Guide to finding a home

Rushmoor Borough Council operates a Housing Allocation Scheme based on housing need. We allocate housing through a choice based letting system, which allows you to express an interest by making bids on homes you would like to live in. Here we explain how the scheme works and how to place bids for social housing.

How Does the Scheme Work?

To access the scheme, you must first have an interview with a housing officer, there are no forms to complete. Only those assessed with a high and urgent housing need and with a realistic opportunity of being offered a home, will be placed into the Council’s Allocation Scheme. Each applicant will be placed into one of the four priority bands. Band 1 has the highest priority for re-housing and band 4 has the lowest? Your housing officer will advise you which band you have been placed into once they have fully assessed your circumstances.

What Happens Next?

When you have been placed into the Allocation Scheme, you will be given a letter confirming your band, unique reference number and a memorable date. You can then log into Rushmoor Homefinder on a weekly basis to bid (Register your interest) for the properties available. When you first log into the system, you will be asked to create a 10-digit password. You will need to keep this, along with your reference numbre and memorable date, to log into the system in the future.

When Can I Start Bidding?

You can start bidding as soon as you receive your letter. Properties are advertised every week from 00:01 Thursday morning until 23:59 Sunday night. This means you can place a bid on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Allocation scheme does not operate on a first come first served basis so there is no need to rush to place your bids as soon as the cycle opens.

How Do I Find Out What Properties Are Available?

The Council advertises available properties every week, the details can be found:

  • Online at www.housing.rushmoor.gov.uk

What Properties Can I Bid For?

You will only be able to place a bid on properties that you are eligible for. There are several criteria that will affect your ability to bid:

  • Size of property – you will only be able to bid on properties that have the right number of bedrooms for your household.
  • Availability of properties – if there are no properties advertised that meet your criteria you will not be able to place any bids, you will see the message; “you are not eligible for any properties”.
  • Age – some properties have a minimum age restriction, for example to be considered for older people’s accommodation you need to be at least 50 years old. If you are not 50 years old or over, you will not be able to bid on these properties.
  • Other restrictions – it is very important that you read the description of the property. There may be additional preferences that mean you will be able to place a bid but may not qualify for the property. For example, some properties are small and may only accept 1 child not 2 children. Properties on the ground floor will usually be offered to those with mobility issues and need ground floor accommodation before those who do not need to be on the ground floor?

Number of bids – you can place up to 3 bids per week, once you have placed your 3 bids you will not be able to place any more until the following week. If you change your mind about a property, you can withdraw your bid and place it elsewhere until midnight Sunday.

How Do I Make My Bids?

You can make bids on this site. You will need your unique reference number and your memorable date (this is usually your date of birth).

Online:

Step 1 – type housing.rushmoor.gov.uk into the address bar of your internet browser

Step 2 – click Login/My account, which can be found in the top right corner of the page.

Step 3 – enter your 7-digit unique reference number it will look like this - 1234567

Step 4 – enter your memorable date (this is usually your date of birth) in the following format DD/MM/YYYY, 

Step 5a - if it is your first-time logging into the new system you will need to create an additional password. This will be needed for future log ins.

Step 5b - if you have logged in before, enter your 10-digit password

Step 6 – to see the properties you are eligible for, click the link that states ‘Properties and recent lets search' in the blue banner towards to right side of the page

If the message reads ‘currently you are not eligible for any properties’ this means, there are no suitable properties for you to bid on this week. There is nothing wrong with your application.

Step 7 – have a look through the adverts available; select “more details” to see the full advert for each property.

Once you have selected up to 3 properties to bid on, click the apply now button.

The screen will change giving you an opportunity to confirm you wish to bid for this property and to check your contact details. If your contact details are out of date, please email us your update your details housingallocations@rushmoor.gov.uk .

How Many Bids Can I Make?

You can place up to 3 bids per week on properties that you are eligible for. Some weeks there may not be any properties for you to bid on, some weeks there may be more than 3 properties that you can bid for. It is important to read the property criteria carefully before placing your bids.

It is important that you bid every week, those who do not bid regularly will have their housing application reviewed and may have their priority reduced.

What Happens Once I Have Placed My Bid?

Once you have placed your bid you will be told your queue position, at that point in time. As other applicants bid your queue position will change. You can check your queue position at any time during the advert cycle. When the bidding cycle closes at midnight on Sunday, your final queue position will appear.

What Happens Once the Advertising Cycle Closes?

Following the closure of the bidding cycle a member of the allocations team produces a list of applicants for each property. It is usually the applicant in the highest band that has waited the longest in the band that will be top for the property. However, there are sometimes additional criteria that need to be applied, therefore a manual check is undertaken to produce a final list.

The applicant deemed to be in first place will be moved to the status of ‘Match Suggested’ on Rushmoor HomeFinder. Once your application has been moved to ‘Match Suggested’ you will not be considered for future properties advertised in subsequent weeks.

The details of the successful applicant(s) will be supplied to the relevant housing association. You will not hear from the Council if you have been successful or not, you will hear from the housing association who will wish to arrange a viewing of the property with you.

Updating your details

It is vital that you have up to date contact details recorded, as these will be used to contact you in the event you will be offered accommodation. You can update your telephone & mobile phone number, and your email. We recommend having an email account registered to your account, as this will enable you to reset your password. To update your details, use the following steps:

  • Once logged in, select ‘My account’
  • Towards the right of the screen your screen you will see ‘My Contact details’
  • Select ‘Update contact details’ and complete your changes
  • Once complete, select ‘submit

What Does the Housing Association Do with The Shortlist?

The housing association will organise viewings for the properties advertised and will contact the applicant(s).

Housing associations will either telephone applicants or write to them regarding viewings. In some cases, they may e-mail and text as well.

You must keep your contact details up to date with the Council or you may miss out.

What does it mean when Rushmoor HomeFinder says ‘skipped’?

If your bid shows as being ‘skipped’, it means you were not successful with your bid for that property. The reason may be that you did not meet the criteria for that property such as: health requirements, number of children, etc.

As a suggestion, please review the advert cycle’s property information and description which will provide an explanation. For example, “preference to ground floor requirement”.

If you are still unsure why you have been skipped, please contact your housing officer.

If you are already matched to a property from a previous bidding cycle, you will show as ‘skipped’ on any future properties.

When will I know if I have a viewing?

Some properties may not be empty and ready to let when they are advertised, sometimes they need some maintenance works carried out. Therefore, it can be up to 4-6 weeks before you know if you have been successful or not. Most housing associations will only contact one person at a time. They will contact the top person and provisionally offer them the property. If they accept the housing association will not contact anyone else on the shortlist. If the top person declines, they will then contact the second person and so on.

Once you have been shortlisted in first place for a property your application will be frozen whilst you progress with the property. You can only be considered for one property at a time; therefore, you should not be able to bid for any other property.

Even if you can place other bids in subsequent bidding cycles, you will not be considered for another property whilst your application status is at any of the following: -

- Match Suggested

- Match Approved, or

- Offer Accepted

I Have Been Invited to View a Property, What Do I Do Now?

Some housing associations may send you forms to complete prior to your viewings. Some housing associations may meet with you before a viewing to complete forms and assess you for their property. The forms usually ask personal details about you and your household as well as discussing medical and financial information.

Most housing associations will have carried out all their checks by the time the viewing takes place. Therefore, you may be asked to sign the tenancy for the property at the viewing.

What Happens If I Cannot Attend the Viewing?

You will need to speak to the housing association to see if there is any flexibility on this. When properties become empty, the housing associations want to let them quickly. If you do not attend viewings, you will never be housed.

Try to be as flexible as you can and only turn down viewings when there really is no way of re-arranging your other commitments. If possible, leave your children with family or friends so that you can give the viewing your full attention and ask all the questions you need to.

What Happens at A Viewing?

An officer from the housing association will meet you at the property at the agreed time. You will have an opportunity to look around the property; the officer will show you the gas, electric meters, and stopcock. They will also collect any paperwork and documents that you have been asked to bring along with you.

I Have Tried to Bid On Other Properties, But It Won’t Let Me, Why Is This?

Once you have been shortlisted in first place for a property you should not be able to bid on any other property until you have viewed and made a final decision. This is because you can only be considered for one property at a time. If you decide not to take the property you have provisionally been offered, you will be able to bid again, however you will not be able to be considered for any of the properties advertised whilst your application has been on hold.

I Have Been Told I Need to Pay Rent in Advance If I Am Successful – Is This Correct?

All housing associations will ask you to pay rent in advance when you sign your tenancy. Usually, 4 weeks rent in advance. The weekly rent of the accommodation will be included in the advert. You will be notified of an exact amount once you have viewed and accepted a property. The Council cannot help you pay rent in advance for social housing. It is therefore advisable to start saving an amount each week towards this cost.

There Are No Carpets or White Goods Such as Fridge, Freezer, Washing Machine or Cooker.

Social housing properties rented from housing associations are very different to those rented from private landlords.

The properties do not usually come with floor covering and white goods are not provided. You will be responsible for securing these items along with any other furniture that you need. Please speak to your housing association or your housing officer at the Council if you need help sourcing these items.

What Happens If I Am Offered a Property but I Do Not Want It?

Please do not turn down a property without a valid reason; you never know when you will be offered another property. In cases where a property is refused without a valid reason, there will be consequences of turning down a property, such as a reduced priority in the allocations scheme for a period of 12 months, suspension of your application or, for applicants owed a homelessness duty, this may be discharged. If you are unsure about a property, you should contact your housing officer at the Council to discuss your concerns.

The Housing Association Wants Me to Decide Immediately and Move in Straight Away, Is This Right?

You will not have very long to decide after viewing a property. When properties are empty, they need to be let very quickly. There is usually only a matter of days between viewing a property and signing up for the tenancy, in some cases, you may view the property and sign the tenancy agreement the same day.

I Have Accepted a Property and I Have My Move in Date What Else Do I Need to Do?

If you are living in private rented accommodation, you must check you are not in a fixed term period of your tenancy agreement, if you are, your landlord may not release you from your tenancy early. If you are in a periodic tenancy, you will typically need to give your landlord one months’ notice. However, you will not be able to wait a month before moving into your new housing association property. During this overlapping period, you may be entitled to claim dual housing benefit, to find out more about this please contact the housing benefit service directly on 01252398914.

If your landlord does not want to release you from your tenancy, please speak to a housing officer at the Council who may be able to help and to liaise with your current landlord.

If the Council assisted you into your private rented home using the Deposit Guarantee Scheme, you must notify your housing officer at the Council that you have been offered social housing so that we can arrange to have an inventory carried out. Failure to do this may incur you in costs if your landlord makes a claim against you. You can contact your housing officer.

If you are a social housing tenant you must notify your current landlord that you are moving, again there will be a short notice period.

Does The Council Help with Removals?

Unfortunately, we cannot help you move into your new home. You will need to speak to your family and friends to help you move. Whilst removal firms can be expensive, you may be able to hire a self-drive van to move your larger items of furniture, for a reasonable cost.

What Else Do I Need to Do?

If you need assistance from housing benefit to help pay your rent, you must inform them immediately that you have a new address and to provide them with a copy of your new tenancy agreement. You can contact housing benefit on 01252 398914 or drop into the Council offices to see an assessor. When you apply for your housing benefit, a claim for Council tax support can be assessed at the same time.

 

Revised: June 2022