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Date approved: November 2021
Review date: November 2024

See below for the full policy, but please be aware this may include acronyms or technical jargon used internally within Raven. If you have any questions, please contact us.

1 PURPOSE/POLICY AIMS

1.1. This policy sets out Raven’s approach to letting homes and enabling residents to move home, ensuring compliance with regulation, tenancy terms and good practice.

1.2. This policy also sets out how Raven will work with local authority partners to achieve our aims regarding allocations

2 SCOPE

2.1. This policy applies to applicants for rented housing and existing tenants of Raven Housing Trust

3. POLICY STATEMENT (INC KEY POLICY PRINCIPLES & COMPLIANCE WITH LEGISLATION)

3.1 Raven Housing Trust, in its role as a registered provider (“RP”) aims to ensure that all subsidised rented housing stock is used effectively to meet the housing needs and aspirations of applicants and tenants and to contribute to the building of sustainable communities. Raven will seek to prevent homelessness wherever possible and practicable. Procedures set out how this policy will be applied.

3.2 We will ensure that we let homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way, seeking to minimise the amount of time homes are empty and providing affordable and well managed rented accommodation to those in housing need.

3.3 Raven aims to create sustainable tenancies, having regard to the affordability of a property for the applicant, while giving reasonable preference to those most in housing need. We will also consider the need to create balanced and sustainable communities, letting sensitively to manage this where appropriate, and having regard for our Anti-Social Behaviour Policy.

3.4 Raven is a member of the national ‘Homeswapper’ scheme. The option of moving home through a swap will be actively promoted to transferring residents wishing to move as a way to access a different home more quickly.

4 LEGISLATION

4.1 This policy operates using all relevant and appropriate legislation. This includes but is not limited to the Housing Acts 1985 and 1988 (as amended), the Landlord and Tenant Acts 1985 and 1987, Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended), The Localism Act 2011, the Welfare Reform Act 2015 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. This includes future legislation that may be introduced.

POLICY DETAIL

5.0 IMPLEMENTATION:

Raven will work flexibly with local authorities, in a manner that is sensitive to local issues and demand, to assist them in offering accommodation to people with priority on the authority’s register and in fulfilling their statutory duty to secure accommodation for homeless people. 5.1 Raven will participate in appropriate joint Housing Registers and choice based lettings schemes where relevant and appropriate.

5.2 Raven will let property in a fair and non-discriminatory way and to avoid restrictions on access to housing, which are irrelevant to housing, affordability or support needs.

5.3 Raven will seek to enter into Nomination Agreements where reasonable and appropriate with the local councils in whose areas we operate, whereby the councils will be able to nominate applicants from their housing lists to an agreed proportion of our vacant properties.

5.4 Wherever possible, Raven will seek to assist local authorities to achieve their Community Objectives under ‘Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing’ (November 2010) and the Localism Act 2011 by giving priority for social housing to those in greatest housing need and by providing appropriate housing for applicants with additional support needs, for instance temporary and sheltered accommodation.

5.5 Where Raven has the ability under local arrangements, we will give consideration to the use of part of our entitlement to offer nomination rights to local specialist organisations who provide a service

6.0 SUSTAINABILITY – SPECIFIC LETTINGS INITIATIVES

6.1 Local lettings Plans

In some instances, Raven may implement local lettings plans or ‘sensitive lettings’ for some properties, schemes or neighbourhoods. These are exceptional to the normal policy and are introduced to meet specific scheme or neighbourhood objectives. Raven will consult with local authorities and any other appropriate agencies within the community regarding local lettings plans where possible. Information about local lettings plans for specific schemes will be provided to applicants for those homes as part of the nomination process.

6.2 In negotiating local lettings plans, we will aim to strike a balance between housing need and making the best use of housing stock in that area to benefit individuals, the community and create sustainable neighbourhoods.

7.0 EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

7.1 We will accept applications from any person over the age of 16 years regardless of the nine protected characteristics in the Equalities Act 2010 of age, disability, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. At all stages in the application and allocation process we will comply with the law, our equality and diversity policies, and Raven’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. All applications and allocations will be monitored to ensure compliance with equal opportunities and diversity.

7.2 Applicants under the age of 18 may be required to sign an ‘equitable tenancy’ and will generally be required to have a rent guarantor. Exceptions may be agreed on a case by case basis in exceptional circumstances and recorded as ‘Exception to Policy’.

7.3 Our Allocations policy will be made available in an easy to understand format. On request it can be made available in braille, on audio tape, or in other languages, where needed.

8.0 HOUSING NEED

8.1 Raven will continue to primarily meet housing need through Choice-Based Lettings schemes or Housing Registers operated by partner local authorities and through these, aims to give a reasonable preference to people in housing need as set out in the Housing Act 1996.

8.2 Allocations through Choice-Based lettings or Housing Registers may be supplemented by other initiatives in line with agreed nomination agreements in order to meet specific needs either for particular client groups, or a particular area.

8.3 Eligibility for housing by Raven Housing Trust:

We will provide housing or offer homes to customers meeting the following criteria:

i) Existing tenants who need to move for repairs or improvements to be carried out in their home (“decants”). In most cases, this will be a temporary decant whilst works are carried out, with the tenant returning to their home once completed.

ii) New customers referred by local authorities

iii) New customers to Raven through another application route

iv) New customers to Raven through tenancy exchanges

v) Existing tenants who need to transfer to another property (“transfers”)

vi) Existing tenants who need to move under Raven’s Under Occupation scheme which helps residents to move to a new home which better meets their household circumstances and minimises the effect of the Welfare Reform Act.

vii) Existing tenants requiring a ‘like for like’ move to the same sized property with lower rent. This scheme supports customers living in Affordable Rent properties identified as unable to sustain the tenancy due to affordability.

viii) Existing tenants currently living in Temporary Supported housing who have been allocated a permanent home and who have demonstrated that they no longer need support and are able sustain and manage their tenancy (“move on”).

ix) New applicants referred by other Social Landlords. From time to time we may enter into schemes outside of local authority nomination schemes which assist tenants to move to a property offered by different social landlords, if tenants need to move to a different area. We will normally only accept suitable applicants from other social landlords whose housing need would be given the same high priority under Raven’s policies. We may also agree reciprocal arrangements with other social landlords.

x) New applicants referred by agencies. If we are struggling to let a property, we may use referral agencies to identify someone in housing need. This method is only used when no other applicants are available or have been exhausted.

xi) Other applications. The policy is not designed to create additional tenancies on demand for existing households, for example in the case of relationship breakdown, or for tenants’ children who should be housed through the appropriate local authority Housing or Transfer Register.

  • Raven will accept applications directly and will maintain small direct waiting lists (DWL) of groups of applicants who need housing. Applications will be considered from those who are in housing need and may or may not be registered on local authorities. Raven will consider the use of a direct let in the following circumstances:
    • a. Vacancies for schemes with specific admission criteria which make them unlikely to be filled via the Housing Register.
    • b. Vacancies with little or no demand from a Housing Register.
    • c. Vacancies that have not been filled on a timely basis through our Nominations Agreement with the relevant local authority and via the Housing Register route.
  • Application acceptance criteria will be the same as used for local authority nominations and will be prioritised according to the priority order agreed for each particular group. Applicants housed in this way may be:
    • d. People who meet Raven’s Allocations eligibility criteria, but who may be unable to effectively access social housing in another way.
    • e. People affected by Welfare Reform.
    • f. People wishing to move to a smaller property
  • Management Moves; In addition, from time-to-time, there will be a need for a household to move outside of the normal allocation processes to provide a flexible solution to a safeguarding or safety concern for the household.

Other consideration

  • Raven is required, in conjunction with relevant Local Authorities, to cooperate with the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) with regard to the assessment and management of risks created by certain offenders. As a housing provider this cooperation is likely to involve carrying out an assessment and making a decision regarding nominations for housing under the MAPPA protocol.
  • Raven also from time-to-time will provide some ‘key-worker’ properties to people who have important jobs in the community, but who may otherwise find it hard to access private rented accommodation. This may be an exception to a local authority’s policies and procedures and will be allocated out of Raven’s nomination % for that council area. Raven intends that the charge for such properties is less than market rents, and generally this is calculated as 80% of market rent.
  • Local connections will not generally be considered, unless it is relevant to the allocation of a property for which a local connection is required.
  • Raven may introduce specific schemes or pilot new ways to move home, for example to support residents affected by future government changes. Any additional moving schemes will be subject to criteria set out in the project. Residents involved in a specific project or pilot may have different criteria applied to their move. Any specific project criteria will not change the general eligibility criteria set out in this policy.
  • Raven may maintain individual waiting lists for properties acquired without government funding and therefore not subject to any Nominations Agreements. Individual Local Lettings Plans will be agreed for any such schemes.

9.0 ASSESSMENT OF HOUSING NEED

9.1 An applicant’s need for accommodation will be on the basis of the information contained in their application and any nomination information from the relevant authority.

9.2 We will make it easy for people to access information about how to apply for housing in their local area.

9.3 All nominees’ details will be verified on application and at nomination stage by the local authorities and Raven to check accuracy, assess need, suitability, and affordability and support needs.

9.4 Regular audits are undertaken of our allocations processes to ensure they have been implemented accurately, fairly and consistently.

9.5 Raven will carry out an independent assessment at nomination stage of nominees’ financial circumstances to assess the affordability of the property for the household.

9.6 Applicants will be advised of their nomination to a Raven property.

9.7 Raven will ensure that applicants are offered a size of property that is considered suitable for their household and which is considered financially sustainable according to the criteria set out in section 8 of this policy.

9.8 In the event that an applicant is also an employee, Board member or a close relative of either, Raven will have regard to the Housing Accommodation provisions outlined in its Probity Policy. This includes those employees and Board Members who resigned or otherwise left the employment or engagement with Raven for a period of one year prior to any proposed allocation of property.

9.9 Applicants have the right to view personal information held by Raven and be provided with a permanent copy of their data, in accordance with UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. They can exercise this right by making a subject access request. Raven’s Privacy Policy which is found on the website provides information on the data we hold about residents and applicants, how we process personal data and how to make a subject access request.

10. EXCLUSIONS FROM OFFERS OF ACCOMMODATION

10.1 When assessing nominations and direct applications, Raven will assess residents’ ability to pay their rent and service charge and maintain a tenancy. Some nominations and applications will be refused if the property is deemed unaffordable or the tenancy unsustainable.

10.2 If there is clear evidence that within the last 3 years due to circumstances which the applicant could reasonably have prevented, there have been either previous tenancy or mortgage breaches, or an applicant has lost previous accommodation due to these.

10.3 If an applicant or spouse (or someone living as a spouse) has an outstanding debt with Raven and no payment plan is in place. Allocations may be considered if the debt is paid in full or a payment plan is agreed, in place and adhered to for an agreed period and the remaining debt is incorporated as a tenancy condition prior to a nomination from a local authority. This must be approved as an exception by the Income Manager.

10.4 If the household has access to funds or has disposed of an asset that would render their application ineligible for the type of housing they have applied for.

10.5 There a serious safeguarding concern can be evidenced that would create a significant risk to other residents in the area. For example, supported by the relevant enforcement agencies.

10.6 In accordance with its Policy on Anti-Social Behaviour, Raven will consider the need for community cohesion.

10.7 Raven will be unable to house applicants or nominees who are unable to join local authority housing registers due to immigration control.

10.8 Other specific exclusions, for example, where accommodation is specifically adapted and the applicant does not require the adaptations, where provision of specialist support is required, which is unable to be provided; or where the applicant is nominated for supported housing but does not meet the criteria for the support.

11. ALLOCATION OF VACANT PROPERTY

11.1 When a home becomes available for letting, Raven will, at an early stage, seek a potential occupant. This could include local authority nomination, direct applications or

11.2 allocations made through other appropriate sources.

11.3 All applicants will be given the opportunity to view the property before deciding whether to accept. In some circumstances, this may be virtual rather than in person. Applicants will be required to sign up and move into their new home immediately it is ready to let and pay one week’s full rent in advance at sign up as rent is due weekly, in advance.

11.4 The size of property that will normally be allocated is as follows:

Household Size Accommodation Likely to be Offered
Applicant only Bed-sit or studio / one bedroom flat, bungalow or house / maisonette
Applicant and partner One bedroom flat / bungalow / house / maisonette
Applicant (and partner, if applicable) and one child ** Two bedroom flat / house / bungalow / maisonette
Applicant (and partner, if applicable) and more than one child ** A flat, house, maisonette or bungalow that meets the following criteria: One bedroom for the applicant and partner (if applicable); And one bedroom for each child or family member, except where there are: (i) 2 children of the same sex under the age of 18 or (ii) 2 children of opposite sex under the age of 10 shall be permitted to share a bedroom

** The child’s/children’s main and principal home is that of the applicant’s or nominees. A dependent child is classed as being under the age of 18 or in full time secondary education.

*** Where a household consists of two adults over the age of 18 and who are not deemed to be applicant and partner, i.e. two siblings; Raven will require the tenancy to be in joint names.

**** The above standards apply to all Raven General Needs accommodation only.

11.5 In certain circumstances Raven will consider requests from applicants who wish to bid for properties which are smaller than the standards set out above. An example may be where a family living in cramped conditions are happy to move to a larger property, even if it does not meet their accommodation needs under Raven’s bedroom standards.

11.6 In exceptional circumstances, where Raven are satisfied that the property is affordable, a property may be let as “under-occupied”.

12. APPEALS

12.1 If applicants or nominees are unhappy with the allocation of the home they have been offered they should first contact the nominating local authority.

12.2 If applicants have other concerns regarding the allocation of a home we will aim to deal with these early, and informally. We will make it easy to find information about who to contact and we will publicise the appeals process if customers want to make a formal appeal.

13. RESPONSIBILITY

13.2 The Director of Customer and Partners is responsible for implementation of the policy

14. PUBLICISING THE POLICY

  • a. A copy of this policy will be available on Raven’s website.
  • b. This policy will also be available on the nest (intranet)
  • c. Training will be provided for core staff who will apply this policy
  • d. A copy of this policy will be made available to local authority partners, asking them to add a link to the individual websites.

15. MONITORING, COMPLIANCE & REVIEW

15.1 This policy will be regularly reviewed by the Board, with recognised tenants’ groups, and in conjunction with relevant stakeholders to ensure that we are contributing to meeting housing need.

15.2 We will seek applicants’ views on the lettings process and use this information to improve our procedures.

15.3 We report to our Board, Local Authorities, the Housing Regulator and tenants on the number of empty properties we have, the time it takes us to let them and which groups of people we let them to.

16 EQUALITY & DIVERSITY

We will seek to understand the diverse needs and circumstances of applicants and nominees for rehousing. Using this insight, we will adjust services to meet the diverse needs of our customers, remove barriers to accessing housing; and let properties in a fair, equitable & transparent way.

All Board members, staff and involved residents must understand Raven’s policies, promoting equality and diversity and challenging discriminatory action or expression.

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