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Frequently Asked Questions

Index of questions:
 

  1. What is the Allocation Scheme?
  2. Who can apply to join our Housing Register?
  3. Who can't apply to join our Housing Register?
  4. How do I apply?
  5. How long before I find out if I have been accepted onto the Housing Register?
  6. How do you decide who has priority?
  7. What is a local connection?
  8. What are the bands?
  9. What factors do you take into account for bandings?
  10. I'm on the Housing Register- what next?
  11. Why would my application be suspended?
  12. What circumstances will cause me to be removed from the Housing Register?
  13. What do I do if my circumstances change?
  14. What type and size of property can I apply for?
  15. Why can't I apply for some kinds of properties?
  16. Offers of accommodation
  17. What happens if I refuse an offer?
  18. What rights do I have?
  19. Information about decisions
  20. What can I do if I’m unhappy about a decision?
  21. How often are properties advertised?
  22. Who can apply for properties?
  23. Who can’t apply for properties?
  24. How do I apply for a property?
  25. What information do I need to apply for a property?
  26. Can I apply for any property?
  27. What happens at the end of the advertising period?
  28. Do I get any feedback?

 

 

 

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 our policy here

 

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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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Who cant 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 behavour 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 join 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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How do I apply?

You can apply via our online application form
If you are unable to complete an online form then please contact us

 

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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 it is received in the office and will let you know the result in writing.

 

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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 behavour 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 four 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. Immediate family 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 four bands. The bands are numbered 1 to 4.  Applicants in band 1 are assessed as having the most urgent housing need and those in band 4 have the least urgent housing need. The full banding list can be found in our allocation scheme.

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.

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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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

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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 Homechoice. 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 any other breach of your tenancy agreement we will close your application.

 

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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
  • don’t provide information we have asked for
  • request your removal in writing or from a known email address
  • don’t renew your application at the annual review

 

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What do I do if my circumstances change?

You must tell us.

On your Homechoice account you will be able to amend some of your details such as, you contact numbers and address

If you have moved address we will need to re assess your change of circumstances so that we make sure you are awarded the correct banding.  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 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 bedroom flat
Adult Couple 1 bedroom
2 applicants not couple 2 bedrooms
Household with 1 child 2 bedrooms
Household with 2 children Refer below


Under our allocation scheme it states that a bedroom shall be allocated to the following family members:

  • Children of the same sex can share up until the age of 16
  • Children of opposite sex can share up until the age of 10

 

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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 small/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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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 housing 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
  • 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 or by email and explain why you want to have your application reviewed.

 

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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 Monday one week later. This may vary occasionally to allow for holiday periods such as Christmas.

 

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Who can 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.
If you have been offered accommodation via HomeChoice then you won’t be able to continue to apply for other properties

 

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How do I apply for a property?

You can:

  • apply for properties online
  • come into our local office where you may use our computers free of charge.  Staff can help you to apply (by appointment only)
  • ask a friend or relative
  • by phone

 

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

 

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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 meet your requirements, 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:

  • band
  • 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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