Lettings policy

This policy details how we allocate our properties in line with existing nomination agreements and within service level agreements across a range of tenures to reduce re-let times and minimise rental loss from voids and empty homes.

Lettings policy

  Policy under review

Please note that this policy is currently under review. 

Policy information

Policy reference PO–B–003–H
Approved 8 February 2017
Published 9 February 2017
Effective 13 February 2017
Review 7 January 2020

Download

  Download this policy and appendices as a PDF document

Summary

This policy details how we allocate our properties in line with existing nomination agreements and within service level agreements across a range of tenures to reduce re-let times and minimise rental loss from voids and empty homes.

  • Intent

    This Policy sets out how we will allocate and let properties to both new and existing customers, across the Group, in a fair, transparent and efficient way.

  • Principles

    The Group will provide an effective lettings service that meets the requirements of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) tenancy standard and the criteria below.

    • Ensure there is consistency across the Group, whilst recognising local variations.
    • Reflect the communities we work in and ensure that these communities are sustainable.
    • Support the provision of a range of affordable homes for single people, couples and families as well as specific schemes for older people and those with special or support needs.
    • Actively assist local authorities to carry out their statutory functions (as detailed in Appendix 1).
    • Minimise the time that properties are left unoccupied.
    • Take a proactive approach to ensure that no individual or group is discriminated against or treated differently as a direct or indirect result of our Lettings Policy;
    • Invest in Social Value. From time to time we will work with local partners to meet housing needs for a specific group of people.
  • Scope

    This policy applies to all parts of the Longhurst Group of Companies (‘the Group’).

    This policy applies to all customers who register interest in housing with us, up to the stage of tenancy agreement.

    Customers who apply for one of our properties through Choice Based Lettings (CBL) schemes will also be subject to this policy unless there are agreed local arrangements in place.

Policy details

Managing lettings

  • Applying for housing

    Longhurst Group and its member companies do not operate waiting lists for housing and therefore any individuals seeking a home with us will need to register directly with the Local Authority and their chosen nomination scheme, for example, Choice Based Lettings. Registering for housing through the Local Authority does not guarantee the applicant will be housed by Longhurst Group.

    We reserve the right through our nominations agreements to use fast track lettings, through such methods as Rightmove, across Longhurst Group.

  • Eligibility

    Certain groups of people are currently ineligible by law to be considered for social housing.

    We will assess each case on individually following Government guidelines.

  • Sustainability

    We will use our Sustainability Matrix not only to assess whether an applicant can afford to live in one of our homes, but also to check that they are ready for a tenancy and can sustain one. The financial metrics used are in line with the Consumer Price Index and are updated yearly. Regional variances will be taken into account within agreed frameworks.

    We will also use our sustainability matrix to assess an applicant’s background to ascertain if there is any risk in offering a property in a particular area or location to the applicant themselves, any other individual, the property itself, the local community and/or members of staff.

    We will not re-house or offer a property to any customer who has not demonstrated that they can sustain a tenancy once pre-tenancy checks have been completed.

  • Homeowners

    Customers who are home-owners may apply for re-housing if they meet any of the criteria below:

    • they need sheltered accommodation;
    • their mortgage lender is repossessing their home;
    • their relationship has broken down and as a result they need to sell their home;
    • their current home is unsuitable due to serious ill health or disability; or
    • the Applicant has separated and left the family home, but remains a mortgage holder for financial reasons.
  • Housing employees

    Applications can be accepted from employees, elected members, Board members and their close relatives, provided they are eligible to apply. Applicants must disclose any such relationship at the time of applying and board approval will be sought at the point of allocation to demonstrate that appropriate levels of probity have been applied. Our Probity Policy sets out our position in detail.

  • Housing older people

    Applicants will be assessed in the usual way and should also:

    • be aged 60 or over; however; we may consider younger applicants where there are relevant needs such as a physical disability; and
    • be able to live safely and independently when the tenancy is agreed.

    Local variations may be in place. For example, applications for Rutland homes are accepted from people over 50 due to low numbers of applicants.

  • Rehousing minors

    Applicants aged 16 and 17, will be given a tenancy in trust until they are 18. A starter tenancy will be issued at 18 provided there are no tenancy breaches.

    Applicant criteria

    The applicant(s) have a dependent child or they are expecting a baby; and/or:

    • their Local Authority has accepted them as homeless; and
    • their support needs have been assessed and they are able to maintain a tenancy without additional support, or have support in place; and
    • they are entitled to the housing element of universal credit.
  • Best use of stock

    We will work with applicants using our Sustainability Matrix to ensure they are applying for housing that is affordable.

    Accessible properties for people with a disability

    In the first instance we will work with the local authority to allocate the property. If no suitable applicants can be found, we will contact social services and other relevant agencies before making an allocation to someone who does not need an adapted property.

    Schedule One offenders

    Where we know we are housing a Schedule One offender, we will seek appropriate advice and information from the Police, Social Services and Probation. A Schedule One offender is as defined in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and subsequent relevant legislation.

    Children in flats

    We will not let flats above the ground floor to families with children aged under 10 years. We will let ground floor flats to families with children of any age.

    Children sharing a room

    We will apply the following rules in line with government legislation outlined in the social sector size criteria deductions when reviewing a nomination or application for housing that involves children of the same or different sex sharing a bedroom. We will allow the following to share a bedroom;

    • Two children of the same sex under 16;
    • Two children of either sex under 10.
  • Fast Track Lettings

    Our preferred method of letting our homes is to work with Local Authorities in accordance with local arrangements. Where a Local Authority is unable to nominate or a shortlist is exhausted we will implement our Fast Track Lettings Process.

    A property will be classified as suitable for Fast Track if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

    • the Local Authority (LA) has been unable to supply a nomination/shortlist in accordance with the nomination agreement. This is referred to as a failure to nominate;
    • where nominations have been supplied, the permitted number of refusals under the nominations agreement has been reached;
    • where we are exercising our own nomination rights, particularly where we are concerned about the continued sustainability of a scheme; and/or
    • if we have a Local Lettings Plan in place.

    Where a property has been classified as suitable for Fast Track letting, we may choose to advertise using one or more of the following methods. This list is not exhaustive and we may advertise through other media.

    • National lettings websites such as Rightmove.
    • Local press;
    • Our websites
    • Facebook and other social and digital media
    • Local agencies such as Age Concern.

    We do not all allow current tenants who hold a tenancy with Longhurst Group to apply for a home with us through Rightmove or any other home letting service.

  • Excluding applicants

    There are occasions when we will have to exclude an applicant. Applicants can appeal exclusion.

    • Applicants have supplied significantly false or misleading information on their application for housing.
    • Applicants or members of their household have had legal action taken against them for unacceptable behaviour or breaches of tenancy; and/or were subject to legal proceedings against their tenancy before they left; or have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour which, if our tenants, would have entitled us to take legal action against their tenancy.
    • Applicants have a history of violence, harassment, racial harassment, threatening behaviour or any other forms of antisocial behaviour.
    • Previous physical or verbal abuse towards staff or contractors working for Longhurst Group or another landlord.
    • Deterioration of the current or former home due to waste, neglect or default by the person or any member of the household or other breaches of tenancy.
    • Using the premises for the sale or supply of illegal drugs.

    These exclusions will not apply where the unacceptable behaviour took place two or more years before the date of the application and the applicant or relevant household member has sustained a tenancy satisfactorily in the meantime.

    Debt

    If an applicant owes rent or debt for rechargeable repairs with their current or former landlord, we will only progress their application if they have paid 80% or more of the total debt owed on a continuous payment cycle before shortlisting/ nomination. There must be no missed payments in breach of their agreement to pay.

    Where applicants are excluded they will be informed in writing of the reasons for our decision.

    This reasons for exclusion above is not exhaustive and we will consider each case individually.


Appendices

  Please note that Appendices D–I are documents for internal use only.

  • Appendix A – Lettings arrangements by local authority area

    Local Authority

    Local Authority Registration Point

    Choice Based? (CBL)

    Common

    Allocation Policy?

    % Noms to LA

    L&H Direct Applicants accepted?

    L&H Direct Transfers accepted?

    List Closed?

    Comments

    Amber Valley

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  Home-Options - part of sub regional CBL with Amber Valley, Derbyshire Dales and High Peak.

    Bassetlaw

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Name of scheme:  HomeFinder.

    Birmingham

    Yes

    Part

    No

    50%

    75% 4 beds

    No

    Yes

    Yes

    Birmingham Home Choice

    Blaby

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    95%

    No

    Yes

    No

    Part of wider Leicestershire CBL scheme

    Boston Borough

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    N/A

    N/A

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Name of scheme:  Homechoice.

    Broxtowe

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  Homesearch - part of sub-regional CBL with Broxtowe and Rushcliffe.

    Local Authority

    Local Authority Registration Point

    Choice Based? (CBL)

    Common

    Allocation Policy?

    % Noms to LA

    L&H Direct Applicants accepted?

    L&H Direct Transfers accepted?

    List Closed?

    Comments

    Charnwood

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    95%

    No

    Yes

    Yes

    Part of wider Leicestershire CBL scheme

    Corby

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Keyways

    Derby

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    90%

    No

    Yes

    Yes

    Derby Homefinder

    East Lindsey

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Direct housing register for sheltered applicants only.

    East Northants

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    75%

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    East Northants are not part of the Northamptonshire sub regional group

    Erewash

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  Home-Options - part of sub regional CBL with Amber Valley, Derbyshire Dales and High Peak.

    Gedling

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    100%

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  Homesearch - part of sub-regional CBL with Broxtowe and Rushcliffe.  Low demand properties are advertised.

    Harborough

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Harborough Home Search (Part of Leicestershire sub-regional scheme)

    Kings Lynn

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  West Norfolk Homechoice.

    Leicester City

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Yes

    No

     

    Lincoln City

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Yes

    No

    Name of scheme:  Lincs Homefinder - part of a sub-regional CBL with West Lindsey and North Kesteven.

    Direct housing register for sheltered applicants only.

    Mansfield

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Name of scheme:  Mansfield & Ashfield Homefinder - joint CBL scheme with Ashfield Homes.

    Melton

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    95%

    No

    Yes

    No

    Part of wider Leicestershire CBL scheme

    Newark & Sherwood

    Yes

    No

    No

    100%

    No

    No

    No

    Easylet

    North East Lincolnshire

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Joint CBL scheme with North Lincolnshire. Homechoicelincs

    North Kesteven

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Yes

    No

    Name of scheme:  Lincs Homefinder - part of a sub- regional CBL with West Lindsey and Lincoln City Council.

    Direct housing register for sheltered applicants only.

    North Lincolnshire

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

    Joint CBL with North East Lincolnshire.  Homechoicelincs

    North West Leicestershire

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    95%

    No

    Yes

    No

    Part of wider Leicestershire CBL scheme

    Northants

    North & South

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    100%

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Sub regional scheme for Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough called “Keyways”

    Nottingham City

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    N/A

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Name of scheme:  Homelink.

    We only use our transfer rights for stock disposal.

    Nuneaton & Bedworth

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Yes

    No

    Homehunt CBL

    No formal Nominations Agreement or SLA in place.

    Peterborough

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    N/A

    No

    No

    No

     

    Rushcliffe

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Yes

    No

     

    Rutland

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    75%

    Yes

    Yes

    No

     

    South Holland

    Yes

    No

    No

    100%

    No

    No

    No

     

    South Cambridgeshire

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    100%

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Home Link

    South Kesteven

    Yes

    No

    No

    100%

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

     

    Walsall

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    50%

    No

    Yes 10% Agreed

    No

     

    Warwick

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    100%

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Home Choice

    West Lindsey

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    N/A

    No

    Management priority only - less than 5% per year

    No

    Name of scheme:  Lincs Homefinder – part of a sub- regional CBL with West Lindsey and Lincoln City.  Low demand properties are advertised.

    Updated 29/07/2016

  • Appendix B – Definitions

    Choice Based Lettings (CBL)

    These schemes are often established by partnerships of local authorities and/or housing associations. CBL’s are designed to introduce an element of choice for people who apply for council and housing association homes that are advertised for rent, rather than waiting to be offered housing through a waiting list system. The allocation of the home is based upon a points based or other priority based assessment of need of those who have made a bid for a home.

    Nominations Agreement

    A service level agreement where a housing association and a local authority will work in partnership to address housing need within the local area. The housing association will accept an agreed percentage of applicants from the local authority rehousing list when properties become vacant.

    Transfers

    An allocation by where we allow an existing tenant to transfer to another one of our homes. Refer to our Transfer policy

    Failed/Lack of Nominations

    Where a local authority has been unable to make a suitable nomination.

    Tenancy Agreements

    The associations properties will be let on either, assured tenancies, starter tenancies or Assured Shorthold tenancies.

    New tenants will initially be signed up for a 12-month trial period, known as a starter tenancy. The tenancy will convert to an assured tenancy upon satisfactory completion of the trial period.

    Assured Shorthold tenancies are offered to those being accommodated in specific supported housing schemes and for properties that we manage. Exceptions include the provision of temporary accommodation in partnership with the local authority where a licence/use and occupation agreement will be used.

    Local Variations

    There may be specific lettings criteria for some housing schemes e.g. where Section 106 planning agreements are in place or for other schemes such as allocations under the Seaside & Country Homes scheme. Restrictions can include requirement to have a defined local connection with the scheme concerned.

    Fixed Term Tenancies

    Introduced as part of the Localism Act 2011, Longhurst Group will continue to consider the introduction of fixed-term tenancies as part of our suite of tenancies however the Group currently has no plans to offer this type of tenancy currently.

  • Appendix C – Lettings

    Housing homeowners

    Customers who are home-owners may apply for re-housing if they meet any of the criteria below:

    • they need sheltered accommodation;
    • their mortgage lender is repossessing their home;
    • their relationship has broken down and as a result they need to sell their home;
    • their current home is unsuitable due to serious ill health or disability;
    • applicants who have separated and left the family home, but remain a mortgage holder for financial reasons.
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