Torfaen Homeseeker was launched in May 2009 and has been running successfully for the last 7 years. Partners of Homeseeker are the Council and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) that operate across the county (Bron Afon Community Housing, Melin Homes, Charter Housing Association, Hafod Housing Association, Linc Cymru and United Welsh Housing Association).
During 2015/16, the Homeseeker Policy underwent a full review to evaluate whether it takes appropriate account of key and emerging legislative changes and best practice, and also to identify whether it adequately reflects the housing market and customer needs.
Following further Central Government welfare benefit reforms and the introduction of Local Housing Allowance rates to Social Housing, the affordability of housing will be an issue for some households.
This will have the greatest impact on single applicants/tenants under the age of 35, who claim housing benefit. In response to this, contained within the revised Homeseeker Policy is the ability for applicants to apply to create a joint tenancy in order to house-share and receive priority on the waiting list, the purpose of which is to incentivise shared housing as an affordable and sustainable housing solution.
The Home Size Matrix has also been reviewed to ensure properties are allocated to make best use of a limited resource (maximising occupancy) and promote affordable, sustainable tenancies. The proposed changes to the Home Size Matrix are;
• To restrict singles and couples to 1 bedroom accommodation (currently eligible for up to 2 bedrooms). The Homeseeker Policy will however allow for flexibility to enable RSL Partners to allocate 2 bedroom properties to singles/couples in areas of low demand or where there is a low supply of single person accommodation within an area.
• To restrict households with 1 child to 2 bedroom properties (where currently eligible for 3 bedroom properties)
• To enable pregnant applicants (over 20 weeks) who have no other dependant children to be able to bid for 2 bedroom properties (including houses). These applicants are currently only eligible for flats and maisonettes.
The revised Homeseeker Policy will be implemented on the 8th February 2017 subject to the required system changes being completed. Please see the following link for a full version of the revised Homeseeker Policy: English Version. Welsh Version.
The Homeseeker Team