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idealchoicehomes.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

Applications / Housing register

Who can apply for properties through Ideal Choice Homes?

You must have been accepted onto Lancaster City Council's Housing Register to be able to apply for properties. Anyone aged 16 years or over may apply to join the Housing Register. Once you have been accepted onto the housing register you will receive an application number and you can start bidding for available properties.

How do I apply to join the Housing Register?

You will need to complete an application form. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by completing an online application form. If you are not able to complete a form online please contact us so we can provide assistance with making an application.

What other documents do I need to provide?

Along with your application form you will need to provide the following:

  • Proof of identity for all household members (e.g. passport, birth certificate, driving licence, medical card)
  • Proof of current address (e.g. recent utility bill, recent benefit letter)
  • Evidence of your right to reside in the UK if you are not a British Citizen (e.g. passport & other relevant Home Office documentation)
  • Proof of children (e.g. child benefit letter, child tax credit award letter, letter from school)
  • Proof of income (e.g. wage slips, bank statement)

What happens if I do not provide the required documents?

Your application form will not be fully assessed, and you will not be eligible to apply for properties, until we have received all the required documents. If your application form is incomplete it will be returned to you. This will cause your application to be delayed.

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

You will receive a letter confirming that you have been accepted onto the Housing Register. This will tell you the band you have been placed, the date your application has been registered from and the types of property you are eligible for.

Can you refuse to accept me onto the Housing Register?

There are some people who are not eligible to be included on the Housing Register. These are:

  • 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 Common Travel Area (which include the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and 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.      

For further information on who can use the service, please see the Lancaster City Council Housing Allocation Policy on the publications and documents pages, or contact us

How do you assess what size of property my household needs?

Bedroom requirements for a household are based on the assumption that a bedroom is suitable for:

  • Two adults living together as a couple
  • Any other person aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
  • Any other child
  • A carer, or one of a team of carers, who has a home elsewhere, who uses a spare bedroom on a regular basis to provide overnight care

If you feel you need an extra bedroom for medical reasons you can complete a medical self assessment form and provide evidence of this. The Council's medical officer will look at this and assess whether an additional bedroom is required.

 

Do I need to renew my application each year?

Yes, once a year, normally on the anniversary of your application we will write to you and request that you complete a renewal of your application, which you must complete and return within 28 days. This is to ensure that your application is kept up to date, and that you still wish to be registered with Ideal Choice Homes. If you fail to renew your application we will write and tell you that your application has been cancelled. 

 

Prioritising Applications

What are priority Bands?

Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed in one of 5 bands:

  • Band A - emergency need for housing
  • Band B - high housing need
  • Band C - medium housing need
  • Band D - low housing need
  • Band E - very low housing need

The banding scheme prioritises applicants by putting those with a similar housing need in the same band. Within each band applicants are prioritised in date order.

How long will I stay in the same band?

You are placed in a particular band based on your current circumstances. If your current circumstances do not change, then you will stay in the same band.  

What do I do if my circumstances change?

It is very important that you tell us of any changes in your circumstances so that we can amend your application. The easiest way to do this is by updating your application online. We will tell you if this results in your application moving to a different band. If you move up a band the date of your application will be the date you move into that band.

Changes to your circumstances also include your contact details. If we try and contact you with an offer of accommodation and you do not respond, or if we offer you accommodation and discover that the details on your application are not up to date, the offer may be withdrawn.

What if someone in my household has a medical condition?

If someone in your household has a medical condition you will be asked to provide details, which may then be considered by the Council’s Medical Advisor, who will put forward a recommendation. You can continue to choose which properties to express an interest in but must be mindful of your condition and only express interest in properties which are suitable for you and which meet your needs.

 

Property Adverts

How often are properties advertised?

A new list of available properties is advertised each week. As soon as we are given formal notice that a property is due to become vacant we will advertise it. For more details click here, to read the 'choosing' part of our step-by-step guide to using the service.

Where are properties advertised?

  • In a newsletter available from Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and various support agencies, including C.A.B., Help Direct, Signposts and Homeless Action.
  • On display boards in the Housing Office at Cable Street, Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls, Signposts in Morecambe and the YMCA Lancaster. Other locations may be added in the future.

We can also e-mail you the newsletter each week, please contact us to be added to our e-mail distribution list.

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. 

 

Placing Bids

What is a bid?

When you bid for a property this simply means that you are expressing your interest in a vacant property - this does not involve any money. By bidding you are putting your name down on a shortlist along with the other people who are interested in that property. You can only bid for a property if you are eligible for it

How do I bid a property?

Once you have joined the housing register, you can place a bid using your application number in the following ways:

  • Online through our website, www.idealchoicehomes.co.uk
  • Through our 24hr automated telephone service on 0845 5058230
  • By texting 447537404370

How many properties can I bid for?

You can bid for a maximum of two properties during each weekly advertising cycle. Remember, you can only bid for properties which you are eligible for, and are suitable for your needs.

How long will I have to bid for a property?

The weekly advertising cycle lasts for 6 days, and runs from Wednesday to the following Monday. Once this cycle has ended you can no longer bid for these properties, but a new advertising cycle will start each Wednesday with a new list of properties. When you bid for a property it is not first come first served. You can bid at any point during the weekly cycle and your position in the queue for a property is based on your priority need, not when you placed the bid.

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 for that particular property. 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.

What happens if I don't bid for any properties?

If you don't place any bids you will not be offered any accommodation. If you do not see any vacant properties that you are interested in then you don't have to place any bids. You will not be penalised for not placing bids.

 

Offer of Accommodation

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 am offered a 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.

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

Information about rented accomodation which has been let is published on the website, and as part of the newsletter. It will tell you the number of applicants that expressed an interest in each property, along with the band and the registration date of the succesful applicant. This will help you to understand how popular particular areas and types of property are, and may help you to decide which properties to place bids for in the future.

To view the results of previous properties that have been let, click here. For more information about offers of accomodation see the 'offer' page

 

Other Questions

Are carpets and appliances provided?

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

What other options are there for housing?

Lancaster City Council offers a service called Housing Options to provide advice and help to people in need of a home. Demand for affordable housing in   the district is high, and the aim of housing options is to bring together a range of different options for people to access.

Options include private rented accommodation, access to the rent deposit guarantee scheme, resettlement and housing support, mediation services and access to affordable housing.

For more information about housing options visit the customer service centres at Lancaster and Morecambe Town halls, telephone 01524 582994, or e-mail strategichousing@lancaster.gov.uk.

What if I become homeless?

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessnes you should contact housing options to arrange an interview to discuss your circumstances. We will work with you to try and prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your options with you.

If you are accepted on to the housing register you may be able to bid for properties through Ideal Choice Homes, but other ways to address your situation will also be explored.

In the first instance you should contact Housing Options either by visiting Lancaster or Morecambe Town Halls, by telephoning 01524 582994, or by e-mailing strategichousing@lancaster.gov.uk

How do I request a review of a decision?

If you disagree with a particular decision we make regarding your application and/or re-housing, you may decide to request a review. You have a right to request a review if:

  • You have not been accepted on to the housing register
  • Your application has been removed from the housing register
  • You disagree with how your application has been assessed and/or the band you have been placed in

To request a review you must put this in writing within 21 days of receiving our decision, giving the reasons why you believe an incorrect decision has been made. If you are unable to request this in writing you may request a meeting with a senior officer.

You will be notified of the decision of the review within 28 days of our receiving the request. If you are not happy with this request you can make a formal complaint using the complaints procedure.

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