This FAQ provides information on the changes that have been made to North Tyneside Council’s Lettings Policy.
A number of changes have been introduced to the new Lettings Policy. These focus on:
An increase in the number of Bands;
An applicant’s local connection;
Applicants that own a property or have sold /transferred their property within the last 3 years;
Young families living in properties above ground level;
Restricting applicants that repeatedly refuse offers of a property;
The new Lettings Policy will ‘go-live’ on Tuesday 25 July 2017
The changes are being introduced to ensure the Council is making the best use of existing stock for those that have a housing need in the Borough.
Only some applicants who are currently registered will be affected by the changes and they will be written to advising of how the changes affect them.
Once the policy is introduced, all applicants will be assessed against the new Lettings Policy.
An article alongside a FAQ will be published on both the North Tyneside Council website and the Tyne and Wear Home’s website.
Existing applicants affected by any of the changes will be notified in writing before the policy goes live.
Training will be delivered to all relevant staff prior to the policy going live. This will ensure they understand how to implement the policy and update ICT accordingly.
All North Tyneside Council’s policies are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are up-to-date with Government legislation/policy and that they are effectively meeting the needs of service users.
How are the Bands changing?
The previous Lettings Policy had 4 Bands. We have introduced 2 additional Bands to the new policy, Bands 5 and 6. Each Band reflects the level of housing need an applicant has and whether they have a local connection to the Borough. Applicants who have a local connection to the Borough will be given a higher priority than those who do not.
The bands are as follows:
Band 1 – Urgent and High Housing Need (applicants with a local connection)
Band 2 – High Housing Need (applicants with a local connection)
Band 3 – Medium Housing Need (applicants with a local connection)
Band 4 - Applicants with a Reasonable Preference but who do not have a local connection
Band 5 – Applicants with a General Housing Need who have a local connection
Band 6 – Applicants with a General Housing Need who have no local connection
Who will be affected?
Existing applicants may find that their Band has changed as a result of the new Lettings Policy. If this occurs, we will notify them in writing to inform them of the change prior to the new policy going live on 25 July 2017.
What is a local connection?
A ‘local connection’ is where an applicant has a connection with the Borough because they have:
Resided in the area for at least 2 years;
Are permanently employed in the Borough;
Have family associations with others living in the Borough and these family members have lived in the area for at least 2 years.
What is the purpose of introducing this clause to the policy?
By prioritising those applicants with links to the Borough, the Council will ensure their housing needs are met before responding to those from out of Borough that could have their needs met elsewhere.
How will this affect the Housing Register?
Priority will be given to applicants that can demonstrate a local connection. Existing applicants on the waiting list may find that their banding changes. Affected applicants will receive written notice of any changes. There will be no right to request a review of these changes.
How will the policy impact upon homeless individuals that are ineligible to join the Housing Register?
If an individual has been accepted as homeless and in priority need but is not eligible to join the Housing Register, they will not be able to bid for any homes. They will be made one direct offer of a home. The Council will aim to make this offer within 4 weeks of the individual being accepted as homeless.
Can someone classed as statutory homeless refuse a housing offer?
If an individual classed as statutory homeless refuses a reasonable offer of accommodation, North Tyneside Council will discharge its duty to find them accommodation.
What is this the purpose of this amendment?
Those that own their own home or have recently sold/transferred their property in the last 3 years will generally be deemed to have the financial resources to meet their own housing need i.e. buy / rent another property. By restricting access to those in the most urgent housing need North Tyneside Council will be able to make best use of stock for these individuals.
How will the average value of a property be calculated?
North Tyneside Councils’ Housing Strategy team will produce an annual property values spreadsheet that lists properties sold within the Borough over the previous year. The average value for each type i.e. detached, terrace, etc. will then be used to determine an applicant’s eligibility, along with the applicant’s individual circumstances, i.e. household size.
Why is this not by ward?
Whilst we know property values differ between wards, a decision has been made to use the Borough average for each type to simplify the process.
Will this apply to applicants that have sold their home recently?
Yes, if an applicant has sold or transferred their home within the last 3 years they will need to provide evidence regarding the level of equity they received.
How will this policy affect those wanting to move into older people’s accommodation?
Applicant’s wanting to move into older people’s accommodation will be eligible to join the Housing Register where their equity is less than the average price of a similar type of accommodation in the Borough. However, these applicants will not be eligible for any other type of accommodation.
How will you define an exceptional circumstance?
An example of an exceptional circumstance will be where there are serious health and safety concerns with the property and the applicant has no other housing options. It will be the responsibility of a Manager/Team Leader to make the final decision.
What is the purpose of this amendment?
North Tyneside Council tenants that live in a flat / maisonette above ground floor level where the property isn’t lift serviced with a child aged 5 or under, that have accessibility issues due to the stairs, may be awarded a higher priority for re-housing. The change will result in those applicants with a local connection being awarded a Band 3 (medium housing need).
Why is North Tyneside assessing affordability?
A key objective of the new Policy is achieving sustainable tenancies and stable and balanced communities, so it is important that customers are able to pay their rent.
In order to achieve this, financial checks are carried out prior to the offer of a tenancy and if it is deemed that the prospective customer is unable to afford rent payments, in the context of their other weekly outgoings, including the repayments of existing debts, their application may be refused.
Can an applicant’s family or friend sponsor them as part of the affordability assessment?
No. The affordability assessment will only take into account the income and expenditure of the applicant and the other people that will be living in the property. This ensures that when North Tyneside Council makes an offer, the applicant will be able to afford and therefore sustain the tenancy.
Will an applicant’s existing arrears impact on their eligibility?
Yes, if an applicant has any outstanding household debt this will be taken into consideration when deciding whether to proceed with the housing offer.
What is the purpose of this amendment?
This change will ensure that housing offers are made to those that are in housing need and reduce the time applicants spend on the waiting list.
What is a reasonable refusal?
A refusal of a property may be deemed reasonable in the following instances:
The property does not have the correct adaptations for the applicant;
Medical reasons prevent the applicant accepting the property;
There was an error in the adverts details.
If an applicant is restricted from bidding, how do they re-join the housing register?
Affected applicants will need to request for their application to be reinstated in writing within 3 months of the suspension period ending.
The new policy can be accessed here.