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revised Housing Allocations Policy (Word) - Newham

By Leslie Flores,2014-09-28 05:29
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revised Housing Allocations Policy (Word) - Newham

    THE LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM’S ALLOCATION POLICY

    General Introduction and Statement about Discretion

    This Allocation Policy document sets out in detail the Council‘s general policies relating to the allocation of social housing and the procedures and processes used by officers to implement those policies.

    To ensure fairness, the policies described in the document are applied consistently.

    The individual circumstances of each applicant are considered in every case using the information provided by the applicant on their Housing Registration Form and subsequently upon any requests for additional information that may result from the answers that the applicant gives.

    The policy allows for any provision to be considered and waived in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the appropriate senior officer with delegated authority (as stated in the Department‘s Scheme of Delegations). This would normally require a full report of the circumstances of the individual case to be prepared by a senior housing officer for the consideration of the delegated officer (currently the Head of Housing Needs).

Section Title Page No

Section A Who Qualifies for Housing

Section B Direct Offers Choice Based Lettings and Tenants Seeking Transfers

Section C Reasonable Offers

    Section D Maintenance of the Housing Register

    Section E Void Process and Offers of Accommodation

    Section F Compensation Payments Available on Re-Housing

Section G Medical Assessments

Section H Alternative Housing Options

Section I Rights of Review

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SECTION A: WHO QUALIFIES FOR HOUSING or RE-HOUSING

1. Who can register on the Allocation Scheme?

    1.1 Persons over 18 years of age and who have been living in Newham for 2 years continuously

    prior to registration, or with a strong local connection with Newham (as described below) can

    normally be registered on the Housing Register, subject to some of the exceptions and

    restrictions listed below and other exceptions in paragraph 12 of Section B of this policy.

2. Local Connection Rules

    2.1 People registering on the Housing Register who live outside Newham, where they have a strong

    local connection with Newham can be considered in the same way as applicants who live in the

    Newham.

2.2 ‗Local connection‘ applies when at least one of the following conditions is met:

    (a) The applicant has employment in Newham

    (b) The applicant has close relatives who presently live in Newham and who have lived in

    Newham for at least 5 years. (Close relatives are defined as parents, children,

    brothers and sisters.)

    (c) The applicant is a Newham tenant living in one of Newham‘s out of borough estates at

    Brentwood, Rainham or Aldersbrook.

    (d) The applicant is owed a duty by Newham under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996.

    (e) The applicant has been placed in a women‘s refuge outside Newham but was referred

    to that refuge by the Council or another organisation in Newham and who lived in

    Newham for two years immediately prior to occupying the temporary accommodation

    (f) The applicant has been placed in accommodation by the Council or the Newham Local

    Health Authority, and who are continuing to receive services from the Council or the

    Newham Local Health Authority.

    (g) Applicants nominated to the Council through the Pan London Mobility Scheme, Safe &

    Secure scheme and any other scheme to which the Council subscribes.

    2.2.1 Where an applicant does not meet at least one of the above residency criteria, they cannot

    register and will be informed of the reasons in writing.

    2.2.2 Where an existing applicant registered on the waiting list subsequently moves out of Newham,

    their applications will still be considered in the normal way as long as they continue to fulfil the

    local connection requirements.

    2.2.3 The Local Connection rules above will not apply to applicants who are serving in the regular

    forces or who have served in the regular forces within five years of the date of their application.

    2.2.4 The Local Connection rules above will also not apply to those applicants who have recently

    ceased, or will cease to be entitled, to reside in accommodation provided by the Ministry of

    Defence following the death of that applicant‘s spouse or civil partner where—

    (a) The spouse or civil partner has served in the regular forces; and

    (b) Their death was attributable (wholly or partly) to that service; or

    (c) Is serving or has served in the reserve forces and who is suffering from a serious injury,

    illness or disability which is attributable (wholly or partly) to that service.

3 Homeless households placed in Newham by other local authorities

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    3.1 A number of local authorities use temporary accommodation in Newham for their homeless

    households. Applicants who in the opinion of the Council are owed a duty under Part VII of

    the Housing Act 1996 by another local authority will be excluded from the Housing Register.

    3.2 Where this applies, the applicant will be informed of the decision in writing.

    3.3 Where the particular local authority discharges its duty under Part VII of the Housing Act, and

    the applicant remains in Newham, or remains having a local connection with Newham, the

    application then will be re-assessed to determine their eligibility to join the Register.

4. Housing Association Tenants

    4.1 Housing association tenants may be included on the Housing Register in the same way as

    other applicants. They should, however, be encouraged to apply to their own landlords for

    inclusion on their transfer schemes, where appropriate.

5. Home Owners

    5.1 Unless exceptional circumstances apply, any applicants who own their homes, or own

    residential accommodation elsewhere, will not be considered for a housing allocation, these

    applicants will not be eligible to register. The applicant will be notified of this in writing and a

    copy retained on the file.

    5.2 Where an owner-occupier requests permanent housing from the Council, they will be referred

    to one of Newham‘s local service centres for advice about how to resolve their housing need.

    They will also be referred to Newham‘s online advice and assessment tool HED (Housing and

    Employment Destination) where they can obtain information on a range of options to help

    resolve their particular housing need.

    5.3 Applicants who have sold a property in the last 7 years will be required to provide the

    completion statement and proof of capital receipts to determine their priority. Applicants who

    have assets worth ?60,000 and above will be directed to home-ownership options once they

    are registered, they will be given reduced priority in accordance with Section B of this policy.

    5.4 Applicants who are owner-occupiers in need of temporary decanting whilst renovation for

    grant-aided works are being carried out, will be considered for assistance where they are able

    to demonstrate that they are unable to find their own temporary accommodation.

6. Persons from Abroad

    6.1 A person will not be entitled to register on the Housing Register where they are subject to

    specific exclusion on the grounds of their immigration status, or persons from abroad, as

    defined in s160ZA of the Housing Act 1996 and associated statutory instruments.

    6.2 The Housing Register Team Leader must endorse any exclusion on this basis.

7. Unacceptable Behaviour

    7.1 Unless exceptional circumstances, apply, applicants will be excluded from the Housing

    Register if their previous behaviour as a tenant of the Council, or the behaviour of a member

    of their household, has not been acceptable and there are reasonable grounds to believe that

    the applicant will not be a suitable future tenant. An example of this might be where an

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    applicant was previously evicted from accommodation because of serious anti-social

    behaviour or rent arrears.

    7.2 In exceptional circumstances, applicants will sometimes be allowed to register on the Housing

    Register but will be accorded reduced priority when bidding for properties in accordance with

    this policy.

8. Anti Social Behaviour

    8.1 Where an applicant is the subject of actions being taken by the Council (or some other

    competent body) on grounds of alleged Anti Social Behaviour (ASB), the ASB case officer will

    notify the Lettings Agency Manager at each stage of the court proceedings. Notification will

    include full names (including aliases), date of birth, last known address(s) the date and stage

    of action taken and (where appropriate) the duration of the order or undertaking. If known, the

    iSYS person number will be included. The Council reserves the right to exclude an applicant

    from the Housing Register because of his or her alleged ASB but actions falling short of

    exclusion are listed in the table below.

    8.1 The Lettings Agency Manager will arrange for agreed action, and a letter is sent to the

    applicant informing them of this decision. This letter will include their right to review.

8.2 The ASB Case Officer will keep lettings informed of changes in status.

    8.3 The Enforcement & Safety Division will send complete lists every six months to the Lettings

    Agency Manager.

    8.4 Reviews will be dealt with by the Housing Register Team Leader. Where a review is on the

    basis that behaviour is not likely to continue, the Lettings Agency will obtain a report on the

    current situation from the ASB team. Applicants who disagree with the outcome of a review

    can seek a judicial review of the decision.

    8.5 The above applies to all applicants, including those who have been accepted as homeless.

    8.6 Where the ASB team wishes the policy to apply to someone not in accommodation provided

    by the Council, an assessment of the evidence and the behaviour will be carried out jointly by

    the LO (Local Office) and EIM/SEO and a decision made.

8.7 Schedule of Possible Action

    Stage of Action C&ASB Lettings Agency Duration

    NOSP served No action No action No action

    Proceedings issued LO notifies lettings Suspended from Until final court

    to Court bidding hearing

    Undertaking to No further action No further action No further action

    Court

    Interim injunction No further action No further action No further action

    Final Injunction LO notifies lettings Suspended from For duration of

    bidding injunction (up to 2

    years maximum)

    Suspended PO LO notifies lettings Suspended from For the duration of

    bidding suspension, but no

    more than 2 years)

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    Demoted tenancy LO notifies lettings Suspended from For duration of

    bidding demotion (usually one

    year)

    Outright Possession LO notifies lettings Suspended from Until eviction

    Order bidding

    Eviction/conviction LO notifies lettings Excluded from the Excluded from the

    Housing Register Register for 5 years

    8.8 Where applicants are excluded from registration, the Housing Register Team enters the

    appropriate not suspension code on the iSYS computer system.

    9. Private sector applicants who are subject to a court order for breach of tenancy

    conditions

    9.1 Applicants who are not existing tenants of the Council and who are subject to a court order or

    an interlocutory order for breach of tenancy conditions in their present dwelling are not entitled

    to register on the Housing Register.

    9.2 Checks will normally be carried out at the visit stage but can be carried out at any time if this

    matter comes to light. The Housing Register Officer will ask the applicant directly if there are

    any court orders outstanding against them, and record any details given.

    9.3 Where the applicant states they there is an outstanding court or interlocutory order against

    them for breach of tenancy, the Housing Register Officer will refer the case to the Housing

    Register Team Leader who will then judge whether it is reasonable to suspend the applicant

    from bidding in accordance with this policy.

    9.4 If the Housing Register Team Leader is satisfied that the applicant is wilfully at fault they will

    exclude the applicant from the Housing Register using the appropriate code. .

9.5 The applicant must be informed in writing. A copy of the letter is kept on the applicant‘s file.

10. Other circumstances where applicants may be excluded from the Register

    10.1 In Section B this policy sets out certain circumstances where applicant‘s will be the subject of

    investigation in circumstances where the Council has reason to believe that they have

    provided misleading information in support of their application or have failed to provide

    information which should otherwise have been provided. As explained in para 12.8 of Section

    B the Council reserves the right to exclude an applicant from the Housing Register. This is

    without prejudice to the Council‘s right to otherwise suspend applicants from bidding in

    accordance with the terms of the policy.

11. Exercise of Discretion

    11.1 The Council will, in exceptional circumstances and in accordance with relevant government

    guidance, exercise its discretion when making decisions regarding applications to register on

    the Housing Register and in the conduct of reviews of decisions made in accordance with this

    policy.

12. Right of Review

    12.1 Applicants excluded from the Housing Register have a statutory right to have the decision

    reviewed. See Section I: Rights of Review, of this policy for further details.

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SECTION B: DIRECT OFFERS, CHOICE BASED LETTINGS AND TENANTS SEEKING

    TRANSFERS

1. Introduction

    1.1 The Council operates within a choice based allocation scheme called ELLC Choice Homes.

    The Council and other housing providers including registered social landlords have joined

    together to increase applicant choice wherever possible, while continuing to meet housing

    need. The Council‘s policy is to offer the majority of applicants a choice of accommodation by

    way of this choice based lettings scheme. The remaining allocations will be made to those in

    the direct offer groups set out below in this section B. These applicants may express some

    preferences as to the properties they are offered and will be able, in accordance with the

    Enhanced Bidding rules set out below, to bid for properties through the choice based lettings

    scheme.

    1.2 The decision to designate a property as suitable to be used as a direct offer property will

    depend on the supply of property available to the Council at any one time. When designating

    a property for a direct offer, the Council will take into account the supply available to it as well

    as the urgency with which certain applicants in the decant categories (as defined below) need

    to be re-housed as well as the applicants‘ housing needs.

2. Initial Assessment of Applications

    2.1 For the purposes of CBL applications are placed into the applicant groups set out on this

    section by the Housing Register Officer. The placement is based on information supplied by

    the applicant.

3 Priority Homeseeker (PH)

    3.1 This group contains those applicants whose circumstances are such that they fulfil one or

    more of the ‗reasonable preference‘ (RP) criteria defined in s166A Housing Act 1996.

    3.1.1 An adult applicant with his or her own room in their parental home will be deemed by the

    Council to be adequately housed.

4. Homeseeker (H)

    4.1 This group contains those applicants who do not fulfil any of the RP and who are not Tenants

    Seeking Transfers.

5. Tenants Seeking Transfers (T)

    5.1 This group contains Newham Council tenants who are applying for a transfer who do not fulfil

    any of the RP criteria.

6. Direct Offers

6.1 The direct offer groups are:

    (a) Additional Preference (Emergency Re-housing) [Group A]

    (b) Additional Preference (Multiple Needs) [Group B]

    (c) Under-occupation Transfers [Group C]

    (d) Transfer from adapted properties [Group D]

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    (e) Decants [Group E]

    (f) Special Schemes [Group F]

6.2 Additional Preference Group (emergency re-housing) [Group A]

    6.2.1 This group contains applicants with exceptional circumstances and who need to move urgently

    on harassment, medical or social/welfare grounds.

6.2. Harassment grounds [Group A]

    6.2.1 Applicants with a potential emergency re-housing need on harassment grounds are, in the

    case of Newham Council tenants, referred to the Lettings Agency by one of the housing

    management contractors (Swan Housing & Pinnacle) or by one of the Tenant Management

    Organisations (Carpenters, TMO or CTR Triangle TMO.) or by Housing Management Service.

    Emergency re-housing status is decided by a panel consisting of the Lettings Agency Manager,

    a senior manager from the Housing Management services and a senior manager from the

    Enforcement Safety Division. In all cases decisions are based on the criteria contained in the

    ASB staff casework manual and would normally apply to people who would be in serious

    danger by remaining at their current address where the risk will be reduced by moving and

    where applicants have co-operated to take to take enforcement action against the perpetrator.

     6.2.2 Transfers under this heading, if agreed, will be on a like for like basis in terms of property type

    and size, unless the transferee is under-occupying the property from which he or she is

    moving.

6.3 Medical grounds [Group A]

    6.3.1 Applicants who have been assessed by the Council as having a medical condition that is so

    severe that it is impossible for them to live in their current home. They may be in hospital or

    other residential care and can be discharged only if they are re-housed to more suitable

    accommodation. They may also be living in accommodation that requires adaptation but such

    adaptations either cannot be carried out at all, or where they are technically feasible but not

    within reasonable cost limits as determined by the Council in comparison with the average

    cost for adaptations. More information is given in Section G: Medical Assessments of this

    policy.

6.4 Social / welfare need grounds [Group A]

    6.4.1 Emergency re-housing status on social/welfare grounds is authorised by a joint

    Housing/Children & Young people and Adult Services panel, containing senior officers from

    both departments. The panel considers referrals from social workers, and the Social Services

    Department have their own procedures for referrals to the panel. The criteria (one or more

    must apply) for emergency awards in this category are:

    (a) Likelihood of admission to residential care of a family member if re-housing is not

    made.

    (b) Likelihood of a child being accommodated by the local authority if re-housing is not

    made.

    (c) Discharge from hospital or residential care is required and is prevented by the housing

    situation.

    (d) A child experiencing abuse needs to be moved away from the perpetrator.

    (e) The applicant, or member of their household, is at serious risk of harm either to

    themselves or to other people in their present accommodation.

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6.4.2 In addition, the following conditions also have to be met:

    (a) The applicant is receiving significant support from the Social Services Department.

    (b) The applicant‘s wellbeing is seriously affected by their housing situation.

    (c) The applicant cannot reasonably be expected to find accommodation for themselves

6.5 Multiple Needs Group [Group B]

    6.5.1 This group comprises applicants whose households are entitled to reasonable preference in

    the allocation of housing on more than one of the Reasonable Preference grounds. The

    Lettings Agency will conduct an additional assessment of the needs of these applicants in

    order to determine whether the household should be accorded any additional preference to

    that already being given because of their position in the PH group.

    6.5.2 The mechanism for carrying out the assessment is the completion of a pro-forma (see page 8

    below) by a Housing Register Officer either at the initial assessment stage or after an

    applicant‘s circumstances have changed in such a way that they should be afforded a

    reasonable preference within the allocation scheme on more than one ground. The

    assessment is endorsed by a senior manager within the Lettings Agency.

    6.5.3 For the purposes of the assessment, the test used for determining overcrowding is non-

    permissible statutory overcrowding as defined in the Housing Act 1985 (sections 324-326). If

    an applicant‘s overcrowding was brought about through natural growth during the period of

    their tenancy (e.g. through the birth of children), this is ‗permissible‘ overcrowding as defined

    in the Act and is not taken into account in the assessment.

    6.5.4 Following the assessment, applicants will be notified of the decision in writing.

6.6 Multiple Needs Assessment

    6.6.1 This assessment of Additional Preference (AP) is to be conducted following an initial

    assessment that a household‘s housing needs fall into more than one Reasonable preference

    category. If there is a positive response to any of checks 1 or 2 the AP assessment is not

    required.

6.6.2 Multiple Needs Assessment of Additional Preference Form

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     If Yes If No

    1) Current Housing Prospects Continue

     Advise households of East

    Could the household currently London

    secure suitable housing through Lettings Company (ELLC) the East London Lettings Choice Homes service & check Company (ELLC) Choice Homes household know how to use it.

    service?

    2) Homelessness If no suitable

     Liaise with Homeless Persons accommodation Is the household homeless or Unit to ensure circumstances is available, score owed a duty of homelessness? have been properly assessed 1 in box below

    and that suitable and continue

    accommodation is available.

    Assessment

    1) Unsatisfactory Accommodation Score 1 in box below and Continue

     continue

    Is the household‘s current

    accommodation statutorily

    overcrowded or subject to

    Environmental Health abatement

    action?

    2) Housing Related Score 1 in box below and Continue Health/Welfare continue

Does two or more members of

    the household have reasonable

    preference to move on medical

    ground? If yes score one for each

    additional member of the

    household.

    3) Hardship Advise of transport services. If Continue

     transport services not

    Has the household a need to appropriate score 1 in box below move to another part of the and continue

    Borough to avoid hardship?

Assessment

Total score from assessment questions 1,2 and 3

    and check question 2

1/2/3 = No Additional Preference

    4 or more = One direct offer of a suitable property

    Signed:

    Position: Date:

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