What is Torfaen Homeseeker?
Torfaen Homeseeker is a common housing register, this means that a group of organisations are working together to deliver one register rather than you having to apply to each organisation individually. Torfaen Homeseeker is a partnership between the Council and 6 Housing Associations; Bron Afon Community Housing, Melin Homes, Pobl, Linc Cymru, United Welsh and Hafod Housing.
The Torfaen Homeseeker scheme is a choice based lettings scheme, this means that applicants are required to 'bid' for properties that are advertised that they wish to be considered for. This allows applicants to see what properties are becoming available in Torfaen and make informed choices about where they wish to live.
How do I apply to join the Torfaen Homeseeker housing register?
Before you will be able to complete a Homeseeker application, you will first need to register an account on our website using the 'register' button in the upper right corner of the screen. Once registered with the website (or if you have previously registered), once logged into your online account you will have the option to 'Apply for social housing' which is a link that can be found in the Homeseeker Application box. Complete the application as fully and accurately as possible, making sure that you answer the questions relevant to you and anyone listed on your application.
What happens after I have completed the application form online?
Once you have completed your application online, the Homeseeker Team will then need your supporting ID documents before your application can be placed in the queue to be activated. The list of documents we require are listed on the declaration page of the online application form (the last page of the form) along with information on how to send them to the team. You will have 28 days to submit the required documents otherwise your application could be cancelled. If your application is cancelled you will need to complete a new Homeseeker application and resubmit your supporting documents.
I have submitted all of the required ID documents but my application is still not active, what do I do?
Due to the high number of applications being processed by the Homeseeker Team, it can take around 2 weeks before applications are activated following all required documents being received. Once your application has been made active, you will receive notification of your band and registration date. Once active you will be able to start bidding for properties that are advertised.
What do I do if my circumstances change?
It is very important that you tell us of any changes in your circumstances so that we can amend your application. Changes in your circumstances could result in your banding being changed and/or a change in what properties you can bid for.
Do I need to renew my application each year?
Yes, once a year we will write to you asking if you wish to remain on the Homeseeker register (this will be sent by email if you have an email address on your application). In order to renew your application you must resubmit your online application within 28 days by going right through the form and clicking 'submit' on the declaration page of the form. This is an opportunity for you to check all of your information is still correct and to let us know of any changes. If you fail to renew your application within 28 days we will write and tell you that your application has been cancelled.
What are bands?
Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed into a band ranging from high priority e.g. Gold Band to low priority e.g. Bronze Band.
How are bands awarded?
All priorities within the Homeseeker housing need bands need to be evidenced prior to an award being given and we use the date priority is awarded as your effective date of registration. This may differ from your registration date as priority could have been awarded after you originally applied. E.g. if a medical assessment is undertaken and your priority band changes the effective date of registration will change to the date the new band is awarded.
How is medical priority assessed?
Some people cannot remain in their current home due to an illness and/or disability that makes the current home unsuitable and they need to move. In order for us to assess each case on an individual basis, we require you to complete a medical questionnaire (triggered within your online application when you select a medical need for housing in the 'Your Housing Needs' section). We will also require supporting evidence from your GP or other medical practitioner to assess whether due to your medical condition the current home is unsuitable. We will then use this information to make a decision to award medical priority. If we do not award priority, you may appeal providing additional medical evidence is submitted.
Can my priority banding be reduced/removed?
Yes, if you are in a priority band e.g. gold band, your priority banding may be reduced if you refuse offers of accommodation and/or fail to bid regularly for suitable properties that are advertised.
What can I apply for?
You can generally apply for any advertised property as long as you meet the bedroom eligibility criteria regardless to the band in which it is advertised. There are some exceptions, such as properties advertised for the disabled or a housing provider has requested an age eligibility to apply. The priority bands tell you what category of applicant will be considered first. If we receive no bids within a band or an applicant is not considered for other reasons we will consider applications from other bands in descending priority order. For example a 3-bedroom house advertised in Gold will mean those who meet the bedroom criteria and are in Gold would be considered ahead of applicants holding Silver and Bronze. If no one is eligible in Gold, Silver would be considered then Bronze until a correct match is made.
You will be able to express an interest in a maximum of four properties during each advert cycle. However, you will only be able to express interest in properties that are suitable and large enough for you and your family.
How long will I have to bid for a property?
Properties are advertised on a weekly basis with adverts running from midnight on a Wednesday (leading into Thursday morning) to 23:59 on the following Tuesday. Please note, if you wish to bid via telephone or email, you will have to do so within office hours so that the Homeseeker Team can process your request.
Will I know how many other people are interested in the same property?
Yes, when you bid for a property you will be told where you are in the queue at that moment in time and this is meant to be only a guide to you, IT DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU WILL BE OFFERED A PROPERTY. Due to the high volumes of people accessing the site your position is likely to change frequently as other people may apply for the same property who may be registered longer than you, this is particularly important at the advert close as we take account of all bids at that time including internet, telephone, email and paper bids. Using this information as your guide you may decide to withdraw your bid for one property and bid for a different property for which you are higher placed in the queue. You can do this at any time before the closing date, however, this is not available for email or paper expressions of interest.
Why does my position change?
Homeseeker allows you to track your current live position right up until the close of the advert for each property you apply for and places you in a current position in relation to other eligible applicants also applying for that property. Position is dependent on your band status and the date this was awarded, i.e. if someone has the same band as you, is eligible but has been waiting longer; they will be ranked ahead of you. This information allows you either to remain interested or to withdraw your bid and apply for other properties that may be more advantageous to you.
How do you decide who is offered a property?
Once the closing date for bids has passed a shortlist of interested applicants is drawn up by the respective landlord. The shortlist is in order of priority preference, eligibility and effective date of registration according to the criteria stated in the advert details for that property. The applicant at the top of the list will normally be offered the property.
If I successfully bid for a rented property, can the landlord refuse to let it to me?
You may not be invited to view the property for the following reasons:
- You owe rent or have other housing related debts within the partnership
- You are a tenant and legal action has been taken against you because you have broken your tenancy conditions
- You have sufficient resources to solve your own housing problems i.e. own your own home
- You have not provided the required documentary evidence to support your application by the date given
- Your circumstances have changed and this results in a reduction in your level of priority.
- You have provided incorrect or misleading information, which has resulted in your application being awarded a higher priority than it deserves.
What if I don’t like the property when I have seen it?
You will not normally be penalised for refusing a property that you have been offered and will still be able to express interest in properties that become available, however after 2 suitable offers your priority is likely to be decreased to a lower band.
How will I know what has happened to the properties advertised?
Information about homes that have been successfully let or purchased through shared ownership is published. We tell you the number of applicants that expressed an interest in each property, the band and the registration date of each property.
Are carpets and appliances provided?
You will normally have to provide your own carpets and appliances.
What other options are there for housing?
There is a severe shortage of affordable homes in the Torfaen area. Most applicants on the Homeseeker Register will have to wait a considerable time for re-housing and many of those in the lower bands will be waiting a significant time for housing in the local area. Depending on your circumstances you may wish to consider other options such as renting in the private sector. The Torfaen Homes website provides a full breakdown of the housing options available to residents in Torfaen. Please click here to visit the Torfaen Homes website for further information. Information is also available on our partner website.
What if I become homeless?
Households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness will need to discuss their circumstances with the Council's Housing Options service. We will work with you to try to prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your housing options with you. If this is unsuccessful you may be offered temporary housing dependent upon your circumstances. You may still express an interest in properties through Torfaen Homeseeker, providing your application has been accepted on the Register.
How do I request a review of a decision?
If you disagree with any of the following decisions you can request a review:
• You are not eligible to join the housing register
• You are not eligible for an offer
• Your application has been cancelled other than at your own request
• You think that you have been placed in the wrong band or given the wrong priority date
To request a review you must contact the Homeseeker Team within 21 days of the date you are notified of the decision and the reason for it. You may provide additional information in writing that you wish to be taken into account when the review is carried out. You will normally be advised of the outcome of the review within 8 weeks. You may not request a further review however you have a right of Appeal.