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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Choice Based Lettings?

Choice Based Lettings – or CBL – is an approach to letting homes to give you more choice in where you live.

CBL allows you to play a greater part in the process of selecting your home. The Council will not match you to an empty property, but as with private renting, available homes will be advertised and you can express an interest in properties you are eligible for. In CBL expressing an interest is called “bidding”. Bidding does not involve any money.

The properties will be offered to the bidder with the highest priority (based upon “Bands” of need) with the earliest “Effective Date”. However there may be exceptions which might include where an applicant requires ground floor accommodation or where a Local Lettings Policy (LLP) is in place. LLPs are commonly used by landlords, for example, to reduce Anti-Social Behaviour or to reduce the number of children living on an estate.

CBL will not increase the number of homes available for rent and it will still be a challenge to meet the high demand for social housing. However, you will see all properties that are available and will be able to choose which suitable homes you “bid" for.

What documents do i need to provide?

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

Proof of Identity: Birth certificate, Passport or driving licence.

Proof of where you Live: Tenancy Agreement or letter from head of household. If you are currently renting, you must provide an up to date rent payment statement from your landlord.

Proof of Income: Please provide evidence of any income or benefits you are receiving i.e. bank statements/benefit letters

5 year full address history: Please include the dates you moved in to and out of these addresses and the reasons for leaving

Local Connection: You have stated on your application that you have an immediate family member which has resided in Southend for five years please provide the full name and proof of address for this family member and proof of your connection.

Proof you are facing homelessness: Notice to quit (section 21)

Please provide proof of where you are living & that you are threatened with homelessness: This should be a letter from your head of household confirming your living arrangements & why you can no longer reside at the address and the date that you are required to leave

Proof of Medical condition and medication - letter from GP/consultant and prescription

Proof Of Harassment: In order for consideration to be given to the award of priority on the grounds of harassment, violence or abuse we will require written evidence from the police advising that you have an urgent need to move and that there is a significant risk if you are to remain in that property.

What is an Effective date?

Every registered applicant is given an “Effective date”. In most cases this will be the date that we first received your application. However, if your circumstances change and you move into a different Band, your Effective Date will change as follows:
• Moving into a lower Band that you have previously been in: the Effective Date goes back to the date that applied when you were last in that Band. 
• Moving into a lower Band that you have not previously been in: the Effective Date will be your original application date.
• Moving up into a higher Band: the Effective Date will be the date when you are assessed as requiring a Higher Band.

What does bidding or placing a bid mean?

“Bidding” is the term used in Choice Based Lettings schemes to mean that an applicant wishes to be considered for a property. There is no money involved and no-one can place more than one “bid” for a single property.

How does the Council advertise empty properties?

Properties are advertised in a variety of ways including: on the internet, at the Civic Centre, through a dedicated phone line, and at South Essex Homes offices.

The advert will include (where possible) a photograph of the property and full description including, for example: where it is; how many bedrooms; whether it is suitable for someone who uses a wheelchair; whether it is sheltered housing for older people; type of heating and details of rent and service charges.

How can I express an interest in/bid for properties I want?

There will be a variety of ways you can bid: by telephone, on-line at the On The Move website, through the Interactive Voice Recognition telephone service or by direct contact with a member of staff or someone providing support. Applicants will not be given preference for how quickly a bid is made or the way a bid is made during the bidding cycle, allocations will not be made on a “first come first served” basis. On the closing date for bids (every Sunday night at 11.59pm) all the eligible bids will be shortlisted. 

How many properties can I bid for each week?

You have up to three bids per weekly advertising cycle. You can remove and change your bids at any time up until the close of the weekly cycle.

How will the Council decide who gets the property?

In normal circumstances, all the eligible bids for each property will be placed in priority order:

• First by Band, highest priority Band first
• Second by date order (based upon Effective Date) within each Band

What if I need support to use the service?

You can tell us on your housing application form, speak to the Housing Needs team when you apply or be referred by a relative or care worker.  Whether it is help understanding English, with reading or deciding which properties to bid for the Housing Needs team will provide the support that you need. There may be the option to choose someone to bid on your behalf and in exceptional circumstances the Council can make direct allocations.

What does Local Connection mean?

The housing register is open to anyone eligible for housing even if they do not have a connection to Southend (specific properties only). If you do not have a local connection to Southend you may not qualify for entry onto the Homeseekers Register. Under normal circumstances applicants with a local connection to Southend will be placed above applicants without a local connection.

 To be considered as having a local connection to Southend one of the following must be demonstrated and verified:
• You are normally resident in the Southend borough, and have been for 3 out of the last 5 years
• You have family members who are resident in the Southend borough.  Family members are defined as parents, adult children or brothers or sisters who have been resident in the Southend borough for a period of 5 years or longer
• You work, volunteer or have caring responsibilities in the borough of Southend for sixteen hours or more per week, and have been doing so for the past 12 months.
• The applicant is a member of the Armed Forces and former Service Personnel, where their application is made within five years of discharge
• The applicant is a bereaved spouse or civil partner of a member of the Armed Forces leaving Service Family Accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner

The applicant is a serving member or former member of the Reserve Forces who needs to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service

• There are special circumstances which the Council considers give rise to a local connection. Applications will be considered on an individual basis. 

I am in a band with a time limit; what happens if I don't find a property within the time limit?

Time limits apply for Band A (four weeks) and Emergency Status (2 weeks) applicants. These time limits start on the date that you are awarded the Band or Status and you are expected to have bid for properties that match your needs during these timescales.

If you have not applied for a property that meets your needs (size, type, adaptations, etc.) within the time limit your Band status will be reviewed. The review will determine whether or not your time period will be extended. If your time period is not extended you will be placed in another Band or allocated a property directly by the Council without expressing choice (known as a “Direct Let”).

If I disagree with my Band, Effective Date or Bedroom Need what can I do?

If you have had a significant change in your circumstances and think that your assessment for the policy is wrong, please write to us at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Housing Needs Section, Community Housing, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 6ER and enclose any relevant supporting documentation. We will assess the new information and write to you with the outcome.

I'm having dificulty applying for social housing online, what alternatives are there?

If you are having difficulty completing your application online, you can seek assistance by using either of the walk-in services below:

Peabody - Ground floor Civic Centre, available Monday to Friday, 10:00 - 16:00

The Hub - Victoria Shopping Plaza, available Tuesday to Friday. 10:00 - 16:00