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AIBU to think that councils make it hard to apply for a council house on purpose?

(43 Posts)
ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 16:54:57

At least where I'm from it seems that way! I understand that they need a lot of paperwork from us...identification, proofs of income, references and notice to quit...etc...but they seem to "lose" an awful lot of paperwork during the process!

Here you can only apply if there's a "risk of homelessness" and we are in that category.

I've had to re-send things four times so's taken 3 weeks (more than) to get to the stage of application that I'm at...and I'm STILL not allowed to bid for any properties as I have not yet been "banded"...this is the way they decide how urgent your need is...A being pretty much on the street.

The lady who deals with our application only works part-time on Thursdays and Fridays and the rest of the office staff seem to think it perfectly reasonable that she is the only one dealing with our application....despite the fact that in her two days in work, she has too much to do..and hasn't yet managed to finish our application.

I emailed another lady in the office on Friday and asked her if she could possibly do our "banding" on Monday and she never tomorrow I'm going to have to call the office and ask ever so humbly if anyone can deal with it...there are two houses I could bid for which end on Thursday and I want to be "done" so I can try for them!

Granted there will be more houses next week (they change weekly) but that's not the point. We have to leave here soon...we have until the 1st April and not enough money for a deposit on a rental... we've been here in our current rental for 8 years and never had to pay a deposit but now they are selling.

I know that we should have saved...we both work but on low incomes and there just never seemed enough to save..I wish I'd known about the Credit Union a few years ago. sad AIBU to think that the council housing office makes it hard to apply in the hope that many applicants will just go away?

They don't have many properties in this area as so many were sold...

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 17:00:37

I cannot imagine how someone with learning difficulties and no support might first, I trusted them and never rang...but now I feel that I have to keep calling to make sure they're not shoving me to the bottom of the pile!

mrsjay Sun 23-Feb-14 17:00:52

tbf I dont think they do it on purpose but if they have mucked you about then of course they are at fault and the woman only works a few days a week I think it is shocking nobody else will deal with your account , I think with all the red tape and bloody hoops people jump threw it is difficult and off putting Blame the policy makers not the staff I hope you get it sorted soon

SaucyJack Sun 23-Feb-14 17:04:17

Well, yes- of course.

Surprised you thought the question was even worth asking smile

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 17:09:21

Lol Saucy I'm terribly naive! Thanks MrsJay

Lj8893 Sun 23-Feb-14 17:09:46

Yanbu. I was emailing and ringing the council several times a day for 2 months. I think in the end they housed us just to make me go away grin

pinkdelight Sun 23-Feb-14 17:10:52

I don't know too much about it, but assumed you would have been waiting much longer or be in more dire circumstances than those you describe. If it's only been three weeks, I wouldn't say that's an extortionate amount of time to wait as you have got until April. Although I haven't got the impression from other threads that it's as simple as your application getting processed and you swiftly getting to bid. I thought it was much harder to get a place than that. Maybe I've got jaded from MN threads!

Of course you want to hurry up and start bidding but that's because it's your priority, they have lots of other priorities and presumably - hopefully! - if you were on streets things would be swifter. ideally the woman would work full-time or someone else would take up your case or you would have saved or found out about the credit union. But it's an imperfect system and there's lots of imperfect people in it. All you can do is hang on in there and hope it gets sorted in time.

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 17:14:06

Pink I suppose our circumstances aren't as dire as some...but they're pretty dire!

They won't look at you till you have notice...which is 2 months worth of housing we've used up 3 weeks and have 6 left. Most people they see will be in those circumstances...some may be suddenly homeless due to eviction or domestic violence and I accept they must be seen first.

Marcipex Sun 23-Feb-14 17:54:27

I'm surprised you need to ask, ours loses the paperwork until the claim times out, every time...(single parent returning to work 4 weeks rent amnesty).

Lj8893 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:08:33

I would imagine though you will be a low banding and if housing is as limited as you say, you will be on the waiting list a long time. They will either out you in temp accomodation or sort you out with a deposit loan for private rental.

Lovethebubbles Sun 23-Feb-14 18:31:49

You need to go into the offices and see a housing options advisor and talk about other options as well as applying to go on the register. Even when you are able to bid, it's very unlikely you will bid successfully by 1st April. You are entitled to make a homeless application when you are at risk of homelessness within 28 days. This is separate to a housing register application.... They won't advertise this, as most councils avoid taking homeless applications for statistical purposes. You need to see someone in housing options so you can explore other options available to you. Like help with a deposit etc for another private let. Don't rely on phone calls alone and if you're not receiving a decent service you need to speak to someone more senior.

mrsjay Sun 23-Feb-14 18:37:38

if you have 6 weeks left then i know you are getting worked up but you do have loads of time left could you go into the council offices and ask them sometimes face to face is better than phoning them

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 18:45:48

Lj8893 no we don't have a waiting list here. You're allowed to apply only when there's a threat of homelessness. They ditched the list when they realised people were on it for years and years. Here you apply and are allowed to bid...there are enough places for those who need them but they're not all in the areas you/d want. not that we're in a position to be fussy!

MrsJay no they won't allow that...tried it! All contact is via phone, email or this special little kiosk thing in town where you scan things if you don't have email access.

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 18:46:44

Love we earn just over the limit for the help with deposit. So no hope there.

mrsjay Sun 23-Feb-14 18:48:54

oh for godsake really what has happened to face to face contact these days I sound like an old dearie but it does my head in all this you cant actually speak to a human being face to face ,

expatinscotland Sun 23-Feb-14 18:49:16

Go in person. They want you to private let, not offer a home.

PandaFeet Sun 23-Feb-14 18:50:02

We were going to be homeless in 3 days when we went to the council. And the day our LL was kicking us out was my due date.

We got offered an emergency house 25 miles from my eldests school, we knew we couldn't take it. But when we went to look around it wasn't even ready for tenants.

That was almost 18 months ago. And we are still waiting to be deemed in enough need to get a house.

We got ourselves out of it.

JakeBullet Sun 23-Feb-14 18:53:01

It's crap and needs complaining about....councils have cut loads of staff so less people are dealing with the applications.

At our council you can now take stuff in and the reception will photocopy it and give a receipt. Doesn't mean they wont lose it but it seems to occur much less.

Our council have also more or less dropped their waiting list to those who have been in the town at least 7 years and who are in immediate threat of homelessness etc. They are taking hardly anyone on to the list.

Lj8893 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:53:03

So you are guaranteed a property once you can bid?

JakeBullet Sun 23-Feb-14 18:55:51

Once you can id you are guaranteed to be eventually housed but you can still wait years if people ahead of you on the list bid....unless of course you are virtually homeless in which case they will make you a priority. In our area if you are accepted as homeless then you have very little are put forward for every property and have to take what is offered. My friend was homeless.....her allocated property was on a sink estate and she had no option but to take it.

Lj8893 Sun 23-Feb-14 19:07:34

Yes that's what I thought jake.

OP do you have a back up if you are not housed straight away?

ProbablyCaroline Sun 23-Feb-14 19:12:42

Jake they did mention they would make us a priority but it won;t be for a few weeks....I'm guessing that it will be literally the moment our date to move out which case we're going to have to squat here!

L no we don't have back up. We have nothing. We're still paying rent and bills here and it's not cheap.

scott2609 Sun 23-Feb-14 19:19:27

Lovethebubbles ha given the most helpful advice here- you need to be making a homeless application, not a housing register application, under S. 184 of the Housing Act 1996 (Part VII). An authority will only have a duty to take a homeless application from you if they have reason to believe you are;

1) Eligible (I'm assuming you're British)

2) Facing homelessness within 28 days. At the moment, you're not, but lots of authorities will take applications before this point because it gives them more time to work out whether they owe you a full duty, and to give more assistance time to avoid you ending up in costly B&B accommodation.

3) In priority need (Again, assuming that you have children. If not, there are other categories of need)

4) Not intentionally homeless. Depends on why you were served notice seeking possession really.

5) Have a local connection. Living within the authority for 6 months out of the past year will get you that, amongst some other things.

If you 'pass' these five tests then in law, they have a duty to ensure that 'accommodation is available for your occupation' under S.184. There is no income related means testing relating to this. A multimillionaire could have a duty owed.

One way of discharging their duty under S.193 of the HA '96 is to put your Banding up to an A so that you have a better chance of securing social housing, but since the Localism Act in 2011, authorities can also discharge their duty in the private rented sector in some circumstances.

Should they refuse to take an application from you, or if you feel that the application has been handled inappropriately or without any positive outcome, Shelter are the best organisation to get involved, and give excellent legal housing advice and representation.

Hope this helps a bit and let me know if you have any questions.

expatinscotland Sun 23-Feb-14 19:21:20

Yep. That's why we stay where we are.

When DD1 was ill, it was life-threatening (well, she died) and we were awarded max medical points to move closer to the only hospital where she could be treated. In 8 months, no offer at all.

We were looking at private lets when she died.

There is just no housing in lots of places. We met others from the unit who were in homeless housing for over a year before being made an offer, always in some dire place.

scott2609 Sun 23-Feb-14 19:24:09

And you do have options not to accept an offer they make if you request a review of the suitability of the offer under S.202. It's simply not the case that you 'have to' take anything they offer you, although the Housing Options Officer handling your application would undoubtedly tell you this is the case. Best to get advice at this point as many people would, rightly so, assume a property 100 miles away from your child's school would be considered unsuitable, but it's unlikely to. You do need to be quite assertive and get proper advice if you're unsure. Lots and lots of myths about what the council will/ won't do, and can/ can't do.

Just as an example, I recently submitted a successful review that a property was unsuitable because it had no lift access and was up two flights of stairs- my client was disabled and dependent on crutches to mobilise. Health is the most common reason for refusal of a property.

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