Consultation on social housing opened

The online service to bid for homes for social rent across North Yorkshire is under review.

A consultation exercise on the North Yorkshire Home Choice scheme kicked off last week. The scheme allows eligible people on council waiting lists to join a register and bid for council and partner housing association homes across the region.

But changes to the Localism Act 2011 now allow social landlords to set their own rules about who is eligible to join the register and the types of households that should be given preference.

Registered social landlords were previously obliged to operate an open register for social housing and many, including North Yorkshire Home Choice, still do.

North Yorkshire Home Choice Scheme run by councils and housing associations across the county - has revealed a very high level of housing need, with over 17,000 households waiting for social rented homes.

The proportion of social rented homes is relatively small and so is the number of homes becoming vacant each year.

Housing providers have therefore geared their policies giving priority towards those with the highest needs – meaning that many of those on the waiting list are unlikely to ever be offered a home.

“The North Yorkshire Home Choice Scheme has allowed us to help people who have had a housing need, putting applicants in the driving seat by bidding for accommodation to meet their individual housing needs.

It also makes sure priority is given according to the level of that need,” said Councillor Peter Wood, spokesperson on housing

“A year on, it’s really important for us to know how our customers have found the scheme and what their views are for going forward in the light of changes in legislation.”

The consultation asks a series of questions including:

Who should be accepted onto the housing register?

Which categories of people should be given additional preference?

Whether properties should be offered to households based on their assessed housing need only.

Whether accepted homeless applicants – including families – should be able to bid or be given only one direct offer of a property.

Whether applicants who persistently bid and refuse properties be excluded from the register.

This consultation closes on Friday, November 2.

To take part in the consultation documents can be accessed at www.northyorkshirehomechoice.org.uk or by contacting Richmondshire District Council on 01748 829100.