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Frequently asked questions

Registration

What happens if I do not provide the required documents?
Until we receive all the evidence to support your priority we will place you in the lowest priority band, this is the bronze band. If we receive evidence to support a higher priority band at initial registration we will alter your priority status to reflect your increased priority. If your application form is incomplete it will be returned to you. The longer you take to fully complete your form will be reflected by the time your application has been awarded an effective date of registration.

Can you refuse to accept me onto the Housing Register?
There are some people who are not eligible to be included on the Housing Register. These are: Certain people who are subject to Immigration Control under the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act. Certain people from abroad who are not subject to immigration control but who are not habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland. People (including members of their household) who have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour that makes them unsuitable to be a tenant.

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. We will tell you if this results in your application moving to a different band. If you move up a band the date used will be the date you move into that band. If you move down a band the date used will be the date that applied when you were previously in that band or any earlier date when you were in a higher band.

Do I need to renew my application each year?
Yes, once a year, normally on the anniversary of your application you will be sent a declaration form, which you must complete and return within 28 days. If you fail to return the form we will write and tell you that your application has been cancelled.

Banding

What are bands?
Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed in one of the priority bands ranging from very urgent need to no housing need.

How are bands awarded?
All priorities within the Homeseeker high housing need bands are 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.

How long will I stay in the same band?
Our priority bands are based on a persons need for housing, the greater the need the higher the band. Bidding activity will be monitored and those in the higher priority bands are expected to bid borough wide to meet their housing need. Failure to do so will result in a reduction in their priority status. Applicants will normally only remain in Platinum band for 8 weeks and Gold band  for 13 weeks subject to the availability of suitable accommodation. Homeless will be awarded for 13 weeks and failure to bid within this timescale will result in Torfaen County Borough Council making a direct offer of accommodation anywhere in the Borough to discharge the homeless duty.
All other bands have unlimited time restrictions. If you are unsuccessful in securing accommodation within the higher priority bands, your priority status will be reviewed to decide whether it continues to warrant such a high level of priority. However, if it is decided that your priority is to be reduced your application will be reassessed and placed in the band appropriate to your circumstances.

Why have I lost my Platinum or Gold priority and been reduced to Silver?
Platinum or Gold applicants are given the highest preference ahead of Silver and Bronze because they have an evidenced high housing need or we have a legal responsibility. Platinum and Gold applicants have a responsibility to resolve their current housing issues by applying for a suitable range of properties to be re-housed as soon as possible. Each priority award lasts for a set period of time and we are monitoring applicants who we consider are not using this priority properly (dependant upon the circumstances priority was awarded) if after the set period of time we consider you have not taken reasonable steps in your applications your priority will be reduced to Silver band. There is an Appeals process should this occur.

Bidding

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 dependant 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.

Offer

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. Information is also provide on our partner websites:

Torfaen Homes- www.torfaenhomes.co.uk
Bron Afon- www.bronafon.org.uk
Melin Homes- www.melinhomes.co.uk
Linc Cymru- www.linc-cymru.co.uk
Hafod Housing- www.hafod.org.uk
Seren Living- www.serenliving.co.uk
United Welsh - http://www.unitedwelsh.com/

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 dependant upon your circumstances. You may still express an interest in properties through Torfaen Homeseeker, providing your application has been accepted on the Register.

Appeal

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.