Frequently Asked Questions & Common Myths

Applying to Homefinder Somerset

Anyone over 16 years old can register with Homefinder Somerset, except for:

 

• People who do not have a local connection to Somerset. To have a local connection to Somerset you must either have lived in Somerset for the last 2 years, or 3 out of the last 5 years, work in Somerset or have immediate family who have lived in Somerset for at least 5 years. Please see the Homefinder Somerset Policy for more information. Download the Local Connection Form that you can use to confirm that you have a local connection to Somerset.

 

• Certain people from abroad with limited rights to remain in the United Kingdom. For more information please contact your local housing team.

 

• People who are not subject to immigration control and have a right of admission to the UK but have not been habitually resident in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland (the Common Travel Area). For more information please contact Somerset Council.
You will be assessed to have a local connection to Somerset if you:

 

• Have lived in Somerset for the last 2 years, or 3 out of the last 5 years, or

 

• Work in Somerset: Have had consistent paid employment for a minimum of the last 3 months with an average of 16 hours a week, or

 

• Have immediate family members that have lived in Somerset for 5 years.

 

Immediate family members include: parents, siblings and non-dependent children.

 

Please note that there are exceptions to the local connection rules, for example for members of the UK armed forces, or veterans who have left the UK armed forces in the last 5 years. Please see the Homefinder Somerset Policy for details.

 

Just because you go to somewhere in Somerset often does not mean you have a local connection. You will not be assessed to have a local connection to an area just because your children go to school there, your auntie or cousin lives there or your doctor/dentist is based in the area, if you do not meet any of the other local connection criteria above.
The easiest way to apply is to complete the online application form. To do this please click the ‘Register’ link in the top right hand corner of this website.

 

In order to complete the application form, you will need to provide the date of birth, national insurance number, income and saving details for you and anyone who will live with you.

 

You also need to provide a five year address history, including landlord details.

 

You will also need to provide evidence of your name, address and National Insurance number. You can upload this evidence as you complete your application. One document from either HM Revenue & Customs (e.g. about your tax code etc.) or the Department of Work & Pensions (e.g. about benefits that you are entitled to) can be submitted to confirm your name, address and national insurance number. Please see Application Evidence.

 

If you have the above information, the application form should take approximately 40 minutes to complete. You can stop and save the data at any time if needed.

 

Once started you must complete and submit your application within 7 days. Any incomplete application forms will be cancelled after this time.

 

Once you submit your online application and provide the required evidence Somerset Council will assess and activate your application. We aim to review your application and notify you in 21 days once you have provided all of the required information.

 

It is your responsibility to ensure that your application is kept up to date, for example because you have a new phone number or email address, have moved home or have had a child. The easiest way to do this is to login to Homefinder Somerset website and update your application. If you fail to keep your application updated you may miss out on properties.
The following households must provide evidence that they are eligible to register with Homefinder Somerset:

 

• If you are not a British citizen.

 

• If you are a British Citizen who has been living abroad for more than two years

 

• If you have not lived in Somerset for the last two years, or three of the last five years you will need to prove a local connection


Please see the information on Evidence on this website for details.

 

How will you assess what Band my application will be placed in? 

Your application will be placed into 1 of 4 housing need bands: Emergency, Gold, Silver and Bronze. This will be based on our assessment of your housing need given the information you provide on your application and any letters of support you supply.

 

The 4 bands (Emergency, Gold, Silver & Bronze) are explained in full in the Homefinder Somerset Policy and summarised in 'Your Guide to Homefinder Somerset'.

 

For example, if you have a child and are lodging with friends or family or in accommodation with shared living facilities then your application will be placed in Silver Band. However, if you do not have a child and are lodging with friends or family or in accommodation with shared living facilities then your application will be placed in Bronze Band.
Priority is awarded if your physical or mental health is made worse by your current home and would be improved by moving to a new home. If your physical or mental health will not be improved by moving to a new home you will not receive any additional priority on Homefinder Somerset.

 

Please see the Homefinder Somerset Policy for details of how priority is awarded to people whose physical or mental health is made worse by their current home.
If you have supporting information (for example, a letter from a health professional) you can upload documents by signing into Homefinder Somerset website, select ‘Add supporting documents to my application’ and follow the instructions.
If you have new supporting information, you do not need to request a review of your application. You can upload the documents by signing into your online account and use the ‘Add supporting documents to my application’ option. This will result in your banding and bedroom eligibility being reconsidered. You will be notified of the outcome and if you do not agree with this decision have the right to request a review of your banding or bedroom eligibility award.

 

If you do not have new supporting information but do not think how we have assessed your Band or the size of home you need is correct you can request a review of our decision. The review request must be made in writing, within 21 days of receiving your banding award letter and detail your reasons for the review request.

How will you assess what size of home I need? 

The Homefinder Somerset policy mirrors the rules of Housing Benefit when assessing what size home you need. Under Homefinder Somerset each of the following are assessed as needing a separate bedroom:

 

• A single person or people living together as a couple

 

• Other adults, aged 16 years old or over

 

• 2 children under 16 years old of the same sex

 

• 2 children who are both under 10 years old regardless of sex

 

• A carer who does not live in the household but provides a household member with long term overnight care

 

Exceptions to these rules can be made for children who are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, and supporting evidence is provided by a medical professional or social services to confirm that the child requires their own bedroom for medical reasons.
The Homefinder Somerset policy mirrors the rules of Housing Benefit when assessing what size home you need.

 

As stated above, exceptions can be made, but there is a severe shortage of family sized homes.
Because of the high demand for homes in Somerset, additional bedrooms cannot be given to applicants who have children who do not normally live permanently with them as their full-time principle home. In cases where parental responsibility is equally shared Somerset Council will have to decide who will be treated as having primary responsibility for any children. Consideration will be taken of where the child spends most of their time, which address the child is registered at for their Doctor, School etc. and which parent receives Child Benefit and, or Child Tax Credit.

Bidding for homes

Homes are advertised on this website between Wednesday at 00.01 am and Sunday at 11.59 pm. each week.

 

Adverts for some new build homes may be for more than 1 property. For example, if there are 4 identical 2 bed houses they may be advertised on 1 advert. Placing a bid for such adverts enables you to be considered for all of the homes.

 

You can tell us which homes you would like to be considered for. This is called bidding.

 

You will need to login to this website to bid. To do this you will need your email address and password that you entered when completing your application.

 

This video explains how to bid for homes

 

Bidding does not mean that you will part with any money. You can only bid for homes if your application has been accepted onto the Homefinder Somerset register. You can only bid for homes where you match what the advert asks for. For example, if a property has 1 bedroom, you will not be able to bid for it if you need more than 1 bedroom.

 

You can place 3 bids each week whilst properties are being advertised between Wednesday and Sunday. It does not matter when you bid during this time. Bids are ordered by Band and the length of time people have been waiting.

 

Bids cannot be placed on a Monday or Tuesday.

 

You can withdraw a bid whilst a property is still being advertised and use it for another property.

 

You should only bid for properties that you are genuinely interested in moving into. To make best use of your bids read the advert carefully as sometimes restrictions or certain criteria are set. For example adapted properties may be reserved for people with specific mobility problems or you may need a local connection to a certain area. This means that you need to live, have lived, work or have family in the area in order to be considered.

 

Adverts for some new build homes may be for more than 1 property. For example, if there are 4 identical 2 bed houses they may be advertised on 1 advert. Placing a bid for such adverts enables you to be considered for all of the homes.
If you have forgotten your password:

 

Click 'Sign in' in the top right hand corner of this website

 

Click ‘Forgotten your password?'

 

You will then be asked to enter the email address that you have given on your Homefinder Somerset application

 

This video explains how to reset your password
False. It is not ‘first come first served’ when it comes to housing. When you place the bid for a home does not affect your bid position. Bids are ranked by the Band of applicants and then by how long they have been waiting.
False.You don’t have to use all 3 bids each week. The limit of 3 bids is a maximum, not a minimum. Instead, only place bids on homes that you would be interested in living in. If you have been accepted as homeless by Somerset Council you will be expected to bid for all appropriate homes.
False.You need to bid on homes otherwise you will not be considered.
Your bid position can change as more bids are placed. Bids are ranked by the Band of applicants and then by how long they have been waiting. If someone in Gold Band bids for a home just before the end of the closing date for bids, their bid will be placed above people in Silver and Bronze Bands, and anyone in Gold Band who has been waiting for less time.
Your bid position will be different on different properties. Bids are ranked by the Band of applicants and then by how long they have been waiting. Your bid position will depend on your band and how long you have been waiting, compared to everyone else who has bid for a property. Some properties are more popular because of their location or type (for example houses are more popular than flats). This means that you may be higher on one property than another because there are less bids from people with a higher banding or who have been on the waiting list longer than you.

How is the successful applicant selected?

At the end of each weekly advertising cycle, a list of eligible bids for each advertised home is produced. The list will usually order applicants by the band that their application has been placed in and how long they have been waiting (their effective date). However, if the advert included preferences or priorities these will be taken into account.

 

You can find out your position on the list of people who have bid for a home by logging into the Homefinder Somerset website and selecting Feedback. This will show you any 'active' bids for homes still being advertised, as well as bids you have made for homes that have previously been advertised.

 

Once the advertising cycle has ended the landlord of the home will then carry out a number of checks on the top applicant. This may include checking:

 

- Your circumstances have not changed from the information we hold for you

 

- Your rent payments are up to date

 

- Any anti-social behaviour

 

- Your medical history

 

Whether you match any requirements for the property (e.g. whether you have a local connection to the local area or whether you have a need for a home that has been adapted)

 

If you are at the top of the list you will normally be invited to view the home unless the landlord discovers reasons why you shouldn't be offered the home. For example, if you have rent arrears or have been guilty of anti-social behaviour. If the landlord is unable to offer the home to you they will move to the next applicant on the list and so on.

 

Please contact the landlord of the property if you have any queries about the shortlisting for a home.

 

If you decide to refuse the home it will be offered to the next applicant on the list. If you refuse 3 properties your case will be reviewed. You will be advised that if you refuse another offer you will be suspended from bidding for 3 months.

 

If you have been accepted as homeless by Somerset Council you should always seek advice before refusing a home, as this could end any duty to provide you with a home.

 

When the home is ready you will be contacted to arrange to sign the tenancy agreement and collect the keys.

 

If you are successful in being offered a property, a landlord may require you to move in a matter of days (it can be up to 4 weeks). It is important that you are ready to move. Up to 4 weeks rent in advance may be required to secure your tenancy, so it is advisable to save and prepare for this.
Bids are ranked by the Band of applicants and then by how long they have been waiting. If someone above you, on the list of people who bid, is offered the property this is because they were in a higher Band or have been waiting longer. If a landlord rejects your bid, you will be able to see the reason why by logging into your Homefinder Somerset account.
The simple answer is that there are not enough social housing homes to meet demand. There are over 10,000 households on the Homefinder Somerset register and only 2,000 homes were let in 2023. It is likely that there will be a long wait until you find a home. If you need a home quickly, we recommend that you look for private rented accommodation. You can improve your chances on Homefinder Somerset by bidding for flats as well as houses.
False. To register with Homefinder Somerset and be allocated a home, you need to either have:

 

- Lived in Somerset for the last 2 years, or 3 out of the last 5 years, or

 

- A local connection to Somerset through immediate family who have lived here for at least 5 years, or through work.
False. Most new homes in rural areas require that applicants must have a local connection to the parish or surrounding parishes. Local connection requirements can vary depending on the planning conditions agreed but generally mean that you must either:

 

- Have lived in the parish for a number of years

 

- Work in the parish

 

- Have immediate family who have lived in the parish for a number of years.
False. Most new homes in rural areas require that applicants must have a local connection to the parish or surrounding parishes. If you meet the required local connection and are in Bronze Band your application will be prioritised above all applicants who don’t have a local connection.
False. Nearly half of general needs homes (e.g. those not specifically for older people) let in 2023 were let to households in work.
You should contact the landlord in the first instance. They should be able to provide you with an update. For example if there has been a delay to the property being ready for you to move in. If there is a long delay they should offer to unmatch you so that you can bid for and be considered for other homes.

 

If you cannot contact the landlord contact your local housing team - see the 'Contact Us' page for details.
If you have been guilty of anti-social behaviour or have a debt with a landlord, you may not be offered a property. This decision will be made by the landlord on a case-by-case basis.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the information on your application is correct and up to date. This is because any change of circumstances may affect your Band or the size of home you need. If you do not keep your details up to date landlords may skip you.
If you refuse 3 suitable homes you may be suspended from bidding for 3 months and have your band and priority date reviewed.

Why could my application be closed? 

Your application may have been closed for one of the following reasons:

 

1) You did not provide all mandatory evidence within 28 days of applying to Homefinder Somerset. As part of the application process, you acknowledged that unless you provide all mandatory evidence within 28 days your application would be closed. Please see the list of acceptable evidence on the Help page

 

2) You did not provide any other information that has been requested within the specified time limit.

 

3) You did not respond to an annual renewal request

 

4) You asked for your application to be closed.

 

5) You no longer become eligible to remain on the housing register or you are excluded from the housing register. For example, you no longer have a valid local connection to Somerset.

 

6) If you moved but did not provide your new address and we have lost contact with you.

 

7) If you were rehoused through Homefinder Somerset.

 

8) If you are in Bronze Band and did not bid for a home or log into the Homefinder Somerset website in the last 12 months.

 

9) If we have information that your application is not accurate. You will be asked to review the information on your application and update it as required.
Yes. Reviews must be submitted in writing to Somerset Council within 21 calendar days of your application being closed. Please see further information regarding the review process in the Homefinder Somerset Policy
Yes. If you wish to re-apply you need to complete a new application. To do this please click ‘Register’ and then ‘Register here’.