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Homechoice at Reading User Guide

This guide explains how Homechoice works.

 

Please note: In Reading, as in most other parts of the country, the number of people waiting for social housing is far greater than the number of properties becoming available – this means there is a lot of competition for every property we advertise. We cannot guarantee that you will make a successful bid or offer any advice on timescales.

We strongly recommend that you continue to look at other housing options.

When we know a property is becoming available
  • We advertise it on the Homechoice website straight away - properties may be added every day
  • Bidding opens straight away and stays open for 7 days
  • You can bid on this property anytime during this period
Where are properties advertised?
All properties are advertised on HomeChoice (you need your PIN number). You can access the internet free at your local library or at our Civic Offices (Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU) and support is available if you need it.
Daily printouts are available from the Civic Offices - but we will always encourage and support you to go online.
 
Can I bid on any property advertised?
No. We can only consider you for properties you are eligible for to avoid disappointment.
  • Do not bid for properties that are larger or smaller than you need - your eligibility is based on our bedroom standard.
Single applicantStudio / 1 bed flat
Couple1 bed flat
Anyone needing a separate room for medical reasons+1 bed
Each additional adult or couple 18 years and over+1 bed+1 bed
1 or 2 children under 10 years- either sex+1 bed
2 children opposite sexes - 1 or both over 10 years+2 bed
2 children of the same sex over 10 to 17 years+1 bed
 
Please note: You won’t be eligible for bedrooms for children unless you are their main carer. If you are pregnant you can only bid for a 2 bed property 3 months before your due date - our system will update your eligibility if we have your EDD.
  • Do not bid for properties that have been adapted or specially designed for people with disabilities unless you have been assessed as needing these facilities
  • Do not bid for properties with age restrictions unless you qualify.
  • Do not bid for properties restricted to a specific type of household - like families without children or families with young children - unless your household qualifies (we sometimes make restrictions to help build more balanced communities).
Once the advert has closed
We prioritise the list of bidders for that property by:
  • Priority band (highest priority first)
  • Time in this band (longest time first)
Allocating the property
If the Council owns the property:
  • We will invite the top 3 bidders to view the property.
  • We will offer the property to the top bidder. If they refuse, we offer it to the 2nd bidder, then the 3rd and so on until someone accepts.
Other housing providers:
Registered providers usually interview the bidders before deciding whether to arrange a viewing or make an offer.
Reporting back:
We publish details of lettings on the Homechoice website so you can see the process is open and fair.
Once you accept an offer of housing
We won’t consider any further bids and will treat you as a non- qualified applicant If you refuse an offer you can go usually get straight back into the bidding process without penalty. However, if you refuse 3 reasonable offers of housing in a 6 month period we will suspend you from the Homechoice Register and you won’t be able to reapply for a year.
Important: Different rules apply if you are statutory homeless or placed in Priority Band A because you need a Management Transfer - we will explain this to you in a letter. See our Allocations Scheme.
 
Moving into your new home
If/when we make you an offer of housing we will give you a rough idea of when the property will be ready for you. Once we give you a date for signing the tenancy you must be ready to move quickly as you will start paying rent straight away. We may only be able to give you a few days notice.
If possible, we will offer access in advance so you can measure up for carpets and curtains (these aren’t provided in Council properties).
  • You must also provide your own white goods (fridge, cooker, washing machine etc.).
  • You will be responsible for arranging and paying for your move (including connecting gas appliances - if applicable).
  • You will be responsible for decorating your new home - depending on the condition of the property we may offer decorating vouchers to help with paint and essential equipment.
  • If you have a support worker they may be able to help you apply for grants to help with moving costs and/or finding furniture.
The demand for social housing in Reading is much greater than the number of properties available. We strongly recommend you consider other housing options - these may include:
 
Exchanging your home
If you are already a secure council tenant or an assured tenant with a registered housing provider tenant you can exchange your home with another Council or registered provider tenant anywhere in the country. Go to HomeSwapper to register your details and find a match. This service is free to all Reading Borough Council tenants and some registered provider tenants. However, you may have to pay a small fee if your registered provider has not signed up as a Homeswapper partner.
 
Buying an affordable home
Help to Buy South offers a number of different options for buying an affordable home including:
  • Help to Buy Equity Loan - a scheme to help you buy a new build property. You must have a deposit of 5% and be able to get a mortgage for 75% of the value of the property. The Government will fund the rest.
  • Help to buy shared ownership - a scheme can help you buy a new flat or house on a part-buy/part-rent basis through different housing providers. You can buy shares of between 25% to 75% of the home's value and you pay a low rent on the remaining share. For more details visit Help to Buy South
 
Buying with Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee
The Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme can help you buy a home with a deposit as little as 5%. The Government offers lenders an option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans - because of this support lenders taking part in the scheme can offer home buyers up to 95% of the purchase price. For more details and a list of participating lenders visit Help to Buy
 
Looking for private rented accommodation
We can offer advice and assistance on accessing accommodation in the private sector and provide information on your rights as a private tenant.
 
Homefinder UK
National housing mobility scheme available to anyone willing to move away from the area. Visit Homefinder to register.

 

 

Changes to Homechoice at Reading

This page provides a summary of the changes we are making to Homechoice at Reading and what they mean for you.  These changes will take effect from 4 October 2017.

 

We will be changing the way we advertise available properties:
 
  • We will add properties to the system as soon as they become available
  • Bidding will stay open for one week from the date a property is added.
  • We will no longer be printing and distributing the property freesheets.
  • We are updating and improving our website. This will allow us to improve the way we communicate with you – for example we will be able to let you know about important issues regarding housing options available, as well as provide more local information about each property advertised.
We want to speed up the lettings process. Instead of having to wait for the next fortnightly bidding cycle, the Council and registered providers will be able to advertise their properties as soon as they become available and relet them quicker.
The new process means it will be impossible for us to produce an up-to-date property sheet. In the time it would take to commercially print and distribute the freesheet the bidding on some properties will have closed and new properties may have been added.

Yes - we will print out a list of properties for you on request. However, you should be aware that this list will only include the properties that were open for bidding at the time it was printed.

The best way to see the properties advertised is to check the website. You can access the internet free at the Civic Offices or your local library. If you need support to use the website please ask a member of staff.

If you log on to the website on the same day every week you will see all available properties.

You will also be able to sign up for email alerts to let you know whenever a property suitable for your family is added.

If you do not have a current email account you can set one up for free on line. Make sure you let us know your email address so we can load this into our system for you.

This isn’t changing. You will still only be able to see the properties that you are eligible to bid on. This includes:
 
  • Unrestricted properties that are suitable for your household
  • Suitable properties that are restricted to your application type (for example if you already live in social housing you will only see properties restricted to transfer applicants. If you are a new applicant you will only see properties for waiting list applicants)
  • Suitable properties with other restrictions if you meet the criteria (for example you must be over 55 to access sheltered housing)
 
Please note: Even if you can view and bid for a property we may not consider you for it and you must read the advert details to ensure that it is a suitable property that we can consider you for.
No. You will use the same PIN and login details - but the login page and website will look different.
You can have active bids on up to three properties at a time. Bids will be released as soon as the bidding cycle closes.
Bidding will stay open for a week from the day the property is added.
You can bid:
 
  • Online using a PC, tablet or smartphone (98% of all bids are already made online)
  • By text or
  • By asking a member of staff to bid on your behalf although, due to the sanctions that may apply if you refuse 3 reasonable offers in a 6 month period, we will ask you to sign a disclaimer to allow us to bid for you.
 

The Voids and Lettings Team can help you see what’s available and place bids for you.

You can also ask any other member of staff who has access to our system, such as our support team.

We can also place bids for you due to any vulnerabilities - you must confirm your instructions so we are clear about your needs.

No. These changes won’t affect the number of properties becoming vacant