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West Lancs HomeFinder

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who can apply for properties through West Lancs HomeFinder?
    You must have been accepted onto West Lancashire’s Housing Register to be able to apply for properties through West Lancs HomeFinder. Anyone aged 16 years or over may apply to join the Housing Register, although there are some restrictions on who will be accepted.
     
  • How do I apply to join the Housing Register?
    You will need to complete an online application. If you experience any difficulties please contact the Housing Options Team.
     
  • Do I need to provide a reference?
    Yes. Unless you hold a current tenancy with West Lancashire Borough Council or are over 60 years of age you will need to provide a reference. Where it is a joint application one reference will be needed for each applicant. If you hold a current tenancy the reference must be from your current landlord and include details of your rent payments and whether there have been any complaints of noise nuisance or anti social behaviour. All references must detail your suitability as a tenant.
     
  • What other documents do I need to provide?
    Along with your application form you will need to provide the following:
    Proof of ID. This can be
    Either: Current passport or current driving licence (Photo)
    OR 2 of the following: recent utility bill, current bank account statement, recent correspondence from DWP, Inland Revenue, Tax Credit Office, or Pensions Service.
    Without a satisfactory reference and ID, your application will not be processed and the form will be returned to you.

    Evidence of your right to reside in the UK if you are not a British Citizen (e.g. passport & other relevant Home Office documentation)

    Before you are offered a property you will need to provide additional documents to support your application. We will tell you what documents to provide and when to provide them.

    ALL SUPPORTING INFORMATION SHOULD BE E-MAILED TO myhousingapplication@westlancs.gov.uk
     
  • What happens if I do not provide the supporting evidence?
    Providing you have properly completed your application form, provide identification and a satisfactory reference, it will be processed but placed in the lowest band, until the documents are received, when it will be moved into the appropriate band from the date they are received.

    If your application form is incomplete it will be returned to you. The date it is later accepted from will be the date the fully completed form is received.
     
  • How do I know if I have been accepted onto the Housing Register?
    You will receive a letter confirming that you have been accepted onto the Housing Register. This will tell you the band you have been placed, the date your application has been registered from and the size of property you are eligible for.
     
  • 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.
    • Current Council Tenants who have not maintained their property in accordance with the terms of their tenancy.
    • Applicants will not qualify to re-join the housing register for 12 months from the start of their tenancy
    • Those who previously purchased a property through the Right to Buy within the last 10 years unless they are applying for sheltered housing.
    • The Council will not allocate housing to people who already own their own homes, unless you need sheltered accommodation and your home/assets were not of sufficient value to secure such accommodation privately, or you have other exceptional circumstances.
    • Applicants whose income is over £40,000 or have savings/assets over £60,000.

    For more detailed information contact our Housing Options team

  • What are priority Bands?
    Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed in one of 4 bands, A to D. We will also take into account whether you have a local connection to areas/villages within West Lancashire and whether you are able to afford to resolve your own housing problems. Within each band applications are prioritised by ‘Plus’ status and then placed in date order. For more information on banding please download the leaflet Guide to Banding
  • 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.
     
  • 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 renewal form, which you must complete and return to us. If you fail to return the form your application will be cancelled.
     
  • What if someone in my household has a medical condition?
    If someone in your household has a medical condition you will be asked to provide details, which may then be considered by the council’s medical panel, who will put forward a recommendation. You can continue to choose which properties to express an interest in but must be mindful of your condition and only express interest in suitable properties such as ground floor flat or bungalow if you cannot climb stairs.
     
  • How often are properties advertised?
    Properties available for rent are advertised each week.  As soon as we are given formal notice that a property is due to become vacant we will advertise it.
    • For more details click Step 2 -Choosing, part of our step-by-step guide to using the service.
       
  • Where are properties advertised?
    Properties are advertised in the following ways:
    • In a newsletter available from the council's Customer Service Points and libraries.
    • On display boards in the council's Customer Service Points and parish council notice boards.

       
  • What information will the property adverts contain?
    The adverts will tell you the location, size, rent and other features of the property. Where available, a photograph of the property or a similar house type will be provided and you will be able to access information about the local area and facilities.

    The advert will also tell you if there are any special requirements that the applicant must meet, such as age requirements. It also tells you the number of bedrooms that applicants applying for the property need to be entitled to. If your bedroom entitlement is different to this you will not be able to bid for that property. 
     
  • How do I apply for a property?
    You can express your interest or bid, as it is also known, in the following ways:
    • Online through our website, http://www.westlancs.gov.uk/homefinder
    • Through our 24hr automated telephone service on 0300 777 1370
    • In person - at drop-in sessions at the council's Customer Service Points (Please contact the Voids & Allocations team on 01695 585297 for details)
    • By text message: 07537402598

  • Available Now Properties

These properties are available on a first come first served basis, there is no need to place a bid, just contact us to express your interest. You will need to be on the councils Housing Register, and all offers are subject to affordability checks. If you are interested contact the Voids & Allocations Team on Tel: 01695 585276

  • How do we select which properties will be Available Now

An Available Now property will have been advertised for bidding via Homefinder, and either received no bids or where refusals have resulted in an empty shortlist. Before designating as ‘available now’ the property will have been made available for bidding to all applicants who would be eligible for the property type eg a 3 bed house would have been made open to all applicants eligible for 2 or 3 bed houses. 

  • How many properties can I express an interest in?
    You will be able to express an interest in a maximum of three properties each time properties are advertised. However, you will only be able to express interest in properties that are suitable for your family.
     
  • How long will I have to bid for a property?
    Properties will be advertised from 00:01am on Thursday until 23:59pm the following Tuesday.
     
  • 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. This is likely to change frequently due to other people bidding for the same property. Using this information 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.
     
  • 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. The shortlist is in order of eligibility 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. For more details -visit Step 3 -Offer.
     
  • 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
    • You are a Council 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
    • 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.
    • The property does not meet your housing needs, for example if you have told us you need a ground floor property for medical reasons and the property you have bid on is upstairs.
       
  • If I am offered a property, will I be able to view it before making up my mind?
    Yes. You will be given an opportunity to view the property and decide whether you would like to accept it.
     
  • What if I don’t like the property when I have seen it?
    You will still be able to express interest in properties that become available, however if you are in Band A or B and refuse three properties your Band will be reduced to Band C.
     
  • How will I know what has happened to the properties advertised?
    Information about homes that have been successfully let 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. To see the results of properties that have been let click Recent Lets.
     
  • How will this information help me?
    It will give you a better idea of how popular a particular property or area is and how long you would normally have to wait. You can then decide whether to look for other types of property or areas where you may not have to wait as long.
     
  • What other options are there for housing?
    There is a severe shortage of homes in the West Lancashire area, particularly houses. Most applicants on the Housing Register will have to wait a long time for re-housing and many of those in the lower bands will still have little chance of re-housing in the local area. Depending on your circumstances you may wish to consider other options such as renting in the private sector.
  • What if I become homeless?
    You should contact the Homelessness Advice and Prevention team on Tel: 01695 585222.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.

    If you have been accepted as unintentionally homeless and in priority need you are expected to actively make bids against suitable properties.

    If you have been assessed as being unintentionally homeless and in priority need, you will be made one offer of accommodation. If you refuse the offer, your homeless case will close and your application will be placed in band C.

    Bidding patterns will be monitored for an initial period of 8 weeks. If you do not bid, or just bid on unobtainable properties, the Homelessness Officer will offer further advice. If this bidding pattern continues the officer will bid on your behalf and discharge duty on the first successful bid.

    Where a homeless person has been bidding on reasonable properties but have not been successful the homeless officer in conjunction with the manager will consider whether to extend the period beyond 8 weeks.
     
  • 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

      If you want to appeal against a decision we have made about your application, you must write to the Housing Needs and Allocations Manager within 21 days of receiving the decision.

      Housing Needs and Allocations Manager
      Housing & Regeneration Service
      Elson House
      49-51 Westgate
      Skelmersdale
      West Lancashire
      WN8 8LP

      Your letter should explain why you think our decision is unfair and against council policy. You should include any evidence you have to support your appeal. There is no further right of appeal if you are unhappy with the decision.
       
  • How long will it take for the housing teams to respond to a message sent online?
    • You should receive a response from the HomeFinder team within 10 working days.
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