Frequently Asked Questions.

1. About 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 home. 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.

Support and advice is available for applicants who need help and assistance using the scheme. This is available from the organisation who manages the scheme in the local authority area where you live, or if you don't live in the scheme area, the area where you have a local connection. 

2. Why have one scheme for 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 by visiting the homepage of the website.  If you need some help in completing your application, you can contact the organisation who manages the scheme in the area where you live.

4. What proofs do I need to provide?

Before we can assess and activate your application to allow you to bid for properties you will need to provide various documents to enable us to verify your application. Please visit our "What proofs you will need to provide" page for further information.

5. What if I lose my login details?

When you complete your registration with the scheme you will have been issued with your login details. 

If you are unable to locate these details you can retrieve them via the login page on the website as long as you have an email address linked to your account and you have access to this email account. However, if you still require assistance you can contact the organisation who manages your application by referring to the Contact Us Page 

6. How is my application assessed?

Your application will be assessed by one of the scheme administering organisations. Firstly they will assess whether you meet all of the eligibility and qualification criteria to join the scheme. If you do meet these criteria your application will be acticvated and placed in the priority band that reflects your housing need. The assessment takes into consideration the information in your application form as well as any supporting documentation you submit. Property Pool Plus has four priority bands. Please see question ten below for more details.

7. What are the qualification criteria to join the scheme?

The information below provides an overview of the qualification criteria which must be met to join the scheme. Further detail can be found in the policy document. 

  • You will need to have a local connection to the scheme area. See question 20 for information on the local connection rules. 
  • Any 16 or 17 year olds who want to join the scheme must have a “trustee” (someone who is responsible for them). There is an exemption to this rule for young people leaving the care of the Local Authority.
  • People who owe rent on a former property, may not be able to join the scheme. This is where you owe more than one month’s rent or other charges. If you have agreed a repayment plan, then you may be allowed to join the scheme. You must have been paying this for 3 months and must continue to pay these repayments. More information can be found in the policy in section 3.2.6.
  • Anyone who owns a house will not be able to join the scheme. There are times when this does not apply, and more details can be found in section 3.2.9 of the policy.
  • If you have savings of more than £16,000 then you will not be able to join the scheme. There are times when this does not apply, and more details can be found in section 3.2.10 and 3.2.14 of the policy.
  • There are some criteria for unacceptable behaviour and breaking tenancy terms. More details about this can be found in section 3.2.5 and 3.2.7 of the policy.
8. 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.

9. What happens if I become homeless?

You should contact your local council’s Housing Options Service for advice on 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.

10. What is a banding system?

There are four priority bands A - D. The different bands reflect the broad categories of housing need, and individual circumstances. You will be placed in a band which reflects your priority and housing need as determined by the Property Pool Plus allocations policy.

If you have a greater need, you will be in a higher priority band for housing.

11. What priorities do the bands cover? 

An overview of the priority bands is given below.

The more detailed criteria that is in the policy will be used when assessing applications.

Band A – Applications are put in this band when rehousing is urgently needed this is called Additional Preference and includes:

  • The applicant is homeless and in situations when councils must help.  
  • There is a risk to life.
  • Sudden loss of home because of a disaster.
  • Overcrowded by two or more bedrooms.
  • Under occupying social rented housing by two or more bedrooms.
  • Life threatening or terminal medical issue.
  • Leaving a stay in hospital.
  • Local Council Care Leavers.
  • Local Council approved Foster Carers who need to move to a larger home.
  • Armed Forces with a housing need.
  • Bereaved partners of Armed Forces personnel who need to leave accommodation that is only for those who work in the Armed Services.
  • When the applicant’s current home is needed for Regeneration, Compulsory Purchase Order, Local Council approved decant.
  • Housing First programme which gives support and housing to those who are homeless or with health and care needs.

Band B – Applications are put in this band when rehousing is needed this is called Reasonable Preference and includes:

  • When an applicant is Homeless for other reasons than included in Band A.
  • Stopping people becoming homeless.
  • When people are living in unhealthy housing.
  • Overcrowded by one bedroom.
  • Under occupying social rented housing by one bedroom.
  • Medical or welfare reasons.
  • Hardship.

Band C –Other applicants who do not meet the criteria for Bands A or B this is called the General Band.

Band D – Applicants who have refused an allocation of social rented housing the maximum number of times. This includes applicants who have not put a bid on a suitable property on more than three times in 12-months.

12. What if I disagree with a decision about my registration?

If you disagree with a decision about the assessment of your registration you can request a review. Some examples of decisions you can request a review of include:

  • Whether you are eligible to join the scheme due to immigration status;
  • Whether you qualify to join the scheme;
  • The number of bedrooms your household needs;
  • Your priority band assessment; 
  • Removal or review of a priority band;

The request for a review can be made in person, by telephone, by email or in writing within 15 working days from the date of being advised of the decision. This is called a Stage 1 Review. You should send your review request to the organisation that manages your application and who made the decision, their contact details will be on the decision notification letter, or they can be found on the contact us page.

If you disagree with the outcome of the Stage 1 Review you can request a further review of the decision within 15 working days of the date of the notification letter advising of the Stage 1 decision. This is called a stage 2 review. For further detail about the review process please see our Property Pool Plus Policy document. 

13. How will properties be advertised?

The partner landlords advertise most of their available properties on this site. To search for  properties please go to the property search page Property Search  

14. 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.

15. 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. 

16. 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.

17. How often will properties be advertised?

Properties are advertised weekly between Tuesday and midnight on Sunday, new properties are added on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Bids can be made during this time. The bidding cycle is closed on a Monday so that allocations can be made. A new advertising cycle then starts again the following Tuesday

  • Monday = No bidding
  • Tuesday = New advert cycle starts, new properties are advertised
  • Wednesday & Thursday = new property adverts may be added on these days
  • Friday & Saturday = no new properties added, all adverts open for bidding
  • Sunday = no new properties added, all adverts open for bidding until midnight

You can place bids between Tuesday and Sunday, you may consider checking the adverts on Thursday to ensure that you are able to search all properties being advertised each week.

It does not matter what day you place your bid on a property, your eligibility for the property, band and band effective date determines your position on the short list.

Please note that auto-bids are applied after midnight on Sunday, this may change your shortlist position for bids already placed.

18. 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.

19. 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 20 below for a summary of a local connection.

20. How do I demonstrate a local connection?

To be considered as having a local connection you must satisfy one of the following criteria. This gives a brief overview only, more detailed criteria including the exemption criteria is included in the policy document.

Have lived in the scheme area for at least two years.

Have a job in the scheme council area.

Have a close family association (parent / other guardian, 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.

Cre Leavers owed a Duty by the Local Authority who are in education agreed in their pathway plan.

21. 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.

22. 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. However, you need to be realistic about the availability of accommodation through the scheme and you may be moved to Band D if you do not place the required number of bids in any 12 month period.

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

If you are unable to access the internet and have no support to help you bid on properties please contact your administrator for assistance, click here for contact details.

If you are having difficulty using the system, support and assistance is available such as auto bidding for vulnerable customers and proxy bidding by agreement with your administrator. 

24. 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 then band eligibility date, for example applicants in band A will be listed first, followed by those in bands B, C and D in that order.

Some properties however will be advertised to applicants meeting particular criteria, in these situations applicants meeting the specific criteria will be given preference. Examples where this may happen include:

  • To make best use of a particular type of property such as a property that is accessible and adapted for a disabled person.
  • Where a property is under a Local Lettings Scheme to achieve a housing management or policy objective, such as creating a mixed or sustainable community.

Please note, that your position in the queue can change throughout the bidding cycle as other applicants either place or withdraw a bid. For this reason we encourage applicants to only check their position in the queue on a Monday morning once the cycle has closed and the shortlist confirms your final position.

The relevant advertising landlord will contact you directly if you are successful, Property Pool Plus do not allocate properties and are unable to advise if you have been successful or when you will hear. Please direct all enquiries about specific properties to the advertising landlord.

25. 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 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.

Consideration will also be given as to whether you can demonstrate affordability.

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

26. 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
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bids
  • Band
  • Band effective date
  • Number of Years/months

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

27. 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 customer’s 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.

Please be aware that auto-bids are applied after midnight on Sunday, this may change your shortlist position for bids already placed.

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

28. What is an Exchange?

Visit the Mutual Exchange page

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 Landlord or use Shelter's tenancy checker:

29. 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 applicaiotn being moved to Band D for 12 months. Full details are included in section 5.1.5 of the scheme policy.

30. 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. see contact details for partners