Anybody over the age of 16, not subject to immigration control who has a local connection to one of the partner local authorities can make an application to join the scheme. Local connection can only be established by the main or joint applicant. Depending on their circumstances applicants are placed into one of 4 bands, Gold, Silver, Bronze or in a very small number of cases an emergency band.
If the main or the joint applicant can answer Yes to one of the following statements, a local connection to the Homefinder Somerset area can probably be established:
■ Resided in the Homefinder Somerset area for six out of the last twelve months, or three out of the last five years.
■Work in the Homefinder Somerset area and the work is permanent, with a minimum of a 16 hour contract per week which has been in place for the previous 6 months and without a break in the period of employment for more than three months.
■Need to move to take up an offer of permanent employment (a minimum of 16 hours a week) within the Homefinder Somerset area and commuting to the new place of work from the existing home would be unreasonable.
■Have family connections in the Homefinder Somerset area. These family connections are defined as immediate family members to the main or joint applicant (parents, siblings and non-dependent children) who have themselves lived in the area for the last five years and with whom there has been frequent contact, commitment or dependency.
If the main or joint applicant could not establish a local connection, it is possible to be treated as having a local connection if the main or joint applicant can answer Yes to one of the following statements:
■Can demonstrate a need to move to the Homefinder Somerset area to give or receive essential and critical medical or other support where significant harm would result if this was not provided.
■Are fleeing domestic violence and have been accepted as homeless by a Homefinder Somerset Local Authority Partner.
■Are a serving member of the regular armed forces, or have served in the regular armed forces in the last 5 years.
■Have recently ceased, or will cease to be entitled, to reside in accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence following the death of a spouse or civil partner where:
■They are serving or have served in the reserve forces and they are suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability which is attributable (wholly or partly) to that service.
Set out below is the information you will need to complete an application and the process you will follow. This guidance is also available to download.
Information required to make an application
To complete an online application you will need the following information:
■Dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of all household members to be rehoused
■5 year address history (including landlord’s details where relevant)
■Details of household member’s health issues, including treatment, medication and support.
■All income details, including employment, pension and benefits income
■Details of any mortgage or rent arrears.
■Details of all capital held, including bank accounts, savings and any land or property owned.
When you are ready to complete an application you can use our online form (only use this link if you area new applicant) but please read the information below before starting the application process so you are aware of what you will need to do.
New applicants to the scheme will need to register with Homefinder Somerset before they can complete a housing register application.
The registration process for new applicants is straightforward and begins with this screen:
When you enter your details we will check that you have not been registered with us in the past. If you have been registered before you will need to login to the system in order to complete a new application.
The final stage of this registration process is to set a PIN and password for your access to the system (via this website). Your PIN, needs to be a memorable date in the following format DD/MM/YYYY and your password must be between 6 and 10 characters long, including two uppercase/capital letters (ABC), two lower case letters (abc) and two numbers. The screen will look like this.
You then need to click on 'Create Login' at the bottom of the screen to complete your registration. You will then be presented with a screen that shows you your unique login reference number and give you options to apply for social housing. The screen will look like this (please note that the login reference shown is for example purposes only, your login reference will be different to this)
To apply for social housing you need to click on the 'to apply for social housing please click here' link. This will take you to the following screen:
You will then need to complete the housing register application questions and submit the application.
In order to complete your form you will need to provide mandatory evidence to the local authority that you have applied to.
Once the online application form has been completed and the evidence of local connection and identity has been provided, all applications are assessed against the criteria set out in the Homefinder Somerset common lettings policy.
Applicants are placed into one of the four bands, Bronze, Silver and Gold. In a very small number of cases Emergency banding can be awarded by a panel. A banding letter and a guide to expressing an interest leaflet will be issued to the main applicant.
When you have completed your application
Once you have completed your housing register form online you will receive a letter telling you:
If you would like to appeal against your band you have 28 days to do so from the date you receive your banding letter and the procedure will be explained in the letter you receive at that time.
Your date of registration, will normally be the day your local authority receives your application. For accepted homeless applicants in Somerset this will be the date you applied as homeless to your local authority.
If you move or your circumstances change you will need to login to the system and use the online change of circumstances form. It is very important to keep us informed of changes, which affect your application. Failure to do so could lead to you not being made an offer even if your bid is successful. It is your responsibility to keep your contact details up to date.
For applicants whose circumstances change, moving them to a higher band including those placed in the emergency band, the registration date will start from the date they moved to the higher band.
For applicants whose circumstances change, moving them into a lower band their registration date will remain unchanged.
Advertising cycles will always begin on Wednesday at 00.01am and close on the following Sunday at 11.59pm. You will not be able to express an interest on Monday and Tuesday. Please note that your expression of interest is worth the same whether you use it on the first day or last day of the bidding cycle, which opens at midnight every Wednesday and closes just before midnight on the following Sunday.
The Homefinder Somerset scheme does not operate on a first come first served basis so there is no need to rush to place your expression if interest as soon as the cycle opens. You can always check your position in the queue for a property you have bid for by checking your account on the website.
You can place your expressions of interest by logging into your account on this website using the personal reference and PIN that you were provided with in your banding letter. You can also bid using the automated telephone bidding line on 0845 270 2524. You should be charged the local rate for this call if you are calling from landline but this charge may vary depending on your telephone service provider. If you use this service on a Monday or Tuesday you will incur call charges and will NOT be able to bid. In order to bid you will need:
You can find details about vacancies on the website via the property search function or you can telephone 0300 303 7798 to listen to details of the vacancies in the current cycle. You should be charged the local rate for this call if you are calling from landline but this charge may vary depending on your telephone service provider. If you use this service on a Monday or Tuesday you will incur call charges and will NOT hear any vacancy details.
You are only able to express an interest for properties that you are eligible for. There are a number of issues that affect your ability to express an interest:
Number of Expressions of Interest
You are allowed to make up to 3 expressions of interest in each advertising period but you can withdraw them and re-use them on another property up until the close of advertising cycle.
Size of Property
You will only be able to express an interest for selected properties, which match the needs of your household. Your banding letter will tell you the size of property you are normally eligible to express an interest for.
It should be noted that a tenancy will not usually be given to applicants under the age of 18 years without a ‘guarantor’ (e.g. Social Services, parent, guardian, litigation friend, etc). Partner organisations may have different policies in dealing with persons under the age of 18. For more details please contact the individual landlord.
In some cases there may be age restrictions on a property, if this is the case it will be clearly shown on the property advert using the appropriate symbols. If you don’t meet the age criteria you will not be able to express and interest for the property.
Properties may be labelled to give preference to certain applicants. For example, households accepted by a Homefinder Somerset Authority as unintentionally homeless and in priority need.
When you place an expression of interest you will be told your queue position for that property at that point in time. You can check your queue position at any time during the bidding cycle, as this position may change as others express an interest, by logging into your account on this website. Once the bidding deadline has passed it is the applicant in the highest band who has waited the longest on the housing register who will normally be successful. The successful applicant will receive a pre offer visit from the prospective landlord and the details on their application form will be formally validated.
All expressions of interest received in any given bidding cycle will be put in priority order to produce a list of eligible applicants for each property advertised by the landlord of the property. If your name is at the top of the list the landlord will normally contact you. However, please note that if you have been guilty of anti social behaviour or have a debt with your current or former landlord you may not receive a formal offer of accommodation even if you are top of the list. This decision will be made by the prospective landlord on a case by case basis. If the landlord is unable to offer the property to the applicant at the top of the list they will move to the next applicant and so on.
If you think you have been unfairly overlooked for a property please contact the relevant landlord.
If you decide to refuse the property it will be offered to the next person on the priority list. You will not normally be penalised for refusing a property and will continue to be able to bid for properties advertised.
If a homeless applicant refuses an offer of suitable accommodation the local authority may seek to discharge its duty under the homeless legislation.
If you are in emergency band and refuse a suitable offer you may lose your priority.
If you are offered a property you will not be able to bid for other properties until you have decided to either accept or refuse the offer, the time limit for this will normally be two working days.
If you accept the property you will be advised when you can move in by the relevant landlord. The landlord will contact you to make arrangements to sign the tenancy agreement and hand over the keys.
Only those applicants at the top of the list will be contacted by landlords.