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Frequently asked questions

What is Homefinder Somerset?

Homefinder Somerset is where council and housing association homes available to rent in Somerset are advertised. People who are registered with Homefinder Somerset can view the homes being advertised and tell us which homes you would like to be considered for (this is called bidding, but does not involve any money). 

The 4 local authority partners are Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council and South Somerset District Council. Please click here for contact details for the 4 local authorities. 

Please click here to see details of the housing association partners

Click on the links below for information on how to apply, how to bid for homes etc.

- Who can apply to Homefinder Somerset? 

- How to apply

- How applications are prioritised

- How homes are advertised

- How to bid for homes

- How to reset your login details

- How the successful applicant is selected

Who can apply?

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. Please click here to 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 your local housing team. 

Common questions or myths about who can apply to Homefinder Somerset:

Why don’t you think I have a local connection to Somerset?

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 for a minimum of a 16 hours per week for 6 months, 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 (available on the Publications page of the Homefinder Somerset website).  

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.

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How to apply

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.

If you have the above information, the application form should take approximately 30 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 28 days. Any incomplete application forms will be cancelled after this time

Once you submit your online application and provide the required evidence the local authority will assess and activate your application. Once you have provided all of the required information local authorities aim to review your application and notify you in 21 days. 

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. 

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How applications are prioritised

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. 

For further details of each Band please see the Prioritising Applications page or download the Homefinder Somerset policy from the Publications page

Your local authority will also assess what size home you need. Under Homefinder Somerset a separate bedroom is allocated to each:

  • Married or cohabiting couple
  • Adult aged 16 years or more
  • Pair of adolescents aged 10 - 16 years of the same sex
  • Pair of children aged under 10 years regardless of sex.

If you disagree with your banding, bedroom award or eligibility to join the housing register you should contact the local authority managing your application to discuss the decision. If the issue cannot be resolved you have the right to request a review of the decision. 

Reviews must be submitted in writing to the local authority that made the decision within 21 days of the date on the notification letter.  You must include the reason why you believe the decision is wrong, together with any additional information you believe is relevant.

Common questions or myths about how applications are prioritised:

Why have I been given this banding and not a higher one?

The band that your application is placed in depends on our assessment of your housing need.

The 4 housing need bands (Emergency, Gold, Silver and Bronze) are summarised on the Prioritising Applications page of the Homefinder Somerset website and explained in full in the Homefinder Somerset Policy (available on the Publications page of the Homefinder Somerset website). 

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.

I have a physical or mental health problem – why isn’t my Band higher?

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 (available on the Publications page of the Homefinder Somerset website) for details of how priority is awarded to people whose physical or mental health is made worse by their current home. 

Why are my children expected to share a bedroom?

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.

My children stay with me at weekends but you have only said that I need a 1 bedroom home?

Because of the high demand for properties 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 local authorities 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. 

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How homes are advertised 

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

Some properties that are immediately available to rent are advertised as 'Anytime Adverts'. These properties are advertised at anytime. They can be viewed by selecting the 'Anytime Advert' option on the Property Search screen

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How to bid

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 login reference (which will be on the letter or email from your local authority), together with the memorable date (Pin) and password that you entered when completing your application. 

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 matter when you bid during this time. Bids are ordered by Band and the length of time people have been waiting (see below). 

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.

Common questions or myths about bidding: 
Should I bid at midnight on a Wednesday to improve my chances?

No. It is not ‘first come first served’ when it comes to housing. When you 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.

Do I have to use all 3 bids each week?
No. You don’t have to use all 3 bids each week. The 3 bid limit 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 a Somerset local authority they will expect you to bid for all appropriate homes.

Will I be offered a property without bidding on it? 
No. You need to bid on homes otherwise you will not be considered.

Why am I 8th on one property but 20th on another?
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.

I was 3rd when I placed the bid but now I’m 17th, why is this?
When you bid for a home does not affect your bid position. 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.

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How to reset your login details

If you have forgotten your login reference: 

  • Click 'Login' in the top right hand corner of this website
  • Click 'I have forgotten my login reference'
  • You will then be asked to enter the email address that you have given on your Homefinder Somerset application
  • Your login reference will then be sent to your email address 

If you have forgotten your memorable date (pin) or password: 

  • Click 'Login' in the top right hand corner of this website
  • Click 'I have forgotten my memorable date (pin)'
  • You will then be asked to enter your login reference, email address and 2 of the following: Postcode, date of birth, family name or national insurance number
  • A temporary memorable date (pin) and password will then be emailed to you
  • Return to the Login page and enter your login reference and your temporary memorable date (pin) & password
  • You will then be asked to create a new memorable date (pin) and password so that you can remember them to login in the future  

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How the successful applicant is 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 clicking 'My Bids'. 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
  • 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 a Somerset local authority 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.

Common questions or myths about how successful applicants are selected: 
Why didn’t I get that property?  

Bids are ranked by the Band of applicants and then by how long they have been waiting. If someone above you 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 the reason why by logging into your Homefinder Somerset account. 

I have been on the register for ages and I still don’t have a home. Why is this?
The simple answer is that there are not enough social housing homes to meet demand. There are over 9,300 people on the Homefinder Somerset register and only 2,107 homes were let in 2020. 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.

I’ve been denied a property because my application did not match my current circumstances, why is this?
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.

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