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Allocations and lettings Policy

1. Purpose

This policy describes the different ways in which we let our homes. The objectives of this policy are to:

  • Meet local housing need and prevent homelessness by working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies
  • Create sustainable tenures and contribute to the development of stable communities by effectively and responsibly letting homes
  • Make the process of letting our properties as efficient and transparent as possible
  • Enable mobility for residents by facilitating transfers

Information about how we let market and intermediate market rent properties, key worker accommodation and temporary housing properties can be found in appendices 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

As a major social landlord we need to understand and address the housing and related needs of our residents in the communities where we operate. We ensure that no one applying for accommodation is discriminated against or treated less favourably than any other person because of a protected characteristic.

2. Definitions

Allocation refers to how we decide the suitability of a property for an applicant.

Letting refers to the process whereby we let a property.

Social housing refers to properties let at a sub-market rent.

Affordable rent is a social rent product charging up to 80% of market rent.

Social Sector Size Criteria refers to Government rules for the size of accommodation that Housing Benefit will cover.

1. Access to accommodation

Access to housing is largely managed with partners using nomination agreements, referral arrangements or choice based lettings schemes. We work with our partners to verify any information given by applicants to ensure that our housing is allocated and let according to the appropriate priorities.

1.1 Nomination agreements

Nomination agreements are an arrangement whereby a certain proportion of homes provided by a housing association are allocated to applicants (nominations) proposed by another body, such as a local authority, for the purpose of an offer of housing.

We are committed to working with local authorities in order to assist them with their statutory duties in relation to the homeless and those in priority need. We work with partners and agencies to reach an agreement on the proportion of empty homes to be offered to nominations. This proportion varies according to local arrangements.

We also work with partners to enable move-on accommodation for applicants living in supported accommodation.

1.2 Choice based lettings (CBL)

CBL refers to a way of letting homes which allows applicants living in certain local authorities, including existing tenants who want to transfer, to apply for accommodation. Applicants are awarded a banding through the use of ‘priority banding’, which prioritises applicants with an urgent need to move. Applicants can see the full range of available properties, which are advertised widely, and can bid for any home to which they are matched.

We continue to meet obligations under nomination agreements where they exist.

1.3 Referral arrangements with specialist agencies

A number of properties are made available to referral agencies with which we have an agreement. Agreements are made with both voluntary and statutory agencies in order to help residents with particular needs to secure housing. Agencies include homeless charities, domestic abuse support programmes, local health authorities, social services, adult social care and police.

The most effective route for households applying for social housing is through the local authority housing register. However, for some of our schemes we also operate an open waiting list or direct access.

1.4 Alternative letting routes

Some of our properties are let in accordance with alternative letting routes (e.g. Housing Moves). Any additional criteria for people applying through this route are clearly set out when the property is advertised.

1.5 Re-lets

Some nomination agreements set out a proportion of properties that we have the right to offer to existing tenants transferring to another home. We use these properties to accommodate the following:

  • Tenants who have an urgent need to move on medical grounds
  • Tenants moving to independent living from supported housing
  • Households who are overcrowded or under-occupied
  • To support balances and sustainable communities through a local lettings plan (see 2.3)
  • Management transfers (see 4.1) and direct offers (see 4.2)
  • Decants. This is where there is an urgent need to move an existing tenant because of major works or to allow for the redevelopment of the scheme. Further information is provided in our decant policy.

We advertise these homes, with the exception of direct offers, through CBL.

2. Eligible applicants

We seek to provide housing for those who are not adequately served by the commercial housing market. Our aim is to let our homes to those in most need. All applicants must meet our eligibility criteria set out below.

We follow all current legal and regulatory requirements in assessing applications from people subject to immigration control.

2.1 Eligibility criteria (new customers)

Applicants must:

  • have a housing need
  • be over 18 years of age, however we will house 16 or 17 year olds where they have a guarantor in place or the service is contracted to work with them
  • have leave to remain in the UK and recourse to public funds and not be subject to immigration control or be a European Economic Area (EEA) national exercising their treaty rights
  • not own their home or their own residential accommodation elsewhere
  • not hold another tenancy elsewhere
  • not currently be serving a custodial sentence
  • have not been previously evicted breach of tenancy from a Genesis property, including anti-social behaviour, non-payment of rent or charges, tenancy fraud or misrepresentation.
  • not known to have or members of their household are known to have caused serious anti- social behaviour e.g. have been evicted or convicted due to antisocial behaviour.
  • not have outstanding debts to Genesis Housing Association as a result of failure to pay rent, court costs, rechargeable repairs or any other debt
  • be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy and manage risk, with support where required, including afford to pay the rent
  • be nominated, or bid, for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard

2.2 Local lettings plan

We introduce local lettings plans to address housing management issues and to help develop a sustainable community in a specific area. We adopt tailored eligibility criteria for these lets, which take into account the needs of a defined area in terms of building a balanced and sustainable community, rather than concentrating on meeting housing needs alone.

Where we adopt a local lettings plan, we consult with partner organisations including the local authority(ies) to ensure that the plan reasonably balances the competing demands of local housing need and the desire to address the specific issues in the locality. Local lettings plans are regularly reviewed to ensure that they continue to meet the initial aims.

2.3 Sensitive lettings

Where there has been a housing management issue at a specific property we may decide to treat the letting of that property as a sensitive let. Rather than concentrating on housing needs alone, we take into account other factors, such as support needs, when determining if an applicant is eligible to apply and the property is suitable.

By carrying out a sensitive let, we allocate the property to the most appropriate, priority applicant. Details of any sensitive let are fully recorded on housing management files.

2.4 Eligibility criteria (existing customers)

A transfer applicant must:

  • have a housing need
  • be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy in the new home, with support where required, including afford to pay rent
  • have no outstanding debts to Genesis, including rent, court costs or charges
  • be an assured, secure or fixed term tenant
  • have maintained the property in good condition
  • have complied with the terms of their tenancy
  • to apply for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard

In exceptional cases, we consider requests to transfer where a tenant does not fulfil the criteria set out here. Exceptions for tenants with rent arrears or facing legal action are considered through our management transfer process.

2.5 Household members

Eligible household members include a person who is included as part of the household on the original tenancy file or is recorded as being added to the household (e.g. children).

We investigate and verify applications where intentional overcrowding has occurred. We expect potential adult household members to supply evidence that the tenancy address is their main and principal home. We reserve the right to determine the appropriate property size for applications that include additional household members.

3. Transfers

We consider transfer requests from tenants who wish to move from their current home because it is no longer suitable for their needs. Some residents do not have the right to transfer, including licensees and assured shorthold tenants.

3.1 Management transfers

A management transfer can be requested by a tenant who requires a move due to a serious housing management issue, domestic violence, harassment or severe financial hardship. An offer of accommodation is made through CBL.

We assess each case on its merit and must be satisfied that problems causing the transfer request will be alleviated by a move to a new home. We request evidence of any risk through reports provided by external agencies, such as the police, the GP or social services. We award priority banding based on the evidence provided and our assessment of the case. Where a transfer is granted due to domestic abuse and the perpetrator and victim of domestic abuse are joint tenants, we offer a new tenancy to the victim and seek possession of the property.

We regularly review all management transfers after they are approved to confirm that the tenant’s circumstances remain the same and they still require priority status.

3.2 Direct offers

In cases where a tenant faces an imminent risk by remaining in their home, and has provided evidence of this, we make a reasonable direct offer. A direct offer is a single offer of an available property made directly to the tenant, not through CBL. A reasonable offer is one that alleviates the imminent risk to the household by moving them to a different location.

The direct offer and the property the tenant moves from will be like-for-like, with the same number of bedrooms. We do not consider housing circumstances such as overcrowding when making a direct offer. In cases where, due to unavailability, we have been unable to find a like-for-like property within three months, we consider offering a similar property.

We only make one direct offer. Where a tenant refuses a reasonable direct offer, we consider whether the transfer request can be dealt with as a management transfer.

3.3 Under-occupation

We recognise that the welfare reforms and the size criteria adversely affect some of our tenants and may lead to financial hardship. We support tenants to move to accommodation most appropriate to their needs and financial circumstances.

3.4 Transfer applicants with no priority need

We do not consider transfer requests from tenants who do not present a priority need. We offer tenants who have no priority need advice about appropriate housing options including mutual exchange, London Housing Moves, shared ownership and market rent opportunities.

4. Tenancy type and rent level

4.1 Fixed term tenancy

Applicants who have not held a tenancy before are issued with a five year fixed term tenancy. Existing customers and customers from another landlord transferring to a property advertised as a fixed term tenancy will retain their security of tenure, where their original tenancy was granted before 1 April 2012 e.g. periodic assured tenancy for life.

4.2 Affordable rent property

Where the property is being let at an affordable rent, the applicant is offered the property at that rent, except in the following circumstances, where the applicant:

  • has been accepted as a band A urgent medical need
  • has been given decant status
  • has been given management transfer status
  • has been made a direct offer
  • is under occupying their property and wishes to downsize

5. Property allocation criteria

When allocating a property, we take into account the household size of the applicant, the support needs of the applicant and the type of property being let to determine whether the property is suitable for the applicant.

5.1 Bedroom size

When allocating homes we observe Part X of the Housing Act 1985 in relation to statutory overcrowding. We take account of the number, and floor area, of rooms available for sleeping, and allocate properties to the appropriate sized household.

5.2 Bedroom standard

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 included the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) social sector size criteria, which introduced housing benefit reductions for working age tenants who are considered to be under-occupying their homes. Our allocation criteria reflect the social sector size criteria. We allow for one bedroom for each person (single adult) or couple living as a household and an extra bedroom for:

  • any other person aged 16 years or over
  • two children of the same gender under the age of 16
  • two children who are under the age of 10 regardless of gender
  • a child or adult who requires overnight care from a non-resident carer
  • a child or adult who is unable to share a bedroom because of disability
  • a foster child where the resident is an approved foster carer, whether they have a child placed with them or not (as long as they have been approved or had a placement in the last 12 months).

5.3 Adapted properties

In line with our policy on adaptations, properties which have been specially adapted for use by those with disabilities are, wherever possible, re-cycled to a resident with a disability or a support need to ensure best use of stock.

5.4 Affordability

All applicants are required to undergo an affordability assessment to ensure that the rent is affordable. We aim to meet the objective that no household should pay in excess of 40% of their net household income on housing costs (rent including other charges owed to Genesis). Whilst we accept that this may not be achieved in all cases, where a household will be paying in excess of 40% of their net household income, the property is considered unaffordable unless the applicant can demonstrate through the affordability assessment the ability to meet their financial obligations, to sustain rent payments and meet other essential living costs.

5.5 Tenancy support

We aim to create sustainable tenancies. Where appropriate we carry out needs assessments to identify who may require additional assistance to at the start of their tenancy to establish a new home. By offering this support we aim to reduce the incidence of failed tenancies and subsequent homelessness.

Support may be provided by us or by referral to partner support agencies. Such support is not exclusive to new residents and can be available to residents at times throughout the tenancy where support needs arise that impact on the management or sustainment of a tenancy.

6. Accepting and refusing applicants

We seek to let our homes in a responsible manner. We want to create sustainable tenancies and communities and avoid establishing tenancies that will fail. We may refuse to let a property where an applicant is unable to demonstrate their ability to manage their tenure or where the applicant needs a level of support which we or another provider cannot facilitate. Where we refuse an offer of accommodation we give clear reasons why.

6.1 Nominations and referrals

We request and accept nominations from our partners in accordance with nomination agreements and the eligibility criteria set out within this policy. Each nomination is carefully considered before an offer of housing is made in order to ensure that the property is suitable for the proposed occupier. We may need to request additional information from the nominating local authority, statutory agency or housing association to support a nomination. Additional information could include medical evidence, risk assessments, occupational therapist reports, tenancy record from previous landlord and eviction dates (for those facing homelessness).

On some occasions it may be necessary to reject a nomination from a partner organisation or authority. Grounds for rejection vary, but may include submission of inaccurate or insufficient information, unsuitability of property for the applicant’s needs or applicant’s inability to sustain the tenure. We do not take into account factors such as perceived housing management difficulties when deciding to accept or reject a nomination.

We work with the local authority and agencies in cases where the applicant has a history of serious offences, for example: arson, drug use or sexual assault. We have a separate policy covering the housing of serious offenders. This seeks to ensure that everyone has fair and equal access to housing but also to enable us to manage the potential risk posed by serious offenders, and hence protect residents and local communities from offences.

If an applicant refuses an offer of housing we ask them to give their reasons for refusing and record the reasons. These details are included in any reports to nominating partners.

7. Accommodation available for letting and letting standards

We only allocate empty properties that are physically fit for long term human habitation in accordance with our minimum lettings standard, which can be found on our website.

8. Appeals and complaints

A customer can appeal a decision if they are dissatisfied with the way their application, selection, offer or allocation has been handled. Appeals are considered by officers who were not involved in the original decision. If dissatisfied with the appeal decision, customers are advised to follow our complaints process.

9. Confidentiality and information sharing

Information regarding our customers is sensitive and we maintain confidentiality in line with our confidentiality and data protection policies. However, responsible information sharing plays a key role in the letting of our homes. We follow information sharing protocols with local authorities and partners where they are in place.

10. Monitoring and targets

We operate robust monitoring systems to ensure that our lettings service is fair and managed in accordance with regulation and strategic key performance indicators (KPIs).

We work closely with authorities to monitor our nomination arrangements and provide regular lettings data (LA ‘returns’). The monitoring and provision of data may vary between local authorities. We provide standardised data to regulators as necessary, including Continuous Recording of Lettings (CORE) data collection.

We seek feedback from residents once they have moved in to their new home to gauge their satisfaction of the lettings service.

11. Involving customers

We consulted all the customers on our transfer list for feedback about the transfer process. The changes we have made as a result include: closer monitoring of the transfer list to ensure that housing is allocated to those most in need; and an improved void standard. We also consulted our customer scrutiny panel. The main change made in response to their feedback as well as in response to the feedback from transfer applicants was an improved void standard.

12. Diversity and inclusion

We conducted a diversity and inclusion assessment and concluded that this policy does not adversely impact a particular group of customers. It did highlight that we have increased the number of lettings to young adults, and as a result we have updated our affordability assessment procedure to ensure that these customers are aware of the welfare reform changes that may affect them.

To request a copy of the diversity and inclusion assessment, please contact us policy@genesisha.org.uk.

13. Related internal documents

  • Anti-social behaviour policy
  • Domestic abuse policy
  • Hate incidents and hate crime policy
  • Serious offender policy
  • Adaptations policy
  • Tenancy policy
  • Rent setting policy
  • Decants policy
  • Mutual exchange policy

This is not an exhaustive list

14. Legislation, regulation and guidance

The policy takes account of the government’s social housing reforms as set out in the Localism Act 2011 and Welfare Reform Act 2012.

The Localism Act gave local authorities greater discretion to determine who can register for housing.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced measures to reduce the amount of welfare benefit that a household can receive if they are deemed to under occupy a social rented home.

Some of the key pieces of legislation and guidance are:

  • Housing Act 1985
  • Housing Act 1996
  • Local Government Act 2000
  • Homelessness Act 2002
  • Housing Act 2004
  • Equalities Act 2010
  • Housing Regulator’s Tenancy Standard
  • Homes and Communities Affordable Homes Programme Framework 2011-15 Guidance
  • Localism Act 2011
  • Welfare Reform Act 2012

We have a duty under the Housing Act 1996 to co-operate with local authorities, so far as it is reasonable, to offer accommodation to people in priority need under local authority letting schemes.

15. APPENDIX 1 – Market and intermediate market rent properties

We accept direct applications for our market and intermediate market rent lettings.

15.1 Eligibility criteria

We use a nominated referencing agency to ensure all applicants are:

  • able to demonstrate that they have the right to rent in the UK
  • considered to be credit worthy and have the means to pay rent appropriate to the property they would like to rent. If the applicant is unable to provide references, we ask that they pay the entire term of the tenancy in advance.

15.2 Financial Criteria

Applicants must provide a deposit equivalent to six weeks rent which will be protected via the Deposit Protection Service.

15.3 Lettings standard

All our market rent properties are well-maintained apartments that come with a host of high specifications and quality white goods. All feature:

  • quality integrated appliances including a hob/oven, a fridge freezer and a washer/dryer
  • modern kitchen/bathroom

Applicants have the option of paying additional charges for a furnished home. Furniture packs are charged back over 12 months in addition to the monthly rent.

16. APPENDIX 2 – Key worker accommodation

We accept direct applications for our rented accommodation to key workers. If accommodation is not filled by key worker staff, we consider applications from students.

16.1 Eligibility criteria

Applicants must:

  • demonstrate that they have the right to rent in the UK (this is done by an external company and has a charge of £5)
  • provide proof of employment as a key worker or proof of student status
  • not currently serve a custodial sentence
  • not have been previously evicted for a breach of tenancy from a Genesis property, including anti-social behaviour, non-payment of rent or charges, tenancy fraud or misrepresentation.
  • not be known to have or members of their family are known to have caused serious anti- social behaviour
  • not have with outstanding debts to Genesis Housing Association as a result of failure to pay rent, court costs, rechargeable repairs or any other debt

We consider direct applications when we have been unable to let a property within the timescales set out in the agreement with the trust.

16.2 Financial criteria

Trust applicants must:

  • provide proof of income/nomination from a trust and to agree to wage deduction
  • pay a reservations fee, which is deducted from the first month’s rent

Non-trust applicants must:

  • provide a deposit of one month's rent
  • pay a reservations fee, which is deducted from the first month’s rent

16.3 Lettings standard

Most of our accommodation is single-person rooms with shared facilities. All rooms feature:

  • a bed
  • a wardrobe
  • a desk and chair
  • an en-suite bathroom (if no shared bathroom)

17. APPENDIX 3 – Temporary Housing (assured shorthold tenants)

We receive all our applications for temporary housing via the local authority, so applicants must register their interest with them.

17.1 Eligibility criteria

Applicants must:

  • have a housing need
  • be over 18 years of age
  • have leave to remain in the UK and recourse to public funds and not be subject to immigration control or be a European Economic Area (EEA) national exercising their treaty rights
  • not own their home or their own residential accommodation elsewhere
  • not hold another tenancy elsewhere
  • not currently serve a custodial sentence
  • not known to have or members of their household are known to have caused serious anti- social behaviour
  • be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy, including afford to pay the rent
  • be nominated, for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard.

17.2 Lettings standard

Some properties are furnished, and include some or all of the following:

  • fridge
  • a cooker
  • a dining table and chairs
  • a settee or armchair
  • a wardrobe or set of drawers

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