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Propertypool Plus

Frequently asked questions

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

1.               What is Choice Based Lettings?

 

Choice Based Lettings (CBL) or Property Pool Plus as it is known in Merseyside* is a system used by Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, and Wirral councils and over 20 housing associations to advertise and let their vacant properties.

 

The housing associations advertise their available vacancies every week through Property Pool Plus.

 

The Property Pool Plus scheme offers increased choice allowing applicants who are looking for affordable housing to see what vacant properties are available, and express an interest in selecting a suitable new home. Property Pool Plus informs applicants what priority banding they have, based on the urgency of their need to move from their current property. Properties are advertised and applicants are invited to place a bid (express an interest). The system then puts people into priority order for the property they have bid for, based on their priority band and application date.

 

Property Pool Plus lets applicants take part in a number of different ways, including the internet, texting, telephone, through their TV (Virgin Media and Sky customers) and by visiting a local housing office or One Stop Shop.

 

Support and advice is available for applicants who need help and assistance  using the scheme.

 

 

2.            Why Introduce Property Pool Plus across the Merseyside* sub region?

 

Property Pool Plus has brought together a large pool of available properties, offering more choice for applicants.  Property Pool Plus gives you an active role in choosing a new home that is right for you. Property Pool Plus has one application form, one list of applicants, one allocations policy and a shared IT system across all partners. This approach offers you an accessible and consistent service. You can apply for vacancies across all five council areas although your application may receive a different priority in each area.

 

 

3.            How do I apply to Property Pool Plus?

 

By completing an application form. You can do this online at https://www.propertypoolplus.org.uk/Data/ASPPages/1/1119.aspx or by completing a paper copy of the form available from housing association offices or One Stop Shops. If you need some help in filling in the form, you can visit or telephone your local Administering Scheme Partner in the area where you live or visit your local One Stop Shop.

 

 

4.            How is my application assessed?

 

Your application form will be looked at by a Scheme Partner and placed in the priority band that reflects your housing need. Property Pool Plus has six priority bands. Please see question nine below for more details.

 

 

5.            What if someone in my household has a medical condition?

 

If someone in your household has a medical condition you will be asked to provide details which will be assessed in accordance with the scheme policy. This may result in a higher band being awarded. You can continue to choose which properties to bid for but you must be mindful of your condition, for example you should not bid for houses if your medical priority has been awarded due to an inability to manage stairs.

 

 

6.            What happens if I have a history of anti-social behaviour or rent arrears?

 

In cases of serious unacceptable behaviour such as anti-social behaviour or rent arrears you may be excluded from Property Pool Plus or be given reduced preference and placed in Band F. To have your preference and Band status reviewed, you will need to provide evidence that this behaviour has changed for example if you have current or former rent arrears it is important that you make and keep to an agreement to reduce your arrears. The Administering Scheme Landlord will let you know if this warrants a change to your status.

 

 

7.            What happens if I become homeless?

You should contact your local council to arrange an interview to discuss your circumstances. They will work with you to try to prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your housing options with you. You may still bid for properties through Property Pool Plus, providing your application has been accepted on the housing register but it may be possible to prevent homelessness through alternative solutions.

 

 

8.            What is a banding system?

 

There are six priority bands A - F. The different bands reflect the broad categories of housing need, from very high to very low. You will be placed in a band which reflects your priority and housing need. If you have a greater need, you will be in a higher priority band for housing.

 

 

9.            What priorities do the bands cover? 

 

An outline of the banding reasons is set out below. This is not an exhaustive list and more information around banding can be found in the allocations scheme policy which can be viewed at https://www.propertypoolplus.org.uk/NovaWeb/Infrastructure/ViewLibraryDocument.aspx?ObjectID=1116

 

Band

Reason for housing need

 

Band A

Urgent priority

 

Health / Welfare (urgent)

Statutory homeless (unintentionally with priority need)

Regeneration

Overcrowded (two or more bedrooms)

 

Band B

High priority

 

Health / Welfare (high) including

  1. Care leavers
  2. People ready to move on from supported accommodation
  3. Members of the Armed Forces within three months of discharge
  4. Living in social housing where adaptations are no longer needed

Overcrowded (one bedroom)

Disrepair

Under occupation

 

Band C

Medium priority 

Health / Welfare (medium) including

  1. People whose relationship has broken down

Homeless (no priority need)

Homeless (intentional with priority need)

Living with family and friends or separated households

Band D

Low priority

 

No assessed need and in employment

Band E

No priority

 

No assessed need and not in employment

 

Band F

Reduced priority

 

Reduced preference status due to unacceptable behaviour; or

rent arrears

 

 

10.         How will properties be advertised?

 

The partner landlords advertise most of their available properties online at https://www.propertypoolplus.org.uk/Data/ASPPages/1/3.aspx.  Printed newsletters are also available at a range of local housing offices or One Stop Shops and buildings across the partnership. Newsletters are available in large print.

 

 

11.         Will all properties be advertised?

 

Most properties are advertised. Some are not and are allocated directly (these are known as direct lettings) in the event of an emergency situation, for example for victims of fire or flood, or where a sensitive allocation is required.

 

 

12.      What is an ‘Available now’ property?

 

‘Available now’ properties are properties that are available for immediate let. You do not have to bid for these properties and therefore do not have to wait until the end of the bidding cycle to find out if you have been successful. If you are interested in applying for this type of property all you need to do is contact the landlord whose details will be in the advert. If you meet the criteria in the advert and you have registered with Property Pool Plus and your application has been approved a viewing will be arranged. 

 

 

13.         What do you mean by ‘bid’?

 

A bid is an expression of interest, a way of telling us that you wish to be considered for one or more vacant properties that are being advertised. You will only be considered for properties if you actively bid. This is where Property Pool Plus is different from traditional waiting lists where you apply and wait to receive an offer.

 

 

14.         How often will properties be advertised?

 

Properties are advertised weekly from a Tuesday until 12 midnight on the following Sunday. Bids can be made during this time. The bidding cycle is closed on a Monday so that new properties can be added to the system by staff and allocations can be made. A new advertising cycle then starts again on a Tuesday.

 

Mon

Tues

Weds

Thurs

Fri

Sat

Sun

Mon

Tues

Weds

Thurs

Fri

Sat

Sun

No bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

No bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

Bid

 

 

 

15.         Will I be eligible for all of the properties advertised?

 

No. This is because some properties will only be available for some groups of people, for example properties designed for older people will be identified to show that only people over a particular age can apply. You will also only be able to bid for properties which meet your bedroom requirements. The property adverts will state the criteria of people who will be considered. The scheme will usually tell you if you are ineligible to bid for a particular property.

 

 

16.         Will I be able to bid for properties in other local authority areas?

 

Yes, all applicants are able to bid for properties across the different council areas but you will normally only have a housing priority in the area that you live in, unless you can also demonstrate a local connection to one or more of the other local authorities. Please see point 17 below for a summary of a local connection.

 

 

17.         How do I demonstrate a local connection?

 

To be considered as having a local connection you must satisfy one of the following criteria.

 

Have lived in the scheme council area for six months out of the last 12 months or three years out of the last five years.

Have a permanent job in the scheme council area.

Have a close family association (parent, adult child or adult brother or sister) who is currently living in the scheme council area and have done so for more than five years.

Have a need to be in a specific scheme council area to be near to a particular health facility for long term treatment.

Have a need to be in a specific scheme council area to give or receive caring support.

 

 

18.         Will this mean that people from outside my area could take all the properties?

 

No.  A maximum of 5% of all properties advertised through the scheme will be let to applicants coming from other local authority areas.

 

 

19.         Will accessible properties be advertised for people with disabilities?

 

Yes. Vacant properties that have previously been adapted for a disabled person are advertised through Property Pool Plus, and people assessed as needing this type of housing will be given preference.

 

 

20.         How many bids can I place?

 

You can bid for a maximum of three properties in each weekly cycle. When you place a bid the system will show how many other applicants have already bid for the property and your queue position for that property. You can change your bids at any point while the weekly bidding cycle is open and you should only place bids on properties that you are interested in.  If there are no properties that you like that week then you do not have to place any bids except for Homeless (Band A) applicants who are expected to bid for suitable properties.

 

 

21.         What if I don’t have access to the internet or have difficulty in bidding for properties?

 

Free internet access is available in many local libraries and is available in many partner landlord offices and council One Stop Shops. Properties are advertised on a weekly cycle in the form of an advert and newsletter and are available in a range of offices. Weekly advert sheets can be posted or e-mailed to those who cannot access the adverts any other way.

 

You can also

 

Call 0300 777 3022. This supports multiple languages if English is not your first language.

Text to 07537 402 602 (Type your membership number [space] memorable date [space] property reference number (e.g. 1234567 01/01/1971 101). Text bids will be charged at your normal network rate).

Use your TV if you are a Virgin Media or Sky subscriber. Go to Community Channel 233 for Virgin Media or Community Channel 539 if you are a Sky subscriber.

Visit your Scheme Partner office or council One Stop Shop

Telephone your Administering Scheme Partner’s Customer Access Centre who can place a bid on your behalf.

 

If you have difficulty using the system, support and assistance is available such as auto bidding for vulnerable customers and proxy bidding by agreement with your Administering Scheme Partner for recognised support workers. See question 25 below.

 

  

22.         How will people be selected for the properties?

 

A shortlist, which is a list of applicants that have placed bids on each property advertised, is produced when the weekly cycle closes. Property Pool Plus will put applicants in order of the criteria identified in each of the adverts. Usually this will be priority banding and date, for example applicants in band A will be listed first, followed by those in bands B, C, D, E and F in that order. Some properties however will be advertised to applicants in a particular band, in which case applicants in that band would be listed first for that particular property.

 

 

23.         If I am first on the shortlist will I receive an offer?

 

In some situations a property will not be offered to the highest ranked

applicant who has expressed a preference for it. Short listed applicants may

be bypassed for a number of reasons such as:

 

If your  household details do not match the household criteria set out in the advert.

If you bid for a property that does not meet your specified health needs.

If further information identifies that you owe money to any housing association, local authority or private landlord due to rent arrears, damage, costs through abandonment or any other identified housing related costs.

If further information identifies that you or a member of your household has committed serious anti social behaviour.

If you are a council or housing association tenant and your current property is considered to be in a state of significant disrepair or neglect and there is evidence that disrepair, neglect or damage to the property has been directly caused by you or a member of your household.

If your position on the shortlist is due to your employment and this status has changed.

 If your position on the shortlist is due to your local connection with an area and this has changed.

If you have already bid for another property and this has been offered to you.

If you have been matched to another property.

If the property is adapted and you do not need those specific adaptations.

If no response has been received when you have been contacted by telephone or letter, despite reasonable efforts.

If your family is considered to be too small to fully occupy the property and there are other applicants on the shortlist who would fully occupy the property.

If you are applying for a property in another local authority area and that local authority or Scheme Partner has already let 5% of its stock to applicants outside of its local authority area.

 

Consideration will also be given as to whether you can demonstrate affordability under welfare reform changes. Further information on welfare reform changes can be found here.

 

The above list is not exhaustive. If you are bypassed you can request a review of the decision.

 

24.         Will the results of lettings be published?

 

Yes.  We publish the letting results on the website and the information is available at housing offices or One Stop Shops, but will not contain any personal information of any of the applicants.

 

 

For every advert the results will show

 

Area

Property Reference

Address

Property type

Bedrooms

Number of bids

Band

Effective Date

Number of years/ months

 

On the website you can also search for the results for particular types of property.

 

 

25.         What is auto bidding?

 

Some customers may be deemed vulnerable due to a physical disability, learning disability, illness, language difficulty or for any other reason that may make it harder for them to participate in the Scheme.

 

Auto bidding is a facility for vulnerable customers who require help to bid for available housing. Auto bids are placed on a customers behalf, they will need to have selected a preference for an area or a specific sheltered housing scheme. For example, if they require a two bed house or flat in the Prescot or Whiston areas of Knowsley, when such properties become available up to three bids each week will be placed on their behalf. Or if they have a preference to live in Orrell Lodge sheltered scheme in Bootle and are eligible for a one bedroom sheltered housing flat, when such a flat becomes available an auto bid is placed on their behalf.

 

If you wish to set up auto bidding please contact your Administering Scheme Partner.

 

 

26.         What is Home Swap Direct?

 

The Government's national Home Swap Direct scheme will make it easier for tenants living in a council or housing association home to find a new property in another part of the country.

 

Home Swap Direct will mean that for the first time there will be a system in place across the whole of the UK, meaning that tenants looking to move, whether for a job, to be near family or to a property better suited to their needs, will be able to see all the available homes across the whole of the UK, not just those on the website subscribed to by their current landlord.

 

All council tenants with a secure tenancy have the right to swap their home, subject to certain rules. Housing association tenants with assured tenancies generally have the right to swap unless their tenancy agreement prevents it. The tenant may have to pay a fee to access contact details for matches. If you're in any other position, it's up to your landlord to decide whether or not you can swap. If your landlord has given you the right to swap in a contract you've signed, they can't stop you swapping without good reason. If you're unsure what type of tenancy you have, contact your local council or housing association or use Shelter's tenancy checker.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/downloads_and_tools/tenancy_checker

 

 

27.         What happens if I have refused a reasonable offer?

 

To make sure  applicants only bid for properties in which they are genuinely interested, and in order to be as fair as possible to all applicants, the number of reasonable offers an applicant can refuse is limited. When the limit is reached, a review of their application and priority will be undertaken, which may result in their entry date being amended to the date of the last refusal. However, if their circumstances have changed their Band may  also be changed. Full details are included in section 6.5 of the scheme policy.

 

The landlord making the offer will be responsible for deciding whether or not the reason for refusing an offer is considered to be reasonable except for Homeless (Band A) offers where special rules apply to reflect the law.

 

 

28.         If I have a complaint who do I contact?

 

A list of the contact details can be found on the website. Each Scheme Partner operates a complaint process – please refer to their individual website or contact offices.

 

 

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