your housing need and the Band awarded to your application.
Right To Request A Review
Applicants have the right to appeal against a range of decisions made in the allocation process. These include:
- A decision to exclude an application from a register
- A decision to bypass an application
- A decision about banding on the housing register
- A decision on awarding medical or welfare priority
For further information read |Right to Request a Review Document.
If you require any further information regarding the Search Moves Scheme and the Housing Register, you can contact the |Housing Options Team
January 2012 - Important changes for home-seekers
The Government has made some significant changes to affordable housing that home-seekers should be aware of. From January 2012, some homes will be let at higher rents (up to 80% of private market rents), at what is called an "Affordable Rent" and some homes will be let on a fixed-term tenancy (for example, five years). As a result, changes are being made to the way that properties are advertised through the SEARCH Moves choice-based lettings scheme to clearly identify which properties are to be let at an Affordable Rent and which are to be offered on fixed-term tenancies.|Frequently asked questions
Perfect Fit Scheme
If you are currently a tenant of the Elmbridge Housing Trust and are interested in moving to a smaller property within the Elmbridge Area. There is a new scheme called the "Perfect Fit" that will provide a cash incentive and practical help in all aspects of this move. For further information please contact the |Elmbridge Housing Trust on 01932 235 789.
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