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Cherwell Housing Register

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Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I apply for any property?

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What is the Allocation Scheme?

The Allocation Scheme tells you who can join our Housing Register and how priority for accommodation is decided between different types of applicants. You can view or download:

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Who can apply to join our Housing Register?

Anyone can apply to join the Housing Register. 

To be able to join the Housing Register the council will consider:

  • whether someone is eligible to apply for housing?
  • do they qualify under the scheme rules?
  • do they have any housing need within the Reasonable Preference categories?

There are special rules for applicants aged 16 or 17.

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How long before I find out if I have been accepted onto the Housing Register?

We aim to process all applications within 20 working days of the date received in the office and let you know the result in writing.

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Who can’t apply to join our Housing Register?

You can’t apply to join the Housing Register if:

  • you are subject to immigration control
  • you or a member of your household has been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make you unsuitable to be a tenant
  • you have no local/district connection to Cherwell
  • you own a property (exceptions apply)
  • you have household income, capital or assets of £60,000 or more.

If we decide you can’t come onto our Housing Register we will write to you and tell you why.  Anyone is entitled to receive advice on alternative housing options.

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Can I apply if I am an owner occupier or own a property?

In recognition of the level of housing need in the district, and the shortage of available properties, applicants who already own a property (either freehold, leasehold, under mortgage or shared ownership) will not qualify for access to the Housing Register.  If you are aged 60 or over, cannot stay in your own home, need specialist accommodation  and you can show you don’t have enough resources to sort out accommodation for yourself, we will carry out an assessment of your housing needs.

A need for alternative accommodation might include:

  • medical conditions
  • disability
  • frailty.

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How do I apply?

You can request an application form by:

  • telephone (01295 227004)
  • personal visit to our offices
  • writing to Assessment and Rehousing Team, Bodicote House, Bodicote, OX15 4AA
  • using our contact form
  • downloading it here (opens in a new window).

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How do you decide who has priority?

The law says we must give reasonable preference to you if you:

  • are homeless
  • are threatened with homelessness and in priority need
  • occupy insanitary or overcrowded housing or live in unsatisfactory housing conditions
  • need to move on medical, welfare or disability grounds
  • need to move to a particular locality to prevent hardship.

We can also take into account:

  • your financial resources
  • any behaviour of you or your household which affects your suitability to be a tenant
  • any local connection with Cherwell District.

When we have considered all the information about your housing circumstances, we put you into one of three bands.

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What is a local connection?

You must have a local connection with Cherwell to apply to our Housing Register. You have a local connection if you have:

  • lived in the district for a period of at least 6 out of the last 12 months continuously prior to acceptance onto the Housing Register or
  • previously lived in the district for 3 out of the past 5 years or
  • permanent employment within the district or
  • immediate family members, who have lived in the district for at least 5 years, where there has been frequent contact, commitment and dependency immediately prior to the date of application or
  • have a special reason for needing to live in the area.

NB. Close relatives are defined as parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, including step relatives.

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What are the bands?

Once accepted as eligible to join the Housing Register, your housing needs are assessed and your application is placed in one of three bands. The bands are numbered 1 to 3.  Applicants in Band 1 are assessed as having the most urgent housing need and those in Band 3 have the least urgent housing need.

The banding scheme enables us to meet our legal responsibilities and also provides a fair and easily understood way of selecting applicants to receive offers of accommodation.  Applicants are placed in the highest band for which they are eligible.

An award of Bands 1 or 2 may be time limited and subject to review.  You will be advised of this when your receive your banding letter.

Applicants are advised in writing when a banding decision is made.

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What factors do you take into account for banding?

We take into account such matters as:

  • harassment
  • health
  • disability
  • domestic abuse
  • tied accommodation
  • lack of facilities
  • overcrowding
  • homelessness
  • no fixed abode
  • under occupation

The full banding list can be found in our Allocation Scheme.

Once we have processed your application you will be told your band, your date of registration and the type of property you can apply for.

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I’m on the Housing Register – what next?

Once your application has been agreed you can start to apply for properties that are advertised through Choice Based Lettings (CBL). However, if your application has been suspended you are not allowed to apply for properties.

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Why would my application be suspended?

If we receive an incomplete application form or supporting information is not provided, the application will be suspended. We will contact you to request the information. If the information is not received within 28 days the application will be closed.

We have to carry out a number of checks on anyone who applies for housing. If you are a tenant in the private sector, with a council or Registered Provider (housing association), we will contact your landlord for a tenancy report. If it is unsatisfactory because of rent arrears or other breach of your tenancy agreement we will close your application.

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Do I have to renew my application for housing?

In order to keep the Housing Register up to date all applications are subject to an annual review. The review is intended to ensure the applicant still wishes to be considered for accommodation and that the most up to date information about their housing circumstances is held. Applicants who fail to respond to either the review or reminder letter within 28 days will have their application closed.

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What circumstances will cause me to be removed from the housing register?

You will be removed from the Housing Register if you:

  • are not eligible / do not qualify for housing
  • request your removal in writing or from a known email address
  • don’t renew your application at the annual review
  • don’t provide information we have asked for.

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What do I do if my circumstances change?

You must tell us.

  • if you change your address you must complete a new application form (opens in a new window)
  • otherwise we may ask you to write to us about the changes.

Whilst we are re-assessing your change of circumstances your application is suspended  and you cannot apply for properties.

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What type and size of property can I apply for?

The table sets out the type and size of property you can apply for.  It is based on your family size and calculated according to Housing Benefit and bedroom tax rules.

 

Household size

Type & size of property

Single person under 35 Studio or 1 bedroom flat (if meet eligibility criteria
Single person over 35  Studio or 1 bed flat
Adult Couple 1 bedroom
2 applicants not couple 2 bedrooms
Household with 1 child 2 bedrooms
Household with 2 children Refer to table below
Household with 3 children Refer to table below
Household with 4 children Refer to table below
Household with 5 children Refer to table below

The Allocation of Accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England (June 2012) states that a bedroom shall be allocated to the following family members:

Adult couple
Any other single adult aged 21 or more
Pair of adolescents aged 10-20 of the same sex
Pair of children aged under 10, regardless of sex

 

 

 

 

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Why can't I apply for some kinds of properties?

Sometimes we will say you cannot apply for a certain property because it is:

  • too big for you
  • adapted for the disabled and you are not disabled
  • in a sheltered scheme for the elderly and you are not in need of sheltered accommodation
  • part of a special agreement which only allows applicants with village connections to be considered
  • part of an agreement with one of our partner housing associations where special rules apply called a lettings plan.

We will also tell you if certain types of applicants such as those waiting for a transfer or those who are homeless will get preference. This helps us to make sure we meet our annual targets of properties let. Our targets are: 

Transfers 30%
General needs

35%

Homeless 35%

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What about offers of accommodation?

Our aim is to make a provisional offer of accommodation to the applicant at the top of the shortlist. The rules for shortlisting are:

  • those in the highest band will be looked at first
  • if there is more than one applicant in the highest band then the applicant who has been waiting the longest in that band will be top of the list
  • if there is no one in the highest band who has applied we will go through the same process checking the other bands.

Sometimes there are special rules for properties for the disabled or schemes for the elderly. When we advertise these properties we will make it clear in the advert that special rules apply.

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What happens if I refuse an offer?

In circumstances where an applicant has successfully bid but refused 3 suitable offers of accommodation, their application will be closed and they will be disqualified from reapplying  to join the register for 6 months.  The exception to this rule is for statutory homeless households and refusal of their offer will result in the discharge of the Council’s homelessness duty for which they will have a right of review under sections 202 and 204 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended).

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What rights do I have?

If you apply for accommodation with us you have the right to:-

  • free advice and information
  • ask for a summary of the Allocation Scheme
  • help in making your application
  • see the full Allocations Scheme
  • ask for information about how we assessed your application
  • ask for information, which will enable you to assess whether accommodation is likely to be made available, and if so, when
  • have information about your application kept confidential.

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Information about decisions

We will write to you:-

  • if your application is suspended
  • when we make your application active
  • if it is decided that you are not eligible because of your immigration status
  • if it is decided that you are disqualified for any reason.

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What can I do if I’m unhappy about a decision?

You can ask us to re-consider our decision. Your request should be in writing and explain why you want to have your application reviewed.

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Homechoice - about Choice Based Lettings (CBL)

What is CBL?

CBL is a way of allocating housing through choice, giving you a greater say over where you live.

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How will CBL help me?

The scheme puts the initiative on you to apply for properties that are advertised.

CBL will:

  • give you a real choice about where you live by allowing you to apply for empty properties referred to us by our partner housing associations
  • show your position on the shortlist for that property
  • allow you to see what housing stock there is to rent, its location and how many applicants are applying for each property
  • give you useful feedback on how close to being successful you have been in getting your choice of property
  • provide better quality information about the properties that are advertised.

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How do I join CBL?

That depends. If you are already on our Housing Register you don’t have to do anything. If you are not on our Housing Register you must apply to be included on it.

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Can I apply for properties?

You can apply for accommodation if you are aged 16 or over and have been accepted on to our Housing Register. There are special rules if you are 16 or 17 and you will also need a guarantor.

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Who can’t apply for properties?

You can’t apply if your application has been suspended.

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Who owns the empty properties?

We have  partnership arrangements with a number of housing associations. These are;

  • Sanctuary Housing Association (formerly Banbury Homes and Charter Community Housing)
  • Oxford Citizens Housing Association
  • Bromford Housing Association
  • Paradigm Housing Association
  • Vale Housing Association.
  • Cherwell Housing Trust
  • Hanover Housing Association
  • Jephson Housing Association
  • Raglan Housing Association
  • Sovereign Housing Association

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How do I find out about empty properties?

We will advertise properties in a variety of different ways. These include:

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Where can I find CBL property newsletters?

You can find them in:

  • our receptions at Bodicote, Bicester, Kidlington and Banbury town centre office
  • the offices of our local partner Registered Providers (housing associations)
  • local libraries
  • some doctor's surgeries
  • any local Citizen Advice Bureau.

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How do I apply for a property?

You can:

  • apply to our dedicated web-site – https://www.cherwell-homechoice.org.uk/ 
  • come into our local office where you may use our computers free of charge.  Staff can help you to apply (by appointment only)
  • phone 0300 999 74490. When you make the phone call follow the automated instructions
  • ask a friend or relative.

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What information do I need to apply for a property?

To apply for any property you need:

  • your housing register reference number
  • the property references of the properties you want to apply for (if applying by phone)
  • your date of birth.

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How often are properties advertised?

They are advertised every week. The advertising period starts on a Wednesday and finishes at midnight on Tuesday one week later. This may vary occasionally to allow for holiday periods such as Christmas.

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Can I apply for any property?

When your application for the Housing Register is accepted you are told the number of bedrooms you need for you and your family. You can only apply for properties matching that information. If you try to apply for a property that doesn’t, your application will be rejected.

Each advert tells you the landlord, location, size, rent and other features of the property to help you decide which properties are right for you. The advert also tells you if there are any special requirements that you must meet to be able to apply.

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What happens at the end of the advertising period?

At the end of the advertising period no more applications for properties are accepted. Every applicant who has applied for a property is placed on a list. This is called a shortlist. The shortlist is sorted by:

  • effective date (applies only to Bands 1 and 2 - this is the date on which your application was placed in band 1 or 2)
  • application date.

If you are the successful applicant we will carry out checks to ensure your circumstances have not changed. If you are selected we send your details to the landlord of the property. The landlord of the property is always responsible for making offers. They may also carry out checks before offering you the property. When a provisional offer is made you can view the property and decide whether to accept or refuse it.

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Do I get any feedback?

We will publish on this website  and via property adverts the results of applications once the advertising period has come to an end. We tell you the number of applicants that applied for the property, the band and the registration date of the successful applicant. This information will give you a better idea of how popular a particular property or area is and how long you would normally have to wait.

You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you do not have to wait as long.

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What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is a straight swap of homes between tenants.  You have a right to exchange your tenancy with another secure tenant, or with an assured tenant of a registered provider, or a charitable housing trust as long as both landlords agree to the move and confirm it in writing. This can be a really good way to move to a new home of the right size in the right area. If you have a tenancy with the council or live in a registered provider's dwelling you can advertise your property on http://www.homeswapper.co.uk/ Someone may be advertising your dream home!

There are rules about who can swap. If you find someone who wants to swap homes with you, you must get permission from your landlord.

 

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