Attend Appointments and Keep In Contact
Please make sure you attend all appointments, and provide all information requested. It is important to maintain contact with your Housing Officer and provide any updates regarding your situation as soon as it happens. You can log on to Homefindersomerset.co.uk and update any tasks by logging into your account and updating My Personal Plan:
Rent in Advance, Deposit, Deposit Bonds and Fees
If you find a suitable private let to rent please fully complete and return the landlord/property information form, and your income and expenditure form, along with 2 months bank statements (if you haven't already provided them) so that we can assess your application for a deposit/deposit bond/rent in advance as soon as possible.
We will assist you to look for private rented accommodation and pass on any property details which we think may be suitable for you if and when we are made aware of suitable vacancies.
We may be able to assist you with a deposit, deposit bond, rent in advance and agency fees, depending on your circumstances, to help you to secure a private sector property. You may need to agree a repayment plan with us and sign a direct debit form.
Homefinder Somerset Application
If you want to be considered for social housing, you will need to complete an application online, and apply for social housing (see below).
As part of the application process you will need to supply proof of your name, address and National Insurance Number (this can be uploaded as you apply). If you have a wage slip, or other proof that details all 3 pieces of information, then you can use this. If not, you will need to ensure all 3 elements are evidenced. Any documents need to be less than a year old. Other details may be requested, such as proof of local connection, proof of capital and proof of pregnancy. These can also be updated directly onto the system as you apply.
If you have a closed application, you will need to log-in and update you application. It will be necessary to provide up to date proofs.
Looking for a Private Rented property
There are a range of housing options that need to be considered, including a privately rented property. Any property considered should be witin the Local Housing Allowance. You can register at local letting agents and request to be included on their mailing lists, and do regualr checks on line with:
Homefinder Somerset Bidding
Once your application is active you should log on to Homefinder Somerset every week and places bids for eligible properties that you are interested in. This will give you maximum chance of getting housed. You can make up to 3 bids per week although you do not have to make 3 bids if there are not suitable properties available. Always ensure bids are for properties that are suitable for your needs, in a location that you are able to move to. Whilst bids do not have to be placed every week, the wider the area you are prepared to live, the sooner you are likely to get housed.
The advertising cycle runs from Wednesday to Sunday, all bids will be considered after the cycle closes at midnight on Sunday, it is not the case that first to bid gets the property, the bids are considered in band and ‘effective date’ order. Please ensure you read the adverts in full, including any preferences.
You should only bid on a properties that you are genuinely interested in because if you refuse a suitable property that you have bid on, it will be registered as a refusal, and once you refuse 4 properties, you will have your application will be suspended for 3 months, and your banding will be downgraded to bronze. If you are accepted homeless, we may discharge any duty owed to you after 1 refusal, if the property was suitable alternative accommodation.
Be prepared to answer withheld number calls, as it may be a housing association calling you, and if they do not get a response quickly, they may move on to the next person on the list. Failure to respond to an offer, will also count as a refusal.
You are looking for accommodation so need to ensure you are "tenancy ready" when you find somewhere to live or successful through Homefinder. Almost all landlords require references from your current or previous landlord. If you are applying on Homefinder Somerset then partner landlords have access to information on that site including information on former rent arrears or other housing related debts.
If you have outstanding debts then you need to repay them as they will affect your chances of securing housing, landlords can reject your bid until you have either repaid the arrears in full or you have agreed a payment plan and have been repaying the arrears for around 6 months AND the debt has reduced. You need to agree an affordable amount, there is no point in paying £10 a week for ten weeks only to miss a week’s rent and break your payment plan. If you have arrears, you need to agree an affordable payment plan to repay any arrears and make regular payments every week or month without fail to give landlords confidence that you can pay your rent regularly.
If you have a history of anti-social behaviour, offending or other tenancy issues, then social landlords may skip your bids for up to 5 years unless you are seen to be addressing those issues, perhaps by way of completing a tenant accreditation course for example. Please liaise with your housing officer to work out the best steps to address any issues that may affect your chances of securing accommodation.
Private landlords will need a deposit bond or cash deposit, usually between 4 & 6 weeks rental value, and they also need a month’s rent in advance; and if you are using a lettings agency they will charge fees for credit checks and drawing up a tenancy agreement. If you secure social housing, they will expect you to pay up to one month’s rent in advance, and also to have funds to equip the property with essentials for living, such as cooker, fridge and beds.
Please use the time while you are looking for accommodation to save for necessary expenses involved with moving.
Homeless – Temporary Accommodation
If you are ‘priority need’ and homeless, temporary accommodation will be identified for you and you will be notified when this is ready. This may not be in the area of your choice and if you refuse any offer of temporary accommodation, we may not make another offer.
Once the 56 days of 'relief' duty has expired, a decision will be made on your homelessness. If found to be in priority need and unintentionally homeless, you will be owed the full homelessness duty and placed in gold band.
If you are accepted as homeless, after 4 weeks, if unsuccessful for accommodation, the Council will be able to place 'bid' on suitable properties for you on Homefinder Somerset. The Local Authority is also able to discharge its duty to you if a suitable private let is found.
Homeless Accepted and Gold Band
If you are Gold banded as homeless then you are expected to use your 3 weekly bids against any suitable properties, if you do not bid or are not successful, then we may place bids for you on suitable properties, as well as seeking a private let. Any duty owed you can be discharged through an offer of social housing, an offer of a private let, and a refusal of a property offered to you.