Coventry Homefinder Policy 2021

Section 7: Management of the scheme

This section contains general information on how the Housing and Homelessness Service which includes the Coventry Homefinder Team manages the Housing Needs Register, including how active applications are administered on an ongoing basis.

7.1 Keeping your Application Up to Date (Changes in your circumstances)

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that their application is kept up to date. It is important for applicants to ensure that any changes in personal circumstances, household members, contact details or household needs are updated in a timely manner. This ensures that:

  • Applicants are able to bid on appropriately sized properties
  • Applicants are provided with the correct priority for their household needs
  • Housing providers are able to contact applicant quickly to make an offer of accommodation

Applicants can update their contact details by logging in to Coventry Homefinder Account.

Where there has been a change in their circumstances the applicant will need to complete an online form. This can be done via the Coventry Homefinder website. The list below is not an exhaustive list but a change of circumstances can include:

  • If anyone included on the application moves out
  • Family size, for example if you have another child
  • If you want to add any other person to the application
  • A change in income or capital
  • If you no longer have recourse to public funds
  • The assessed housing needs of the applicant or a household member has changed, and the applicant wishes to have their banding re-assessed. (Supporting information/evidence may be required)
  • An applicant is currently in the reduced preference band and requests a re-assessment of their banding
  • Any other circumstances where the applicant believes a re-assessment is required

Vulnerable customers who cannot access the system and do not have any other support available to them can contact the Council’s Customer Service Centre for assistance to update their details or complete a change of circumstances form.

7.2 Cancelling/Closing Applications

An application will be cancelled/closed in the following circumstances:

  • If the applicant has requested that the application is cancelled/closed.
  • The applicant has not responded to the annual review message within the specified timescale (see section 7.3).
  • If the applicant household has been housed through Coventry Homefinder.
  • If the applicant household has been otherwise housed in any suitable social housing for example as a result of a managed move or out of the Coventry area.
  • If the applicant household has undertaken a ‘mutual exchange’ with another social housing tenant.
  • The applicant stops being eligible to stay on the register for any reason, including moving to different accommodation where they do not have a housing need.
  • The applicant is found to have provided false information (or withheld relevant information) relating to their housing application (see section 3.9).
  • The applicant is found to have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour that would make them ‘unsuitable to be a tenant’ and therefore they do not meet the qualifying criteria for registration (see section 4.3).
  • The applicant’s financial circumstances have changed, and they currently have over £50,000 in income and/or assets
  • The applicant’s housing circumstances have changed, and they no longer have an assessed housing need
  • An applicant has not provided the required information to assess their housing application within 28 days.
  • An applicant has refused an offer of accommodation as a statutorily homeless household and they no longer qualify to join the housing register.

If there are joint applicants, both must tell us in writing that they want us to remove the application. If this does not happen, and only one applicant tells us they want us to remove it, the application will continue in the name of the other applicant alone. The Council may remove the application for both joint applicants for any of the above reasons.

7.3 Keeping the Register Up to Date (Annual Renewals)

All applicants are required to review their application each year to ensure that their details are correct and to confirm that they wish to remain on the Coventry Homefinder register. The annual renewal process takes place on:

  1. The first anniversary of their initial application date; and then
  2. Subsequently the anniversary of their renewal date each year.
  3. Where an applicant has been accepted as homeless by Coventry City Council their renewal date will be amended to a year from date the homelessness decision was made.

Applicants will receive a notification that their application is due for renewal on their Coventry Homefinder account and by email, if an email address has been provided on their application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they respond to the notification and carry out the review. Applicants will have 56 days to review their application – if this is not completed then their application will be closed.

Only in exceptional circumstances, where the applicant has demonstrated that they have been unable to review their application due to circumstances beyond their control (for example, due to prolonged hospitalisation), will the application be reopened by the Coventry Homefinder Team.

If an application has been closed following the 56-day period and there are no exceptional circumstances, the applicant must make a fresh application. This will result in a new registration date and a new effective date.

Where the Homefinder Team have been informed that the applicant is vulnerable, cannot use the system and does not have any other support available to them, the Homefinder Team will contact the applicant directly using other contact details provided.

Computers are available in the Customer Service Centre and public Libraries to facilitate this online renewal process for applicants who don’t have readily available access to the internet. Support is also available from various advice agencies in the city.

7.4 Exceptional Circumstances

Allocations of social housing in Coventry by partner Registered Providers (apart from some Midland Heart properties advertised via Homesdirect) will be through the Housing Register (Coventry Homefinder) in accordance with the provisions of the Allocations Scheme as detailed in this Policy. For some applicants, there may be exceptional circumstances that create housing needs which are not recognised in the Coventry Homefinder Policy. In such instances, the Head of Housing and Homelessness or in their absence the Housing Operations Manager or Housing Capacity Manager will have delegated authority to make decisions, as he/she considers appropriate, and these will be fully documented.

Exceptional circumstances may also include the requirement for existing housing stock to be amended or altered to facilitate the needs of the household. This may have specific resource implications.

7.5 Deliberately worsening circumstances

In assessing applications for social housing under this policy, in our decision making we will consider whether you have deliberately made your housing situation worse, either by your own action, an action by a member of your household or inaction, to increase your housing need and consequently improve your changes of re-housing through the register.

If we decide you have made your housing situation worse, you will remain in your original housing need band (before the deliberate action or inaction) for a period of 6 months before your housing needs can be re-assessed. An applicant will have the right to request a review of this decision.

7.6 Notification of decisions and a right to review

Notification of decision and a right to review – the Choice Based Lettings Scheme

Under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 applicants for housing have the right to request a review of certain decision made about their Housing Needs Register application. The review must be undertaken by an officer more senior to the one who made the original decision.

The following are examples of decisions that can be of reviewed under this Policy;

  • the decision that an applicant is not eligible to join the Register.
  • the decision that an applicant does not qualify to join the Register.
  • the housing need band assessment.
  • the decision to cancel and remove an application from the Register.
  • the decision to place an application in the reduced preference band.  the decision for an application to remain in the reduced preference band following a change of circumstances request from the applicant.
  • the decision that an applicant has deliberately worsened their circumstances band following a change of circumstances request from the applicant.
  • the facts that have or likely to be taken into account when considering making an offer of housing.

Coventry Homefinder will notify the applicant via the Coventry Homefinder system of any decisions that are made concerning an applicant’s eligibility, qualifying requirements and housing need band assessment. The notification to the applicant of the decision will also contain details regarding their rights to request a review if they disagree with the decision made.

The following procedures will be used in administering the review process:

  1. Applicants will be notified that they will have 28 days in which to request a review from the date of the notification of the decision.
  2. Requests for a review should be made in writing (including email) by the applicant or a person nominated by the applicant in writing as acting on their behalf; the applicant should provide details and further independent information to support their disagreement with the decision that has been made.
  3. The review will be considered on the basis of Coventry City Council’s Choice Based Lettings Scheme and the application of the criteria for eligibility and qualifying; the priorities included in the scheme and the categories of accommodation defined in the policy; and any additional information the applicant is able to provide that may be relevant to the decision being made.
  4. Reviews will be completed, with a full written response to the applicant detailing the outcome of the review within 56 days. In exceptional circumstances, the applicant will be notified of any extension to this deadline and the reasons for this.

Notification of decision and a right to review – the offer of housing

Where an applicant has ‘bid’ and has subsequently been skipped for that property, the applicant has a right to raise a complaint through the housing providers’ complaint process if they believe it was unreasonable for their bid to be skipped with the outcome of no offer being made.

The applicant is required to make written representation to the Housing provider within 28 days of them being skipped for the property; The applicant would expect to receive a response within 56 days of the complaint being raised.

7.7 Complaints

A request for a review is in effect an appeal against a decision which has been made with which you do not agree. A complaint is different – it is an expression of dissatisfaction with the level of service received, or the way it was provided.

Coventry City Council’s complaints procedures should be followed if an applicant is not happy with the level of service provided by the Coventry Homefinder Team. Details of the Council’s Complaints procedure are available on request.

The Registered Provider’s own complaints procedure should be followed if an applicant is not happy with the way that the landlord has dealt with their application relating to:

  • The advertisement of a property.
  • The decision as to whether to accept the Council’s nomination.
  • The decision as to whether to allocate a property to the applicant.

Details of each Registered Provider’s complaints procedures are available on request from the appropriate provider.

These procedures are available when an applicant feels that errors or omissions have been made in the way that their application has been administered. They are not intended to provide further reviews of decisions that have been taken – this is dealt with under the review process described in section 7.6

7.8 Monitoring and changes to the policy

To ensure that the aims of this Policy are met and that overall, priority for accommodation is given to applicants in the reasonable preference categories set out in legislation, robust monitoring will be carried out to monitor lettings outcomes. The impact of the Policy will be monitored to ensure lettings are fair, transparent and in accordance with the allocations scheme, to ensure that the system is accessible to all, and does not discriminate on the grounds of: race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief.

The day to day operation of the choice-based lettings scheme will be monitored by the Council’s Housing and Homelessness Service in conjunction with Partner Registered Provider staff who have responsibility for letting properties.

The Strategic oversight and co-ordination of this policy will be undertaken by the Coventry Homefinder Steering Group who will meet quarterly for the first year of policy and at least twice a year in subsequent years. The Homefinder Steering Group will include representatives from:

  • Coventry City Council
  • Citizen
  • Midland Heart
  • Orbit Heart of England
  • Advice Services Coventry (Welfare Reform Working Together Group)

Reviews of this policy may be undertaken by the Council when required and in response to any updates required to reflect changes to administration of the choice-based lettings scheme, for example any change in IT Provider.

Further public consultation will take place if any additional significant changes are proposed in future due to changes in legislation and/or national guidance. The changes would also be subject to Cabinet approval.

7.9 Information sharing, confidentiality and data protection

Section 166(4) of the Housing Act 1996 prohibits housing authorities from divulging to other members of the public that a person is an applicant for social housing, unless they have the applicant’s consent.

We collect your personal information for the following purposes: To process and assess your application in order to deliver the service to you; To share with housing associations who may allocate you properties; To comply with the Housing Act for the allocation of social housing; The prevention and detection of crime; To conduct appropriate checks e.g. former tenancies, criminal convictions.

The legal basis for processing your personal information is: processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest.

For this service: We may make automated decisions about you in respect of banding for your application in regards to housing allocation.

Personal information will be shared internally within Council and with Coventry Homefinder Partner Organisations (Registered Providers) for the purposes of shortlisting and allocation of a property under this Policy.

In addition, information may also be shared with other organisations to make sure that it is correct or ask other organisations to share information with us to help us to understand your housing, personal health or family situation. Where you have had involvement with these services this may include: GP; Probation Services, Current/ Previous landlord, substance misuse or mental health services; Social Services; The Police; Support Services you have told us you are engaged with.

The details provided by applicants will be used in connection with their Homefinder application and for research, analysis and statistical purposes regarding the need for and future development of housing in Coventry.

We will only keep your personal information for as long as the law specifies or where the law does not specify this, for the length of time determined by our business requirements.

There may be circumstances where Coventry City Council is required to make disclosures to other organisations (for example, law enforcement agencies) if there is a valid and lawful reason. Information will not be released to other organisations that are not part of the Coventry Homefinder Partnership unless they are entitled to it by law, to safeguard public safety, or in risk of harm or emergency situations Only the minimum information for the purpose will be shared. Locata currently has a contract with Coventry City Council to host the Web-based system that holds the information that applicants provide.

For more information as to how your personal data is handled, please refer to the Homefinder Privacy Notice

7.10 Contact Details (Homefinder and partner Registered Providers)

The Coventry Homefinder Team can be contacted:

  • By Phone on 024 7683 4024
  • By writing to Coventry Homefinder - Coventry City Council PO Box 15 Council House Coventry CV1 5RR
  • By emailing [email protected]
  • Customers who have already made an application can log into their account and use the online messaging system.

Please note: Changes to contact details, household or circumstances must be updated by the applicant. This is done by following the instructions in Section 7.1

Contact details for Coventry Homefinder Partners

Contact details for Coventry Homefinder Partners
Organisation Address Telephone number
Coventry Homefinder Customer Service Centre, 3 Upper Precinct, CV1 1FS
www.coventry.gov.uk/housing
024 7683 4024
Accord Housing Association 178 Birmingham Road, West Bromwich,
West Midlands B70 6QG
https://accordgroup.org.uk/
0300 111 7000
Bromford Group 1 Exchange Court
Brabourne Avenue, Wolverhampton Business Park
Wolverhampton, WV10 6AU
https://www.bromford.co.uk/
0330 1234 034
Citizen 4040 Lakeside, Solihull Parkway
Birmingham B37 7YN
0300 790 6555
Clarion Gee Business Centre
Holborn Hill, Aston, Birmingham, B7 5JR
https://www.myclarionhousing.com/
0300 500 8000

Midland Heart Housing Association
20 Bath Row, Birmingham, B15 1LZ
www.midlandheart.org.uk
0345 6020540
Nehemiah UCHA 1-3 Beacon Court,
Birmingham Road, Great Barr, Birmingham, B43 6NN
www.nehemiah-ucha.co.uk
0121 358 0966
Optivo 41 Poplar Road, Kings Heath,
Birmingham, B14 7AA
https://www.optivo.org.uk/
0800 121 60 60

Orbit (Heart of England) Housing Association
Garden Court, Harry Weston Road,
Binley Business Park, Coventry, CV3 2SU
www.orbit.org.uk
0800 678 1221
Starley Housing Co-operative 17A Starley Road, Coventry, CV1 3JU
www.starleyhousing.org.uk
024 7622 3111
Stonewater Limited Suite C, Lancaster House
Grange Business Park, Enderby Road, Whetstone, Leicester, LE8 6EP
www.stonewater.org
01202 319119

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