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FAQs

How do I make an application for housing?

Log on to www.homechoicewb.org.uk (final email address to be checked) and click on ‘Register’.

My application says it’s removed and I want to start bidding. What should I do?

Contact the Housing Allocations Team on 01635 519530 or email us on housingallocations@westberks.gov.uk

I don’t remember my username and password.

Click on ‘Forgotten Password’ to reset your password. If you are not able to do this, please email us on housingallocations@westberks.gov.uk or call us on 01635 519530.

My circumstances have changed. What do I need to do?

Log in to your application on Homechoice and update your information. You'll need submit supporting documents for any changes.

Should I create a new application or update my old one?

If you have a live application please log in to Homechoice and update your details using the application form.

If you have a removed or pending application please contact the Housing Allocations Team on 01635 519530 or housingallocations@westberks.gov.uk

If you’ve been housed since you last applied, you’ll need to start a new application.

What documents should I upload to my application?

We’ll need to see copies of:

  • Your current tenancy agreement if you have one
  • Your current rent statement if you’re currently renting
  • Passports for all adults in the household.
  • If you don’t have a passport you’ll need to send us 
    • Your birth certificate if you were born before 1 January 1983
    • Your birth certificate and a copy of your mother’s birth certificate if you were born on or after 1 January 1983

If you have children on your application you'll need to provide all of the documents below:

  • Your child benefit award letter and a bank statement showing child benefit coming into your bank account
  • Their passport or birth certificate if they don't have a passport

Please upload this to your application in the online account area as soon as possible, as we can’t assess your application until we have these things. You can upload scanned copies or photos. Please only send us hard copies if you really need to.

What’s a rent statement?

A rent statement is a record from your current landlord showing all rent charges and rent payments and your current balance where you live now. 

What does non-qualifying mean?

If your application is assessed as non-qualifyng it means you don't meet the qualifying criteria. Here's an explanation of what qualifying means under our Policy.

Qualifying means:

You have been resident in West Berkshire for at least 2 consecutive years immediately prior to your application being made.

OR

You have a parent or adult sibling or adult child who has lived in West Berkshire for 5 consecutive years. In addition the circumstances must be that the applicant needs to give or receive essential support for the foreseeable future. It is for the Council to assess and decide if the claim of support, to be received or given, is essential. The Council will consider whether there are exceptional circumstances where other family members may be considered as close. For example, the circumstances where a person was brought up by an extended family member, in the absence of their own parents.
(Note: the level of support required must be significant and cannot be short term or low level eg to carry out shopping once a week. Evidence will need to show there would be savings to the public purse ie via the health budget or reduces pressure on the care system especially where there is no existing support package in place.)

OR

You have been employed in meaningful paid employment within the district, for 16 hours or more a week, for at least the last 2 consecutive years. The local connection criteria must be maintained for the duration of the application.

AND

You have insufficient financial resources to secure accommodation, whether rented, part-owned or owned in the private sector. This will normally mean that the household has a gross joint income from all sources of less than £60,000 (couples) or less than £44,000 (for single persons). It also means the household has total savings, investments and/or assets of £16,000 or less. Owner-occupiers will be considered to have sufficient resources to secure accommodation unless they are able to provide appropriate evidence that this is not the case.

AND

You are assessed as having a housing need that places you within one of the reasonable preference categories.

If your application is considered non-qualifying, you won’t be able to join the Housing Register or bid on properties.

Why has my application been suspended?

There are a number of reasons your application may have been suspended, and we will notify you if your application is suspended. More information can be found here.

What does ‘no reasonable housing need’ mean?

There are lots of reasons we may assess you as having a housing need, including:

  • Overcrowding
  • Under occupying
  • Shared facilities
  • Medical needs
  • You’re about to be made homeless or are living with family or friends and there isn’t enough room for you
  • Your current home isn’t suitable
  • You’re a serving or former member of the armed services and you need to move because your home is provided by the armed services

There are other reasons you might have a housing need, and more information can be found here.

If you don’t have a housing need, you won’t be able to join the Housing Register or bid on properties.

How do I prove my local connection?

Local connection means:

You’ve lived in West Berkshire for at least the last two years. To prove this, you’ll need to send us a copy of your current tenancy agreement. If you can’t send us this, we can check your council tax records.

OR

You have close family member who has lived in West Berkshire for at least the last five years. Close family means adult siblings, parents or adult children. You’ll need to show us evidence that you provide care for them, or they provide care for you. You’ll need to let us know their address(es).

OR

You’ve worked in West Berkshire for at least the last two years for at least 16 hours per week in meaningful employment. You’ll need to send us a copy of your contract and a recent payslip.

I have a medical condition. Can I ask for a medical assessment?

Yes you can. You’ll need to update your housing application in the online account area and submit supporting documents from a medical professional. It is your responsiblity to provide us with the medical evidence, we are not able to get in touch with your medical professional. We’ll only award you medical priority if your health is affected by your housing situation. We might arrange for an occupational therapist to have a look at your current home to see if any adaptations can be made to help you stay there.

How do I know whether I'm considered a key worker?

       We've aligned our policy with the definition provided by TVELP. Those eligible for help are: 

  • Clinical staff employed by the NHS (excluding doctors and dentists)
  • Teachers, including further education teachers and Early Years/nursery teachers
  • Police officers and community support officers in specified forces
  • Frontline police staff (civilians) may also be eligible in some areas
  • Prison officers and some Prison Service staff in prisons in specified areas
  • Probation officers (senior or not) and, for intermediate rent only, trainee probation officers
  • Local authority (LA) or local education authority (LEA) or NHS social workers
  • LA therapists (including occupational therapists and speech and language therapists)
  • LA educational psychologists
  • LA/LEA/NHS nursery nurses
  • LA planners
  • LA clinical staff
  • Uniformed staff, below principal level, in fire and rescue services

        If you're not sure, get in touch with the Housing Allocations Team who will be able to tell you if you're eligible.

I need an adapted property. What will you need from me to prove this?

You’ll need to let us know why you need an adapted property. Your medical team will be able to send us information about what you need, and this will support your application. If you’ve had an occupational therapist report, you’ll need to send us a copy or ask your support worker to send us a copy. Each case is very different. Your application will be assessed on your individual needs.

I share custody of my children. Can I include them on my application?

We’ll accept children on your application if you get child benefit for them. If you don’t get your child(ren)’s child benefit, we won’t be able to include them on your application unless there are exceptional circumstances. This is because Child Benefit is awarded to the primary carer.

How long will it take to be offered a property?

Lots of things can affect how long it takes to get a property through the Housing Register, so it’s really not possible to answer this question. Once your application is live and you’re able to bid on properties, you’ll see how close to the top of the list your bids are coming. This will give you a good idea. It’s a good idea to be open minded about the properties and areas you’ll consider moving to. You might also want to look into other ways of moving:

  • Private rent
  • Mutual exchange
  • Home Hunt

I can see age restricted properties to bid on but I’m under the age restriction. Can I place a bid?

The system will let you do this, but if you’re too young, we won’t consider you for the property. If you or someone you live with has a vulnerability which means they may benefit from this type of housing, some housing associations may be flexible on this.

When does bidding open and close?

Bidding opens at 12 noon on Thursday of each week, and closes at 12 noon the following Wednesday.

How long before I hear if I will be offered a property after bidding closes?

The housing association will get in touch with you if you’ve been successful.

What does the ranking mean on the properties I’ve bid on?

Ranking is the priority order of bids on a property. The order depends on which band you’re in and how long your priority date. We aren’t able to give out specific information, but you can see information about the banding and priority dates of those who have been successful in the ‘Recent Lets’ area of the Property Search tab.

Why can’t I see any properties to bid on?

To view all the properties advertised this week go to the Homechoice home page and click on ‘Property List’, then select ineligible properties. This is where you’ll see all properties on advert each week. You’ll only see eligible properties by default. If there are no eligible properties for you to bid on, that means there are no properties this week which are suitable for your housing need.

I’ve received an annual renewal request. What do I need to do?

Every year you’ll have to renew your application. You’ll need to log in to your Homechoice account and confirm whether there has been a change. This must be done within 28 days, or your application will be removed.

I don't agree with a decision you've made. What can I do?

If you feel we've not made the right decision  you have the right to request a review of the decision. You'll need to request this in writing (email is fine) within 21 days of the decision being made. Your review will be carried out by a Manager or Team Leader. We'll usually respond within 56 days to let you know the outcome of the review.

I’m homeless. What should I do?

Contact the Housing Operations Team by calling 01635 519530 or email housing@westberks.gov.uk