Section 1: Introduction to Coventry Homefinder
The Council no longer owns any housing following the Large-Scale Voluntary Transfer of all the former Council housing to Citizen (formerly Whitefriars Housing Association) in September 2000.
The Council works in partnership with the Registered Providers (Housing Associations) within the area. The providers own and manage their own housing stock, and most of their available homes are let through Coventry Homefinder, the Housing Needs Register.
This Policy provides a framework for the delivery of The Coventry Homefinder choice-based lettings scheme and describes how the allocation of social housing will be prioritised for those applicants who have the greatest housing need. Social housing in Coventry is in high demand and short supply and there are far more people on the Housing Register than there are homes available to let.
This policy is written and published to explain how:
- Applicants qualify to join the Housing Needs Register.
- Qualifying applicants are assessed and placed in different bandings of priority.
- Certain applicants on the Housing Needs Register have some choice about the home or housing they are offered.
- Applications are nominated to homes offered by Registered Providers. The policy also ensures the Council meets its legal requirements governing the allocation of social housing. Coventry City Council’s Housing and Homelessness Service is the lead organisation for the administration of this policy.
1.2 The objectives of the Coventry Homefinder Policy
The objectives of the Coventry Homefinder Policy are to:
- Operate within the legal framework.
- Be realistic, simple and transparent.
- Make best use of social housing stock.
- Let properties quickly.
- Create balanced and sustainable communities.
1.3 Statement on Choice
Coventry City Council and the Homefinder partner Registered Providers are fully committed to enabling applicants to play an active role in choosing where they want to live, whilst continuing to prioritise those people in the greatest need, making the best use of the available housing stock and complying with all relevant legislation.
It is important to realise that the demand for accommodation is higher for some types of property and for some areas of the city than it is for others. In making a decision about the choices available, applicants need to consider their housing need priority against the availability of properties in any given area.
The Coventry Homefinder Scheme allows people to see the Registered Providers’ (Housing Associations and/or Housing Co-operatives) properties that are available and place a bid on (express an interest in) those properties they are eligible for and would like to be considered for during each bidding period.
Applicants will be informed of their relative position on the shortlist for that vacancy at the time of making the bid. This enables an applicant to make an informed choice when deciding which property to express an interest in/bid on and whether to consider alternative housing options. The final shortlisting position is only known once the bidding round for that property has ended. Feedback on lettings of previously advertised properties is also available.
1.4 The Legal Framework
This document sets out the Coventry Homefinder Lettings Policy, which determines the priorities and procedure for nominating applicants to Registered Providers in accordance with Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002, the Localism Act 2011 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
The Policy ensures that reasonable preference is given to applicants who fall within the reasonable preference categories in accordance with section 166A(3) of the Housing Act 1996. More detail on reasonable preference is set out in section 5. This Policy also sets out the priorities and procedures for nominations of existing social housing tenants who do not fall into the groups to whom reasonable preference must be given, in line with Section 145 of the Localism Act 2011. These will be considered for allocation under the same policy framework.
This Policy has been developed with regard to the statutory guidance issued to local housing authorities in England (Allocation of Accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England, Department for Communities and Local Government, issued June 2012).
All nominations will be made in accordance with this Policy.
Whilst this policy determines how social housing will be allocated it should be noted that in certain circumstances e.g. when considering an offer of accommodation, the lettings policy of individual Scheme Landlords (Register Providers / Housing Associations) may override this Policy.
1.5 Equality and fairness
In framing this Policy, the Council has had regard to its duties under the Equality Act 2010. The Policy seeks to ensure that each application is dealt with fairly, irrespective of race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief, and to comply with all relevant legislation.
1.6 Advice and information
A summary of this scheme is available to all applicants. The full copy of this policy will be available to view on request from the Coventry Customer Service Centre.
The Council has a duty to people in its area to ensure that:
- Advice and information about the right to make an application for housing is available free of charge.
- Assistance is given free of charge to those who are likely to have difficulty in making an application for housing without such assistance.
Applicants also have the right to the following general information:
- Information that will enable them to assess how their application is likely to be treated under the authority’s allocation scheme and in particular, whether they are likely to fall within the reasonable preference categories.
- Information about previous lettings and previous availability of properties is published on the Homefinder website (see section 6.19 for more detail).
1.7 Assistance for those that cannot use the system
Coventry Homefinder aims to ensure equal access to all and has developed a number of ways by which those who are unable to use the system themselves and don’t have support otherwise available to them, are not disadvantaged.
Autobidding will be available for households based on pre-agreed criteria of location and property type.
To access this support applicants or their advocates (with written approval to represent them) should contact the Homefinder Team on 024 7683 4024 or by emailing email@example.com to discuss what assistance can be provided.
1.8 Situations not covered by the Coventry Homefinder Policy
This policy also does not cover mutual exchanges, reviews of Fixed Term Tenancies, assignments or successions as these are not allocations or nominations under Part VI of the Housing Act 1996.