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Guildford Home Choice

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who can apply for properties through Guildford HomeChoice? 

You must have been accepted onto Guildfords Housing Register to be able to apply for either rented or low cost home ownership properties through Guildford HomeChoice. Anyone aged 16 years or over may apply to join the Housing Register.

  • How do I apply to join the Housing Register? 

You will need to complete an application form. There are two types of application form, one for new applicants and the other for existing council or partner Housing Association tenants who wish to transfer. These can be downloaded by clicking application or transfer form as appropriate or obtained from the Housing Advice Centre. Click How to Contact Us for contact details and opening hours. You will need to use the same form if you wish to apply for rented or low cost home ownership or both.

  • What other documents do I need to provide? 

Along with your application form you will need to provide the following:

  • Proof of identity for all household members (e.g. passports, birth certificates)
  • Proof of current address (e.g. recent utility bill)
  • 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 documents provided must be originals, up to date and valid. For a full list of acceptable documents contact the Housing Advice Centre.

  • What happens if I do not provide the required documents? 

Providing you have properly completed your application form 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.

For more detailed information contact our Housing Advice Centre.

  • Can I apply to housing associations to go on their registers?

Guildford Borough Council works in partnership with a number of housing associations operating in the area. The Council has nomination rights to most housing association properties in the Borough and nominates applicants from the Housing Register to any vacancies. The housing associations themselves tend not to hold their own registers and rely mostly on council nominations. In effect by applying to the Housing Register you are applying for both council and housing association properties.

  • What are priority Bands?

Council and Housing Association rented accommodation

Your application will be assessed according to your level of housing need and placed in one of 5 bands, A to E. We will also take into account whether you have a local connection with Guildford and the extent of this and whether you are able to afford to resolve your own housing problems. Within each band applications are placed in date order.

Shared Ownership

Your application will be assessed according to a separate set of criteria, based on your housing need and circumstances, and placed in one of 3 bands, 1 to 3. We will also take into account whether you live or work in Guildford.

If you have applied for both rented and low cost home ownership we will have given you a band for rented accommodation and a different band for low cost home ownership. For more information click Prioritising Applications.

  • If I am serving in the forces or have in the past will I get more priority?

This will depend upon your length of service and when you left the forces.  To be placed in Bands A - C housing applicants must normally meet our local connection criteria.  However, for those housing applicants who meet the forces criteria we will disregard the need to establish a local connection under our allocation policy.  Local connection under the homeless persons legislation is not changed by this variation to the allocation scheme.

  • How long will I stay in the same band?

Council and Housing Association Rented Accommodation

You may normally only remain in Band A for 3 months and Band B for 6 months, except if you are under occupying a Council or Housing Association property or need 2 or more extra bedrooms when there is no time limit. After this your application will be reviewed to decide whether it continues to warrant such a high level of priority. If it does you will be able to remain in that band for a further 3 or 6 months respectively. 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. If you are in Bands C, D or E you will remain in that band unless your circumstances change and your application is awarded a different level of priority.

Shared Ownership

There are no limits to the amount of time you may remain in a band.

  • 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 cancel your application. If you wish to appeal against the cancellation you may do so within 21 days of the cancellation date.

  • 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 Councils Medical Advisor, 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 to rent and for purchase through shared ownership 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 Two-Choosing, part of our step-by-step guide to using the service.

  • Where are properties advertised?

Properties are advertised in the following ways:

  • By telephoning our Advertising Hotline on 01483 444461
  • In a newsletter available from the Housing Advice Centre and Guildford and Ash C.A.B's.
  • On display boards in the Housing Advice Centre, Millmead House main reception, Social Services, Guildford and Ash C.A.B's,local hostels, Leapale Lane Drop in Centre and GAF family support centre. Other locations may be added in the future.
  • What information will the property adverts contain?

The adverts will tell you the landlord, 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, which bands may bid for the property and which will be given priority for the property. 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:

  • 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 midnight on a Wednesday and you will be able to register your interest in properties up until midnight the following Sunday.

  • 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. Click Step Three-Offer for more details.

  • 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 or Housing Association 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.
       
  • 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 dont 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.

  • 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. 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.

  • How do I get a mortgage to purchase a shared ownership property?

You will need to approach building societies or banks, you should tell them that you require the mortgage for purchasing a shared ownership property because not all of them will lend for shared ownership. You will need to shop around for the offer that best suits your circumstances.

  • What costs are there when I have moved into a shared ownership property?

The normal costs of owning a home, which include:

  • Mortgage repayments
  • Service charge
  • Insurance for your belongings
  • Council tax
  • Electricity

You would normally be responsible for carrying out all repairs.

  • How long does it take to buy a shared ownership property?

The sales process normally takes between 6 to 8 weeks but can vary. It is your responsibility to keep in contact with your solicitor to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.

  • Are carpets and appliances provided?

Council and Housing Association Rented Accommodation
You will normally have to provide your own carpets and appliances.

Shared Ownership
Each property varies with respect to the floor covering and appliances provided. If the property is a resale you may be able to negotiate separately with the current owner to purchase items they are leaving. If the property is newly built the details will indicate what is going to be provided in the property.

  • Can I increase my share of the shared ownership property?

Yes, after your original purchase you can increase your share of the property in 10% shares at any time, this is known as 'staircasing. The cost of the extra shares will be at the market value of the property at the time you wish to purchase

  • Can I buy the property outright?

In most cases this is possible but there are some circumstances when it is not. One example of this is where the property is in a rural location.

  • If I want to move can I sell my property on the open market?

If you have bought the property outright you can sell it on the open market but if you only have a share in the property the Council have first refusal to purchase.

  • What other options are there for housing?

There is a severe shortage of homes in the Guildford Borough area. 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. We may be able to help you with a deposit for private rented if you meet the criteria for our Homes 4U scheme. Interviews to discuss your housing options are available by appointment from the Housing Advice Centre. For more information click Other Housing Options.

  • What if I become homeless?

Households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness will be dealt with outside the scheme. You should contact the Housing Advice Centre to arrange an interview to discuss your circumstances. We will work with you to try to prevent you becoming homeless and will discuss your housing options with you. You may still express an interest in properties through Guildford HomeChoice, providing your application has been accepted on the Housing Register, but in most cases it is unlikely that this will be in time to resolve your homelessness, as most applicants will have to wait a long time before being successful.

  • What help can you offer people experiencing domestic abuse?

If you are experiencing domestic abuse you should seek specialist help. Go to www.womensaid.org.uk for more information on services available.

  • 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 Housing Advice Centre 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.

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